The Circle Chapter 1: Stephanie Waking up

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series The Circle

I was in the kitchen making breakfast when Stephanie, my wife, began screaming from our bedroom.

“Mike, Mike, where are you? What is this place?”

Good, perhaps my wife was finally coming back to herself. I ran upstairs and dashed into our bedroom, to find her sitting in bed, still naked from last night. I could see her beautiful small breasts that still looked almost like I had initially first seen them, twenty years ago. Her long brown hair was messy from the night, but still glowed in their small natural curls.

“What’s wrong honey?”, I asked, knowing full well what was happening, but still hoping to project a sense of calm, of respect.

She was totally freaking out and panicking. I sat on the bed next to her, and tried to appear as calm as possible, even if inside me, I had been dreading this moment for almost five months now.

“What is this place? Why am I still in bed that late in the morning? Why is the bed so big? Why am I sleeping naked? Why am I so thin? What’s going on?”

Wow, that was a lot of questions. The doctor didn’t think she would realize the extent of the changes in her life in the last 4 years. He thought she would just be confused, but her questions were rather direct and to the point. I knew this was kind of going to happen, but I was surprised at the clarity of her questioning. Apparently for some, recovery affects speech so much that they are unable to form coherent sentences.

“Stephanie honey, you’ve been on a strong anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medication over the last four years and your doctor decided to start phasing them down over the last few days. You seem to be coming back to yourself after years on them. Your brain is now trying to adjust to it’s new chemistry so temporarily, you will be confused.”

She raised her tone: “What are you telling me? That I’ve lost all my memories of the last four years because of pills?”. She looked to be getting worse and on verge of yelling.

“No, no, no, calm down. No need to panic. You haven’t lost them, they will slowly get back to you. It’s the transition from taking these pills and not taking them which affects your brain. In a few days, once your system is clean, you should start getting some your memories back, one by one as your brain reorganizes itself.”

Ok, from the last news it wouldn’t be days, but rather weeks or even months in some cases, I mean, it’s no surprise the medication was banned for new patients and a serious investigation in under way for criminal charges against the company who lied against this side effect.

I mean, don’t get me wrong! It’s probably the best anti-depressant because it helps the patients get back to their true self. The problem isn’t the effect of the medication, it’s the withdrawal which is just too harsh to deal with for some.

“But, where are we?”

Good, reassure her the doctor said. Guide the conversation. Instill a sense of normality.

“In our new home. You love it! It’s a nice condo in the suburbs, close to everything. Since you had to take a less paying job from home due to your medication, we sold our house and from the profit, put a very large down payment on this condo.”

She interrupted me.

“I am lost my job at the paper? Wow, I loved that job. What do I do now?”

“Well, you almost do the same job, but for an online website. You are still an editor, you still oversee journalists, correct their articles, but you don’t have a staff to help you and you also need to handle ad sales calls. You are basically a one woman army, but you work from home, so that’s a plus: no commute, and now we only have one car.”

For the first time since she woke up, I could feel that she had some positive outlook. Editing was a job she knew quite well. She might have to re-learn to use her new tools, but it was really a piece of cake compared to the rest of what was awaiting her.

Her desk was in the corner of the bedroom, and fortunately, apart from the fact she had two monitors, a computer from today looks pretty much like a computer from four years ago.

“How big is the condo?”

“We have our bedroom, bathroom and a small storage area up here, and downstairs, we have our living room and kitchen. We managed to pay it less than $50,000 over the profit we made on our house so it will be fully paid up real soon, despite your lower salary and the fact I only got 2 small raises in four years. I still work at L-Tech.”

“Wait, both of our kids have moved away and I missed it?”

She was supposed to be confused, but her focus was laser focused…

Once again, there was panic in her eyes. It was clear that the pills weren’t working anymore and that she was back a few months from before the pills. Damn side effects…

“Honey, you didn’t miss it. You’ll get those memories back too. As a matter of fact, Kelly will come by tonight for supper. She’s 20 now and is amazing. Don’t worry… she is happy in an apartment with James, her wonderful boyfriend. We both like him. He helped you often when I was at work since he works on shifts and often have days off. Kelly is still in college, learning to be a graphic designer. Hey, she works for you part time on your new job, helping you with graphics. James is a chemical engineer for the big plastic factory up north. You know, the one that used to smell bad…James helped with that. He is able to pay Kelly’s tuition which helped us a lot to arrive financially.”

Note to myself: make sure that Kelly does make it. She indicated she was on standby since James is working tonight.

