Steve had been home for a couple of weeks and had been mending slowly. He still had to be in the wheelchair (which by now was getting a bit bothersome for him) but he was accepting of it for the most part. Steve was still struggling with his memory - things still hadn't started coming back to him much and he asked questions all the time. It was the strangest feeling to walk up to someone who obviously knew him very well, and yet not have a clue who he was talking to!
He had grownup in this town and yet he might as well just got off the bus from someplace else! Everything and everyone was brand new to him. And while they were all nice enough, it still put him at a disadvantage in social situations and made him feel awkward and stupid. But he was coping and with the help and support of everyone around him, it was bearable. Today he had a doctor's appointment to check on how he was coming along, so Linda helped him into their car and she drove them to the doctor's office. Once inside he waited while she did the necessary paperwork and then she sat with him waiting to be seen. It didn't take long before he was in the back room and the doctor knocked on the door.
"Hi, Steve, how are we doing today?"
"Not bad, Doc."
"How are the ribs?"
"They're a lot better. It doesn't hurt to breath or laugh anymore." Steve said.
"That's good. And how are your legs doing?"
"Well the casts are starting to itch, but other than that they don't hurt or anything."
"Yeah, the itching is always a problem with casts. So how long have you had them on now?" the doctor asked.
"It's been 5 weeks tomorrow since the accident."
"I see. Well let's have a look at your right leg." the doctor said as he examined the stitches where they reattached the tendon in his ankle and then checked the cast.
"Looks pretty good. I think we may be able to take this off pretty soon. One more step towards getting you up and mobile again!"
"That's good news." Linda replied. "He has been getting antsy sitting around all day!"
"I can imagine so. But since you only broke one of the two bones in this lower leg and since you will still have to be in a wheelchair for a while, I see no real danger in taking the cast off. Just don't go dancing anytime soon!"
"I promise." Steve said jokingly.
"As for your left leg, you will still be in a cast for now. You have pins in your hip that are holding things together but we need the bones to knit more before we remove that cast. You'll never walk through a metal detector quietly again, but it looks like you be able to walk again before too long."
"I'm looking forward to that. I never realized how hard it is to get around in one of these things!" Steve said patting the arm on his wheelchair.
"Yeah we have come quite a way in making the world accessible, but we have a lot more to do. You are fortunate that you live in this area, though - we are ahead of most places in making things easier for the handicapped." the doctor told Steve. "Had you only broke one leg or the other, you'd be able to be on crutches, but with both legs out of commission, you're just going to have to wheel it."
"Ok, now let's talk about that head of yours. How's the memory?"
"Still a blank, Doc." Steve said disheartened. "I still keep meeting 'new' people I should know."
"I see. Well, I think there's someone you should talk with. How would you feel about seeing a hypnotist? I know of this psychologist that specializes in this therapy. He claims that it helps many of his patients."
"Hypnotist, huh? And this guy is a doctor?"
"Well he's a psychologist. Technically speaking he's not a medical doctor, since he can't prescribe medicines, but he is good. I have heard good things about him and seen some of his work. I think he may be able to put you under and find out what's keeping your memories from you." the doctor told Steve and Linda.
"Just as long as he doesn't make me quack like a duck every time the phone rings." Steve said sarcastically.
The doctor laughed. "No, I don't think so. But maybe Linda can be in the room just to make sure he doesn't talk you out of your email password or anything!" he said.
"Ok we'll give it a try then if you think it might help."
"Well it certainly can't hurt, Steve." the doctor said. "Here's his business card. Give him a call and set up a time just to talk. Then if you feel comfortable with the idea, you can schedule a session."
When they got home, Linda called the number of the psychologist and set up an appointment to meet with him. Fortunately, he had had a cancellation which made an opening the next day. So Linda and Steve decided to go see what he could possibly do to help Steve's memory come back. Steve wasn't getting his hopes up, but Linda tried to be optimistic about it - both for Steve's sake as well as her own.
The next morning, Steve and Linda got ready to go see the psychologist. His office was in Cincinnati, so it would be a drive to see him, but if it helped Steve get his memory back, it was worth the trip. They left right after breakfast and planned to make a day of it, doing a little shopping while they were there. Steve's parents would watch the kids while they were gone so they could take their time and not feel rushed. With all the logistics taken care of, Steve and Linda set out for Cincinnati. This was the first time they had really had some time alone since Steve got back from the hospital. So it was nice to have the time where they could talk without having to talk in code for fear of "little ears" listening in!
