Light the Corners of My Mind

No one tells you it’s the good memories you’ll resent the most, because those are the memories most painful to lose. No one misses the memory of a bully, the one who broke your nose on the school bus. No one misses a wet and nasty buzzard-breath kiss from a great aunt with a great deal too much mustache hair. No one will miss the memory of those terrible freshman dorm dinners, the mystery meat with watery ketchup and a side of teeth-breakingly al dente pasta.

Forgetting those terrible memories is a blessing. Most people repress them without effort and never notice any difference.

That’s not what the court mandated, is it?

The series runs on the monitor again. Images flicker on the monitor at a rate of several frames per second. Some people I know, some people I do not recognize at all, and some people who appear to be Asian, or Italian, or Maori; but don’t trigger any change in my pulse or respiration.

For less than a heartbeat, I see a face that I do recognize. Dr. Penrose calls out, “Hit, pulse increasing, pupillary response on Image 87.”

He’s caught me again. His monitors have, anyway.

“Nicolette Sanchez. Of course you remember her, don’t you, scumbag?”

Don’t encourage him. Avoid eye contact.

“Oh, this one is a good one. Look at that sassy skirt, as if she was communicating directly with you. You thought she put that outfit on just to please you, right?”

I just work on keeping my breathing under control. Of course, his monitors answer every question he poses. I gave up trying to lie weeks ago. There’s just no point. You can’t lie to his monitors, and if you try the pain only gets worse.

“You became obsessed with her several years ago. Last year, you began stalking her. That ended well, didn’t it? Do you remember the FBI, the guns and tasers? Of course you do. Give us a playback on file 817, Bob.”

His assistant Bob calls up the file and plays the pain memory. Electricity locks my muscles tight, I’m twitching on the floor while fire burns through my body, and I scream and scream.

“It hurtses us, doesn’t it precious? Yes, it does. Playback 163 for this scumbag.”

I’m four or five, and dreaming of the ocean, waterfalls, crashing waves, and wake up in bed. I groan when I feel my bladder let go in the prison jumpsuit.

“All right, that’s enough fun and games. Time to burn her out, let’s do… File 905, and up the voltage to eight hundred percent. Bye bye to Nicolette, forever.”

For the first and last time, I reach out to touch her honey hair. She screams and struggles, and I lose my grip. The knife slips in far too easily, and hot blood explodes.

My mental treatment keeps me out of the Chair. That’s the last time I’ll ever remember.

What was her name?

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492 words, inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought (3-17).