The Patient

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
After the accident Tony can't remember anything. Thank goodness his wife is there to look after him...

Submitted: April 21, 2017

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Submitted: April 21, 2017

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‘How are you feeling, Tony?’

Tony stretched in bed. He looked at the woman smiling down at him. He glanced around the bedroom. It was an ordinary couple’s room. Framed pictures of the two of them hung on the walls and stood proudly on bedside cabinets. Toiletries and perfume bottles littered the dressing table.

‘I’m not sure how I’m feeling. My head hurts.’

‘Can you remember anything about the accident?’

Tony paused. He thought for a long moment.

‘I can’t remember the accident. In fact, I can’t remember anything at all.’

She stroked his hair gently.

‘The doctors said that is normal with injuries like these.’

He sat up.

‘But I can’t remember anything. I don’t even remember you.’

She nodded, tears in her eyes.

‘They say there’s a chance your memory could return at any time.’

Tony nodded.

‘We’ve been married eighteen months.’ She said.

Her voice trailed off as she broke down in tears. Tony shuffled over to her. He put is arm around her, wincing in pain at the movement.

‘I’m sorry-’ he started.

What was her name?

‘Karen.’ she prompted.

‘Sorry, Karen.’

‘I’ll put the kettle on.’

She hurried out of the room.

Karen returned a short while later with a mug of tea and a packet of biscuits.

‘Here you are, Tony.’

She handed him the mug.

‘And some digestives. They are-’

‘My favourite.’

‘The doctor said your memory of older things like your childhood and likes and dislikes would still be there. It’s just the last five years or so, that’s the bit that seems to be missing. I don’t know. I don’t understand it all.’

‘You make a good brew.’

A few days later Tony was out of bed and padding around the house in his dressing gown. Karen fussed around him. He insisted he was feeling better. He didn’t quite feel as well as he made out but the concern on Karen’s face bothered him.

She had told him she had a sick note from work while she looked after her husband. They’ve been great about it all, she’d told him.

She had popped to the supermarket for a few bits and some cheese for Tony when it happened. He was flaked out on the sofa watching some crappy daytime television show about property. Then a vision came to him. It was as though he was dreaming. The living room had been replaced by a noisy bar. Loud music and flashing lights.

He had no control over what was happening. He was moving towards the bar. It was like watching a recording. His friend was chatting to a woman. As he approached she turned to face him. It was Karen. She looked younger and had longer, flowing hair. His friend nudged him.

‘She won’t let me buy her a drink.’

‘Why not?’ Tony asked both of them.

‘It’s not the nineteen fifties. These days a woman can buy her own drinks.’

‘How about you buy me a drink, then?’ Tony grinned.

‘You,’ she purred. ‘you’re good.’

Karen found him on the living room floor. She helped him onto the sofa. She looked terrified.

‘I’m okay, love. I think I’m remembering things.’

He explained what he’d seen, the bar, and him telling her to buy him a drink.

‘Yes, that’s how we met.’ She beamed.

Tony nodded. He smiled. Hopefully this would be the start of his memory coming back to him. Maybe then his head would lose the fuzziness.

Karen worked hard taking care of him. Nothing was too much trouble. She made sure he was comfortable, warm enough, not too hot, and fully fed and refreshed. He hoped to be able to repay her once he was recovered. And hopefully they he would be able to recall their full courtship and life together.

He was flicking through the morning newspapers when the next memory came to him. He was walking through the countryside with Karen. There was a bridge over a stream. The skies overhead were a white-grey colour. Then the heavens opened. The rain lashed down. Tony and Karen rushed over the stone bridge and straight into a tiny pub. The sign about the door read ‘The Purple Moose’. They laughed and laughed at being soaked to the skin. The locals staring in bewilderment made them laugh even more.

He told Karen about the memory. She chuckled with delight.

‘That was Portmadog in Wales. We’d only been going out a few weeks when I insisted you take me away for the weekend. We had such a lovely time.’

She sighed. There was sadness in her eyes. As well as the joy of the fond memory was the sorrow and concern at the way things had turned out.

The days went by. Tony ached all over. His head creased him with the most awful headaches. Karen continued to relish the nurse/housewife role. Then came the next flashback.

Tony and Karen were in the flat he had been renting. Karen was shouting at him.

‘I can’t believe you are doing this.’

‘And what exactly am I doing?’

‘Choosing to go and see some band instead of going out with me.’

‘We had no plans and Kevin managed to get me a ticket to see Shed Seven. What’s the big deal?’

‘We are supposed to be a couple.’

‘Have you heard yourself? We’ve only been going out six weeks.’

‘It’s seven weeks.’ she screamed.

She hurled a glass at him. Tony ducked as the glass shattered against the wall behind him. He stared at her in shock. He waved his hands in the air like a referee stopping a boxing match.

‘We’re finished.’ he said.

 

‘Tony?’ Is it another memory?’

‘Erm, yes.’

