Can you imagine waking up and your whole world being gone and I don’t mean gone as in the world was Nuked or unmade, I mean just your life, you memories, your loves, hates; your family and friends. What if all you could remember was a girl you had spent less than three hours with; well that’s exactly what happened to me and this is where the story takes on a life of its own.
The sun was shining so brightly that it hurt your eyes and forced you to shield them if you were walking directly into it, he took refuge in a library he had walked past many times though the refuge was not just to take a break from the burning sunlight, he was a photographer and for quite a while he had been meaning to go inside; the outside had been plucked right out of the 19th century and he wondered if the inside was just as stunning. When he stepped in his scruffy blue converse drawing no sound from the deep mahogany floor of the foyer he found something more beautiful than he had been expecting.
“Good morning” her voice rang out around the foyer, bright and cheery, he smiled at her
“Morning” he replied glancing back over his shoulder as he made his way up the grand staircase, she was beautiful and though he had not been intending to he joined the library.
Work was relatively quiet and not because she worked in a library because she worked the ground floor foyer and was therefore able to ‘meet and greet’ people as they walked in. Occasionally she would get the odd tourist asking for directions or explanations though for the most she just answered the phone and sang ‘good morning’, ‘good bye’ or ‘good afternoon’, it was for the most part a boring job. Then he walked into the building with a camera around his neck and a sweet smile on his face, his grey blue eyes met hers as she greeted and caused the slumbering butterflies in her stomach to waken and beat a hurricane in her stomach. For the next few weeks they flirted silently and then she did something she didn’t normally do, something that shocked even her; she asked him out. It wasn’t that she was old fashioned but she was on occasion shy and retiring and so when he came to the reception to ask a question and she blurted the words, would you like to get a drink sometime, she shocked herself slightly. When she asked him out he was taken aback slightly, this was not because he felt threatened by strong and confident women but he had been working up the courage to ask her and when she asked him though it surprised him a little it did make him feel relieved.
With-in a week it was as though they had known each other for years though only technologically speaking and their first date was far from awkward though it lasted only a few hours and the second date was a long time coming, if at all. They continued to talk but never quite got around to making their way on a second date and though she liked him more than she was willing to admit in her mind there is only so long a girl can wait and so when he failed to reply to a text message she let it be, after all life is too short.
Three quiet weeks had passed, he had not been to visit the Library nor had she heard a word spoken or sent and then she got a phone call;
“Hello?” She questioned, the call was coming from Charlie though she was unsure why he was calling,
“Leigh?” a voice replied from the other end but it was not the voice she was expecting,
“Speaking, who...” She began but was cut off by the voice of the unknown woman
“This may seem strange to you Leigh and I must apologise but I need your help, my name is Mary Winters, I’m Charlies mother and well...” she paused and for a second Leigh was unsure whether she should fill the empty silence, “can we meet somewhere, what I have to tell you, to ask is better off said in person” she finally said.
“Um Sure” Leigh replied though she was unsure “There’s a cafe, Cafe Bisou...” she started
“Yes I know where it is, 2'o clock?”
“Okay” Leigh replied still very confused.
Leigh had tried to prepare herself however when she stepped from the rain drenched summer streets into the sweet smelling, coffee bean, fresh cookie warmth of the cafe she was still full of nervous energy and she knew exactly who she was here to see. She was sat at a table for two set with a vase of fresh bluebells and yellow roses, the woman was dressed in a smart suit though her hair was dishevelled and damp and her makeup which had clearly not been re-applied before she had left to meet Leigh, revealed sore red rimmed eyes,
“Mrs Winters?” Leigh asked as she cast a dull shadow across the silent woman,
“Yes” she said standing and knocking the table slightly,
“Of course” she said grasping Leigh’s outstretched hand
“Can I get you something Mrs...” Leigh began to offer,
“Please Call me Mary and no I’m fine thank you Leigh” She replied, Leigh smiled and ordered herself a hot chocolate and sat down across the table from the desperately sad woman,
“Please forgive me Mrs...Mary but I still don’t understand what it is I’m doing here” Leigh wondered as she sat at the quaint table,
“Charlie was in a car accident, four weeks ago he had a very bad head injury; swelling and so the doctors put him into a coma so that his brain could get better but when he finally woke up he couldn’t remember a thing” Mary jumped right into the awful tale, only pausing to dab at her eyes with a tissue,
“Oh my god...I’m so sorry” Leigh gasped
“When I say that he couldn’t remember anything, well, he couldn’t remember a thing other than you Leigh” she said finishing the story. Leigh did not know what to say for what could have been an eternity, she sipped her cooling hot chocolate and waited for Mary, hoped for her to say something; finally she did,
“The doctor, the Psychologist and Myself and his father believe that the only way to get Charlie back is for him to be around what he knows and since the only thing he knows is you Leigh...Will you help?” Mary asked,
“Me-I-but how can I help?” Leigh asked
“Spend time with him, move in with him I know that you have a job Leigh but I am willing to pay you for as long as it takes, I need my son back, please” Mary Winters was begging her. Leigh though about what she was asking her to do, to give up her life to help a man that she had only been on one date with, a man she had spent time with only a handful of times, a man who could remember nothing other than the basics and her; he knew Leigh better than he knew his own friends and family.
“What about Beau?” Beau was Leigh’s dog she was a charcoal greyhound mix with a silver smudge on the top of her head and she was everything to Leigh,
“your dog, she can come too of course I know how much she means to you Charlie has told me, he remembers her too” as she said the words her voice broke at the thought of her own son knowing a dog better than he knew her.“Okay” Leigh agreed though she was still unsure.
