Untrusted Memories – TLWM 4B

Jane studied Dr. Patel as she spoke, looking for any physical signs that would reveal his thoughts. “Before I woke up Monday morning, I hadn’t seen a smart phone, or any type of telephone that wasn’t connected to a wall, before Monday” — his right eyebrow arched up — “And I didn’t know computers existed outside the military or colleges” — the corners of his mouth drew back — “When I left my apartment that morning, I saw more cars on the road than I ever remembered seeing” — he began rubbing his palms with the tips of his fingers — “It was about then that I realized Unirail, this mass transit system that’s been running for decades, no longer existed” — he blinked twice — “Then I get to the office, and Gary tells me all the work I do — I’m a draftsman, I do engineering drawings, did Gary tell you that?” — he paused as if surprised, then nodded, a blank look on his face — “I’m thinking if I just work the board for a few hours then everything would be back to normal, but then Gary tells me no, I haven’t done drawings on a board in years, everything I do is on the computer, and I’m looking at him like, really?” — his lips parted, then shut quickly.Jane cleared her throat before continuing, and fought the urge to advise this nice, patient man to never play poker. “So, it’s like I wake up Monday morning, and bam — the whole world’s changed around me.” She held her arms, palms facing upward, towards Dr. Patel. “So that’s why I’m here, doc. To see if you can help me make sense out of what’s happened to me.”

Sumeet leaned back in his chair, its loud creak penetrating the silence that had descended on his office like a fog. He brought his hands together, fingers on one hand pressing against their opposites. He balanced his bearded chin against the top of his middle fingers. “You say you first noticed the — ” he opened his arms until his hands spread shoulder-width, palms facing Jane — “the world changed. On Monday, this is when you noticed this?”

Jane nodded. “When my phone started ringing. Or playing Mozart, actually.”

“When Gary called me the other day, he told me that everyone at the office has been a little stressed. You are working on some big project, this is yes?”

Jane shrugged, a frown crawling across her lips like a slug. “I guess. We’re wrapping up this project for IDOT, Route 20. We’ve been working on it two years. Things always get crazy at the end.” Her lips curled up in a smile, while her eyes remained stern. “It’s just another project. Like the project we completed in the spring, which none of us remember anymore. Just like when we complete our next contract from IDOT, nobody’ll remember anything about Route 20.” She lifted her palms up. “It’s work. That’s all it is.”

Sumeet leaned forward, his jacketed arms resting on the table between them. “Do you like your work?”

Jane raised her eyebrows, looked down. “I like drafting. I’ve always like drafting. On the board, anyway.”

“Do you not like using the computer for drafting?”

Jane looked up, made eye contact with Dr. Patel. “I don’t know how to draft on the computer.”

“But those drawings on the computer — they do exist, yes?” Dr. Patel folded his hands on the table.

Jane nodded, an uncontrollable sadness descending on her face. “Yes, they exist. And Gary says I was the one who put most of them there.”

“But you don’t remember doing those drawings?”

Jane squeezed her eyes shut. “I have this odd thing about remembering details from when we finished big projects. What people were wearing, what we had for lunch, what time of day it was when I told Gary I was finished.” She opened her eyes. “Devon storm sewers — we ordered Chinese take-out the day we mailed the drawings, it was this new restaurant that was so bad, we vowed never to eat there again. The DeKalb culverts — there was an eclipse. I remember those projects, and more. But what I also remember — is doing them on the board. My board. Not with a computer.”

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