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The town of Westington was a small town in the middle of nowhere. Any road leading out of the city would take you directly into the countryside, scattered with thick forests growing here and there. It rained often in Westington, as it usually does in England. On the outskirts of this small town, on Jamesfield Lane, a large red brick building was nestled between two groves of trees.
“Melanie, darlin’, it’s time ta go ta supper!” A nurse wearing floral patterned scrubs gently woke the cotton-haired old lady sitting in the lounge chair. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and pushed the blue fleece blanket off of her knees into a bundle next to her on the uncomfortable Victorian style seat.
“Oh, Iona, what time is it? I must have drifted off,” Melanie blearily asked the nurse.
“Nearly ‘alf past five! I dinnae want to wake ye, ye were sleepin’ like a babe!” Iona’s sweet Scottish accent fell upon Melanie’s aged ears like spring rain. “‘ere, let me ‘elp ye,” she put a pudgy hand on the old woman’s shoulder and helped her to slowly stand up.
“Thank you, Iona. Shall we be off to dinner then?”
“Nice and slow, if ye dinnae mind. I dinnae want ye ta have anot’er one o’ your fits.” Iona glanced at Melanie with a concerned look.
Melanie tittered at her expression, saying, “I am quite all right, dear. My epilepsy hasn’t returned for a long while, and I think I will be fine. You needn’t worry.” She began to walk out of the sunlit room and into the long hallway, her back hunched with the burden of years.
Melanie’s face grew white. She leaned against the wall, and her breath grew heavy. She could smell lilacs, though there were no lilacs for miles. Suddenly, Melanie fell to the floor in huge spasms. She hit her head on the coffee table as she fell, and blood trickled down her forehead. Intense shaking gripped the old woman’s whole body, held back only by Iona’s firm grip. The seizure lasted much longer than it should have…
“Doctor!” Iona called. “I need a doctor!”
Outside, rain poured down in sheets. It left puddles on the asphalt that rippled with every new drop that fell. A dim light drifted into Melanie’s room where she lay sleeping, a heart monitor beeping every few seconds. Muted sounds of a television echoed through the walls.
It was as if she had walked out of a dense fog. Melanie opened her eyes and looked around at the rose-patterned wallpaper, confused by her new surroundings. She had no memory of recent events, and barely any knowledge of who she was. Why was she here? What were all of these strange gadgets? Who –
The door opened, interrupting her thoughts. A woman Melanie didn’t think she knew but was vaguely familiar stepped in, bustling about the room and tidying it nervously. Before Melanie could say anything, the woman cheerily began to speak.
“Oh, Melanie, ‘tis good to see ye awake. I dinnae know if ye would make it t’rough t’is one. Would ye loike some breakfast? I brought yer favorite -”
“Who are you? Do I know you?” Melanie began to panic. She sat up in bed and tried to crawl to the edge of the bed.
The woman was shocked into near silence. “I – I am Iona! Don’t ye remember me? I am t’e one that takes care of ye.”
“Take care of me? I don’t need anyone to take care of me, except for my husband. Where is he?”
“Melanie, dear, ye need ta remember. Ye’re at the Westington retirement ‘ome. Yer ‘usband isno’ ‘ere at the meenit.” Iona’s look was slightly sad, but it passed quickly. “I must call for t’e doctor. ‘E will want ta know that ye’re awake!” Iona pressed a button on the wall next to the bed. Melanie moved away from her and crossed her arms around herself, confused and scared.
Several moments later, a doctor in a long white coat appeared in the room. He whispered to Iona for several minutes, a worried look contorting his young, handsome face.
He spoke in a deep voice that was comforting to Melanie. She let her arms fall to her sides and her knees slide back onto the bed.
“My name is Dr. Alden. Do you know who I am?” He pulled the blanket up around her.
“No, I do not know you. What am I doing here?”
Dr. Alden pulled a chair up next to the bed and sat down. “I am going to be your doctor until we can resolve your medical issues. You have had some brain trauma and memory loss, but we are working to fix that. Do you know what the date is?”
“November of 1942, I believe.”
Without a change in his expression, Dr. Alden continued. “What is your full name?”
“I am Melanie Lenore Heathcliff Green, currently married to Harold Preston Green.”
After a long pause and a deep sigh, Dr. Alden said, “Madam, I am sorry to say that it is no longer 1942. It is January 23rd of the year 2012.”
Melanie couldn’t speak. She looked at her wrinkled skin and frail body as if for the first time, and her face contorted with shock and agony. “Where – Where have all the years gone?” she managed to whisper.
As gently as he could, he replied, “You had an epileptic fit that caused brain trauma, thus you have lost all memory of the past seventy years.”
“I am only nineteen!” Melanie curled her old limbs into a ball, as tight as her arthritis would allow. “This cannot be real. This cannot be real!” Melanie screamed into her hands and wept with reckless abandon. Iona reached out to touch her shoulder, crying almost as hard as the old woman. However, she kept her hand an inch length away, as if she might catch the tragedy like a contagious disease. For what seemed like hours, Melanie lay on the bed grieving the life she didn’t remember living. After a time, the doctor left, leaving the crying woman with Iona.
The two women fell asleep, Melanie in her bed, exhausted by her tears, and Iona in a chair close by, drained by the worry and pity of seventy years of loss.
When Iona opened her eyes, the storm had passed and the sun was setting, leaving a long ribbon of light on the floor. Melanie was still asleep. Her face was peaceful in sleep, not betraying the newfound pain she felt when she was awake. Iona shifted her heavy body in the chair, creating the slightest sound. With a sudden start, Melanie awoke. She didn’t remember for a while what had happened, but when she did, the events came back to her in a flood. In an instant, her face fell. Tears rolled over her cheeks once again, leaving solitary tracks on her skin.
Eventually, she wiped her eyes. She stared blankly at the ceiling and asked in a hoarse voice, “My husband, is he dead?”
“I am sorry, dear, ‘e’s been dead quite some time. Ye loved eachot’er very much, ye did. Ye used ta tell me such stories. T’e two o’ ye ‘ad a great life toget’er,” Iona smiled at the thought.
Melanie squeezed her eyes shut, and tears leaked out the side. She asked quaveringly, “What was my life like?”
Iona chocked back her own tears and began telling Melanie her life story, one that she had heard so many times from Melanie herself.