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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 62: Hastings 153
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 61: Kondor 146
Still seated with her back to the doctor, Lauren decided to tell him whatever he wanted to know. “Where should I begin?” she asked.
“I’d say begin at the beginning. Tell me your earliest memories.”
“I lived for thirty-five years in that world in which I was born. It could take me a month to tell you all that I remember of it, if I talked non-stop. After all, I was married for fifteen years, had three kids who were all in school, and before that I attended college, and high school, and middle school, and elementary school, and I remember some things from playing in the neighborhood before I was old enough for school. I’ve never written them all down, and I don’t know that I can give them to you in order, but however it’s done it would be a long time before we reached the part that really is relevant.”
“It’s all relevant,” Doctor Conway said. “After all, it’s what you believe has happened to you, so we need to understand it.
Lauren sighed. This was not going particularly well, and she thought it unlikely that she could prove her sanity by telling her history. However, it was the best direction open to her at this point. She stood and adjusted the bed, raising the head as far as it would go and bringing the foot up a bit to create a bit of a pocket in the middle of the mattress. She then deposited herself there, pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them, leaning her head forward.
“I think my earliest memory is an image seen through the slats on my crib. I was looking at a lamp on the table beside my bed. I can’t be certain of it. That lamp was in the nursery through the childhood years of all five of us--I was the oldest, and had two sisters and two brothers. But it’s the fact that this particular memory of it has the bars of the crib in front of it that makes me think it’s early. I also remember climbing out of that crib--more like falling out, I had carefully thought through how to get my leg over the top bar and down to the mattress, sticking my foot between the upright bars to stand on the outside, and then lower myself down, but it didn’t work. I lost my footing or my grip or something, fell to the floor, picked myself up, and toddled out of the room crying for my mother. She remembers--she remembered that, and said I was nine months old at the time and she had never seen me as much as stand before that moment. So one of those must be my earliest memory.
“I’m told I was born in Kennedy Hospital in Stratford, New Jersey, in the United States of America. Obviously I don’t remember that, but since we lived in Somerdale, Kennedy was the hospital we typically went to when we needed emergency medical care and such. I had my own children there, but that was really because my O-B-G-Y-N had his practice there; I’d started seeing them when I was in high school, and so I trusted them and continued to make the drive from the next county after we moved. But obviously I’m getting ahead of myself. You want to know about my childhood.”
From there she recounted preschool memories of playing in the neighborhood, some of her friends by name such as her next door neighbor Maria Migliore, some by geography like the two boys who lived across the street from Maria whose names she could never remember but who were a couple years younger and moved away pretty early. She thus identified half a dozen neighborhood kids in all, including Ricky McHenry whose older brother called him Dinky, who teased her terribly but grew up to marry her sister.
She talked about games they would play, various toys and dolls that she had, or her siblings had, or Maria or Ricky had; playing tag in the yard and hide-and-seek in the woods. She remembered several of her babysitters, including both of Maria’s older brothers, and that Maria’s older sister had a birth defect. She recalled playing in the creek, getting in trouble for coming home with wet shoes, and doing it again; this, she said, recurred all through her elementary school years. She remembered a few birthday parties, her own, her siblings’, and Maria’s, and she said maybe one of Ricky’s. She remembered gradually expanding her friends to include the kids on the other side of the woods behind her house, and those on the next block and around the corner, but she didn’t know them as well and only remembered a few names.
She had been talking for about two hours before she had reached starting kindergarten, and her disappointment that she was on the morning session and Maria for some reason was in the afternoon--it seems that the class had been divided alphabetically, and the split came after Meyers but before Migliore (there was a boy named Mez-something in her class, and the Michelson twins were in Maria’s). At that point, Doctor Conway, who had been mostly silent during this, interrupted her.
“That’s quite a bit of detail,” he said.”
“I’m sure I’ll remember more,” she suggested. “I haven’t thought about those times for a long time.”
“Well, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such a detailed delusion.”
Lauren smiled. “Right. But that’s because it really happened.”
“We’ll pick this up tomorrow,” he said as he closed his notepad and stood. “I’m not putting you in restraints. Don’t make me regret it.”
Taking his chair, he left the room.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #293: Versers Relate. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: