Choose mother

You want your mother.

“I think a mother sounds good right about now,” you tell Harry, “Did you meet her?”

Harry tugs on his long beard. “Only the once. Looked sort of run-of-the-mill to me. Maybe a bit uptight.”

But not dangerous. She hadn’t been there with a pan and blood. She is certainly the better choice.

The woman who suggested your mother returns with a plain white card. “She left it back in the day. I put it in Harry’s desk.” She passes the card to you.

You look at the number and street. It’s unfamiliar, but then everything is.

Harry leans over and types the address in his phone. “All right. Let’s go.”

You’re so tired, and the drive feels long. You fall asleep, wakening only when the truck bounces along a rough road.

There’s a house at the end of it. When the truck pulls up, a light clicks on. A woman steps out on the porch.

“That her?” Harry asks.

You realize you have no idea what your mother looks like. But what choice do you have?

“Sure,” you say.

The woman hurries to the truck. Harry rolls down his window. “I have Ava here. She came to me a little out of sorts. Asked to come here.” He peers at the woman.

“Ava, my darling! Are you bleeding? Please come in. I’ll make your favorite tea. Your room is still made up.”

Harry looks over at you. “This all right, Ava?”

You agree with Harry’s assessment. The woman has a kind face, and her hair is up in a messy bun. She wears a pink robe and slippers. She seems harmless compared to the man with the frying pan.

The woman leads you inside, Harry following to make sure you’re all right. She wets a cloth and begins to carefully wipe the blood from your head and hands. “Did you fall?” she asks.

“I guess so.” You don’t want to bring up the man.

“I guess I’ll be heading back,” Harry says. “Don’t be a stranger.”

You nod.

Then you’re alone with the woman.

The tea she brings you smells wonderful and something deep down knows you’ve sat here before, drunk this tea in your past. You’ve done the right thing.

“I’ll go make sure your sheets are fresh,” she says. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

“Has it been a while?” you ask.

She hesitates before answering. “A little while.”

You want to ask why, but follow her down the hall to a small room with a narrow bed and a dresser.

“You still have some clothes in the closet,” she says. “Looks like they’ll fit.” She turns down the covers, but you notice her hand shakes.

“Maybe we can go for a drive in the morning,” she continues. “I’ll pack us some things.”

“Okay.”

She stands in the doorway. “Do you have any questions?”

You have a million, but your head still hurts, and you’re so very tired. They can wait until tomorrow.

You say, “Not yet.”

“Okay, good. Goodnight.”

She closes the door, but her footsteps never recede. The shadow of her slippers remain in the slice of light from the hall.

You look around, opening drawers. There are clothes that smell dusty. Nothing unusual. You find a soft shirt and decide to trade it for the one you’re wearing.

But when you remove your shirt, words on your arm catch your attention. You move closer to the lamp by the bed.

They say, “Trust only this handwriting. Find the book. Remember your life.”

Your belly quakes. What does this mean? Why can you trust only this handwriting? You run your hands over the words. It’s a tattoo. Are there any others?

You quickly undress, your gaze wary on the door. The slippers are still there.

You slide down your jeans, and there, above your hip, are letters that make you realize you’ve done the worst thing possible.

Tattooed upside down, so that you can read them, are the words:

Mother is bad.

You go to the window, but it’s nailed shut.

And when you look out, the moonlight casts a haze over hay fields as far as you can see in every direction.

You’ve done exactly the wrong thing.

You have no idea who you are, and now you have nowhere to go.

You are trapped.

UNFORTUNATELY, YOU MADE THE WRONG CHOICE. IT WAS HARD TO KNOW, RIGHT?

What you have just read is one of the scenes I put my main character Ava through in my new book THIS KISS.

Ava has epilepsy, a condition that causes seizures. Her particular form hits a part of the brain that stores your life memories (the hippocampus.) She can walk, talk, and read, but she doesn’t know who she is, where she’s been, and doesn’t recognize anything as being hers, even though she can name what the objects are.

I decided to write this story after my daughter Elizabeth, who was diagnosed with epilepsy at age six, was going through a period of the worst seizures of her life. At age 15, Elizabeth had a seizure at a movie theater on a class trip. I raced to the mall to find two fire trucks and a half-dozen tricked-out firefighters walking out.

They’d been there for her. She was going to have a story to tell me about them!

But she didn’t. She had no memory of the firefighters, of feeling bad, or roughly half an hour leading up to the seizure. It took a good hour for her to orient herself with a chunk of her life missing.

I started researching memory loss with seizures.

Elizabeth’s seizures did not turn out to have a long-term affect on her memory, although she never did get those firefighters back.

But looking at the medical reasons for this, I discovered quite a few people where it DID. A seizure took their memories. And not only that, it could happen over and over again.

And so my thoughts churned. What if it did? How would you love anyone? How could anybody stay in love with you?

I created Ava and Tucker to find out.

So now, you can choose YOUR next reading adventure:

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