Chapter 9 Doctor Rogers
Nanny had gone to what she called “Garden Club” by the time I came down stairs that morning. She left me a note to say when she would be home and not to wait around if I wanted to go out. I made breakfast, ignoring the strange urge to boil the kettle. I had flashes of memories of myself doing it repeatedly; I knew what that meant though – tea.
I knew one of my jobs to do today was visit the hospital for a consult with doctor Rogers. Nanny had booked the appointment the day I left hospital, and it was just a general check up to make sure I was dealing with my memory loss effectively. I was definitely getting the hang of it. With every new movement, touch, and sound – little snippets of memory would burst out of my thoughts. I dressed in a denim skirt and a plain white vest top, the weather being so hot and beautiful. I pulled my hair up into a pony tail, despite Nanny and Ryan telling me that I never used to wear it that way and pushed my feet into a small pair of red dolly shoes. I locked the door and hid the key under the lavender bush, leaving the key ring sticking out of the mud so that Nanny would see it. She had left the jeep so I climbed in with no hesitation; I was glad that I had not had to go over the driving lessons again. I rolled the windows down and let the Texan air fill the car. I thought about Ryan at work and realised I didn’t know where he worked. I’d have to ask him. The roads were busy as I drove, miles and miles seemed to whip past me as I accelerated and took the correct turnings until the depressing building of the hospital came into view, I say depressing because even in the bright sunlight it looked rained on, the concrete was dark and mouldy looking. I felt dirty walking into it.
I only had to wait for ten minutes, tapping my foot across the linoleum floor until the polite receptionist showed me into Dr Rogers’s office. It smelt like pepto bismol and antibacterial spray. He cleared his throat as I entered.
“Howdy” his red hair was on fire again, the sun shone around his head like a halo. I wondered if having his desk in front of the window like that was on purpose. I shrugged it off. “How’re you doing?” his icy blue eyes examined me.
“Yeah...I’m fine” I tucked my hair behind my ear, suddenly a little embarrassed. I didn’t want to tell Dr Rogers that I feel more apart from myself that I can ever remember which is funny since I'm here to talk about my lack of memory. He cleared his throat again. “Memories are coming back more frequently” I nodded to myself.
Dr Rogers looked me over, chilling me to the bone with his icy eyes.
“Can you tell me your full name please?”
“It’s Olivia Christine Green” I said cringing when my name sounded stiff on my lips. The awkwardness of the syllables – I hoped he didn’t notice. He nodded and wrote something down.
“Your grandmother’s name?” his eyebrows were raised, as if he expected me to get this wrong. I fumbled for a moment in my brain, hoping that this was how to pronounce it.
“Christine. Christine Green...but I call her Nanny obviously” I felt my cheeks redden. Why did I tell him that?
He chuckled, a brief humourless sound. “Your birth date?”
Heat flooded up my neck and burnt my ears. I didn’t know this, I couldn’t remember. Thinking of birthdays reminded me that I had had it recently, but I didn’t know the exact date. I looked down at my trembling hands. “I don’t – I can’t remember” I whispered.
“It is the 31st March 1992” he said calmly. He examined me again. “I suppose, since you have been home that you know your address?”
I nodded, placing my birth date into my memory.
“Have you tried to remember the night of the attack?” his tone was serious, hinting on expectancy as if it were my mission.
“I-I’ve tried, but I've got nothing” I explained.
“It would appear that you cannot remember but what I believe is that your mind has blacked out the bad events of the attack, to protect you. It’s very common, but I would suggest regular exercises to allow your mind to open”
I had x-rays and scans for what felt like hours, every time our conversation continued in the same awkward way, me being unable to answer normally simple questions, about my weight, my height, and also questions about my favourite smells and foods. I was uncomfortable, it felt like he was interrogating me and I was thankful for the blinding sun as I stepped out of the hospital building.
