Memory is very interesting to me – that grey matter isn’t stone, and we all seem to remember things a bit differently from each other, and even from the ourselves of a year ago. All memory is unreliable – it takes some strength to admit this, and some work to compare multiple memories of the same event to weed out the added layers and find out what really happened. If you were the type of person who needed everything to be concrete instead of “grey and squishy” like the brains it’s stored in, you might want to do something to correct those “Reconcilable Differences.”
Here’s the blurb:
Memory is such a fleeting thing.
Carl can’t seem to get anything right, and he too often fails to keep track of what Madeline feels is important. She hasn’t had much hope for their forty-six-year marriage. What hope could there be, with all the irreconcilable differences in the way they each see things? Maybe Memory Replacement Therapy holds the answer (or you could find it by reading “Reconcilable Differences.”)
And here’s the excerpt:
Dr. Sharma smiled as she extended her hand to Madeline, who shook it politely, and then to Carl, who looked down and dug his hands deeper into his armpits.
Dr. Sharma kept her smile as she set the folder open on her desk as she sat down, glancing at the contents.
“So this must be Carl,” Dr. Sharma said. “I take it he’s…?”
“Being difficult,” Madeline said. “No more than usual, though.”
“Oh, you just watch…” Carl mumbled, but stopped when he met a well-practiced glare from Madeline.
“Let’s try to mind our manners, dear. I don’t want to have to ground you.”
Carl pursed his lips and redirected his eyes to the floor.
“That’s more like it,” Madeline smiled smugly, then turned her attention back to Dr. Sharma. “I would imagine you see many like him here.”
“To varying degrees. Dementia manifests differently in each patient,” she said, as she flipped through the handful of papers in the folder.
“I see all the signatures are in your name, Mrs. Taylor.”
“I have power of attorney,” Madeline said. “All the documentation should be in there.”
“It is, and I’m sure you have a legal right to do this,” Dr. Sharma said. “However, my staff doesn’t seem to have printed his medical records.”
“Wouldn’t that all be electronic now?”
“The records are, but I prefer to keep paper copies on file,” Dr. Sharma said. “Call me old-fashioned, but I like my documentation to be less malleable. Our own memories are volatile enough that I’d prefer not having computers to add another layer of uncertainty to it. I like something that can’t change while I’m holding it in my hand. Who was the referring physician?”
“Oh, there wasn’t one,” Madeline said. “My friend Rose Branson was having difficulties with her husband Fred, and then she came to you and you fixed everything. She’s the one who referred me.”
“I remember the Bransons; Doug only required a thirty-five percent memory replacement to become functional,” Dr. Sharma said. “Referrals help us to be sure the normal progression of treatments has been tried. Memory Replacement Therapy can work wonders, and can bring the patient back to a semblance of themselves.”
“Only a semblance?”
“He’ll still be Carl, but the gaps in his memory will be filled from yours.”
“Good! Then he’ll remember everything the way it really was.”
“He’ll remember them the way you remember them.”
“That’s the same thing,” Madeline said.
“No one’s memory is perfect,” Dr. Sharma said. “From the time something first comes into our mind, we remember it by associating it with what is already stored there, to help give it context. And as time passes, the connections we’ve set up change and evolve, and so does the memory.”
“Not mine,” Madeline said. “Facts are facts.”
“Facts are, but what we store in our mind is our interpretation of those facts,” Dr. Sharma said. “And who we are is reinforced by those interpretations – alter the relationships we’ve made too much, and we lose track of our own identity and become someone else. That is why Memory Replacement Therapy is best reserved for when all else fails.”
“Oh, it has,” Madeline insisted. “He refuses to be reasonable.”
“That is often the way with husbands,” Sharma smiled, “and yet, we endure them.”
“When we have to,” Madeline said, “but he won’t even admit that his mind is going.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my mind,” Carl muttered.
“How would you know? You can’t remember anything,” Madeline said.
“I can so.”
“When is our anniversary?”
That question and the resulting confusion should be familiar to everyone (at least those of us BLESSED with a relationship that has anniversaries), and in some of us trigger an embarrassing fight-or-flight response. “Reconcilable Differences” is a short speculative fiction, and is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
“Reconcilable Differences” is also included in the collection Yet Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND:
Which is itself included in the mega-collection The Next Three ‘Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND’
William Mangieri’s writing – including his most recent release “Reining Cats and Dogs” – can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
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• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri