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"You are not my daughter!"

Extreme adventures of a memory-lapsed mind

By Lana V LynxPublished 5 months ago Updated 4 months ago 16 min read
8
Image from an "Elder Neglect" website

I am alone. I feel empty. My belly is in pain and rumbling. It’s been a long time since I have seen people. I look out the window and watch people and children on the playground outside. The children are so happy, running around and laughing. I remember my own children laughing like that. A girl, Annie, and a boy, Paul. Seems like some time ago. But how long? I don’t remember.

I hear something. It’s a familiar rattling sound at first, and then it’s not. It’s coming from the door. I move there to watch. It’s getting louder, whirring and clunking now.

Something falls out from the door and it opens. A man walks in, tripping on the bags in the hallway. John hasn’t taken the trash out for a long time, even though I have been putting it there for him.

The man pinches his nose and says, “Eww, is this trash? How long has it been here?”

He looks at me and his eyes well up, “Oh, Aunt Sophie! How long have you been here alone? Where’s Paul?”

“Paul?” I say, “I don’t know, probably plays outside with his friends. I haven’t seen John in a long time. He was supposed to take the trash out.”

He looks at me, his eyes opened wide. The man’s eyes look familiar.

“Who are you?” I ask.

He looks at me again. “Oh, Aunt Sophie, I’m David, Annie’s friend.”

“Are you trying to trick me, old man? I remember David, Annie’s friend. He is 12! You are NOT 12!” I exclaim.

“Oh, Aunt Sophie, I am David, and I am all grown up, I’m 55 now.” He touches my hand. His touch is soothing, and I think I remember that touch. His voice sounds good, too.

“Oh, but that cannot be. How old is Annie?”

“Annie is 55 as well, just like me. We were classmates, remember?”

“Annie is 55? But no, this cannot be! How old am I?”

“77, Aunt Sophie.”

I look at my hands. They are wrinkly and my fingers are crooked. Like an old woman. A very old woman. I am 77? But no, I am 34, and I have a husband and two kids. We all live together in this place. I look at my hands again. I am confused. How can they be so old?

“I don’t know you, if you really are David. Why are you here?” I ask, my hands trembling.

“Annie has sent me for you. She told me to pick up your stuff and bring you to her.”

“Really? Why didn’t she come herself?”

“She has to work, Aunt Sophie. She can’t get off her work. She told me to bring you to her.”

“Bring me where? I don’t want to go anywhere, I don’t want to leave home!” I say.

“I know, Aunt Sophie. But don’t you want to see Annie?”

“Yes, I want to see Annie.”

“Ok, great. Let me call her.”

The man brings a thing from the kitchen. I forgot what the thing is called. I remember seeing Annie in it. Paul used to make it work so we could talk.

“Annie, hi, it’s David,” the man says, “I’m here with Aunt Sophie. You can’t even imagine what it’s like here. I think your brother has become a hoarder or something. So much clutter and trash!”

He says something else to a woman’s voice inside the thing. I don’t understand. What’s a hor-der?

“Oh, David, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. I’ll talk with my brother later. Right now, please get Mom out of there.”

“Aunt Sophie, you see, Annie wants me to take you from here and drive you to her.”

He shows me the woman in the thing. She is too old to be my Annie. She covers her mouth with her hand and starts crying, “Mommy, my dear Mommy, I’m going to get you out of there. Please do what David tells you and I will see you very soon. Ok, Mommy? Do you understand me?”

Something in her eyes I know. It’s Annie’s beautiful blue eyes! But why are they on such an old woman?

“Annie? You are my little Annie?”

She smiles, still crying, “Yes, Mommy, I’m your Annie. Not so little anymore, but I am your Annie.”

“I want to see you, Annie. I am alone here, no one comes anymore.”

“Where’s Paul?” she asks.

“I don’t know, this nice man asked me too. He is probably outside, running around with his friends.”

“Mommy, this nice man’s name is David. He is my friend. He’ll get your things together and bring you to me, alright?”

“But this man is not David, dear. David is 12. This man is not 12.”

“Mommy, believe me, it is David, only grown up, just like me. David, could you show Mom some pictures?”

