On Baker-Miller Beach

I think the amnesia must have started not long after my illness. I mean, I knew that. There were the absences I was told I had in the middle of conversations, when I’d just stop

then be back without noticing I’d gone.

There was the difficulty I had in remembering my friends’ names or the details of their lives – oh, I didn’t know you had a brother! Then the fact that most of the arithmetic I’d learned was simply gone and I had no idea what to do with a piano anymore. The long fugue states, though, they were news.

I woke up one morning in a sleeping bag on the sand floor of a sparse forest. Between vast bare tree trunks the sand undulated around hundreds of yawning burrow mouths. There wasn’t a twig of undergrowth, just trees, sand and holes. Everything was pink.

The sand was pink, the trees were pink, their broad pale leaves, pink, and once I navigated my way out from under them the sky was pink. Perfectly still pink water stretched away from a pink beach to meet the cloudless pink sky. The air, sand and water were all exactly blood-warm.

I stood in the water and strained my ears for a break in the pristine silence. My breath and the slosh of my footsteps seemed contrived, like the foley sound in a low-budget science fiction TV show.

Away down the beach an enormous rusting boiler lay half-sunk in the sand, round lid open toward the horizon. Nothing moved. I had no idea how I’d arrived there. I tried to pin down the last thing I could remember but it was like trying to remember what you had for lunch last Tuesday.

I’d seen The Quiet Earth. I’d seen Planet of the Apes. I knew what was up. I’d finally sidestepped in the multiverse, all the glitches were at last explained.

Then the rest of my class started to chunter their way out of their bags among the mutton bird holes and the sun finished rising behind the island. The day turned blue. I’d lost three weeks.

*Names are changed regularly for operational reasons