Faulty Memories

A “Psychological Short Story” by Darrion J. Beckles

I wrote this short story for my Psychology Class and it deals with several issues studied in psychology. I am no PhD, nor do I major in Psych. I’m just a geriatric millennial working to boost his college GPA.

#Mentalhealthawareness

He pulled the signal rope before timidly rising from his seat.  

He checked the note on his newspaper on his way to the front exit, to ensure that his stop was -indeed- the next.

Doctor’s office. Union Station.

He didn’t want to forget his stop like last time. And he forgot to lotion his hands again. They were flaky like old biscuit, and his tongue and lips felt chalky like he’d eaten a spoonful of powdered milk before leaving his apartment, which lead him to believe that he failed to drink any water that morning.

“Union Station!” The Driver called out to him.

“Thanks,” He said.

The doctor said his short-term memory would continue to deteriorate and his blackouts would continue to increase as he got older. He spent years dealing with his cognitive issues. Even held a job and got engaged to be married, like a normal person with a normal brain.

“I appreciate it,” He waved.

“Tell Misty I said hi,” He said.

“Misty?” He answered.

“Your dog,” The Conductor said.

“My dog,” He replied. “You met my dog.”

“Your emotional support poodle on the bus yesterday,” The Driver said. “With the colored tail?”

“Oh, right,” He pretended to remember as he exited the bus.  

He was embarrassed. Better to pretend he remember conversations than to explain his condition to anyone.

He stretched his sore arms before making his way towards the station.

He lost his marriage and prior jobs because no wife or employer wanted to deal with a man who often forgot their wedding date, or conversations with his bus driver, or whether he brought an emotional dog with him on public transportation.  

He bypassed several drug addicts as he made his way towards the station.

“God bless you sir,” A disheveled woman followed.

He waved her off.

He may not remember whether he’d met her before, but he instinctively knew what she would ask for.

“I didn’t even ask you nothing, damn,” Disheveled woman said.

“I don’t have nothing,” He replied.

“Nothing?”

“Sorry…”

“Well, God bless you too.”

He waved the woman off again as he entered the crowded main lobby full of rush hour workers.  

He sniffed the air.

Coffee. French Vanilla.

His sensory memory was something his doctor assured him would remain, even as his other memories declined. That gave him some sense of relief. He adored the scent of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked croissants. They were familiar aromas. Aromas that jogged memories.  

I work in a bakery. I’m a barista.

He smiled.

I ­own a bakery.

He recalled. He couldn’t keep a job, because of his condition, so he took some of his inheritance money and created one. He was the boss.

He sighed in relief.  

He was always happy and relieved when his sensory mind triggered some lost or fleeting short term memories. He remembered where he worked. He also remembered that his job, his business, was not in Union Station, but blocks away, further up Massachusetts avenue.

He took one more whiff before leaving Union Station and heading up Massachusetts Avenue.

He took a look at his paper again. There was another note near the crossword puzzle.

Billy’s Bakery.

He pressed the microphone on his Google search bar.

At least he remembered how to use his phone. At least he remembered that much… for now.

“Billy’s Bakery,” He spoke into his phone.

” This business may be closed at this hour,” Google answered.

“Thanks,’ He jested before checking his watch.

He was two hours early, but late for daily prep!

He sighed.

He was late again. His mother hated him for being late.

Did I set my alarm? Did I wake up on time? What time did I… wake up?
His heart started to race.

He tried to force his memory to the forefront as he raced to his store, but that only made his heart rate increase and his temples pound like drums.

He wondered how much worse his mind would get.

He felt anxious. Afraid.

He was pissed at himself that he was late…  again. He was always late as a child. Late to school. Late to bible study. Late for breakfast.

He tugged at his hanging thumbnail with his teeth.

His mother would get so pissed at him for being late. Mother would discipline him every time, and it would only get worse for him the more he tried not to be late.

He removed his thumb from his mouth.

His doctor hated that habit. So did his dentist. So did his ex-wife.

He remembered he was late before. That memory returned, but he couldn’t even remember what time he woke up or what he ate for breakfast.

Dammit.

Even memories of why his memories were going were beginning to blur. Why his sensory memories and even some of his long-term memories, like his turbulent childhood, were still intact but holding onto newer and shorter memories was growing to be more and more impossible.

He hunched over and unbuttoned his jacket.   

He started to sweat, his heart raced, his muscle tensed as he fought for breath.

His doctor would always recommend crossword puzzles to job memory, writing things down, and when all else failed, pausing and breathing.

He checked his crossword puzzle.

He wrote the notes, but they may as well have been from another person.

Dissociative amnesia was written on the paper.

He exhaled.

That was it. Amnesia. His memory loss was due to amnesia.

He stood tall.  

Bill’s Bakery… his Bakery… blocks away. He chose to focus on the positive things. The things he remembered. It’s what his doctor ordered.

“Hey!” A woman called out to him.

He turned to see the disheveled looking woman he dismissed from Union Station. She was standing among two disheveled looking men.

He waved her away and started his way towards his destination.

The woman grabbed his shoulder and spun him around.

“Don’t turn your back on me,” She roared.  

“Sorry,” He answered. “Just trying to get to work.”

The woman grabbed his shirt and struck him.

Ceiling lights. Beeping. He was laying on a mattress and he was wearing a gown.

He attempted to sit forward but pain, heaviness, and a restraint around his hands and waist dragged him back down to his pillow.  

“Where am I?” He asked.

He checked his hands.

His hands, covered in welts and dry blood, were in cuffs.

“You’re in the hospital,” A male voice answered.

He recognized the voice. His Doctor’s voice.

“Hospital?” He asked.

“You were in an altercation,” The Doctor said.

“I was?”

“Do you remember anything?”

“No.”

He vaguely remembered the woman from the station and two guys confronting him just two blocks away from his job.

His doctor entered his line of sight as he stood over his bed. “A woman and two men are dead.”

“Me?” He asked.

“I’m afraid so,” The doctor replied. “Your condition has evolved.”

O., Spielman, R. M., & Jenkins, W. J. (2022). Psychology 2e: (Official Print Version, paperback, B&W, 2nd Edition): 2nd Edition. Open Stax Textbooks.

Cascella M, Al Khalili Y. Short Term Memory Impairment. [Updated 2022 Feb 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545136/

Psychiatry.org. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://psychiatry.org/patients-families/dissociativehttps://psychiatry.org/patients-families/dissociative-disorders/what-are-dissociative-disorders-disorders/what-are-dissociative-disorders

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