Nina's head was spinning, the world falling away all around her as the words Fearnley's ex-wife had spoken echoed in her ears. Her stomach dropped, and a small twinge of pain shot through her head—along with the image of a small, pale hand reaching for a door knob and the messy scribble on a calendar that marked someone's birthday—before Sarah's voice brought her back to reality.
"We planned to have children later, once we felt we were more stable, but then we separated. Never had any children before that," Sarah explained. Nina only half listened, her mind still replaying the other woman's previous words.
"We don't have a daughter."
"Are you okay?" the question helped Nina ground herself. Her focus was back to the conversation she was having with Sarah.
"Yeah," Nina said, the word seeming distant even as she spoke it. Like it came from a mouth that was not her own—like a foreign face staring back through a mirror. Nina swallowed thickly, breathed out, and continued. "Yes, I'm fine. Did Fearnley know anyone named Katie?" Nina asked, remembering the name written on the calendar in Fearnley's kitchen.
"Not as far as I know, but then I haven't really seen him in years. I only talked to him on the phone. Especially after the accident." She paused, Nina found herself holding her breath in anticipation of what the woman had to say. "I don't know who Katie is, but I can't imagine she'd be that close to him. His things are still in his apartment. I'm working on finding a place to store them. After he was arrested I was asked to look after his belongings. He didn't have anyone else he could ask." The words were spoken quietly, as if the very idea of what had become of the man she'd once loved hurt to think about.
"I'm sorry to hear that. What you're going through must be very difficult." Sarah let out a humorless laugh that rang with bitterness in Nina's ears.
"Yeah, you could say that." She sighed, a soft sound that was barely audible through the phone. "I don't know why Chris told you we had a daughter. Honestly, my guess is everything that's been going on is getting to him."
Nina didn't think that was the case. Something told her it wasn't as simple a thing as Fearnley slowly losing his mind. When she'd talked to him—his voice brittle and words grave—he'd sounded certain that what he was telling Nina was the truth, even if neither of them could truly understand what it all meant. So why then, would he mention a daughter he didn't have?
"Would you be willing to answer a couple of questions?" Nina asked, hoping Sarah would be amenable to that. The other woman took a moment to think about it and Nina was starting to brace herself for a refusal.
"Okay," she finally agreed. "What do you want to know?" Nina held back a relieved sigh and pulled the notebook on the coffee table closer.
"Did you hear from your ex husband at any time near the date of the incident?" She fidgeted with the pen in her hand as she waited for an answer.
Sarah let out a breath and took some time to think. Nina waited patiently, knowing she was fortunate enough to have the woman answer her questions.
"Yeah. Yeah, I did. He called about two days after . . . that. He sounded upset, said he'd been having odd dreams. Headaches too. I told him it was probably just some of the side effects from the surgery. That maybe the dreams were him remembering things. He trusted me enough to convince himself that was true. Guess I should have been the one to listen to him."
"You did all you could," Nina tried to comfort the woman. Even so, it was difficult to think of anything to say when her head was filled with thoughts of what could have possibly made Fearnley think he had a daughter when the only other person in his life was his ex wife. "Did he say anything after his treatment or have any other odd side effects?" She jotted down everything Sarah had told her so far, the scratching of her pen on the paper a sound that made it all seem just a bit more normal. Nina found she needed that small comfort.
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The Persistence of Memory | ✔Science Fiction
In a near future where neuroprosthetics have evolved, Nina--a young journalist--receives a hippoccampal implant after losing the ability to create long term memories. All seems well until memories that don't seem to be her own begin to surface. Now...