Jane loaded her paper plate with chips and cheese, walked to an empty far corner of the room. She saw Wings approach, concern on her face — “You OK, girl?” Jane nodded, then immediately sensed the cause of her friend’s concern; she couldn’t remember having said more than a sentence to anyone since they’d arrived at Gary’s home.
Jane waved her free hand in the air. “It’s just — we all know why we’re here.” She bit a cracker, swallowed quickly. “It’s about me, about my story — ” after verifying Dr. Patel wasn’t looking in their direction, she pointed to him — “about what he has to say, whether he thinks I’m crazy or not.”
Wings shrugged. “I don’t think you’re crazy. Already told the doctor that.”
Jane smiled weakly. “Even though I keep saying the whole world’s different than what I remember — ”
Wings held up a hand to stop her older friend. “Not the whole world. You still remember your family, your friends.” Wings smiled, the overhead light reflecting off her white teeth. “You remember me.” The smile disappeared. “I think you’re just stressed, is all. You’ve been working a lot, hadn’t seen you for nearly a month before — ”
“Before I woke up and didn’t recognize computers, smart phones — ”
Wings raised her stop hand again. “The things that don’t matter. The stuff that does matter — ” she reached out her hand, grabbed Jane’s — “you remember all of that. I don’t care what this doctor winds up saying, you OK, girl.”
Dr. Patel walked up behind Wings, eyes filled with question marks — “Are we waiting on anyone else?”
Jane saw her mother walk up to them, opening her mouth to speak. “No, no one else –” Jane’s quick pre-emptive response catching her mother by surprise. “We can start now, Dr. Patel.”
“Please, call me Sam.” He swept his arm in the direction of the small circle of chairs that had been assembled in the middle of the carpeted dining room, under the large light fixture. Jane walked quickly to the circle, sat in the nearest chair. Hilda, the surprise in her face giving way to annoyance, sat on her daughter’s left, Wings on her right. Gary and Arjie sat opposite the women, the two groups separated by a chair to either side. Dr. Patel remained standing, off the center, so that he could easily make eye contact with everyone briefly as he spoke.