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The Anniversary of the Debacle

And yet another classic, forgetting something moment for Mel. Not something mundane. Keys were always hung in the same place. She was in a fast food and cereal phase, so the oven and stove were definitely still off. No, it was a date. What was the date?

Oh. Right.

No matter how far down she stuffed it, her brain still responded to certain sensations and smells. The first time she remembered, she froze in the middle of ordering coffee. It took two employees and a manager to snap her out of it. This time, she was dreaming of something blue and purple and kind when she felt the gentle but insistent pressure on her big toe.

She was immediately back there.

On that cold, steel table.


The white coat and the latex gloves hovering everywhere over her. A thread tightened around her big toe and a small paper tab, thick card stock, flapped down on her heel. Then the tag moved. Oh good, she could control something. She did it harder. The tag fluttered and fluttered again. The slow swivel of the man in white, complete with white face, was the most hopeful sight!

Mel’s knee jerked up, then her thigh slapped back down like a whale falling back to the surface of the water. The man sunk down out of view. Yes, she supposed she should have kept better track of her weight. There was a plain, white clock on the wall behind where the fainting man had stood. Was it AM or PM?

She willed her head to turn to the left. A heavy, black bag filled the length of another steel table nearby. The zipper was open and waiting. So it wasn’t surgery Mel had woken up in the middle of.

This room wouldn’t have additional anesthesia.

The pressure continued on her other toes. The man was still out of sight, presumably on the floor. A heavy, slow weight shifted and settled over her shins, then her knees. The bag was still nearby. What was happening?

Her eyes opened a second time, and the only light was a blue star on the ceiling from the nightlight across the hall. A small, blonde head held still at the foot of the bed. The dog glanced over his sleepy shoulders where he lay curled on her legs. Mel rubbed her face and eyes and groped around the nightstand for her phone. Five AM? She glared through the dark at the little blonde head. Wait. The date. She looked again and the date made her heart slam into her chest. So that explained her dream.

It was the anniversary of the debacle. And every year, her mind returned to the coroner’s office, from which she almost didn’t make it home. She refused to keep newspaper clippings around, but it was no use.

Her mind remembered.

Her body remembered.

It was, after all, the anniversary of the debacle.


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