Just Three Little Words

He woke up in an unfamiliar place, which was almost entirely devoid of color.  The walls and floor tile were white, as were the curtains and bed sheets.  It was not an uncomfortable room; it even had a window that looked out upon a flowering tree of some sort.  But it was not somewhere that he recognized.

More troubling, however, was that he found he could not remember who he was.  He realized it only after trying to remember how he came to be in this room.  But now it occurred to him that this could be his room for all he knew.  And that was profoundly disturbing.

The nightstand by the bed might hold some answers, he thought, as he began to search it.  There was only one thing to be found, however.  It was a single scrap of paper.  On it were three words: You are dead.

Before he could begin to consider what they meant, the door opened and a man in a white coat entered.

“How are you feeling today?”

“Where am I?”

The man sighed.  “I had hoped you might remember something from yesterday.  You are at Washington Park, a private institution.”

“Why am I here?”

“I should think that is obvious.  You are having problems with your memory.”

The paper still bothered him, not just the words themselves, but the writing.  Noting the man’s – doctor’s? – clipboard, he had an idea.

“May I borrow your pen and a piece of paper?”

While clearly puzzled, the man handed both items over, tearing a blank page from his clipboard.  Taking them he wrote the words quickly, trying not to think too much.

“Did you remember something?”

Ignoring the question, he picked up the paper from the nightstand and compared the two.  The writing was identical.  He had written a note to himself.  But what did it mean?  Why had he written it?

“Well…?”

“Oh, sorry.”  He handed the pen back.  “No.  It was nothing.  I thought I had something, but I was wrong.”

“Oh.”  The disappointment was obvious in the man’s voice.  “Would you like me to have a pen and notepad sent up?  If you think it might help…”

“That would be nice.  Thank you.”

“Of course.  Your counsellor will be by in a little while.  Perhaps the two of you can work on it together.”

With that, the man left.  He was alone to consider the message he had sent himself.  He clearly wasn’t dead, so what could it mean?

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