Note To Self
note to self
who are you
What the hell? He thought.
He pulled the note free and studied it, it was his handwriting alright. He tilted his head to one side, as if studying the cryptic note from another angle might make more sense of it. Christ sunshine, he thought, you know your overdoing it when you start letting notes you don’t understand for yourself. He chuckled as he crumpled it up, tossing it in the pedal bin.
The next morning, as he depressed the plunger on the toaster he remembered the previous days peculiar note and glanced over his shoulder, finding himself oddly relieved to find the fridge door uncluttered by any errant messages.
Balancing the plate with the two slices of toast, the knife and the butter dish in his left hand; a cup of coffee in his right. He backed carefully into the front room to catch the early morning news on Sky. It was when he turned to put his burden on the coffee table that he saw the seven yellow post-its, each with a single word inscribed on them, in a neat line across the flat-screens centre.
Note To Self Who Are You ?
He almost dropped the plate in shock, managing to save it in time, he did however spill some coffee. “Shit, shit, shit,” he cursed, dashing to the kitchen for a cloth. Once he`d cleaned up he stared at the notes for a long while wondering, Am I losing it, before pulling the seven notes from the screen, balling them up, going back into the kitchen, and dumping them in the bin. As he did he saw the pad of notes next to the phone, and in a fit of pique dumped it, plastic container and all into the bin as well.
Later, during lunch he phoned his mum. “Hi mum, listen I got a, uh, strange question. Did I, uh, sleep walk when I was younger?”
His mother gave a small laugh, “Sleep walk, no, not that I can remember, why, what`s happened?”
“Oh nothing,” he said breezily, “It`s just that I might have gone for a stroll last night,” he forced a chuckle, “thought maybe I`d done it when I was little is all.”
“Well I hope you wear your jym-jams to bed,” his mother said, ever the practical mind,” “you don’t want to go wandering in the all-together.”
Adam had never considered this possibility, he hadn’t worn pyjamas since he`d left home thirty years earlier; but he assured her he still did. They chatted for another ten minutes, him saying goodbye and, “I`ll see you Saturday mum,” before hanging up. As soon as he did, he turned to his computer and Googled `Sleep-walking.
When he got home he took the rubbish sack out to the wheelie-bin, first checking that the pad of post-its hadn’t managed to escape, feeling both foolishly relieved to find it still there
The next morning as he reached the bottom of the stairs he stopped, ritual dictated he continue to the Kitchen to make breakfast, but the closed living-room door was in front of him, almost calling to him, despite his best efforts to resist, he pushed it open.
A shiver ran up his spine, this time on the screen, in two even rows were fourteen post-its,
Note To Self Who Are You ?
Note To Self What`s Cathy`s Surname ?
“Oh God,” he murmured, one hand going to his mouth when he saw the remains of the soiled pad on the table, the biro next to it, “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, what did I do, what did I do?”
In a frenzy he tore the notes from the screen, grabbed the pad from the coffee-table, marched out the front door and dumped them in the bin, banging the lid closed when he was done. Then he dragged the wheelie-bin to the footpath and unthinkingly said aloud, “There escape from that,” giving the innocent bin a kick for good measure before storming back into the house, slamming the front door behind him as he did.
He spent a wretchedly distracted, and worse, unproductive eight hours in the office, his manager Jim glowering at him whenever he passed Adam`s desk.
Later, as he pulled into his driveway he had an `out of the frying pan into the fire` moment as switched the engine off. Adam sat there working up the courage to get out, the engine ticking as it cooled; when he finally did he saw the bin, still on the footpath, waiting to be brought in.
He approached it with a sense of dread, sure that they must have forgotten to empty it, but as he grabbed its handle and felt how light it was, momentary relief swept through him. Then a new terror struck, the pad was still in there, somehow it had escaped, was clinging to the bins side. Overcome with a need to know he threw the lid back. Nothing, no pad, no plastic container, not a single scrap of paper to be seen, blessed relief flooded through him in waves once more.
That night before he went to bed he got a beer from the fridge, though all the websites on sleep-walking said it was a no-no, and glugged it down. One beer, he thought, what`s the worst that can happen, besides he was sure he wouldn’t be able to sleep without it. As it turned out his all-day anxiety had exhausted him and he was asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.
The next morning arrived accompanied by an uneasy foreboding. He lay there trying to think of reasons to get out of bed, and unable to think of any decided to anyway. As his feet touched the floor he felt not carpet but paper, the sensation accompanied by a “crickling,” sound; in terror he threw up in his mouth.
When he forced himself to look down he saw the floor was littered with A4 sized sheets of paper, each with their own demanding questions, each prefaced with, `Note To Self.`
There were the ones he was already familiar with, while others asked `Sunrise In West?` or `Windows Nailed Shut?” or `Burglar What Burglar?` but worst of all were the ones that asked `Is Mark Dead?`
He lifted his feet; one of the sheets momentarily stuck to the sole of his left foot, then fell free, fluttering to the floor like a live thing. That broke him and he ran to the bathroom, barely making the bowl before he threw-up.
When he felt able Adam went downstairs, sidling past the sporadic paper sheets that sat accusingly on the hall and stairs. In the kitchen he found the carcass of the brand new ream of printer paper on the table, it looked like it had been ripped open in a rage.
After he`d had three cups of coffee and felt up to it, he collected all 500 sheets of paper that were scattered throughout the house and settled down to make some phone calls.
“Hey Adam,” Greg said when his friend answered the door, “I came as soon as I got your….. hey man where you going?” he asked as Adam walked away without so much as a hello, frowning he followed him into the kitchen. Still without a word Adam sat down, poured himself a whiskey and gestured to the chair opposite.