“What about Junior? If I lost only 4 years, he should only be 17, are you telling me he already move out?”

Damn it, how do I avoid that specific subject? Kelly and I both hoped that she would be more confused from the withdrawal. Things weren’t happening like planed. Last night, she went to bed still mostly under the effect of the anti-depressant, and this morning, her brain has cleared. We were supposed to have a few days of confusion. Apparently, the confusion helps with the recovery of memories, so if she is already quite clear, I am dreading how long it will take to bring her fully back.

“Listen honey, why don’t you get dressed, I am making breakfast, today is a Saturday so I don’t have anywhere to go. Let’s take it slow, ok? Perhaps you can see a little how to do you job, so that Monday you aren’t too confused.”

I started to leave, but Stephanie raised her voice.

“Mike, where, is, our, son?”

I couldn’t avoid it now. Damn it. It’s a good thing we had prepared for it.

“I am not sure you are ready for it.”, I replied, with feigned courage. Hoping it would be enough.  It partially was, her tone lowered but the subject wasn’t changed.

“Is this why I was taking all of those drugs? Did something happen to our boy?”

“Yes. Something happened. Give it time. Don’t rush it.”

“I want to know what happened to our son, right now.”

Ok, the dice were set. The game was afoot. I knew what I had to to.

“Stephanie, wait there for a second, I’ll be right back with some answers.”

I ran down stairs, grabbed my wife’s tablet and scrolled thru her videos. As soon as I found the proper one, I ran back upstairs.

“Honey, this is your tablet. You’ve recorded over the past few weeks a ton of videos of yourself, meant for yourself to try and explain what’s happening. You should listen to this one…”

I entered the bed next to her and pressed play. Stephanie on screen began talking.

“Hi Stephanie. Let’s be fully honest. You’ve never been happy. Never. You’ve lived all of your life for others, for people around you. You’ve never admitted your deep secrets, your deep fantasies and your deep fears. You have in short, never taken fully responsibility for your life. You are not alone in this, which is sad, but many women today fail to live up to their own standards due to social programming.

Oh, you thought you weren’t sick. You were simply expressing solidarity toward the other women, you were just like the others. After all, all women have to learn to hide a little who they are to survive, to protect themselves. All women have to be a little more passive than men. You were just following the role models you sought for yourself. You were just like the other women around you.

But you were not. There is something fundamentally wrong with the women in your family. Your mother is unable to think for herself. You aunt had to move to South Africa to get away from the family. Your sister is an alcoholic. And do we need to talk about your brother in jail? He might not be a woman, but he was raised surrounded by them.

You were a powder keg ready to explode and the only reason you didn’t was because of your husband’s continuing support. It’s only thanks to him that you managed to survive. But you didn’t live. You just survived.

Sadly, this problem is hereditary. Fortunately, Kelly doesn’t have it, at least, she doesn’t seem to have it. But for Junior, it was another story.

As much as you loved him, Junior was unable to cope with life. Unable to fend for himself. Unable to assert himself in front of bullies or even just in a group, all while being unable to express he was in trouble. It came as a surprised when he took his own life soon after his 13th birthday, but as time went on, you began to realize the problems deep inside of you. With Mike’s help, the medication allowed you to express your inner feelings, your inner desires, your true self.

You were sick, Stephanie, ever since you were a child. Your son was sick too. He couldn’t cope with it, but by his actions, he managed to help you find the strength within yourself in the last few years, so that you and Mike were happy together, and guess what? Kelly is happier now too. It helped her a lot with her own grief, and gave her a more positive outlook in life. You became a better role-model for her.

I am only sad it was just discovered that our anti-depressant caused temporary memory loss after stopping them because I afraid that you will refuse to return to the path of happiness Mike and I were walking on.

I recorded a lot of other videos, some easier to watch than others. Please, let Mike select when it’s time to view one, and rest assured that this is all of my own free will, not his. He deeply loves you and cares for you. Don’t be afraid. Until the next time, enjoy our new body!

PS: I now do 3 hours of indoor cycling per day every morning and 15 minutes of jump rope. You should do the same to keep our fantastic shape. Mike will help you, and guide you on what I eat now. I love you Stephanie. You are amazing.”

The video ended. I looked at my wife’s puzzled look. Tears began falling down her cheeks in silence, so I held her against me.

Yes, the next few days would be rough, but hopefully, I’ll get my new wife back soon…


Series NavigationThe Circle Chapter 2: First Revelation»

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