SHORT STORY: It's not worth remembering

Friday January 07 2022
The stranger dove forward, wrapping his hands around her neck.

Her memory rushed back in terrifying clips; and as the flicker of recognition sparked in her eyes, the stranger dove forward, wrapping his hands around her neck... ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGA


Jenna could hear voices, far away. They sounded muffled as if she were underwater, and though she tried, she couldn’t seem to call out to them, or move, or do anything at all. She floated, suspended in time, half panicked half calm, fully catatonic. The voices drifted, fading in and out, and the snippets she did catch made no sense to her.

“Call me when there’s a change…”

“It’s been days, but...”

Jenna was curious. This place where she was was too bleak, too lonely. Though the weight of her tongue and the thickness in her throat seemed insurmountable, she formed a question, struggling to reach across the abyss to whoever was talking.

“Doctor! I heard…”

“Shh! I heard it too."


Then, “Miss? Can you hear us?”

Jenna’s heart started to pound. They had heard her hadn’t they? They were speaking to her!

She forced her mouth to form words, her mind racing to string a coherent sentence together, but she still felt like she was miles underwater — sluggish and dull witted.

“Where, who…” she cut off, as suddenly she felt someone take hold of her arm. The sensation stunned her, she wasn’t underwater! She was here, with whoever they were. She inhaled sharply.

“Doc, her heart-rate is spiking!”

Jenna forced her eyes open and stared into two blurry faces peering down at her. One had a stethoscope around his neck and narrow spectacles balanced on his broad nose; the other was holding a large needle, her face scrunched with worry that was slowly turning to amazement.

“You’re awake!” the needle wielder said, gently lowering the object back onto a silver tray.

“You’re awake,” the stethoscope wearer chimed in, rubbing his stubble covered jaw while he stared at her.

“Do you know who you are?” he asked as he carefully shone a small light into each of her eyes, then turned to stare at a machine beeping signals beside him.

“Jenna,” she replied.

Her voice was hoarse, her throat itchy, “I’m…” she stopped short, a tightness filling her chest in tandem with erratic beeps from the machine.

She was Jenna, she knew that much, but what of everything else?

“Jenna,” said the stethoscope wearer, “Calm down.”

He waved the needle wielder away as she leaned forward, needle in hand again.

“Breathe slowly,” the doctor said as he placed the cold stethoscope on her chest. “Short term amnesia can happen when there’s been trauma.”

He glanced over at the nurse and muttered, “The mild sedative.”

Then he turned back to Jenna.

“It will help you stay calm, okay? Give it time. Something will trigger your memory.”

He patted her hand kindly, turned and left as the nurse pushed a thin needle into Jenna’s arm. She felt like she was lying on a cloud and her worries seemed far away.

The sun was painting the sky a burnt orange that had streaks of red and pink lashed across it. Jenna had been staring at it, eyes glazed, watching the dramatic changes as it set.

“Jenna,” said the doctor, winding his stethoscope in his bony hands. “We have good news,” he said as he stepped aside to let a beefy stranger through. “He’s your husband! He has the documents to prove it!” the doctor tried to inflect his voice with enthusiasm as Jenna’s flat eyes met his.

Jenna turned to the thick-set stranger. He had a hard face, set in sharp lines, a mouth pursed in apparent worry and a brow raised. His eyes flashed with emotion, though she couldn’t quite tell what feeling it was.

He stood still at the foot of her bed, an awkward silence filling the air as she continued to stare at him. She thought that if indeed this was her husband, he ought to do more than just stand there.

Then he took a tentative step forward and Jenna saw a faint scar tracing a zigzag line from his left ear to his jaw and alarm bells flooded her mind. Her memory rushed back in terrifying clips; and as the flicker of recognition sparked in her eyes, the stranger dove forward, wrapping his hands around her neck.

“What the…” the doctor gawked for a minute, then turned on his heels and ran out.

Jenna sputtered, fighting, clawing and kicking out. She remembered now. He was her husband, but they were embroiled in a nasty divorce that was going in her favour.

She grunted as she felt the blood slow in her veins, small spots appearing in her eyes as her vision clouded over and in those moments, Jenna felt rage. After years of his abuse, she wasn’t going down without a fight. Kicking out violently, she hit him in his stomach so hard he wrenched her up with him as he fell back, losing his grip.

“Get him!” said the doctor, having returned, panting heavily, with security in tow.

Watching from her fifth floor window as he was bundled into a police car in the parking lot, Jenna tenderly massaged her throat. She wouldn’t try too hard to remember everything she decided, she could do with some new memories.