David shows me some pictures of Annie’s class. He is right there, always standing next to her. They are such good friends! He always spends a lot of time at our home. But this man is so big!

“Annie, what should l do?” the man asks. “She obviously does not remember me. What if she doesn’t want to go with me?”

“Well, at least she thinks you are nice. I’ll talk with her. Just get what you can from her things into one suitcase and take her here.”

“Alright, I will get to that right away, before your brother shows up. You can talk with Aunt Sophie while I’m packing.”

He sits me down at the table and clears off some space for the thing so that I can see the voice. Then he gets a suitcase and takes my clothes out of a closet. He puts them into a suitcase.

“Mommy, you look so thin! When did you last eat?”

I don’t remember. I just look at her. This woman is my Annie?

“Oh God, I completely forgot, Jenny made some chicken soup for Aunt Sophie! I’ll warm it up,” the man says and moves to the kitchen.

“Who’s Jenny?” I ask the woman who has my Annie’s eyes.

“It’s David’s wife, Mommy. She made a delicious soup for you. Would you like some soup?”

“Yes, very much.”

“Great, Mommy. Oh, I cannot wait to see you and hold you in my arms!”

I look up at the corner of the room. There’s a little spider there, moving around his web. I know him. His name is Jeffrey. I talk to him when I’m alone.

“Spiders are for good luck,” I say to the woman, “You are not supposed to kill spiders.”

The woman starts crying again.

“Why are you crying?” I ask.

“I’m… I’m just so very happy to see you, Mommy! And soon, I will be able to hug you.”

“Hugging is nice,” I say.

“Yes, it is, Mommy.”

The man comes back with a bowl of soup, two pieces of bread and a spoon. He sets it in front of me and helps me with the spoon.

“I can eat by myself,” I say.

“Great, Aunt Sophie, I’ll go back to packing your things then,” the man said.

I eat the soup. It’s delicious. My belly is not empty anymore. It feels warm and stops rumbling.

“David, do you have her passport?” the woman asked.

“Yes, I do. You can’t even imagine what kind of hoops I had to jump through to get it.”

“I’ll compensate you for everything, David, you know that.”

“I know, it’s not about the compensation. They insisted that she had to be there in person. I had to go to three different people, and one woman finally took pity on me and on your Mom.”

“I’m very grateful, David. Are you almost done?”

“Yes, I hope the soup and the food Jenny packed for us will be enough to last until we get to the hotel.”

“Hotel?” I ask, “Which hotel?”

“Holiday Inn, Mom. Your favorite.”

“Oh, I like Holiday Inn. Remember, last week we stayed there with daddy and Paul, when we went to Vancouver?”

“Oh, Mommy,” the woman covers her mouth again. “Daddy’s been gone for 10 years.”

“Gone where?” I ask. “No wonder he does not take the trash out! 10 years? How long is that?”

The woman in the thing keeps her mouth covered with her hand. Tears stream down her cheeks. She asks David to bring me a hairbrush. I brush my hair while we talk.

“Aunt Sophie, what would you like to take from the house?” the man asks. “Some vases? Figurines? Pictures?”

“I can take everything to the hotel?” I ask.

“Yes, Mommy, you can take anything you’d like,” the woman says.

I point my finger at the things I want at the hotel with me. The man wraps them in newspapers and puts them into a large bag.

“She is kinda smelly,” he says into the thing quietly. Is he talking about me? I’m not smelly!

“She probably hasn’t taken a shower for days,” Annie says. “I will kill that bastard brother of mine when I see him. Neglecting his own mother! For now, just wrap something around her, like a bathrobe or a trench coat, and get her on the road. Call me from the hotel, I’ll make sure she takes a shower.”

The man brings me a bathrobe and wraps it around me. A memory pops up right in front of my eyes. I say, “Ah, this feels nice. John used to wrap the robe around me like that, too. I miss him, so much! It’s been 10 years now.”

David looks at me with relief, and says, “Alright, Aunt Sophie, I think we are ready. Let’s go now.”

Before he picks up the suitcase and the bag, I ask, “Can we keep Annie in that thing so that I can talk to her? What is it called, I always forget? iPad, right?”