"Steve," Linda began "what are you thinking?"
"Nothing, really. I was just thinking about this appointment. What if there's a reason why I haven't been able to remember anything about this accident? What if I remember something that I should have just left alone? We may be opening a Pandora's Box here."
"What could be so terrible that you would want to shut it out?" Linda asked cautiously. She still hadn't spilled the beans to Steve about the teenagers that died in that accident and had almost forgotten about the matter entirely. She hadn't considered that putting Steve under hypnosis may bring all that up again.
"I don't know, but there has to be a reason why I haven't remembered. It's been almost a month now since I came out of the coma and I still have no recollection of anything prior to waking up in that hospital room."
"Well we'll just see what this psychologist has to say and we'll deal with whatever happens together. I love you, Steve. And nothing that this shrink may or may not find is going to change that." she said, squeezing his hand.
"I love you, too." Steve replied. "and you're right. After what we've already been through, we can handle anything."
The car went quiet for a while after that - each of them lost in their own thoughts. Linda wondered if she shouldn't have told Steve about the kids that died in the accident already. What if he remembers them-would he be mad at her for hiding it? She had lied to him and dodged talking about it in order to keep him from finding out that people died in the accident he was involved in. Would he be angry at her for not revealing everything? Steve didn't cause the accident - it wasn't his fault that they were killed. But he might blame himself for being there in the first place. This psychologist may not have been such a good idea after all.
They made it to Cincinnati in record time it seemed and found the office from the address Linda had gotten on the phone. They pulled into the parking lot of a small two-story medical building shared with a doctor, a dentist, an optometrist, and a medical billing company. Linda wheeled her husband into the building and as they waited for the elevator, she read the directory.
"Dr. Tamasuki - Clinical Psychology" she read.
"That must be the place." Steve said. "Let's go see what this guy has to say."
The elevator door opened on the second floor and right across the hall was the office of Dr. Tamasuki. Linda wheeled Steve into the office and up to the desk of a very attractive young oriental woman.
"Steve Williams to see Dr. Tamasuki for consultation." Linda said matter of factly.
"Ahh, yes. We have spoken to your doctor and Dr. Tamasuki is expecting you. Please have a seat and I will tell him you are here." she said.
Linda moved Steve over to the waiting area. They were alone in the office and when the receptionist went into the back are Steve leaned over to Linda. "Maybe this psychologist wasn't such a bad idea - he may be a quack, but he has good taste!" Steve said jokingly while nodding to the retreating receptionist.
"Watch it, Buster!" Linda said slugging him in the arm playfully.
The receptionist came back in a couple of minutes. "The doctor will see you now. Please follow me." she said.
"Anytime." Steve whispered just loud enough for his wife to hear.
"Keep it up and you're gonna get pounded!" Linda whispered back.
Steve and Linda entered into a good-sized office warmly decorated and furnished with a pair of sumptuous leather lounge chairs, a leather psychiatrist couch, a roll-top desk and high-back leather desk chair.
"Hello, I am Dr. Tamasuki." greeted a small, friendly looking oriental man with salt-and-pepper hair and round wire-rimmed glasses. He wore a white overcoat and big smile. "You must be Steve and Linda."
"Yes, that's right." Linda said. After shaking both Steve and Linda's hands he motioned for Linda to have a seat and Steve pulled his chair next to her. Dr. Tamasuki pushed his desk chair close to them.
"I understand from your doctor that you have been involved in a car accident and that you suffer amnesia because of it."
"That's what they tell me." Steve said.
"Tell me what you remember of it." Dr Tamasuki said.
"Not a whole lot. I don't remember anything prior to waking up in the hospital in Chicago, five weeks ago."
"Nothing?" Dr. Tamasuki urged.
"Nope. I don't even remember Linda here, except from what she's told me."
"Interesting. You have what we call traumatic amnesia. You suffered a concussion in the accident I understand."
"Yes. I guess I was out for a few days." Steve said.
"He was unconscious for two and a half weeks!" Linda corrected him.
"I see. Yes, that could definitely cause this kind of amnesia."
"Do you think you can help him remember, doctor?" Linda asked bluntly. "He really is at a loss here, not being able to remember his friends and family."
"Well we can always give it a try. I have had some success with this, although I'll be completely honest, I haven't enjoyed 100% success. Sometimes these traumatic events bury themselves so deep that even hypnosis can't bring them out. But we can try to see if I can at least crack the door a bit for you."
