[The theme for the latest Weekly Writing Challenge from The Daily Post is about leaving traces, artifacts which are later found and compel their discoverers to trace their history back to its source. I’ll once again work this challenge into the flow of the story I’m currently developing, and provide a summary of the story so far.]
Dr. Patel asked if everyone was there, and Gary replied that Arjie had texted him 30 minutes ago that he was leaving his apartment. “That means he won’t be much longer.”
Hilda pulled Dr. Patel to the side of the room, spoke to him in urgent hushed tones. Assuming her mother was speaking to the doctor about her, Jane turned her attention to Gary and Wings, standing under the large light fixture in the center of the carpeted dining room. He asked Wings about her dance career; Wings replied enthusiastically. Jane stepped forward to join the conversation, when an object on the wall caught her attention.
She squinted, focused on the object — a picture, no, a drawing. A cartoon, a caricature. Of Gary, an absurd exaggeration of his girth. Drawn by . . . her.
She remembered the caricature, from a Crasob Engineering company picnic, several summers ago, before they were acquired, before they had moved into the new building. They had hired a cartoonist. Gary was one of her last subjects, and even the cartoonist wasn’t happy with the result. Jane asked for the easel and ink, said she wanted to see if she remembered anything from her art classes in college. Five minutes later, she showed her work to Gary, who howled in appreciation.
Jane walked past Gary and Wings, came within inches of the caricature. She hadn’t known Gary had framed it, hung it on his dining room wall. But what suprised her even more was the thought that was now in her mind — the person who drew that wasn’t me, but the person I used to be.
Ever since that weird Monday morning last week, when she woke up into a world she didn’t recognize — a world with mobile phones and laptop computers she didn’t recognize, and without the transportation systems she did remember — she hadn’t come into contact with something she had created before that morning. Yes, she’d reviewed the CAD drawings she didn’t remember creating, but those all seemed like lines on a computer file, with nothing distinctive that would identify those as her efforts. But this silly little carcicature, of a morbidly obese Gary missing a tennis ball with his racket — this was created from her hand.
But that hand belonged to the woman she was before Monday. A woman who, according to the claims of Gary and her mother and all her friends in whom she’d confided, had been an adept CAD operator, had been perfectly comfortable with the telecommunication technology she now found so alien, had owned the car she didn’t recognize for years. And the woman who had drawn that caricature wasn’t just living in an entirely different technological world, she hadn’t experienced many of the life-changing events that were to come. Jane studied the caricature again, and wondered again if the person she was now could honestly take credit for the work of her younger self.
A ball of light shown on the upper corner of the picture glass, grew larger, then disappeared. The sound of tires on pavement — Jane saw Gary turn from Wings, head towards the front door — “That must be Arjie.”