David looks at me, pleasantly surprised. “Yes, Aunt Sophie, it’s an iPad and of course we can keep Annie on the line. Annie, what should I do with the door? I had to drill the lock out to get inside.”

“Ah, just leave it like this,” I say. “There’s nothing valuable here anyway and my alcoholic son probably won’t even notice when he comes back.”

“As you wish, Aunt Sophie,” David says, making way for me through the hallway.

“Oh, Mommy,” Annie says, laughing through tears. “I am so happy that I will see you soon!”

“It’s an 18-hour drive, not soon enough!” I respond, laughing. “Alright, David, take me to my daughter! Where are we staying for the night?”

“Holiday Inn hotel near the border,” David says.

“Ah, my favorite!” I respond, excited about the adventure.

***

It takes us about 10 hours to get to the hotel. We only stopped for gas, restroom breaks, and to eat sandwiches Jenny packed for us. I also took several naps: the sound of David’s car moving on a highway was soothing and I dozed off a lot. Hopefully, those naps absorbed some of my memory lapses. That’s how I like to think of them, that sometimes I can sleep through them. Not always, though.

David connects with Annie when I’m awake, just to make the trip shorter. We reminisce and remember things from their childhood. I used to be a teacher at a different school, and I can’t believe how mischievous they were as kids. I laugh with them as they confess about their adventures. And we talk about John a lot. “The best father in the world,” as Annie describes him, John died of a heart attack almost 10 years ago. About six years later I started to have memory lapses. Most of the times, they were short and Paul, my son who moved in with me, seemed to have been able to handle them well. When he was around and sober, that is.

Paul is leeching off Annie. He had convinced her that taking care of me was a full-time job and no one would be able to do that better than him. Annie’s husband Charlie is in IT security and Annie is a university administrator. Together, they earn well, so they'd decided that paying Paul to take care of me would be better than putting me in a home. At first, it worked out well. But at 53, Paul is a life-long alcoholic, twice divorced with no kids. All he cares about is drinking with his buddies, disappearing for days at a time. Meanwhile, my memory lapses were becoming more frequent and probably lasted longer. Apparently, this time it was so bad that the neighbor who hadn’t seen me for a week, called Annie. Annie called David and here we are.

“I had to kidnap you from my own brother, Mommy!” Annie says. "And the first thing we will do, Mommy, is finally get you properly diagnosed."

“I’m glad you kidnapped me,” I respond, ignoring the scary diagnosis part. “I can’t wait to see you, and Charlie, and the kids.”

“The kids are both in college and away from home, Mom. You probably won’t see them until their mid-term break. Or Thanksgiving, for sure.”

“I can wait either way, now that I’m going to be with you,” I say. I am so relieved.

***

We finally get to the hotel near the border. We’ll spend the night there; David will take me across the border tomorrow and Annie will be waiting for me on the other side. Her passport expired, otherwise she would have picked me up at the hotel. But this will work out well, too. I hope.

Annie got us a suite. There are two double beds in the bedroom, but David insists that he will sleep on the sofa in the living room, to give me privacy. He takes a quick shower and goes into the living room to watch a ball game. He quickly learned that the key to dealing with someone who has memory lapses is to act normal and be ready for another laps at any moment.

I first take a shower but then decide to take a full bath. I haven’t done that in a long time, seems like an eternity. I just wanted to have that feeling again of hot water caressing and tenderly washing over my body. The hotel did not have a bubble bath, but I just was happy to lay immersed in the warm water. At some point I’m sure I dozed off because David carefully knocked on the door and asked if I was OK. I’m sure he thought I could have fallen into one of my memory holes, forgetting how to get out of the bathtub, which would be a total possibility.

I said I was OK, got out of the already cool bath and put on my pajamas. When I emerged from the bedroom, David looked at me approvingly and said, “Annie will be really happy to see you.” By that time, he brought take-out Italian food and we had a very late dinner together. Then I went to bed, feeling safe with David still watching the ball game in the living room.

