The clock on the nightstand was a blur behind Gail’s dry contact lens. She felt the heavy foundation smearing the pillow. It wasn’t hers. That’s when she started investigating with her nose. Cologne. Not the residual scent of a one night stand, but morning-shower fresh, and it was familiar. Like sink a little deeper into the pillow familiar. 

“Good morning, gorgeous.” a baritone voice called from the other side of the bed. 

Statue still–she doesn’t recognize this voice. 

“I know you’re awake. You can stop pretending, silly.”

If this is some lucid dream, how did she explain the smell? “Don’t you lose your sense of smell when you sleep?” she thought. 

“Look, babe, I’m running late, you can sleep in if you want, but I gotta run.” 

Okay, so not a one-night-stand. “I should probably turn around,” she thought. She shifted and slowly turned her body, bracing herself to finally put a face to the too casual voice. The morning sun pouring through the window drowned him in silhouette. But what she could make out was a tall, suit-and-tie figure, making his way over to her for a good morning, goodbye kiss. The vagueness of this encounter caused her body to tense up. She wasn’t ready to greet this stranger with her morning breath. 

“Hey, I gotta run to the bathroom.” It’s all she could think of to escape. Maybe this way she could get a better look. She hopped off the bed and looked closer, still nothing. He looked good though. Close-shaven, caramel skin, dark eyes. Sharp. Magazine ad. Then she had to catch her breath. “Where the hell am I and why is this guy not acting like he just met me?” she thought. She was looking for some sign of disgust that the dame he’d met in some dimly lit bar somewhere had missed her pumpkin, but he just smiled and said, 

“Well, look I’ll see you at the Wren’s Nest tonight. We’ll celebrate.” and with that he was out the door. 

All the busyness zipped out of the door and there she was with all of his belongings poised to spring to life and swallow the foreign body threatening the purity of his space. Celebrate? Gail dragged herself out of the bed to the bathroom where she went straight to the mirror.  Still foggy from his shower, she wiped it with her shirt and stared for a long time at her blurry reflection. She figured, if she could get a look at herself then she would know she wasn’t dreaming. She could never get a good look at herself in my dreams. But the clarity at which the characters of these vivid dreams come through haunts her. The fact that she still couldn’t get a good look at anything sent shivers up her spine.  

Gail played detective. She opened the medicine cabinet and nothing surprising there. Shaving cream, band-aids, toothpaste, no prescription meds. No monogrammed towels. No names. Two toothbrushes. She’s to assume one is hers, but really could not be sure. Nothing out of the ordinary. No dizziness, no headache, no residual vomit stuck behind her throat. Was she drugged? No, she decided. That’s too terrifying. The way he spoke to her this morning, whatever happened was probably consensual. She continued her examination on the toilet. “Nope, nothing unusual.” she thought. She suddenly felt naked and went back into the room to find the rest of her clothes. 

Gail looked around the house. This man had taste. Or did she? Was this a house they shared together? There she was sitting there like a captive. Sunrays bathed the open concept apartment. Exposed brick with an expanse of books–those tell you everything. She fingered the binds. There were a bunch of books by Linda North–never heard of her. Was he a teacher? Some kind of artist? There were some Jacob Lawerence prints on the walls.  What was with the suit? No photos. None of us, not even himself. She felt like an archeologist, digging for clues.  


Beep, beep, beep. The whirring sounds of machines rang all around her. Rubbing alcohol and urine burst into her nostrils. Body felt heavy like someone was sitting on top of her chest. She could feel the stiff dulled pain of a needle in her hand which had fallen asleep. She tried to wiggle her fingers. Nothing. Nothing would move. She tried for what felt like an eternity. Behind her indefinitely closed eyelids, she wanted to cry but could not produce the tears. 

Several hours later the door rushed open and she could hear the pattering of several feet. First voice, male, low and trembling, “I hate to see her like this.” 

Second voice, softer and full of tears, “This can’t be all we can do for her. The doctor said she cannot be revived, I just can’t give up.” 

She recognized these voices. They were Kory and Rue’s.  What had happened? Can’t be revived? She wanted to raise from the bed and pull the tangle of wires tethering her to the wall. But she couldn’t move. Kory reached out and gently stroked her thick mane and she could not tell him how it felt to be touched in what seemed like a lifetime. 

Kory said, “There may be something we can do. It’s risky, but what option do we have?” 

“Well, despite what her parents say, you’re her next of kin so…” Rue’s voice trailed off.

“You’re right. I got to do what’s best for her. I think they just don’t trust the technology. They’re afraid she’ll die.” 

“Shush! Let’s take this outside. She doesn’t need this kind of energy.” Rue said and then their hurried footsteps out the door. An uneasy silence fell over the place and left her floating there in the void. She suddenly felt marooned. Would they be back to save her as promised? 


A knock. Gail almost jumped out of her skin.  Instantly she felt like a burglar. 

Three more raps on the door, then a woman’s voice, “G, c’mon we got a deadline to make!” a woman’s voice rang out.

“Who is it?” I could barely get it out. Somehow she felt completely seen despite the door between 


“Who is it? Open this damn door. I ‘ont have time for this shit.” 

Something isn’t right. Loud mouth was scary, but she might have some answers. So she let her in. She damn near pushed Gail over as she stomped into the foyer. Coconut and tea tree oil flooded the hallway along with her huge blonde and brown tightly coiled fro. She took up so much space with her booming voice and big hair, I almost disappeared. 