‘Well? What did you see?’

‘It was all a bit hazy to be honest.’

She stared at him, anger on her face. Then she smiled.

‘There’s a new drama on telly later. I thought we could watch it.’

‘Yeah,’ he managed. ‘sounds good.’

As they watched the television Karen snuggled upto him. Ouch, he muttered in discomfort.

‘Sorry, love.’ She said. ‘I just want to be close to you.’

Tony just smiled.

 

That evening Tony couldn’t help thinking about his relationship with Karen. Sometimes Tony would ask a perfectly innocent question only to see a flash of anger in her eyes. She would swallow down the rage and simply snap with a short reply.

He really wanted to ask how they had gone from his latest flashbacks to being married. He did not voice his concerns because he did not want to annoy his sensitive wife.

Another memory came to him the next morning. In the flashback he was at the office. His mobile phone rang. He slipped his phone out of his pocket and glanced at the screen. Karen’s name flashed up. He quickly tapped ‘ignore’. A second later his work phone rang. Karen’s number showed on the display. Thank goodness for caller ID, he muttered. He lifted the receiver and placed it straight back down. Hopefully Karen would take the hint.

Just after lunch that day one of his colleagues called out from the window. There was a woman in the car park outside. She was just standing there.

‘She’s just stood there in the lashing rain.’

Tony felt sick. He knew before he reached the window who this person was. Sure enough, Karen was standing motionless in the carpark. She wore no coat and her jumper hung sopping. Her wet hair was plastered to her face. Tony swore. He put his coat on. His work mates reactions varied from concern to mocking. He stepped out into the rain.

‘Karen, what are you doing?’

‘I love you, Tony.’

‘Go home. Get out of the rain.’

‘We were going to get married.’

‘What? Don’t be ridiculous. We were only going out five minutes.’

Were?’ she sobbed.

She swept back her hair from her face.

‘Yes, were.’ snapped Tony. ‘Past tense. We are finished. I don’t want to hear from you again.’

‘I won’t let you ruin what we have.’

Tony just swore at her over his shoulder as he headed back to the office.

 

He woke as if from a nightmare. Karen hovered at his elbow.

‘Have you remembered something else?’

‘No. Nothing. I was just daydreaming.’

‘Are you sure? You know we don’t lie to each other. Do we?’

‘No, love.’

Tony shuddered. Just how had he ended up marrying this woman?

His head hurt. He rubbed his eyes. The accident had really shaken him. He had so many questions. He wanted answers about his life, about their marriage and about the accident.

 

That night as he slept more pieces of the puzzle came to him.

About a week after the episode in the carpark Tony had been watching the match with friends. After the game he walked back from his local pub. As he crossed the road he heard the roar of a speeding car. He spun round to see a small red car, Karen’s car, heading straight for him. He was flung through the air. Then he was in the hospital. Doctors and nurses fussed and rushed around him. And there was Karen at his bedside, holding his hand.

‘Your husband will recover his memory in time. The human mind is a curious thing. Until then I’m afraid he has no recollection of recent events.’

‘When can I take my husband home?’

‘First thing in the morning. He will be ready to be discharged then. Make sure you take good care of him.’

‘Oh, I will.’

The doctor spoke to Tony.

‘Have you any memory at all of the accident?’

‘What accident? Where am I?’

‘You were hit by a car. Your wife brought you in. She has been at your side ever since.’

‘I don’t remember the crash. And I don’t have a wife.’

‘I understand. You don’t remember things that have happened in the recent past. Your memory will hopefully come back soon. In the meantime, rest up and gain your strength. Your wife Karen will take care of you.’

 

Tony woke with a start. The full realisation hit him. This woman he’d dated for a matter of weeks had run him over and concocted this charade of being his wife upon discovering his loss of memory. He looked around the dark bedroom. Karen lay beside him. She was asleep with her back to him.

He had to get out. As quietly as he could he managed to throw on a t-shirt and tracksuit trousers. He crept across the carpet and out of the bedroom door. He moved downstairs slowly and quietly. He shuffled down the hallway. His heart pounded in his chest. He reached the front door. He turned the handle. Locked. Of course. In his fuzzy headed panic he’d forgotten to grab the keys. Where did she keep them? Upstairs? A kitchen cupboard?

‘And just where do you think you’re going?’ called a voice from behind.

Tony turned to face Karen. He pointed a finger in the darkness.

‘I remember everything. We’re not married. We only went out for a few weeks. You lost it when I ended it. You hit me with your car. And then, and this is the really twisted part, when it turned out my memory was lost, you started this whole sick charade.’

‘Your mind is playing tricks, love. The doctors said that could happen.’

‘Bullshit. You’re the one playing tricks. Now let me out.’

‘We belong together.’

‘They will lock you up for this.’

In the dark hallway he saw her move. Then he felt the crack as the cricket bat caught him on the side of the head.

‘You will never leave me.’ she said.


© Copyright 2018 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

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