"At this point, Doc, I'm willing to try just about anything."
"I'm sure you are. Ok then my receptionist will schedule you for a session and we'll see what we can find out."
"That'd be great." Steve said.
"Do you have any questions for me?" the doctor asked.
"No, I don't think so." Steve answered.
"Ok, good. Then I will see you at your next appointment and we'll try to uncover the reason for this memory loss."
"Ok, Dr. Tamasuki, See you then."
Linda and Steve left the office and went out into the reception room to schedule the appointment. Once that was done, they left the office and headed for the elevator.
"Oh shoot! I left my pocketbook in the doctor's office!" Linda said. Will you be ok here for a second?"
"Yeah." Steve said.
"I'll be right back, then." she said. Linda had indeed left her pocketbook in the doctor's office, but intentionally. She needed to speak with him privately. She went into the office and got her pocketbook.
"Dr. Tamasuki, may I speak with you for a second?"
"Of course, what is it?"
"Well I have something more about Steve's amnesia to tell you about. You see, Steve was involved in a two car accident. The other car had three teenage boys, the boy driving was drunk, and all three were killed because they were thrown from the car. The doctor in Chicago told me I shouldn't tell Steve about it because he might relapse and he has never found out about it yet. I'm afraid that your hypnosis may bring it out and he'll be mad at me for not telling him."
"I see. Well, hypnosis may very well bring this new information to light. Steve seems well-adjusted now. I would tell him about it if I were you instead of letting him find out this way. It will probably go over a lot better if he hears it from you instead of recalling it himself and wondering why you weren't honest with him."
"Yes, doctor. You are probably right. Looks like Steve and I need to have a talk."
"I think it's best don't you?"
"Thank you, doctor."
Dr. Tamasuki smiled. "You're welcome. Good luck."
Linda rejoined her husband and they left for the car. Once they got back to the car, Linda asked Steve where he would like to go for lunch, since they had missed breakfast in order to get to the doctor on time.
"How about going to IHOP?" Steve said.
"IHOP? What made you think of that?"
"I dunno...it just came to me. Why?
"Well IHOP was our favorite restaurant back when we first started going together!" Linda said smiling.
"Oh really?" Steve said. I wonder if that is a memory trying to come out or just a coincidence."
"Well I'm going to call it a memory!" Linda said happily.
So they looked up the address of the nearest IHOP and went there for lunch. After lunch they decided to do some shopping for things they couldn't get at home and then headed towards home. Once they got out of Cincinnati and were on the interstate, Linda turned to Steve.
"Steve, we need to talk."
"Oh? What about?"
"I need to tell you something." Linda said "Something I probably should have told you before now."
"Uh-oh. What is it?"
"Well you need to know something about your accident and I didn't want you to find out through the hypnosis."
"Ok...again I ask, what is it?"
"When you had your accident, there was another car involved. A car with three teenagers -boys- in it. The driver of that car was drunk and it crossed over into your lane and hit you. Their car was a convertible and none of the boys were wearing their seatbelts. They were ejected from the car when it hit you and all three of them were...killed when they hit the pavement."
"Oh my God!" Steve said stunned.
"It's true. But the accident wasn't your fault - you were in your lane and they hit you. There was a farmer on his tractor who witnessed the accident and he told the police the same story. The kids were drunk, driving way too fast, and they almost hit the tractor. They swerved to miss it, lost control of the car, and crossed the median hitting you and causing you to go off the road and crash in a ditch."
"Why didn't you tell me this before, Linda?" Steve said angrily.
"Because Dr. Kensington in Chicago was afraid if you found out about it then, that you might relapse and fall back into a coma. He told me not to tell you then and I just put it out of my mind altogether so I wouldn't slip and tell you. But now that you are going ahead with this hypnosis, I didn't want you remembering it on your own and getting mad at me for not telling you. That's why I am telling you now. Please don't be mad at me."
"I'm not mad at you, Linda. You were just trying to protect me. I know that. I am just..."
"I know. It was a horrible accident and I don't even like thinking about it. I almost lost you, Steve, and if I had, I don't know how I would have lived without you." Linda began tearing up, remembering how she felt back then.
"I feel so terrible about those kids. I can't imagine what their parents must have gone through."
