The Man in the Mirror

I think the very last thing I can remember is the sound of breaking glass. I don't really remember what happened very well, but it comes to me in snatches now and then between the throbbing of my aching skull. In those little snatches of fragmented memories, I hear squealing tires and a blaring car horn. The only thing these audible memories mean to me is that the doctors weren't lying to me when they said that I'd been hurt severely in an automobile accident. I just can't really remember the accident.

When I first opened my eyes, all I knew was pain. My head seemed to be trying to split open from the base of my skull to the tip of my nose. I tried to think of what could have happened to me to make my head hurt, but thinking only brought a dark spot from my Swiss cheese memory and more pain in my aching skull. It took me several long minutes to figure out that I was in a hospital bed, and the cords that seemed to be all over me were nothing more than lead wires to monitors for my heart and various other body parts and functions.

That, and my pain racked head, was what told me that something very bad had happened to me. That was also when I tried to force myself to think and remember what the bad event could have been. I couldn't remember anything at that point. I didn't even know who I was. Fear came with that realization, and panic wasn't far behind it. Luckily a nurse came into my room about the time that I thought I would start screaming from fear and pain. She said soothing words as my tear-filled eyes gazed up to her Chinese-American face. I watched as she depressed a syringe into my I. V. before saying even more soothing words and promising to send a doctor in to talk with me.

Once I was alone again I tried once more to force the gears inside my brain to tumble into the right combination that would unlock my caged memories and tell me at least who I was. Still nothing came from my effort but pain. At least the pain was getting milder from whatever drug the nurse had given me. This not knowing who I was had me so scared that I couldn't think of anything else.

I took inventory of everything I knew for a fact. One, I was in a hospital with monitors reporting all of my vital signs back to someone somewhere else in the hospital. Two, my nurse was a Chinese-American woman with a sweet face and a beautiful smile who was kind enough to administer drugs to ease the pain in my head. Three, I knew nothing more than that. This led me to a question. If I didn't remember my own name or much of anything else, how did I know that my nurse was Chinese-American? Her coloring and the slant of her eyes were what told me that she was of Chinese descent, but how did I know that? Why hadn't I thought she was Japanese? Obviously some parts of my memory were functioning.

I looked around the room to try and identify other things. I thought that if I could remember little things then maybe forcing myself to remember the little things would spark my memory to remember the bigger things. I could identify the telephone on the stand beside my bed, and I even knew that the cuff around my arm that measured my blood pressure was called a sphygmomanometer. I knew that and a lot of other things, so why couldn't I even remember my own name? For that matter, I didn't know what I looked like, either. I couldn't remember where I'd come from or what had happened to land me in the hospital. I couldn't remember my parents or even my social security number. My age was a mystery for me as well.

Evidently I was well-educated. After all, I knew all of the proper names for the equipment in my hospital room. With that knowledge, I thought that perhaps I was a college student. Maybe I was a medical student. That would explain how I knew about all of the equipment in the room. If I really was a medical student then a college or university somewhere would be expecting me. I had no idea how long I'd been in the hospital, but if the school was expecting me and I didn't show up, it would only be a matter of days before they reported me missing. They'd have called my parents, and my parents would have filed a report with the police. That would mean that someone was actively looking for me. Perhaps they'd already found me. Maybe the doctors and nurses knew who I was. If they did, I was sure that once they told me my name the rest of my memory would unlock itself.

Hope surged in me when the door opened. My doctor was an attractive man with close cropped dark hair and brown eyes. His five o'clock shadow made him appear to have been on the job for many hours. His white coat showed off his bronzed skin, and when he smiled his entire face brightened. He walked over to stand beside my bed and silently looked through my chart for a few minutes.

"It's good to finally have you awake," he said, smiling at me again. "We've been a little worried about you. I'm Doctor Gordon. I've been in charge of your care since you arrived."

"What happened to me?" I asked, but that wasn't the question that was burning in my mind. I wanted to ask him who I was.

"Well, you were in a very bad car accident," he said, pulling a chair up to the side of the bed and sitting down. "Rescue workers had to pry the car apart to get you out. I'm sorry to have to tell you, but the driver and front passenger, we assume to be your parents, were both killed in the accident."

"My parents are dead?" I asked in wonder. I'd hoped that they were looking for me, but if they were dead that could mean no one was looking for me. If I'd been in the back seat of my parents' car, then maybe I wasn't as old as I thought I was.

"We can't be certain that they were your parents," he said. "They were both burned very badly, and no identification could be found. The coroner has determined that they were both in their mid to late forties, so it's a natural assumption that they may have been your parents."

I couldn't believe it. They didn't even know if the people I was traveling with were my parents or not. This didn't help me figure anything out about myself. I wanted to know who I was and what I was doing in that car. Were those people my parents? Where were we going, and what caused the accident? None of the answers seemed to want to come to me from my own memory, so I was dependant upon the doctors and nurses of the hospital to provide at least small clues. He was basically telling me that there were none.