I drove back home quickly, wanting to be somewhere where I felt safer, I longed to talk to someone who knew me, I wanted Ryan. I checked my watch and saw that it was half past two; he would probably already be at the house. This thought made me speed up, I took the turning into Bellerose which was the road Nanny’s house was situated, seeing his dark blue car parked beside the garden. He was lying on his bonnet, sunglasses on, staring at the sun.
He didn’t turn to my car when I pulled up but when I jumped down I noticed thin white wires poking out of his ears, trailing down his chest and diving into his pocket. His foot tapped to unheard music.
The heat of the car was a shock as I climbed slowly onto the bonnet beside him; it burnt my skin as I climbed on my hands and knees up the car. I kissed his burning cheek and lay back, my head on his arm. The sun baked us, but I closed my eyes and tried to ignore the headache Doctor Rogers had given me.
Ryan tucked something into my ear and I could hear a guitar strumming a repetitive tune.
“Hey, I remember this” I said slowly, as the male voice bellowed the country music I recognised it.
“And so you should...I used to sing this to you all the time” Ryan lifted his sun glasses and winked at me. “Country girl, take my hand, lead me through this...” he sung, sounding a little off key.
I laughed, his foot continued to tap against the hood of the car. The sun was suffocating and even more unbearable with Ryan wrapping his arms around me, but it felt normal. This heat was what my body expected; it’s what it craved whenever Ryan was near.
I let him sing for a while, before feeling thirsty. I hopped off the bonnet and trudged towards my house, feeling Ryan’s footsteps behind me. He sat on the kitchen stool and waited whilst I pulled a bottle of water from the fridge. I drank slowly, letting the cool flavourless liquid rest on my tongue before I tilted my head back, it washed my dry tongue. Sabre grunted at our arrival, nudging my leg with his nose and then padding around the corner. I watched him until his soft brown tail disappeared.
“So what did the doctor say?” Ryan asked, stowing his iPod away. He took the bottle of water from me, towering over me as he drank from it, and then scooping me in his arms when he’d thrown it away.
It was only when we both lay on the cool grass of Nanny’s garden that I answered him. Thinking about the doctor made me tremble with anger; I bit my lip and stared up at the pale blue sky.
“He just asked lots of questions about me that I didn’t know the answer to. I couldn’t remember my birthday” I admitted shaking my head.
“Yeah but that isn’t your fault. None of this, it’s no good being mad at yourself when you didn’t do anything” his voice was kind and gentle. I knew he was right, but it wasn’t why I was frustrated.
“It was the way he asked the questions...so blunt and then when I couldn’t answer one he would look so blank and unresponsive. It was no help at all.” I said, recognizing the sternness in Nanny’s voice again.
“Yeah well, you don’t need to see him many more times. You’ll get your memory back soon and then you won’t need to see him ever again” Ryan sat back on his elbows and looked around the garden. I watched him for a moment and then stared up at the sky. The familiar feeling of the sun on my face was comforting. I could smell Ryan near me, hear his breathing he was my constant comfort. Sabre joined us soon after, and we lay in the garden dreaming up weekend plans and joking around. Although I was happy, with the feel of Ryan’s warm hand in mine and the soft flapping of Sabre’s tail against my thigh, I couldn’t help but feel detached, like a part of me somewhere wasn’t enjoying this. Somewhere a part of me, was trying to find its way out. It was peeling and scraping the structure of my skull. A mental twitch would interrupt my normality whenever it got too painful. It felt like running my nails over a chalk board.
Ryan stayed for dinner that night, which Nanny and he assured me was also normal. I never complained, if I did not think it inappropriate I would have him live there with me. Nanny made spaghetti which was a food that I remembered as soon as I smelt it wafting out into the garden towards Ryan and me, where we lay. We had watched the sun move right across the sky; Ryan seemed to love to talk, I listened to him for hours as he told me about his job, he works with the construction company his Dad also works for. He told me about his Dog, Megan the golden Labrador that I could remember playing with when she was only a puppy. Through his stories, I began to fall in love with him all over again. Hearing the kindness in his words straight from his heart.