“What happened to my pictures!” I demanded when the nurse came in for another blood pressure check.
She looked bewilderedly around the room. “I don’t know dear. Maybe housekeeping accidently threw them away. I wouldn’t worry, I’m sure your husband can print you more copies.” She paused while she checked my vitals yet again. “Your blood pressure is not what we were hoping. I’ll page Dr. Randall to come look in on you.”
No surprise my blood pressure isn’t what they were hoping. My one little tenuous connection to my past was mysteriously missing from my room. Maybe Dr. Randall would know something about my pictures. I gave a giant sigh and flopped my head onto my pillow. I hated feeling so out of control of my life even if I didn’t know what that life was.
The nurse busied herself with some paperwork and then smiled. “The memories should come Sarah, just give it time. Lots of rest. Let your brain heal. Hopefully you can get a little more peace and quiet around here. We’ll be leaving this as a private room for you.”
Private room? “What happened to Mr. Smith?” I asked.
“You don’t remember last night?” The nurse gave me a funny look. “There was a bit of commotion in here. Mr. Smith coded and we all came in to try and save him.” A long pause. “Mr. Smith passed away. You really don’t remember? Huh. I’m definitely going to get Dr. Randall up here.”
Without waiting for a response she bustled out of the room. Along with not remembering my old memories, was I incapable of making new ones too? But no, I remember my husband’s visit the day before yesterday and all the pictures just fine. I remembered what the nurse said my kids’ names were. Now I was angry and scared.
I was feeling pretty sorry for myself when Dr. Randall entered the room. With him was an unusually tall woman, probably in her early 60’s with glossy black hair down to her waist. On most people her age, the hair would have looked childish or frumpy, but she looked amazingly sophisticated with her tailored clothing and heels. Was that a cashmere scarf she was wearing? Bold choice in a hospital. I was very aware of my own bedraggled state. I wondered if this was another person from my past. A relative? Could she be my mother?
“Sarah,” Dr. Randall began. “I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Golding. She’s a psychiatrist who is nationally known for her work with amnesia patients. Despite what the soap opera storylines would have you believe, total amnesia like yours is actually very rare. Dr. Golding heard about your case and volunteered her services. Research shows there’s frequently emotional conflict that accompanies amnesia cases. Judy reported that you were very agitated earlier and your vital statistics confirm that. It can help to talk to a professional about the anxiety you’re feeling.” Dr. Randall patted my hand kindly. “It certainly can’t hurt to talk to someone.”
Dr. Golding settled herself on a hard chair next to me. “Do you mind if we chat, Sarah?” I think her smile was supposed to put me at ease, but it put me on edge.
The conversation started out mildly enough, but by the end I felt like I was under investigation. No, I don’t remember why I was in California. No, I couldn’t remember anyone who might want to hurt me. Seriously? I only knew my children from yesterday’s pictures, how would I know if someone wanted to hurt them? Yes, I would very much like to see my children. No, the brief reunion with my husband had not gone well. Absolutely nothing about seeing him face to face had sparked a memory; he was a total blank to me. No, I couldn’t remember anything about my job or Tony’s job either.
Despite Dr. Randall’s reassurance, Dr. Golding had done nothing to alleviate my anxiety. I was feeling more distraught with every second spent in her presence. I finally closed my eyes and shook my head telling her that I needed to rest. She left without another word, only the staccato of her heels marking her departure.
The door banged open without warning and Jason, Rosemary, and Rory all flinched backward. They hadn’t heard anyone coming. Likely the room was soundproofed. The woman who entered didn’t wear a mask like the others previously had. Jason couldn’t help thinking that this was a bad sign. As long as their captors were trying to conceal their identities, it gave Jason hope that they would be released at some point. The woman strode across the room, her stiletto boots echoing on the cement floor. She towered over the trio sitting helplessly on the thin bed. She pierced them with her stare and angrily threw her long, black hair behind her.
“If your mother isn’t willing to talk, then our options become very limited,” she announced. She paced the room while the three watched helplessly. “Or rather,” she continued midstride, “I should say, can’t talk. The head injury and subsequent amnesia were an unintended side effect of methods which are typically very effective at coaxing information out of our . . . informants.” She moved in closer to the siblings and gave them a wolfish grin. “Perhaps the three of you can help us and your mother out.”
The woman’s bold movements belied her age; Jason realized, as she leaned over them, that she was probably the same age as his grandmother. There was nothing matronly in her actions or words though and Jason’s fear rose to a whole new level. Even with all he had been through in the last few days, he hadn’t felt this hysterical and out of control since the panic attack at his father’s funeral four years earlier. Jason grabbed on to both Rosemary and Rory in an effort to calm his dread.