“What do you want?” Gail asked cautiously. She felt like she was being scolded by her 


“No, I’m not going through this charade with you this morning. I mean, I can see why you might wonder why a man as fine as Kory would date your busted ass too, but this is not a dream honey. Now get your ass up, we’re gonna be late as hell.” Big hair answered from the kitchen. She was helping herself to some coffee suit-and-tie must’ve brewed. Then she looked her in her eyes for the first time and said, “Oh, shit you’re having one of your episodes. Did you take your meds babe?”

“What? What meds, what the hell is going on?” Gail stammered, completely confused but feeling on the edge on getting some answers. 

“Okay, breathe honey. Let’s get your pills.” Big Hair grabbed her hands and dragged her back into the bedroom. “Okay, so you have some memory loss from the accident, but you’re pretty good on your meds.” She says as she throws open the nightstand drawer and grabs a pill case and hands it to Gail. 

Gail just stood  there and said, “What the hell do you want me to do with that? I don’t know you. How do I know those are mine?” 

“They’re yours see,” as she holds up the label that says Gail Smith. 

At this point, Gail was ready to throw her head back just for some clarity. As they sank down her throat, Big Hair starts with my life story before they even hit my stomach. 

“So, I’m Rue, your best friend. That dashing man that left here this morning is Kory, your husband. You’re one of the best reporters for the Times , I mean, second to me of course. And, you have an important meeting this morning…”

“Hold up, what the hell happened to me? What’s with the memory loss? How long do these pills take before they start working?” Gail asked

“Oh, you got a good hour before everything will come back to you. You really got to remember to take your pills G. Ha, I’m saying this to a woman who forgets.” she laughed to herself. “Anyway, you were in an accident ages ago–summer of ‘98. You were in a coma for almost a year. We thought we lost you. But Kory really found a miracle worker and Dr. Nikko brought you back to us.” 

“Did you just say, twenty years ago? How the hell old am I?” She said, looking down at her hands again seeing this time the obvious signs of age and trying to digest all the information she was receiving.

“Forty-six.” Rue said then followed up with, “But you take real good care of yourself.” 

“Well, look I’m here, but you really need to start getting dressed, Hugh is gonna be pissed. You got to prep for your big interview.” Rue said half pushing me into the bathroom. 

There she stood before the mirror again with some context. It didn’t make her feel any better. She still felt like a stranger in a strange land. The mirror had cleared up and she stared woefully at the blank canvas that was her bare and unfamiliar body. What stories could it tell? And just how well had she been taking care of her body? She found very few signs of age. Her skin taut. Her breasts, perky. Surely there would be a roadmap of stretch marks and scars to bring her back to herself but surprisingly there were few; certainly none that would indicate a near-death accident. That gave her another shiver. Even her predictions were incorrect. Gail flug the closet door open and peered at the waiting clothes and wondered, “Is this my style?” Frumpy was the best way she could describe them and it didn’t make much sense to hide the body that she saw. She picked a paisley print dress and wrapped a belt around her waist. ”There, you can’t hide all your assets,” she said, twirling a little in the mirror. Gail still felt less like she was talking to herself and more like she was talking to her estranged friend in the mirror.  She threw her tightly coiled hair into a tight top bun and slicked her edges down with gel and wondered just how she knew what to do with her hair without really thinking about it and then, “When will these darn pills kick in?” 

Before she knew it, Rue was pulling Gail out of the house, practically throwing her into the cab. As they rode through the city Gail, stuck her head out of the window and let the crisp winter air wake her up  from her fog. The cab was oppressively hot and it was not helping her think straight. She tried walking through her memories of the last couple of weeks but her memory was a shy guest sitting right across from her but not uttering a word. As soon as she would focus her dialogue with it on the past few weeks it would busy itself with whatever distracted it–watching the buildings float by, preoccupying itself with the Nag Champa scent of the cab. She caught the Space Needle enveloped in the expanse of evergreens. Then she started seeing familiar scenes. The coffee shop where she took her edits because she wouldn’t go home without them finished. She could visualize the inside: the wood panel wall flanked with posters from theater shows around the city, the smell of Ethiopian beans, the freckle-faced kid behind the counter. The yellow line train station that was practically a straight shot from her apartment to the office. The dive bar her and her friends like to go to. And as the cab whizzed by the city, other totems sprung out of the sidewalk anchoring her back to who and where she was.  

When they arrived, the room was a buzz and bundles of papers seemed to fly in every direction as people ran here and there. It looked more like the stock exchange floor than a newsroom, but it felt like home. Where she could concentrate on untangling the stories of the day. This morning faded into a lucid dream and Gail dove right into work mode–though she still had no idea what the assignment was. Hugh was waiting for them as the elevator doors opened. She knew it was him even without a description from Rue. As soon as she saw the sloppily dressed, red-hair tossed about his head, guy with a pen permanently affixed to his ear, Gail knew he was the editor. No avoiding him now, she thought. It gave her a bit of relief to see that he looked more anxious than angry with his round face pulled down into a frown.  

“Smith, you were supposed to be here two hours ago!” 

Rue spoke up quickly,  “Look Hugh, we had a bit of a situation this morning, she’s good now and so sorry.” His face quickly changed from anger to worry. 