Leigh agreed to go and visit Charlie that afternoon she considered what she might say to him because at the current moment she was his whole world and he was not hers; should she act as though he had just been in a huge accident, should she talk about the weather, the news he had missed while he had been sleeping, maybe she would just let him do the talking. She had accepted a lift from Mary Winters though she only lived 20 minutes from the cafe and she had left her seated with a glass of water and a very welcoming Beau,
“I’ll be just one second” Leigh said as she disappeared into her bedroom to change into something more casual and then they left, she wondered whether it might be appropriate to buy some flowers or grapes but his mother informed her that he had everything he needed, she was slightly short with Leigh,
“How dare you get short with me, I am giving my life up for you and your son, a son who can only remember me which might suggest that he has some kind of inner problem with you , how dare you!” this is what Leigh would have said had she not been riding in a lift full of patients, doctors, nurses and visiting relatives with a woman who was at the time wiping fresh tears from her cheeks and so Leigh bit her lip.
They walked down the corridor in silence, the generic smell of bleach, medicine and sickness that every hospital no matter how expensive, seemed to hold, Leigh tried not to breath too deeply she hated the smell it made her feel uncomfortable. As they rounded one of the many corners that the hospital held Charlie came into view, he was sat up in bed working on his laptop, the silver grey of his hair, which had been left un-made and slightly mussed, shone in the bright sunlight that filled the room, he had started going grey when he turned 17 but he wore it well, that and the deep rainy day blue of his eyes had made Leigh fall for him. He looked up from the screen just as she rounded the corner; it was as though he sensed that she was there, he broke into a huge grin as their eyes met through the thick glass of the room window. She smiled back; she couldn’t help it despite the situation that they were now in, his smile was infectious and when she considered the fact that other than Beau, she was the only person he could remember she realised just how happy he must have been to see her.
“he hasn’t smiled at us like that since the day he left” Mary commented, she burst into tears and Leigh pulled her into a hug, she glanced at Charlie, his face showed genuine concern but what it didn’t hold was the pain that a child might feel at seeing one of their parents in emotional pain.
“I think I should go in on my own, just for a few minutes” Leigh said suddenly, Mary didn’t look at her, she didn’t answer with words but only nodded her head and moved to sit on one of the dusky pink coloured chairs that were set in a U shape in the waiting area. Leigh took a deep breath, her hands were shaking, her palms were sweaty and at that moment more than ever the smell that the hospital held was making her feel sick to her stomach. Her hand paused on the door; it gripped the handle for a second keeping her eyes cast down at her feet and then without warning the door handle left her hand and Charlie was stood in front of her. She looked up in shock as the door opened and was even more shocked when he pulled her into a hug, something he had not even given her at the end of their first and only date.
“You look great, it’s so good to see you, how are you, I’m so glad you’re here Leigh” He gushed all at once, over whelming her
“Thank you, um okay, just give me a minute” Leigh said pulling from the hug and taking a step back from him,
“Sorry this must be strange for you” He said “please come in and sit down” he added retreating back into the room and sitting back on the bed, Leigh looked him over, he looked good for a guy who had been in a near fatal car crash only four weeks ago. His skin was a little pale but his eyes still held a sharp bright glint, he was dressed in a dark blue t-shirt and pyjama bottoms with matching stripes and Leigh could smell the light scent of Jean Paul Gautier, he looked really good. She smiled at him again and he returned it though this time it was a much softer smile,
“I’m sorry about that greeting, I’m guessing it was a little overwhelming” he said
“Just a little” she said taking a seat across from him “so how are you?” she asked
“Honestly a little overwhelmed myself, better for seeing you, someone I actually know” He said
“Yeah I can’t imagine what you’re going through” she replied
“It must sound crazy to you but this is the most relaxed I’ve felt since I woke up” He said with a smile and silence fell between them for a few minutes until he spoke again filling the void, “Pretty weird second date huh?” he said with a grin and they both broke out into laughter after that they settled into comfortable conversation until a knock rang out in the room. Mary Winters stood at the door, she had composed herself and now she wanted to join them, Charlie signalled that it was okay and they were once again plunged into an awkward silence.
“Charlie sweetheart, your father and I and your doctors have been discussing what might be best when you leave the hospital and well we think that the best chance you have of re-gaining your memory might be to surround yourself with the things that you do remember, those things being Leigh and Beau” she said, Charlie looked at Leigh for confirmation,
“She’s right Charlie, it might be your best chance” She said
“Leigh has agreed to move in with you sweetheart and to give her time to helping you remember” Mary continued
“I can’t ask you to give up your life Leigh as much as I would love to be around you all of the time but...” Charlie protested his unmade silver hair brushing gently against his forehead as he shook his head ‘no’
“Charlie, honey, please...” Mary began to talk but Leigh knew that he wouldn’t listen to her and so she took control,
“Charlie believe me when I say I didn’t want to do this” she said honesty “ we have been on only one date now moving in with you after one date if you had your memory would be the least thing on my mind never mind me being the only thing you can recall but you do have a family, one that loves you as far as I can tell, a great group of friends from what you told me and I think you owe it to them to accept my help and I’m all for helping others” she said with a cheeky smile “plus I was hoping for a third date, you know away from the hospital” Leigh added he smiled at her,
“But what about your job, your life?” he asked
“I am willing to pay Leigh for her help” Mary said
“It’ll all work out Charlie, I can bring the things I love with me and together we can get to know you better” Leigh smiled at him,“Okay” He agreed.