"Well one of the kids' mothers came to see you while you were in your coma. She stopped in and we talked for a bit. She apologized for her son's hitting you. I don't know if her son was driving the other car or not, but she apologized anyway. We talked for awhile and she seemed nice. It is a shame all the way around."
"More than a shame." Steve said. "It is a terrible tragedy." Linda agreed.
The car remained quiet the rest of the way home, both Steve and Linda lost in thought.
Steve was napping in his recliner a couple days after the trip to the psychologist's office when he was awakened by a sudden knock on the door. "I'll get it!" he called to Linda who was in the back room making the kids' beds. He wheeled his chair to the door and opened it to find a State Policeman holding a box.
"Are you Steve Williams? he asked.
"Yes, I am, officer. What can I do for you?
"The Chicago State Police sent this to us to give you. I guess it's your personal effects from the accident. They have finished their investigation and no longer need this stuff for evidence." The officer then handed Steve a sealed box. The box was medium-sized and not real heavy.
"Thanks." Steve said as the officer turned to leave. Steve shut the door and wheeled himself and the box over to the dining room table. He placed the box on the table just as Linda came into the room.
"Who was that at the door?" she asked.
"The State Police." he said. They gave me this box. He said it's stuff from the accident that belongs to me."
"Well, open it and let's see what's inside." she said.
Steve pulled out his pocketknife and was about to cut the tape sealing the box, when he paused.
"What is it?" Linda asked.
"I dunno...it's just..."Steve said, trailing off.
Linda took his hand and looked him in the eyes. "Steve, whatever is in this box and whatever memories it may or may not trigger, we are in this together. And we will get through it together as well."
"Yeah, I guess." he said, and he cut the tape.
The box opened, he started rifling through its contents. He pulled out a badly dented thermos, and his briefcase, which contained papers from his work. He looked through the papers trying to remember, but to no avail. Setting the briefcase aside for now, he went back into the box and pulled out a beat up model ship box that had been broken open and it's contents broken. He found a little girl's doll, ragged and water-stained, as if it had been carelessly tossed away. He looked at the doll for several minutes, as if silently talking to it, asking it to reveal its secret, but it did not.
Linda watched Steve as he held the doll. "Anything?" she asked.
"No. I thought for a second there was, but no." Steve said.
Steve looked back into the box one last time and brought out a small, thin, white box. He opened the box and looked inside.
Steve dropped the box. He looked like he just saw a ghost. And in fact he had.
"What is it, Steve, what's wrong? Linda said, scared at her husband's reaction.
"I...I...I remember!" he stammered. "I remember this!" he said holding up the necklace.
"What...what do you remember?" she said excitedly.
"I...bought this for you...in Chicago!" he said straining as the memories slowly began to reveal themselves. "I went shopping...and bought the model...for Michael..."
"And the baby doll was for Cindy?" Linda asked hardly able to contain herself.
"Yes...I had a hard time finding it, I remember, but I finally found it." he said. "Then I went to the jewelers...and I remembered your birthday was...um...November 15th, right?"
"Yes, Steve! Oh yes!" she said hugging him tightly. "You remember!" Linda began crying as Steve worked through the memories.
"I remember looking at different things at the jewelers....trying to figure out what to get you..." Steve said, "Then I asked the girl at the counter for some ideas. She asked when your birthday was and I told her. That's when she suggested this necklace."
"It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, Honey." Linda said through her tears.
"Well, I'm glad you like it." he said. "It's taken long enough to give it to you!"
Just then the two kids, Michael and Cindy, come in from playing outside. "Mommy, why are you crying?" said the 6 year old Cindy.
"Oh kids, Daddy remembers!" Linda said wiping the tears from her eyes. Cindy, not fully realizing the gravity of the situation, got her cue from her mother and clapped gleefully "Daddy members, Daddy members!"
Linda got on the phone, calling Steve's parents and then her own. Everyone was thrilled with the good news.
Linda told the story of the box and how that simple topaz necklace opened the door to Steve's memory. When Linda got finished spreading the news, she hung up and went back to helping Steve remember. Unfortunately, that was all he could remember at that time. But it was a start and both of them were thrilled that finally, it seemed, there was a ray of hope in the darkness of Steve's past. The above story is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and events in it are products of the author’s imagination and are used as fantasy. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than Lushstories.com
with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.
<a href="http://www.lushstories.com/stories/love-stories/a-stranger-in-my-house-chapter-3.aspx">A Stranger In My House, Chapter 3</a>