I give a lot of thought to dementia and Alzheimer’s. It could be due to hearing of prominent people (Ronald Regan, Terry Pratchett) who have wound up with it, as well as relatives. Then again, it’s more likely on my mind because my own memory always seems to be in continuous decline. I wondered about a different, fantastic reason for all the confusion. What if you lost track of which of the infinite alternate realities (and memories) was yours. “The Re-Entanglement of Grant Decker” was the result.
Here’s the Blurb
Are we simply the sum of the choices we’ve made? What happened to all the other possibilities?
Grant can’t keep his reality in focus. His daughter thinks he’s having senior moments, but he knows that’s not it – those voices he’s hearing just don’t care how embarrassing they make things. He’s never been one to talk to himself, but maybe it’s time. How else will he know if his life is coming apart or coming together?
What does it all add up to? Read it and find out.
And Here’s This Week’s Excerpt
A college-age female in a pink sweat suit passed by Grant Decker as he hobbled along the path; if he hadn’t needed his cane he would have swatted her with it. He knew he was being irrational, but that still didn’t take away the irritation at being passed by a woman, even if she was – what, fifty years his junior? Why in his day he’d,… he’d… There were so many things he could have done back then, but hadn’t. Too late for regrets now.
He sat down to catch his breath and admire the view. One of the things he liked about living with his daughter Jenny was how her house butted up against the park; it reminded him of the woods in their old neighborhood. He especially enjoyed walking in the fall, when the leaves were turning, and the colors were not only on the trees, but on the ground as well. His wife Mary used to adore the leaves, would gather them up into bouquets as they walked back home. God, how he missed her.
“She’ll be out here any minute,” a voice said.
It sounded like his own voice, but he had heard that voice often enough lately that Grant knew it wasn’t his. He looked around, partly to see if someone was fooling with him, but mostly to make sure there wasn’t anyone to see him making a fool of himself before he answered. It wouldn’t be good to be seen talking to himself in public, especially at his age.
“Don’t be absurd,” he answered. “Mary died three years ago, tomorrow.”
“What? Don’t think things like that,” the voice said. “She told me she’d be out here after she finished talking with Jenny on the phone.”
“If Mary was still here she wouldn’t need the phone,” Grant said. “Jenny was in the kitchen last I saw.”
“No, she won’t come for her visit until next week,” the voice said. “Ahhh, here comes Mary now.“
“Where?” Grant asked, looking back down the path toward Jenny’s house. Then he looked up the path the other way, where the pink jogger had disappeared. There was someone coming his way, but his eyes were blurring and all he could make out was a smudge of bright blue. He rubbed his eyes and stared at his wife, holding a spray of maple leaves and smiling as she sat on the bench next to him.
“It’s all set,” she said as she leaned into him. “Timothy will be coming with them for Thanksgiving.”
“He got leave after all?” Grant asked. “They don’t let you go just like that.”
“You talk like he’s in the navy already,” Mary said.
“Well he should be,” Grant said. “Our grandson needs to learn to make a decision and stick with it.”
“Not until he graduates next year,” she said, and patted his hand. “You can’t keep anything straight. Sometimes I worry about you.”
Mary always worried about him. She meant it in the nicest way, but the fact was he was more and more worried about himself. Just moments ago he thought he’d been hearing voices, and that Mary was dead. But here she was, and he knew there was no point talking to her about it – he didn’t want to upset her.
“Aren’t these pretty,” she said, spreading her maple leaves in front of her face like an Asian fan.
“Not as pretty as you.”
“You old flatterer!” she laughed, and batted her green eyes at him over the tops of the leaves. Those eyes were the first thing he’d noticed when he saw her in the cafeteria at college. Even now they made his heart flutter.
Mary stood up and tugged on his hand. “Come along, Mr. Decker. We need to get the house ready.”
Grant stood and held Mary’s hand in his left as they walked up the trail and back toward their house. He squeezed her hand every so often, and she reassured him by squeezing right back.
I don’t know what I’ll do if I ever lose you, he thought, and then he lost his grip as that infernal pink jogger rushed by and knocked his hand aside. There was a moment of uncertainty where Grant rocked forward and back on his feet trying to keep his balance, before gravity took over. He fell down on the indignity of his butt with a loud “Hey!” before he flopped onto his back. He lay there staring up at the sky through a gap in the maples until the girl in pink blocked his view.
“Sorry, Gramps, I didn’t expect you to swing your arm out like that,” she said, crouching above him. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” he said. “Where’s my wife?”
Grant strained to push himself off the ground, but couldn’t quite manage it on his own, so he let the girl help drag him to his feet.
“Mary!” he shouted as he staggered in a circle. “Mary!”