 “Okay let’s run through this interview. You do have the interview ready, right?” returning to his stern look. 

“Um, I…think I may have something…” Gail said, still waiting for her memory to catch up. She shot a panicked look at Rue. 

“She’ll be ready. You know she’s obsessed with North. It’ll come back to her.” Rue said, pushing Gail past Hugh into the mass of people. Past the break room where the smell of coffee and donuts brought her back to life. She hadn’t eaten and there was a sudden jolt to her stomach. This was more than familiar. She remembered now long nights folded over the small table there with her WSU mug banging out stories which were most certainly past their deadlines. 

“Ah, the Linda North profile!” she exclaimed out loud. 

Rue didn’t hear her over the bustle of the floor, but Gail loosen her hand from her grip a little as she felt more and more familiarity with the space. Finally, they reached her office. “Not bad,” she thought as she eyed the awards on the wall. Her closet didn’t reveal this to Gail. This Gail was a very neat and accomplished woman with a wardrobe that clearly screamed baglady. Suddenly she felt the urge to shoo Rue away and get right to work on her interview questions. 

Rue recognizing her demeanor, immediately turned to the door and said, “I knew you’d come back,” and with that she was out the door into the river of people crowding the hallway. 

Linda North is quite the writer. Gail’s obsession began when she picked up her first Linda North book and was so transfixed on her prose that she sat in her worn armchair from the entire day reading until she was finished. “She could’ve written that book,” she thought. It was like a courtroom stenographer had followed her around and delivered her inner monologue to this woman. Things she’d dreamt, North vividly brought to life. Gail couldn’t stop. The next day, she rushed to the big box bookstore because she knew her tiny local one wouldn’t have them all and purchased every single book Linda North had written. Again and again, she found scenes from her own life played out on those pages. “How could she know this?” she many times wondered.  At first it was terrifying, but she couldn’t stop. Gail, however, never attended a reading. Too many hungry eyes on her prey. She wanted her all to herself. Was she the voyeur or was North? This profile for the paper was the perfect opportunity to find out. Gail jumped at the chance. 


Kory and the gang were huddled in the farthest booth from the door, but she somehow heard them over Witch’s “Living in the Past” blaring from the bookshelf speakers at the rear of the bar as soon as she walked in. The Wren’s Nest was a dive bar they loved with cheap drinks and poor service. Zeke, Rue, and Jesse’s table was already full of empty glasses and zero plates so she knew she would have to catch up. Zeke spotted her first and waved her over. Rue wouldn’t have noticed a tsunami coming through the door, she was so wrapped up in Jesse’s arms she could’ve been an article of clothing. When Kory finally noticed, he raised his basically empty glass toward Gail. 

“Ah, to our future Belthen winner!”

“No, Pulitzer.” Zeke chimed in. 

They clinked their glasses, “Here, here!” 

Rue finally looked up, eyes glazed and said, “Hey, fashionably late, did you finish?”  

“Why, yes, yes I did.” Gail said as she slid into the booth next to Kory. 

“That’a girl.” Rue winked. 

Jesse, ever the jealous type, asked, “What was that wink for?” 

“Nothing, G just had one of her episodes this morning but she killed it per usual.” Rue replied, slurring her words. 

“Oh babe, again? You didn’t take your pills last night? I couldn’t sworn I saw you take them.” Kory probed, looking concerned. 

“Thanks a lot, Rue,” Gail thought. “Where is my round? She asked, quickly changing the subject, “It looks like you guys forgot who you were celebrating?” 

“Aw, c’mon, you were taking forever.” Jesse whined. Her corn silk hair still stuffed under her knit hat. 

“Oh, please you still have your jacket on.” Gail retorted, taking hers off. 

Zeke, always to the peacemaker, called the bar-keeper over and ordered a boilermaker. Then he handed it over to Gail. “Here, newspaper lady, quit investigating and get drunk already.”  

“Hey are you trying to seduce my wife?” Kory joked. 

“What an easy lay I am then. One shot and I’m filing divorce papers,” Gail quipped “I mean, at least Zeke brought me a drink, husband.” 

“Touché” Kory said, bringing his empty glass to his mouth. 

Zeke gave a nervous grin. Gail knew he’d always had a little crush on her. She tried not to encourage him, but would flirt just to keep Kory on his toes. She thought Zeke was cute with his dimpled grin and smooth ebony skin, but knew better than to play too long with fire. 

“So what are you gonna ask her?” Rue asked, finally emerging from Jesse’s hold. 

“The biggest question I have is where she gets her ideas for her stories. I mean, are they inspired by dreams, her own life or other people’s?” 

Kory leaned in and asked, “When are you guys supposed to meet anyway?” 

“Tomorrow. If you can believe it? I wish I could get the whole day with her, but Hugh said her schedule’s tight so I only have an hour.” 

“Aw, that’s too bad.” Zeke said apologetically.  

“Yeah, G is totally obsessed. Any longer and she’d probably run away with her.” Kory insisted laughing at his own joke.

“Well she is quite a bit younger than you Kory.” Jesse hummed into her glass. 

“That’s right, what is she, like twenty-six? And writes like that? God, I hate her.” Rue muttered, rolling her eyes. 

“What a talent at such a young age. Like, I can’t wait to get inside her head tomorrow.”

