Shadows Triptych - One: Shadows of Memory
I can feel the dead shadows of memory awakening ...
"ChryoSleep," they called it. Something my brother did, I'm sure. For somereason, I could never forget him. Doc said I'd have temporary memory loss as I readjusted to this new world, and it is a new world. 2516, he said.
Apparently I had a heart attack and was in a coma for two years in the 2050s. From what I've pieced together, they were going to pull the plug, but my brother fought for me to be put in ChryoSleep, crazy bastard that he was. He was always hopping on to the latest craze in technology. No one figured this thing would pan out, but the family was willing to indulge him in this. The docs pulled the plug and put me on ice, until medical science could pull me out of the coma.
Apparently humanity learned a lot in 500 years. The first few days I was in wonder. I wandered the city for hours each day, marveling at everything I saw. Flying cars and everything else imagined by the 1950's scifi writers.
Now, though, after a scant week, this future was less interesting than the past I was beginning to remember.
Images danced tantalizingly through my head. Faces of people I know, but couldn't remember. An older woman smiling. My mother? Grandmother? The only one I know for sure is my brother. His short, sandly blonde hair and square jaw. Perfect teeth and wide nose. Bastard. Not technically, but I still hated him. Suddenly four faces coalece into one image: a family portrait. The four of us were there, George and I were seated infront of Mom & Dad. I recognize them now. This picture was one of the last portraits we had. Dad died about a year later. I was 19 then ... George was 22 and away at college when it happened.
I stayed with the memories of my parents, but they were fleeting. The harder I tried to hold on to images of Mom, the more they slipped away, so I sat back in my mind and watched. Another woman's face floated before me. Younger than Mom, probably around 20 years old. She was very familiar. My eyes knew every nuance of her face before my memory recalled them. Her flowing brown hair, that I knew was the softest hair I had ever touched, was tucked behind her ears, making them stand out all the more as my eyes traced their contours. The next feature that caught my attention was the striking azure of her eyes. A cute nose, turning slightly upward at the tip, rested just above small, pouty lips.
My eyes trailed down from her face, caressing the alabaster skin of her neck and shoulders. Reflexively, I traced down her left arm to her ring finger. I saw two rings, one of which I knew immediately as the wedding band I had given her.
How could I have forgotten her? In the moments I spent kicking myself for remembering my overacheiving brother and not my loving wife, the image changed.
She had been on her way home that night, working late to set up for the holiday party the next day. I asked her to be careful, that the plows and sand trucks hadn't yet cleared all the roadways. The weather station was saying some areas were experiencing a "white out" from the storm.
A single word flashed in my mind's eye:
and instantly I was sitting bolt upright in my hospital room, 500 years and who knows how many miles from the only woman I had ever loved ...