The doctors were telling me that I had lost a year and 2,000 miles between now and the last thing I remembered. They were being very nice to me, talking to me like a crazy person who might up and forget who he was a second time. I don’t know whether I appreciated it or resented it. I don’t know whether I felt anything at all.
“Mr. Blackwell, I know this is a lot to take in. As rare as this disorder is cases that last as long as yours are rarer still. You may find there is not a lot of information out there and not a lot of people who understand your situation. You may return home and find everything changed and you cannot remain in the life your alter built since you cannot remember it. I am sorry Mr. Blackwell, this is going to be a tough recovery, but it is a good thing you are back.”
My name is Thomas Blackwell but for a time, my name had apparently been Ian Whiteman. That is who the doctors had thought I was. They thought Ian Whiteman was real and Thomas Blackman had been made up.
It took a few phone calls, a couple of meltdowns, and a psychiatrist for them to realize I was telling the truth. I had been Thomas my whole life, but one day my mind snapped and I became Ian, complete with a whole new past and no memory of who I had been. Now I was waking up as Thomas again, and with my real past intact, but no memory of having been this other man.
Now they were saying I could go home. My empty home, because Cheryl left. My home that might not even be my home anymore, because I had lost my job. My home that I never left, because I never had any friends to leave it for. Going back home meant going back to being alone and I wasn’t sure I could do that. I wasn’t sure I even had a choice.
“Mr. Blackwell, here is the number to a psychiatrist trained to help people with your condition. He will be expecting your call when you return and I encourage you not to delay. It is important you find the trigger of your amnesia and deal with it before you dissociate again. Here is my number as well in case you have any further questions. Good luck Mr. Blackwell.”
I didn’t say anything, I didn’t know what to say. I turned to walk out the door with nothing but the clothes on my back and my wallet. A wallet that had the other man’s name on it, Ian Whiteman. I wondered how much of this fake man now existed in the real world. I wondered how much of him still existed in me.
Who had he been and what had he done? Why did he take my life from me and why did he give it back so suddenly? I hated Ian and yet, I wish I’d known him. Maybe he and I would have been friends? We had occupied the same space in the universe, that must mean we were somewhat alike. We were certainly closer than any two other people on this planet.
“Excuse me? Mr. Whiteman?” I turned to answer to a name I knew wasn’t mine.
“Yes?” I was looking at a man and woman, looking back at me with questioning and nervous eyes. They looked at each other and back at me.
“Are you ok? We’ve been waiting all day but the doctors wouldn’t tell us anything.”
I just stared at them. What do you say to someone who thinks they knew you for a whole year and they only knew who you were when you had gone bat shit crazy?
“I’m fine. I have to go, though. The doctors think I should head back to Denver. They think that will help me.”
The man shook his head and stepped toward me, “Were you going to leave without telling us?” God, he looked so sad. This guy couldn’t have known me very well. No one who knew me liked me.
“Look, I am sorry I have to rush off. Something isn’t right in my mind and I need to get back and find the people I knew before. I need to figure out what happened to me. I assure you I am fine and I am positive you will be fine too.”
The looked at each other again, this time, they both look confused, and a little panicked.
“Mr. Whiteman, sir, we might be fine but what about the others?” As he said this he motioned to the people behind him and for the first time, I realized the entire waiting room was looking at me.
“Would you leave the order and all your followers without telling them what was happening? After all that time you spent walking from place to place, on foot, through sun and rain and snow, to find each of us and bring us into the light? Would you leave our path, the path you have led us on for almost a year? Would you leave us with no direction and no instruction?” He was moving closer to me and speaking in a loud half whisper. He was almost begging me.
“Mr. Whiteman, please, don’t go. Whatever is wrong, we can fix it through faith and love like you taught us.” The woman’s hands were on mine now. She was looking me in the eye and I could tell she was going to cry.
I didn’t know what to say. I don’t think anyone had ever cried over me before. I’d been alone for so long. I’d wanted to have a home, a circle of people who cared about me, and apparently Ian had wanted the same thing. He had wanted a place where people loved him more than anything and now here they were, asking me to stay. Only, who they relly wanted was Ian.
Then again, they didn’t know I wasn’t Ian, did they?
“You are right. With your love and that of the others, I can heal and be the man you all need me to be. I will stay on the path but we may have to make a few small changes.” I felt a ripple of relief run through the waiting room.
The woman, smiling with tears in her eyes hugged me suddenly, “Whatever you want Mr. Whiteman.”
I had needed to travel through time and across the country to find my place in this world. I had to walk a path I would never remember I had to get to a place that I’d never known was my home. I had to become another person to become the person I had always wanted to be.
I had lost myself and journeyed to a place where I woke up a king.
Author’s note: The plan for this challenge was to post small pieces of fiction that read more like excerpts rather than stories with a true beginning, middle, and end. I think instead, these have turned into something in between, some more, some less. Please bear with me, these are my first attempts at writing fiction. You can find them all under my AtoZ2016 tag.
Featured image via Trang Nguyen