Where Does a Mind Go?

I have been trying not to think about it. I can forget everything else, but this, this just keeps on cycling round and round my brain. Sometimes it seems to be the only thing there. What if? What if I? No I won’t finish the thought. I am full of fear.

It’s Toronto and three days and nothing to do in them. I can walk around outside the hotel but the wind is irritable, itching to pick a fight, and downtown is cold and gray and permanently in shadow.

I must get out. The hotel room is like office furniture. I can’t feel my freedom. At the moment it’s just a space where something comforting should be, except there’s only me.

And I’m fumbling, stumbling, gray myself and so middle-aged I can barely breathe. Where is my joy? Am I not lucky? Nothing to do, no-one to do it with.

I get to decide. It’s up to me, but me’s a blur that can’t decide and the hotel room feels like the paisley carpet is crawling up the walls and across the ceiling and will finally fold over me and squeeze. I shall die of generic luxury.

Out I go. Spit myself out on the blustery sidewalk. My coat won’t fit me and I feel like human wind resistance. I’m moving so I must be going somewhere.

I’ve walked Toronto flat before — South African vernacular — don’t need to do it again. Not when the wind wants to peel me and eat me.

A bookstore. God! Thank heavens, a bookstore. I shuffle through the revolting doors. But what am I interested in, I forgot. I don’t have to buy a book. I have enough reading material to float me right through the afterlife. I have five books in my suitcase. Five books, three days and no brain.

I pick up a book, it’s on that thing I don’t want to think about. I stand there with my purse repeatedly escaping from my coated shoulder. I have to keep putting the book down to catch it. I stand there and my knees turn to water.

She’s a medical professional, the author, an academic. She must be pleased; the book is right there on the front table as you walk in. It’s lyrical title full of wistful hope jumps out at you.

She’s up on all the research, she knows everything there is to know about it, but it doesn’t matter, she gets it anyway, still loses the words as fast as she finds them. She must have written this in precious moments of lucidity.

She outlines the symptoms as she experiences them. My heavy brain ricochets all over the place trying to get out of the way of my thoughts.

Do I have it too? Do I have this horrible thing whose name I can never remember, the possibility I can never forget? Is that where my words have gone? I’m standing there with the corner of the table making a dent in my hip. I feel unfocussed with terror. What if I do? Should I go for a brain scan, should I confess to my husband. I am a mass of panic and such grief. Where have all my memories gone?

I put the book down like it’s full of germs and I walk away. All the way back to the hotel closing the doors in my mind. No, we won’t go here. Slam. Or there. Shut.

Maybe it’s just hormones…

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