Something bad happened and now she's frozen in time like a Polaroid
print, like a video on pause, a computer screen that's locked up. But at
least she's not paralyzed, she knows she's not paralyzed. Everything hurts
too much and not like she's lashed to phantom limbs. When they turn her,
these bleached attendants, she feels their clammy hands. When they swab
specific wounds on her face or thigh or heel, she suffers electric jolts.
Bike nirvana sucks, is what she thinks, flopped across the hospital bed
like a flounder waiting to be gutted. Did she fall? Did some cat tangle with
her wheels? A crow dive at the bike? Or is it that nasty tumor, uninvited
guest on a return visit, settling back into her cerebellum and messing up her
Barrett's lost time. Painkillers have her afloat, her mind stranded in a
wooden boat on a sea of forgetting. Maybe more has happened than she knows --
the tumor back and surgery done. Even if she could will her hand to her head,
there'd be no telltale stitches from the gamma knife.
She goes cold at the thought of the gamma knife's aim, her brain targeted
on a remote display. The rays are hard to focus; they can't predict the
collateral damage. It's a surgery curiously like bombing, like war. Berry's
brain is ground zero, the gamma, the big gun.
Maybe they've zapped my will to move, she thinks, if such a thing exists.
It would be invisible and elusive, like a gamma ray or the human soul. As
powerful when intact, as notably absent when gone.
She's miffed at the memory lapse. Why can't she remember? The distant
past seems clearer than last Saturday's lost moments. She thinks back 25
years, to her grandfather standing before her parents' mantle, taking her into
"You know darling," he said, shaking his head more at himself than at
Barrett. "I can remember being three years old better than yesterday." He
gazed at the hearth's glass door, like it was a window to his past. He
chuckled. "Yesterday seems so long ago."
He was dead within the year.
Recalling that, Barrett goes hot with desire to remember. To stave off
death, if only a while. But it's a different morning -- blindingly white --
that rises out of the depths. As if the days of her life, with its ordinary
litter of infidelities, jealousies and deaths, were a wildly shuffled deck of
cards. God cut the deck and the top card was another May Saturday, twenty
The start of the next twenty.