“I’m sure that’s not the only thing you wish you could get inside.” Jesse said grinning. 

“Jealous?” Gail retorted. 

Jesse wrapped her arms around Rue and replied, “Oh please, maybe finally meeting her might break the spell.” The mere thought left her suffocating in the dank air of the small bar. Gail hadn’t thought of that scenario. Of course Linda North would be perfect. She had to be. 

After enough glasses had been knocked over and Jesse whined about wanting to get home, the gang decided to call it a night. Though her memory had returned, and she no longer felt lost or led, Gail was still in a fog. Were these really her friends? Rue was barely there, Jesse was annoying and Kory was suffocatingly irritating. She was feeling none of what she expected to feel as a wife. The few times Kory reached out to touch her arm or put his hands at the small of her back, she recoiled. And now she’s expected to sleep in the same bed with him? Gail figured she would extend their celebration a little longer to avoid whatever awkward situation awaited her when they were alone at home.

 “Hey Zeke, one more round? Gail asked once they were all outside, “We can check out Jupiter!” she suggested. “I’m sure this one wouldn’t protest a little pub crawl,” linking her arm into Kory’s. 

“We’re too tired to keep up with you guys,” Jesse complained. 

“Yeah, that’s why I didn’t invite you old bitties.” Gail snapped back, only half joking, Jesse was getting on her nerves. 

“Ma’am, don’t you have an interview to get ready for tomorrow?” Rue reminded her. 

“Shit,” Gail thought, “I do.” She decided that would be her excuse for not engaging with the strangeness of her house or her husband. 

“You right,” Gail sighed. “Always keeping me in line.” 

Zeke asked for a light and Gail happily obliged, “Only, if you let me hit it a few times.” Zeke always had a joint ready. Gail, feeling more inquisitive, asked, “Why’d your mama name you Zeke? I don’t know any Nigerians named Zeke.” 

Zeke laughed and said, “Well, I got tired of you Americans chewing up my name and spitting out whatever came to mind. So I kept it simple and Zeke stuck.” 

“So what is your name then?” Gail probed.

“Zuokemefa, it means “God has not forgotten.”

“That’s deep man,” Gail reflected, letting out a puff of smoke. “Forgotten what?” she wondered. As she and Zeke smoked, she overheard Rue say to Kory, “Make sure she gets to the therapist. She was really out of it today.” 

She and Kory walked the ten blocks back to their apartment in silence. She hoped he would sense her distance, but he seemed not to care if he did. He tried to stick his hops laden tongue down her throat as soon as they entered the house. She was equally drunk but far more disgusted so she pulled away. 

“I just want to go to bed, babe.” Gail said trying to not hurt his feelings too much. Kory, persisted and pressed his body to hers and she stiffened. His rough hands frantic and searching–searching for an invitation from his wife, but she resisted. Gail felt like she was being groped by a stranger. “This can’t be normal,” she thought, as she made some excuse to get to the safety of the bathroom. She turned the shower on and just waited. She figured she could wait it out. He’s drunk, it’s only a matter of time. 

About an hour later, she emerged from the bathroom. Kory was sound asleep on the couch. “Thank God,” she thought, “I don’t have to sleep next to him.” Gail sank into the bed and drifted off to sleep, forgetting once again to take her pills.


The pale morning light peeked through their window as the drafty house ached under the winter wind reminding her to pull the covers tighter and wriggle closer to Kory. 

“Goddamn G, your feet are frozen!” 

“You still love me.” 

“I don’t know, this might be a deal breaker.” 

“Okay, well let me enjoy these last moments.”

“Nope, that’s my cue, I gotta take a shower.” 

“C’mon, five more minutes.” 

“You can sleep in if you want, but I’m not going to be late fooling with you.” 

She kissed the back of his neck and wrapped her arms around his broad chest. She buried her nose right into his messy mane. 

“Oh, you want me to get fired?” 

“Oh, so you discovered my diabolical plan? Get you laid off, so that I can get laid.” she whispered in his ear as she took my legs and wrapped them around his thighs. 

“Woman, if you don’t take your Yeti feet off of me..” 

“You’re no fun.” she groaned. 

With that, he’s up and off to the shower. “Well, he’s no fun this morning” she thought. Usually her little crab grab works. Humph. She rolled back over to her side and decided to enjoy a bit of extra shut-eye. She didn’t have to go in today, just a late funeral in the evening to cover.  She figured she’d wake up refreshed and knock this piece out. She was waiting for Kory’s annoying eucalyptus to come wafting in the room disrespecting her right to sleep, but as much as she hated it, it made her smile a little. The sounds of Kory’s morning ritual faded and she drifted back to sleep. 

The menacing air whipped around Linda, blowing her scarf and coat open causing her to gulp the frigid air. As it sank down to her stomach, she couldn’t help but second guess her decision to take this interview.  She usually had the fondest memories here in this city. This is where she fell in love. But being back in Seattle felt so ominous. She hurried down Pike street to the train station and glanced over at the Space Needle. There it hung, still against the usual overcast sky. It seemed to be pulling her towards her destination. Something was pulling her back here. There were all kinds of déjà vu’s around her. The coffee shop that had the best macchiatos, the wood panel wall filled with posters from shows she had attended. The hole-in- the wall dive bar.  The newsstand near her train station where she used to grab too many copies of the paper especially if she got the cover that week. She hadn’t been back in twenty-years and yet everything stood as still as a Grecian urn. 