“What caused it?” Jenny asked. “Did he hit his head when he fell?”
Grant lay on the bed in the emergency room, feeling more foolish and useless than ever as he listened to her talk with her doctor about his condition. What hospital was this, anyway?
“No, there are no signs of concussion,” Dr. Grayson said. “Did either of his parents have memory problems?”
“Grandpa Joe died when I was twelve,” Jenny said. “I think he was having trouble remembering who we were there at the end.”
“Of course, I would need to run some tests to be certain, but it could be a form of dementia,” Dr. Grayson said. “Maybe Alzheimer’s.”
There’s nothing wrong with my mind, Grant thought. He hated it when they talked like he wasn’t there. Dr. Grayson wasn’t even looking at him. Dr. Meyers would have never done that.
“Why aren’t we talking to Dr. Meyers?” the voice asked. “He’s closer to my age than this kid.”
Dr. Grayson and Jenny turned toward Grant, and he realized he had spoken out loud.
“Daddy, be nice,” she said. “Dr. Grayson is a good doctor – he’s just trying to help.”
“That’s all right, Jenny,” Dr. Grayson said. “It’s perfectly natural that he wishes he had his old doctor.”
“He is my doctor,” Grant said.
“Daddy, Dr. Grayson has been your doctor ever since you moved in with me.”
“Why would I move in with you? Your mother and I have our own place.”
“Mom…” Jenny started, but she stopped when Dr. Grayson shook his head.
…is dead, Grant thought.
“No, she’s not,” the voice said. “We were just out walking…“
“Who’s saying that?”
“Saying what, Mr. Decker?” Dr. Grayson asked.
“What am I doing in this hospital bed? I was just in the park.“
“Where’s Mary?” Grant asked.
“She must have gone back to the house. Why isn’t she here?“
“Stop confusing me!” Grant shouted.
“I’m going to give him something to calm him,” Dr. Grayson said.
Grant was sitting at Jenny’s backyard patio table, eating his toast. He could feel her watching him from the kitchen window. He hated being cooped up in the house, but since he’d lost it in the park, and then at the hospital, this was the most outside she would allow him. At least her husband wasn’t sitting out here with him today; Mark was okay and all, but right now it would just be too many jailers.
“So I’m – we’re not losing our mind?” Grant whispered, “It’s not dementia?”
“More like dimensions,” Grant 2 said. “Or timelines. There are so many decisions we make throughout our lives. We spin-off more and more instances of ourselves at every fork in the road.“
“But if our others have been there all along, why weren’t we aware of them until now?”
“Let’s face it – we’re all getting pretty close to the end – we can only live so long, and more and more of us are finishing up. Maybe those of us who are still alive are losing our hold on our present and our own bodies as we all come back together.“
“Isn’t that supposed to wait until we die? Because I don’t feel anywhere near that yet.”
“I know, but our bodies are failing. Different processes we used to be able to count on don’t hold things together like they used to. Maybe whatever keeps our soul attached is failing, too.“
“So how are we able to talk to ourselves?”
“The way I figure it, you and I don’t have that much separating us. We’re the same age, and aside from the fact that your Mary died, there’s surprisingly little different in your timeline. So it’s easier for us to connect. It seems like it’s the same deal between me and a couple of the others.“
“How many of us are there?”
“Millions, I guess, maybe all the way up to infinity, but that doesn’t matter,” Grant 2 said. “I’m dealing with only three or four right now, and that’s hard enough not to get lost in.“
“But I only have you.”
“And I only had you at first – the others started later. Maybe you’re at the far end of some continuum of us, and I’m connected to more instances because I’m closer to the middle. Or maybe it means my body is closer to the end and my barriers are breaking apart sooner.“
“Well, whatever it is, Jenny needs to know. I can’t have her cooping me up here just because she thinks I’m crazy.”
“Don’t go and tell her what we’ve figured out,” Grant 2 said. “If you don’t want her to think you’re crazy, you’re going to have to pretend that you’re not.“
“Pretend? There’s nothing to pretend,” Grant said out loud.
“Are you okay out there, Daddy?” Jenny called from the window.
“Fine. Just fine,” Grant called back, then muttered under his breath. “I’m not pretending.”
“You’ll get the hang of it.“
The re-collapse of infinite possibilities and timelines – could that be what really happens at the end? “The Re-Entanglement of Grant Decker” is a speculative fiction short story, and is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
“The Re-Entanglement of Grant Decker” is also included in collection The Next Three ‘Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND’. (If you purchase the collection on Smashwords, you’ll receive a 50% discount. That’s only $2.50 for EIGHTEEN stories – such a deal!):
Smashwords (at 50%-off): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/784952?ref=NoTimeToThink
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William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
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