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"Research points to it being a viable treatment for those suffering from trauma. . ." the woman on the television screen read the words with a false interest that Nina had grown all too accustomed to hearing. The background noise still helped her remain calm. Helped her not to feel so alone in the world as she sat on her couch with a second hand book in her hand. It's yellowing pages, she hoped, could hold some piece she was missing of the puzzle that Alice had left behind.

Smell, sights and sounds may all act as triggers for memories. Sensory information—particularly olfactory—has been proven to create more vivid memories while also increasing the speed in which these memories are recalled.

Nina's mind tried to process the information through the fog of exhaustion and confusion that had refused to dissolve for the last couple of days. A yawn escaped her mouth, and not for the first time, she considered heading to bed. The reminder of what would most likely occupy the place of her normal dreams was enough to make her turn back to her book and keep reading, even as her eyes burned and she struggled to keep them open.

"The next commissioner of the FDA is rumored to be. . . ."

The words seemed to blend together as Nina's mind disengaged with what she was reading. Her grip on the book slackened, fingers relaxing and the text slipping past them to fall onto the rug beneath Nina's feet with a muted sound. It was enough to rouse Nina from the dazed state she was in. She jerked into a more upright position, her eyes opening fully. For a moment after being startled, she was alert, uncertain of her surroundings.

For the second time, she was startled as the coffeemaker let out a beeping sound, alerting her to a new pot of coffee being done. The scent would have been enough to tell her as much. It was rich and earthy and something Nina sorely needed at that moment.

Nina got up, picked up the book she'd let slip, and walked off to get some coffee, hoping it would keep her awake for a while longer. Her movements felt odd, distant, almost as if she were not fully in control of her own body. Her mind—so completely filled with thoughts of Alice and Fearnley, and the doubts and fears that kept building up inside of her, so close to overflowing—seemed to be in a place separate from the rest of her. Not for the first time, Nina couldn't help but feel like a fragment of who she had once been.

Perhaps the thought might have hurt more before everything in her life had changed so drastically. Before she'd gotten so used to being unable to recognize herself.

The drink was too hot still, but Nina felt refreshed from the first sip of the bitter liquid. It slid down her throat and warmed her, made her feel awake—alive. The small tremors in her hand, something Nina had gotten used to after it had persisted for long enough, seemed to calm just the slightest bit.

"Tell us about the film," came the voice of an over enthusiastic woman from the television. Nina could just about hear the wide smile on her face. Red lips flashed in her mind, a smile that seemed a bit too wide, eyes that pierced through her.

She faltered, swaying on her feet. The coffee she held splashed over the rim of the cup, scalding the skin of her hand. Nina kept her grip on the cup, somehow managed to stay on her feet, and then the world righted itself and her mind was her own, though a dull ache had begun to build up in her head.

"What makes the character you play so special?" the woman was asking now. Nina made a conscious effort not to listen too closely. Not to think about the fake smile that would be plastered on her face still.

Nina set the cup down, her skin still much too hot and the pain just registering in her mind. A familiar heat that threatened to send her mind reeling into yet another memory she would rather not recall. Already she could recall the acrid smell of the smoke—taste it in her mouth as a cry for help was muffled. She stuck her hand under the tap, water flowing out of the it and splashing onto her skin before it hit the sink and swirled down the drain. The cooling sensation of the water on her skin was enough to snap Nina out of the moment she'd momentarily found herself stuck in. A moment she wished had been one of the many wiped from her mind.

The Persistence of Memory | ✔Where stories live. Discover now