She was only doing this as a favor to her old friend, Hugh. He saw so much potential in her back when she was just an early intern. He gave her stories that people ten times her senior would’ve loved to poach. It was this job that inspired her to write. She slunked it out in the obituaries for a while, which actually fascinated her. Hugh eventually gave her the human interest pieces and then finally she got her first profile. Her Times’ escort led her past the pit of the main newsroom, where it was always pulsing with movement, down the long hallway. And then she felt it again, that thing in the pit of her stomach. Finally she was taken to one of the small conference rooms. No one was there. Where was my interviewer? The intern, beet-red, turned and said, 

“Oh, she must be in her office,” stammering over her lie. “Let me go and get her.” 


Gail was late. If it weren’t for Kory waking her and reminding her to take her damn pills, she would have never made it. The train would be quicker than a cab this time in the morning, but she’d have to finish her makeup standing up to make the next one. Gail was just a hair’s pin behind Ms. North as she walked through the glass doors of the conference room. She was a sweaty mess, and couldn’t dare meet her idol looking like she’d woken up at the bar even if she smelled like one, so she ducked into the restroom before they could see her. Gail figured her dignity was worth a few minutes of testing North’s patience. She was throwing on her lipstick when she noticed the pit stains in her rayon blouse. “Shit, the one day I don’t bring a sweater!” Gail mumbled to herself. “This is all wrong,” she thought, “this isn’t how I’m supposed to meet her.” Resigned, she began her walk of shame out of the restroom down the hall to the interview room. As soon as she walked in Linda North gave her the most peculiar look. Her half moon eyes widened and mouth, forever pursed in her authorial pictures, agape. She was expecting disappointment, but this look was one of terror and surprise. 


She could not believe what she was seeing. It was a spitting image of her. Gail–in the flesh. Walking and talking. “How is this possible?” Linda thought. “No, no, she must’ve had a twin or something, right?” Gail walked over to shake her hand, and Linda felt the hairs on her skin rise. It was like seeing a ghost. 

Linda, switching roles, began her inquisition. She couldn’t help it. This woman’s voice even sounded like hers. “How long have you lived in Seattle?”

“About as long as I can remember” Gail replied. 

“Your husband’s Kory Smith, the painter, right?” 

“Yeah, he studied under Jacob Lawerence.” Gail answered hesitantly. 

“What a gift that man has!” Linda exclaimed.

Gail thought, “Well, he’s pretty decent, but he’s just a local celebrity at best, how did she know about his work?”

“You went to Hampton?” again returning to her questions.

 At this point Gail was just a little vexed. She had only an hour to talk to her and she intended to talk about her not waste time answering questions about herself. Gail said, “Wow, you sure did your homework.” 

“Well, it’s important for me to know who’s writing about me. I mean, I’m providing the content, but it’ll be in your words so…” Linda explained. 

 “Speaking of content, I know you don’t have a whole lot of time., “ Gail said, picking up her notepad, “ Hugh said you were swamped.”  Linda couldn’t help but giggle a little.

”You’re old school, huh?” Everybody takes notes on their phones now.” 

 “Yeah force of habit,” I used to work in Obits, and you can’t exactly be on your phone at a funeral,” she laughed nervously. “Would she think that was funny or morbid? “ Gail thought.  

“Plus, I really never got used to taking notes on those things. Not my generation.” 

“Oh, how long have you been working here?” 

“Probably, twenty-four, twenty-five years now.” Gail was actually beginning to blush. She was flattered that Linda North was asking about her. Her! 

“Really? Linda’s eyes narrowed. 

Gail laughed, thinking “What, you don’t believe me?” and said, “Yeah, before you were even a thought.” 

Gail, trying to get back to the interview, raised her pad and asked, “So when did you start writing?” 

“As a teenager” Linda began, “I bet you’re a Libra?” she guessed, interrupting the flow once again. 

Gail, exasperated, quickly responded, “Yup, same as you…we actually share a birthday, September, twenty-eighth…”

“…Nineteen seventy-eight,” Linda finished. 

“Well that certainly isn’t the year you were born,” Gail chuckled.  “How did you know how old I was?” Now, she was really flattered. Just how much did Ms. Linda North look up about her? She wondered.  

“I guessed,” she stammered. “You definitely don’t look it though.” 

Gail glances over at the wall clock. A quarter past already. “There’s no way I’ll get to ask her all I’ve prepared,” Gail thought as she tapped her pen on the pad and anxiously bounced her leg under the table. 

A tiny frown appeared on Linda’s  thin, wine colored lips. “I’m sorry, I’m wasting so much time.” she apologizes, “How about we continue this interview at my favorite cafe? I’m starving.”

“Hugh said you were swamped today and could only fit in an hour.” 

“Oh,” she giggled, “I lied.” she said as she pushed her chair back and threw her purse over her shoulders. “You know, I just needed an excuse to jet if the interview was dry.” 

Gail, feeling a bit relieved that North found her to be entertaining, smiled and began collecting her things too. “But I hadn’t even cracked a joke yet. Or gushed over her stories. How could she decide I was cool enough to have a more relaxed interview at her favorite coffee shop?”  she thought. 

“You’re familiar with Analog?” Linda asked. 

