* * *
She was a fifty-year-old woman wearing the ravages of failed dreams and alcohol. She had a life lived not for love, but for money. She painted her face on each day, searching for wrinkles and other perceived imperfections in the mirror attached to the antique vanity that was part of her daily ritual. She always felt she looked too old. She felt it deep in the core of her being that she should look younger. But, her memory had been suspect for the last four months after she fell and hit her head on the marble staircase sweeping from the ground floor to the second of her immaculate home. Her husband had left early that morning – as he did every morning without fail for the last twenty years. They had spent nearly two decades together and he always seemed to disappoint her with the little things.
She didn’t think he did these things intentionally, they just had different ideas on how to prioritize those little things. She felt she often rated pretty low on his list of priorities. He would go on an on about acquiring pop culture objects, like a guitar owned by Jimi Hendrix. He provided her with the finer things in life, but sometimes those fineries only reminded her she was a prisoner of the life she was forced to live. She was contemplating that very life when she received the call that would change her understanding of everything she had believed in. She picked up the faux-antique handset of the telephone displayed next to a small stuffed animal on the dresser next to her vanity.
“Marilyn, is that you?”
She stared at the phone in her hand, unable to respond to the familiar voice on the other end of the line.
Uneasily, she replied, “No one has called me by that name in nearly twenty years.”
“You may think it has been twenty years, but I promise you it has not been that long.”
“I think you have me confused with someone else, I’ve gone by Lynn for as long as my husband and I have been together.”
“I know this sounds weird, but can you remember your life before four months ago?”
She was filled with dread with that single question. The feeling consumed her so completely, she dropped the handset. It didn’t fall to the floor because the coiled handset cord didn’t stretch that far. As the handset swung lazily against the dresser, she could hear an urgent voice coming from it. She paid no attention to the voice as a flood of memories washed over her. She was having difficulty breathing as the new flood of memories contradicted everything she thought she knew.