***

I wake up to a loud sound in a dark room I don’t know. I don’t remember why I’m here and scream for John, scared. A man runs into the room, with a scared look in his eyes. He opens the window curtains. It’s too sunny outside and I close my eyes.

“Is this better, Aunt Sophie?” the man asks. His eyes are familiar.

“Where am I? Who are you?” I ask, scared.

“You are at the Holiday Inn hotel, Aunt Sophie. I’m David, Annie’s friend, I’m taking you to Annie. We will see her today.”

“No, Annie is 12! And David is 12! Where’s John? Did you… kidnap me?”

“Oh, Aunt Sophie,” the man looks at me and gently touches my arm. “I really AM David, Annie’s friend. Would you like to talk with her right now?”

“Yes, I would like to talk with Annie. Very much.”

The man takes out a thing where I can see Annie. I remember Paul made it work that way.

“Hi Mommy, did you have a good night’s sleep?” a woman in the thing asks.

“Yes,” I wait to remember, “Who are you?”

“I’m Annie, Mommy. I am going to see you and hug you in a couple of hours.”

The woman’s eyes are Annie’s beautiful blue eyes. “But my Annie is 12!” I yell at her.

“I was 12 a long time ago, Mommy. Now I am all grown up. Are you hungry?”

“Yes, I want to eat. Holiday Inn hotel has a really nice breakfast.”

“That’s right, Mommy, they do. Why don’t you change out of your pajamas, have breakfast with David and then he will take you to me.”

“Who’s David?”

“My friend David, he took you to the hotel and will take you to me after you eat.”

“He seems like a nice man,” I say.

“He is, really. You can trust him. David, why don’t you get something for Mom to wear out of the suitcase and give her some time to change? I’ll stay on the line.”

David talks with Annie while taking out the clothes and puts them on the second bed. He then leaves the room and closes the door.

Annie tells me to take off my pajamas and put on socks, a shirt, and pants. I don’t want to wear the sweater. It’s too sunny and warm outside.

Annie tells me to go for breakfast with David. He keeps her in the thing while we eat scrambled eggs and pancakes and drink orange juice. Annie keeps telling me she will see me soon.

“Did you really have to kidnap me from my own son?” I ask in the middle of Annie saying something.

Happy, David drops his fork and takes my hand, “Thank God, Aunt Sophie, I was really worried about how I’d have to smuggle you across the border.”

“You’d better take me there fast, before another memory lapse happens,” I say jokingly but really meaning it as an instruction. We cleared out of the hotel in 10 minutes.

***

Crossing the border was not that hard. We didn’t even have to get out of David’s car. The border patrol officer took our passports and asked David how long we’d be staying there. David said that he was just delivering me to my daughter and coming back right away. Annie was still on the line in my iPad, so she quickly confirmed that she’d be meeting us at the nearest town on the other side. The officer keyed the information into his system and let us through.

On the other side, it was easy as well. The border patrol officer asked pretty much the same questions and we passed as a breeze. The other side was Annie’s home.

It took us about 10 minutes to get to the nearest interstate rest stop. David and Annie agreed to meet there so that David could turn around and drive back. When we got there, I saw Annie pacing next to her car in the parking lot. We pulled up and she ran toward me.

I got out of the car as she opened her arms to embrace me, “Finally, Mommy!”

“Who are you?” I said, with her one step away from me. She stopped in her tracks, evaluating the situation. I then smiled and added “And what have you done to my 12-year-old daughter?”

I collapse into her arms. Her tight hug feels so good, I don’t even mind her crying.

PsychologicalLovefamilyCONTENT WARNING
8

About the Creator

Lana V Lynx

Avid reader and occasional writer of satire and short fiction. For my own sanity and security, I write under a pen name. My books: Moscow Calling - 2017 and President & Psychiatrist

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Comments (4)

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  • Naveed 4 months ago

    What a beautiful and heartwarming story. You have captured the emotions of the characters so well, and I really felt like I was there on the journey with them.

  • Angelia Pa4 months ago

    masterful in a tender way

  • Novel Allen5 months ago

    The mind is a fragile thing. I wonder if we will ever get to the Benjamin Button stage, or find the fountain of youth. It is so sad this memory loss or lapse.

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