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Enjoy an excerpt:
It’s been almost two years since they told me how sick and useless I was. I am able to keep it more or less together most days. And I stress days, because by dinnertime my mind is exhausted. I never knew you could have an exhausted mind, but I do now. The sheer weight of having to pretend I am normal all day for my friends, or the store clerks, feels like a boulder around my neck. What happens toward sundown is like when you hear the snap, crackle, and pop when the transistors in your old television go bad. Everything numbs and becomes foggy. Sights, sounds, and smells meld into a ball and explode toward the sky. It’s as if I’m not the same person I was when I got up.
As of now anyway, I can see everything I want to say as clear as ice. It’s right there on a blackboard in front of me, spelled out perfectly. But then to actually say what’s written on the blackboard isn’t always a piece of cake. Sometimes it’s easy, like it is right now. I know what I’m saying to you is coherent and that my vocabulary is correct—but that could suddenly change and become difficult, sometimes impossible.
In the morning, I can be happy—well, maybe not happy, but not feeling sorry for myself. It’s different by lunch—if I remember to eat, and I generally do because it’s on my list, although I have been known to leave my pad somewhere and not be able to find it; if that happens, Monique usually reminds me. At least I think she does. Regardless, by lunchtime things generally start to go downhill.
Today, while I was sitting in my easy chair, she bent down to kiss me and brought her hand quickly to her mouth.
“Whew,” she said, or something like that. “You didn’t brush your teeth. Why did you check it off?”
I didn’t bother answering, not because she was interrupting my soap opera—I really wasn’t focusing anyway—but because I didn’t know the answer. Maybe I didn’t check the toothbrush to see if it was wet or dry, like I’ve been doing. Then she scolded me, like it was my fault. First they tell you you’re sick because you can’t remember anything and then they give you hell for not remembering.
The doorbell rang, and Monique disappeared for a minute, reappearing with Arthur Winslow in tow. I was standing there with the telephone receiver in my hand. Monique took it from me and put it back in the cradle.
Arthur was in high school with me and was actually the one who squealed to the principal that I was the one who decked Ian Coulter. Coulter, even though one of the great anti-Semites of all time, lived by a code of honor and wouldn’t have turned me in, but Arthur did, and I understand why. You see, Arthur was the goody-goody of the class. He would have turned in his own mother if she had done something wrong. But other than squealing on me, he was a true and trusted friend.
Arthur lives down the street—at least I think he still does—and faithfully drops in to see me. Sometimes I think he has nothing else to do. I can’t tell if he has missed any days visiting, or, if so, how many, but that doesn’t matter now. What I do know is he cares, and I hope he keeps coming, even if I don’t recognize him one day.
I already know that there will come a time when I won’t know him, or people like Bernie. Frankly, I don’t give a damn if I don’t recognize Bernie—in fact, that could be the Lord’s gift to me, something to make up for what lies ahead. What does bother me—in fact, scares the hell out of me—is not recognizing the kids. As inconceivable as that seems, they say it will happen as sure as night follows day. Who, you may ask, are they? I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother would always quote the almighty they. I would ask her, “Who are they, Granny?” She would always answer, “You know, they.” I think maybe she had Alzheimer’s!
About the Author: www.EricRill.com
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