Greg looked from the near empty bottle to the untidy pile of paper, “What`s all this?” he asked smiling uncertainly as he picked up the top sheet. “Note To Self Who Am I?” he read aloud, “Catchy title, you writing the next Great Irish Novel?”
When Adam said nothing he took the next sheet, “Note To Self What`s Cathy`s Surname?” he grabbed the next one, “Sunrise In West?” and the next, “Burglar What Burglar? "I gotta tell you man I don’t think Joyce has much to worry about,” he said. It was the next one that wiped the smile from his face, “Christ,” he blurted when he read; Is Mark Dead?
“How long have we been friends?” Adam asked.
“Friends; how long?” Adam said.
“How long, Christ since primary school; what, forty five years maybe?”
“What`s your oldest memory?” Adam asked, “From when you were a kid.”
“Jeez I dunno,” Greg said frowning as he thought, “I suppose there was that time you came out on my dad`s yacht, and the time,” he broke into a grin, “that time you thought I was going to throw that book away, 20,000 leagues under the sea, you remember, you nearly shit yourself.”
Adam nodded, “I meant your earliest memory that I`m not in,” he said, “Can you remember a time when we weren’t together?”
“Well sure I…..” Greg`s frown deepened, a perplexed look spreading across his face, “hey what`s going on?”
“You can`t can you?” Adam said, “You have no memory that I`m not in?”
“Not true,” he said, “I have plenty of memories without you. There was that time me an Eileen took the kids to Disneyworld, you weren’t there.”
Adam nodded as if this only confirmed his thoughts, “That was when, 2011?”
“Yeah, August,” Greg said defensively. “What`s with the notes?” he asked, desperate to change the subject.
Adam picked one, the one about Cathy`s surname, “You know who this is?”
Greg shook his head.
“I met her up in Rosses point in 79, me`n Mark were up there for the Enterprise worlds. I met her in a disco the Yacht club had set up in a marquee. I can tell you everything about her, how blue her eyes were, how her blonde hair came half-way down her back, the dimples on her cheeks when she smiled; hell, how she always had coins in the left ass pocket of her jeans, but her surname, not a clue. I don’t actually know anything about her, she`s just a feeling, my first crush, I spent a week with her and all I have is a mental picture, how can that be?”
He picked up the `sunrise in west` question, holding it up for Greg to see. “On the last night we sat on the rocks and watched the sun rise up out of the sea, it`s one of my strongest memories, I can see it now as clearly as I can see you. The only problem is we were looking west, the sun doesn’t rise in the west; and I only just realised that today.”
“D`you remember Mark?” Adam asked, the sudden switch confusing Greg.
“Sure, you know I do; hell I shouldered his coffin after the accident.”
“Tell me about him?” Adam said.
“What? He was your brother,” protested Greg.
“Tell me what you remember,” Adam persisted.
“Well, he was about six feet, black hair….”
“No,” Adam snapped, “I know what he looked like, tell me what you remember. Tell me about how he talked; his laugh, name one of his girlfriends, anything.”
Greg opened his mouth, then shut it again.
“You can`t, can you?” Adam said. “I talked to my mum today, asked her about Mark, you know what she remembers?”
Greg shook his head, a chill traipsing up his spine, sure he knew what Adam was about to say, and just as sure he didn’t want to hear it.
“She couldn’t tell me anything about him either, nothing at all.”
“What….What are you saying?” Terror ran through Greg`s voice.
Adam leaned forward, “Don’t you see, my whole life has been a lie. Up until six years ago nobody has a memory that I`m not in, it`s like…..it`s like…………….”
Somewhere on a computer screen the words
Adam Simulation v4
Sentience achieved: 2008d-13h-34m-18s glowed.
Some years ago,
we dug two crabs out of the sand,
sat in puzzlement at their conjoined state,
their shells as green as our naivety.
It was spring
and the high tides
the whole beach that day.
A blanket of foam
coveted our friends the crustaceans.
A carpet of seaweed threatened to push over us with clumsier limbs.
Some years ago,
Our plastic spade struck out
on cold shells,
forcing coitus interruptus
of the inside-out world.
Two pairs of eyes,
one on top,
the other underneath
and looking in our direction
in the chilling sea breeze.
We blushed deeply upon realising our mistake
but to bury them again seemed even ruder...
So, we remained static voyeurs
in a sandy boudoir
and puzzled over what to say
to those crabs next.
Some years ago,
what to say
to those crabs,
was the most important decision
we had to make.
stood in a different milieu of sands
as far as the occident carries,
single crabs scold my mottled toes.
I step back and, squelching,
how could we have left things so undecided?
‘Don’t get too attached’ on a post-it
that slid off the fridge.
You are just a cat, not human
and an autumnal one at that
bald spots where English academics sew
on their diseased tweed jackets.
‘Don’t spoil him’ as a screensaver
but my disobedient mind follows
those skin patches down the path
up on to the window ledge
where you huddle, knowing
I’ll rush out
when the rain starts in earnest.
Wrote ‘To love is to lose’
in the steam on the mirror
but it's clear you don’t like to be wet
or cooped inside on stormy days
or dried by anything except
my hands transferring
your rained on coat,
stroke by stroke,
to my just-washed jeans.
I start to hope you never decide
if you want to go out or stay in,
or understand that rain out the front,
means it’s raining out the back door
and the bedroom window too.
Note to self to try them all
as you teach me patience
and the meaning of hope.