“Sure, that’s not too far from here.” Gail replied, remembering spending many a night wide-eyed over all of Hugh’s edits. 

“Of course, you know the place, notepad.” Linda chuckled, and they headed out of the office.

Gail was a complete and utter mess. She didn’t know what to do with her body. She kept pulling on her sleeves and cracking her knuckles so she had something to do with her hands. She’d answered, “huh?” at least a couple hundred times since she’d apparently lost all consciousness she was so in awe. She still couldn’t believe she was out with the Linda North. 

When they arrived, Linda took the table that was Gail’s favorite. Closest to the coffee bar, furthest from the restroom, close enough to the window to people watch and right underneath the wall of show posters centered so you could feel like you owned the place. Linda ordered the macchiato. Gail’s favorite, but then again they had the best one in the city. And it kind of just went on like that. She was perfect, Gail decided. They talked for hours and hours. Gail had asked her just how her story ideas were born and Linda responded, 

“I just put myself in the character’s body, in that place, at that time until it’s no longer fiction, but memory.” Gail wanted to tell her how real that response was for her. She wanted to tell her that she felt these stories were her memories somehow, but she held back. The longer they talked, the more Gail felt like they were old friends. Linda seemed to know her so well. Gail never believed in soulmates, but if she did, she thought this was the closest she would ever come to it. 

` ***

Nobody dies. They just forget. It was hard to decide if a long memory was indeed a gift or a curse. Perhaps some choose to forget. Not wanting to wake from a deep slumber only to find everyone they loved missing. Their likeness and station changed. Those with this ability to hang on to their infinite memories wade through the ocean of time both deep and isolating. It certainly has its benefits, though. After a few centuries one can learn to untangle the labyrinth of synapses and discover just what the mind is capable of. Things that those with finite memories would call magic, are merely out of their grasp because they haven’t the time to exercise their full abilities. Telepathy is one of them. It’s not so inconceivable. People have the ability to perceive. Some are more perceptive than others, but it is something only mastered in time. Some may call them immortal. Like lucid dreams, they remember their past lives even after they’d awaken in a new place and with a new face. Sometimes they are privileged with drifting off to sleep in old age and sometimes they are taken suddenly like a narcoleptic. So, much like people with finite memories, there is the constant fear of being taken away from the families they have loved, careers they have built, and purposes yet fulfilled. In Linda North’s case she woke up with all her memories of the night before this new morning, intact. Actually all the nights, centuries of them. Gail was one of those memories. How is it possible that she transitioned and her former self is still here? Her voice, her mannerisms, her style–everything the same. It wasn’t possible that she had a twin. Having an infinite memory means remembering even her tenure in the womb. Perplexed, Linda decided to approach this just like the investigative journalist she was formerly as Gail. There must be some other explanation.


There was the click-clack of heels down the linoleum hallway as the heavy-set woman with locs nearly to the floor and thick framed glasses approached the huddle Kory and Gail’s parents had formed outside of Gail’s room. 

“Listen, I reached out to her because she’s had success reviving unresponsive patients before. I really think she can bring Gail back,” Kory whispered to Gail’s parents as they waited for the approaching doctor. Both of them had vetoed this idea. They wanted to wait it out. Gail wasn’t brain dead, there was still a chance. Time is what the other doctors said. All we can do is wait. Some people come out of comas in days and some it takes years. But it’s patience that decides whether they live today or tomorrow. Kory had grown impatient. Gail had been there for months now and there was no progress. This doctor was a renowned neurologist who revived patients that seemed to have no hope of ever waking from their dream-like states. 

Pulling the thick framed glasses off of her face to look each of them right in the eye, she said,  

“Hello, I’m Dr. Evelin Nikko, I’m a neurologist. I looked at her chart and I think I can bring your daughter back.” bringing her attention to the parents. 

Gail’s mom was a praying woman. She had been by her daughter’s bedside everyday praying for a miracle. She was also growing impatient and started thinking that maybe this was it. It was her husband after all, who shut down Kory’s idea and said, “Wait on the Lord.” And while she had, she was also inclined to listen to the doctors. But none of them had proposed anything nearly as promising.  

“What I’m proposing”, she continued, “could mean life or death for her. Right now she’s alive. Her brain functioning is intact, she is just in a vegatative state, one that it doesn’t look like she’ll emerge from. But with this new procedure, I think I can bring her back. I want to attempt to repair the nerve damage.” Dr. Nikko paused, “She may never be the same. She will almost certainly suffer from some form of memory loss for the rest of her life. But that can be mitigated with therapy and your support.” 

“We’ll do anything.” Kory answered for them all. 

“Now wait a minute,” Gail’s dad, breaking his silence, “What do you mean, life or death? She’s alive right now. Why would we hedge our bets on your plan when it could mean death?” 

“Right now you don’t know if your daughter will ever wake up and due the nature of her condition and how much time has gone by, it is likely that she won’t. I’ve done this procedure many times, sir, I wouldn’t suggest it for her if I wasn’t confident in the probability of her recovery” Dr. Nikko said reassuringly. 

“We’ll have to sleep on it.” he said. 


