Sunday, February 17, 2013

Insomniac, Part 19

Harold woke at 4:17 am and realized that he'd hoped a head injury would miraculously cure his insomnia. It hadn't. The only difference it made was that he had some holes in his memory and sometimes he missed stuff like turning off the burner after he made tea. After a couple of weeks, the memory part was getting to be less of a problem. Harold realized that within two weeks, the stuff he couldn't remember about his life from a month ago would be irrelevant anyway. It kind of sucked.

The trouble he had with his memory was coming along too. He'd learned not to try too hard to grab an idea before it slipped away. He learned never to put cutting boards on the stove if any of the burners were on, and he learned to double-check that the knobs were all upright before he left a room. He patted his pocket now to feel his keys, before he closed the car door. Two parking lot visits by locksmiths had taught him that. He checked and double-checked his writing at work. Roger had called him obsessive-compulsive. It wasn't obsessive-compulsive if you really were forgetting to turn off the burners, he thought. He could have told Roger that, but he forgot when he saw him and remembered when he walked into his door at home at night.

It was 4:43 am and Harold laid in his bed with the light off, wishing he could go back to sleep. He scratched his crotch. Why was it that something so mundane and socially intolerable was just so satisfying? No one was going to say anything about it now. Alex had nagged him about it back when they'd been married. It wasn't as if he farted around her. Even a year after the divorce, he reveled in this freedom, to be able to scratch his crotch and fart freely in his own bed.

The cat jumped up onto the bed, asking to be petted. At least someone was glad to see him at this hour. Harold had a problem remembering his name, but the cat didn't care. Harold pulled one of Alex's decorator pillows off the floor and gave the cat a throne. It seemed right that the pillow was so furry it looked like it was beginning to need a shave. Even the cat deserved to be himself in his own bed.

Harold tried to remember the days that he'd missed. It was like the time he chipped his tooth when he fell off his bike when he was twelve. His tongue had kept running over that nervy hole in his smile. He couldn't seem to control it then or now. When he woke in the middle of the night, there it was, that nervy hole in his memory to run over and over again.

He'd gone to bed one night but then he'd woken up on the floor, looking up at strangers in his bathroom. He'd been lying there in a puddle, stark naked. He'd woken up in the hospital in the night, after a breakfast had cooled off on his tray, and in dim light, after the old food had been removed and more food had been delivered and congealed on it's plastic tray. He'd been told to be careful, to have complete bed rest, and been sent home. He'd had to ignore the complete bed rest since the kids were gone at school all day. Somebody had to do the laundry. Somebody had to make food.

Hilly and Victoria had surprised him by cooking and cleaning for the first day. It was a Saturday, but by Sunday afternoon, Victoria had tired of the job and had taken the car and some cash and disappeared until after he'd gone to bed. Had she even asked for the keys? Harold couldn't remember.

Hilly seemed to be playing his usual role, going to school and coming home to play video games with Hork, but Harold noticed that something was different about him. Something had been different between Hilly and Victoria too. He just couldn't put a finger on what it was.

That was the thing about memory loss. Harold couldn't put a finger on it. He didn't mind, not too much anyway.

Thank you for listening, jules

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