Linda dug a little deeper. She looked up Dr. Evelin Nikko who revived Gail and found the same patterns with many of the patients she treated. The first thing she found was a local news article about a man in Kansa City who, “Just woke up and got out of bed one day…like Lazarus,” it read. Another one from a fellow neurologist raved that Dr. Nikko’s methods “Worked when they had tried everything in medical science.” But they didn’t go on like that. It took some digging, but Linda scrolled down to the comments on one of these articles about the “famed Dr. Nikko: miracle worker,” and found a thread that was quite disturbing. A woman claimed she couldn’t remember a thing and though she’d survived severe brain damage and lived to walk and talk, something her doctors said she’d never do again, something in her, “died that night,” and she was never the same. There were a few others claiming to be either a patient of hers or knew someone who had who confirmed this. One said, they didn’t even have the scars of someone who would’ve survived an accident like his. “How was that possible?” Linda thought.  A scathing article about Dr. Nikko’s methods revealed that many of her patients actually ended up in mental hospitals around the country. Linda tried to reach out to few of her patients and families but they were either unresponsive or unavailable. Many she found were receiving psychiatric care. The most she got from one dad, was that his son returned, “a shell of his former self.”  “How could these families trust her?” One doctor asked, “More importantly, how does she always seem to know just where to find these people desperate for a cure.” One family noted that, “Despite the cost of the procedure, it beat watching the hospital bills accumulate with every beep of the monitor just to keep their son on life support.”  This still didn’t answer Linda’s most pressing question. If Gail survived her accident, how is Linda even here? Those hours in the coffee shop helped her understand Gail’s situation a bit more. She had no memory of what had occurred. She held not only her old memories of that life, but all of Linda’s old memories only she couldn’t feel the sentiment behind them. Gail wanted so desperately to reveal this Linda, to confess that Linda’s stories felt more familiar than they should, but something was holding her back. Luckily, she was able to sense her woes and this may have been the final piece to the puzzle. 


Her meeting with Linda had awakened something in her. What she felt was hard to distinguish, but she was certain about what she did not feel. Gail did not love her husband. Maybe she hadn’t for a long time, but these abrupt visitations with the self who wasn’t familiar with this life with him, left her feeling imprisoned by her wedding band. She felt no romantic connection with him, worse yet she was repulsed. “What was she going to do?” she thought. She wouldn’t dream of continuing to take those pills, but maybe that’s why she kept forgetting to in the first place. Gail pondered about whether her admiration of Linda clouded her judgement, but she ached for the relaxed nature of this budding friendship. “Why was everything so foreign to her?” she wondered. 

In the office, Gail sat nervously in the hard leather chair across from her therapist who pulled her thick framed glasses down to the tip of her nose to get a good look at her.

 “Your husband is concerned about you. He said you haven’t been taking your pills. What’s been going on?” 

Gail let out a flood of tears. She hadn’t realized just how much she had been holding back. She explained how she hated her husband. 

“I know I’d forget my head if it wasn’t screwed on, but it’s something about those pills. When I take them I feel more in a fog than when I don’t. It’s like I’m not myself. Kory is an absolute pain and I just can’t bring myself to continue taking them.”

“You do realize that you suffer from serious memory loss? Those pills help you quite a 

bit now, Gail. We’ve discussed this before, I don’t think it’s a good idea.” she said in her 

raspy voice, tender yet stern.  

“Isn’t there some other treatment I can try? The side effects of these pills are brutal.” Gail complained. 

She tossed her salt and pepper locs over her shoulder and gently took both her hands and held them like a baby bird, 

“Imagine the brutality of forgetting. Of losing all shape and form. It’s exciting to experience life with new eyes until you find that you can’t trust them.” she said, trying to reason with her. 

 Gail wondered if she would ever understand. The vividness of the world without this treatment would be worth it for her. But doctors are problem solvers, not dreamers. If how you feel interrupts how you function, they don’t want to hear it. 

“Could we try something else?” Gail begged. 

“There is something that may work. It’s meditative therapy. I’ll need you to close your eyes and focus.” She took her weathered hands and placed them on her forehand. Now listen to your breath as I count down from ten. 

“Get out of there! Get out, now!” Gail heard someone scream. Was it in her head or in 

the room? 

Shook, she stood up and quickly gathered her belongings and started towards the door. 

“Where are you going? We’ve just barely begun,” she said, irritated.

“Sorry, Dr. Nikko, I’ve got to go–something came up.” And with that she was out the door.  Half running, half walking she got to the train right as it pulled up at the station. Gail slipped into the seat closest to the door and stared out of the window. It had just started snowing, which was odd on this blue sky day, which was in itself strange for overcast Seattle. Gail was deep in her thoughts, so deep that she nearly missed her stop. On her way out, a man with a wild blonde mane yelled, 

“Strange weather we’re having, ain’t it?” 


Linda seemed to materialize in the doorway of Dr. Nikko’s office. 

“What did you do to Gail?” 

“Now what are you talking about dear? And who are you?” 

“And what about the others? You’re making promises to their families that you’re going to bring them back and they are like Zombies.”  

“Little girl, I suggest you mind your business,” Dr. Nikko rebuts. 

She seemed unscathed. Her back turned to her and she shuffled papers on her desk. Linda continued, 

“It’s not right, what you’re doing. These people are not your guinea pigs. They had lives before your little experiments.” 

Dr. Nikko’s back still to her, replies, “Aren’t you tired? Whose guinea pigs are we, Linda?” She finally turns around with one of Linda’s books in her hands. “What a cruel sport of the Gods?” 

“What are you talking about? Why do you have that?”

“Your stories are a bit too on the nose, no? You’re what, twenty-six?” she says shrugging her shoulders as she goes to sit down at her desk, “She couldn’t have possibly given you her whole life story before her accident. She barely remembers it herself. So, who are you, Linda North?” 

Linda paused for a moment, wondering what Dr. Nikko was alluding to. “Did she know?” She wondered. Linda rarely used her telepathy with people with finite memories, but she needed answers and this woman was going to keep dancing around them. So she trained her mind on her and thought, “Gail is no longer your prisoner.” 

Dr. Nikko’s rouge lips moved into a closed mouth smile and responded, “Look at who’s calling the kettle black.” 

Linda, cursed herself for not perceiving this before. “Of course Dr. Nikko was like her. She must’ve used her telepathy to manipulate these revived individuals, but how did she…”

Dr. Nikko, interrupting her train of thought, answered, “Cloning, my dear. It’s as simple as that. You don’t use that big brain of yours often do you?” 

“You cloned these people while they were comatose? They couldn’t have consented. And then you what, killed them?”

“Aren’t you sick of it? Building life, after life, afterlife and never knowing when you’ll transition only to be tortured by the memory of it? Living in a constant state of nostalgia?” Dr. Nikko reasoned, now getting up from her desk. 

“But, this is not for us to decide. These people don’t even know what you’ve done to them. You didn’t extend their lives, you’ve bound a new soul to someone else’s life.” 

“What is the soul but the collection of your experiences?”

“You have the memories, but these new souls don’t feel the sentiment behind them. This incomplete and emptiness  you’re offering them gives you pleasure?” 

“It pleases me to see people spend just a little bit more time with their loved ones, yes. Besides, what’s the point of all of this intelligence if I cannot put it to use? I spent so much time in my mind, that I learned all the bends and curves. The mind is like the ocean, the deeper you go, the more you discover and I discovered that memories can be transferred. I just have to work out a bit more of the kinks.” 

“It’s not right. How many people have you done this to? How many of us have you manipulated and stolen our memories? I don’t have control over much, but those memories are mine.” 

“Are they? How would you know? How long is your memory? How could you ever be sure which are memories and which are dreams?” Dr. Nikko was incredibly close to Linda now. She could feel her pulse racing as she inched closer and closer. 

“You must be stopped. Do the families even know that you’ve cloned their loved ones?”

“Ha, we all have secrets don’t we, Ms. writer? You too, have capitalized on this gift we have.”

“You know that’s not the same thing. Those are my memories. I am not lying to people desperate for their children, their spouses, their parents, their friends to come back to them. And you aren’t really even giving them back, but you are taking their money.”  Linda kept backing away as Dr. Nikko edged closer and closer. 

“So what? You’re going to stop me? Who would believe you?” She stopped and said, “You know you’re a clever girl with a few tricks, but I have a few too.” 

Linda felt herself stiffened. She couldn’t move. 

Dr. Nikko picked up her book once again and said, “Humm, now what to do with you. We can’t have you writing about me in your next book now can we?”

Linda pleads, “What are you doing? Release me!” 

“Ah, yes.” 

And with a snap of her fingers, Linda’s mind went blank. 


Gail stood over the toilet and watched the pills sink into oblivion. No one would listen to her. She shivered to think of how long she’d played the understudy to the person she was before the accident. Surely she fought against this role before, but each day she read her lines from the script she was given to please her audience and each day it took a bit more to keep pretending. She had to get out. Gail started to pack a suitcase but decided that none of the costumes fit. She wanted no reminders of this life anyway. She’d finished Linda North’s profile in mere hours. Between her books and those hours at the cafe, Gail felt she knew her better than anyone. Something about the piece felt autobiographical. Perhaps this was due to it being her final piece for the paper. She forwarded it to Hugh along with her resignation. Next, Gail left her wedding band in the nightstand drawer next to the empty pill container with a note that read, “I’m not sick. I’m just not her anymore. Sorry.” She took a final look at their apartment expecting to feel some sense of nostalgia, but there was nothing. With a click of her heel, she was out of the door. She didn’t know just where she was headed, but hoped that wherever she stopped felt more like home than this did. 


She jolted awake and the bright rays from the sun hit her eyes so hard she was blinded for a second. It took a while for her eyes to adjust. It seemed they’d been closed forever. Her still blurry eyes could make out that the room was white and very narrow like a cell. “Where am I?” She wondered. She tried to get up from the narrow bed and something was holding her down. She looked down and realized that she was in a straight jacket. She started screaming. “Where the hell am I? Somebody help!” Just then two nurses rushed in and one, a tall man with dimpled cheeks, struggled to hold Linda down and calm her and the other, a woman, and had ball of hair with a fury of curls that seemed to take on a life of its own as she struggled to hold the syringe ready at her arm. She looked a little like her friend Rue. “Alright, Gail, we’ve got something that’ll calm you right down.” said dimples. 

“What the hell am I doing here? I’m not crazy! Where am I?” she pleaded. 

Curls said to dimples, “She really doesn’t remember.” 

“Remember what?” 

The sedative was starting to take its effect and the room again became a blur. Just before she closed her eyes, she saw Dr. Nikko at the door. Dr. Nikko smiled and said in the voice only she could hear, 

“Maybe next lifetime, Linda.”