"How long have I been here?" I heard myself ask. This was all too unreal, and the pain in my head was coming back. It was nothing like it had been, but there was a definite dull throb in my temples.

"You were brought in on February sixteenth," he said, and I noticed that he was watching my face closely. "You were in Intensive Care for three weeks before your condition changed from critical to stable, and you were moved to this room."

"What day is it now?" I asked not liking his vague answer. I hadn't asked about Intensive Care or what my condition was. I'd asked how long I'd been there.

"Today is June nineteenth," he replied slowly, and his close scrutinization got even more intense.

Four months. I'd been in the hospital for four months. Had I been asleep all of that time? How could four months go by without anyone finding me? There were no cards or flowers in the room, so my family evidently didn't know where I was. Even if my parents had died in the accident, why hadn't other family members come to find me? This was unreal. It felt like a dream, and I seriously wanted to wake up. My fear was rapidly turning into panic as I let what he'd said tumble around in my mind.

"How long have I been asleep?" I asked. "Have I been asleep the entire time I've been in this hospital?"

"Not at all," he replied. "This is the first time you've spoken in four months, but you've been awake for most of your stay here."

"I didn't speak?" I asked, trying to raise myself up and causing more unbearable pain in my head.

"Don't try to move just yet," he cautioned, putting a warm hand on my arm. "You've suffered a very severe head injury."

That was an understatement judging from the pain I was feeling from only trying to lift my head from the pillow underneath it. Head injury. Amnesia. Memory loss. A head injury could mean that my amnesia, if that's really what was going on instead of confusion, could be permanent. I needed to know exactly what type of injury I'd sustained and what my prognosis was.

"Four months," I whispered. I looked at Doctor Gordon, and there was a look of pure sympathy on his face that made my stomach queasy. Four months spent in a hospital in and out of coma and not talking. That wasn't good at all. "Why can't I remember anything before waking up today?"

"Well, I'm not completely sure about that," he admitted frankly. "If you remain cognoscente, I'll schedule tests and we'll confer with other doctors about why you can't remember, but you should remember your stay in the hospital."

"I don't remember anything," I told him. "I don't even know my name."

Saying it out loud made it more real to me, though, and my fear level increased. He looked at me for a moment before he said anything, and I had the distinct impression that there was more bad news to come. I really needed to know what had happened to me. This was unreal. This couldn't be happening, and yet it was all too outrageous to be a dream. I was really lying in a hospital bed suffering from amnesia.

"We were afraid of that," he admitted. "I think it's time that we ran some tests that we were unable to do when you weren't speaking."

"What kind of tests?" I asked.

"Well, there are psychological tests that need to be conducted to find the true depth of your amnesia, we can take another look at your brain to make sure that you're healing as well as we believed you were and there are a few other tests that we might run, but I won't get into those unless we actually decide to run them."

"Will any of that tell me who I am?" I asked without much hope. On some level, I knew that amnesia wasn't something that could be cured with a quick fix. If I had true amnesia, I could never remember anything.

"We're going to try to help you get your memory back," he said slowly. "I can't really say anything about treatment until I know exactly what we're dealing with."

Things happened rather quickly after that. Doctor Gordon introduced me to Doctor Carlo, a stout man with thinning dark hair and a warm smile. He sat with me for a while and asked me questions. Most I couldn't answer, but the general ones I did fine on. For example, I could still remember how to add and subtract, tie a bow and how the government of my country worked. I couldn't tell him my name or the names of any of my family members. I didn't know how many people were in my family, if I was an only child, if my grandparents were alive and so forth. It was frustrating to be able to remember things that were really unimportant when you consider the fact that I didn't know who I was.

After he left me to confer with Doctor Gordon and schedule a few medical tests, I was even more upset than before he came to talk to me. He'd proven to me that I really couldn't remember. I wasn't just blocking the events or anything like that. I couldn't remember. He'd talked about focal retrograde amnesia, and that scared me. I understood what it meant, and I didn't like it.

As it turned out, there were a number of tests that Doctors Gordon and Carlo wanted. I had scans and scans and scans done in the days that followed, and all Doctor Gordon would say was that the results weren't in yet. The nurses had taken to calling me John, and although I knew somehow that my name wasn't John, it was as good a name as any at that point.

I was able to get out of bed and sit in a chair a few days later. The pain in my head was getting better, and my vision only swam the first time I sat on the edge of the bed. Doctor Gordon thought this was a major improvement. I just wanted answers. No one was giving me any that were helpful. I didn't even recognize my own face in the mirror. That was a scary situation. To stand in front of a mirror, looking at yourself when you don't even recognize the reflection is not only unreal and freaky, it made my heart pound and my knees weak.

My assessment that I must have been a college student was completely possible from my reflection. I'd guess my age to be between sixteen and nineteen. My hair is light brown with kind of amber highlights. It's close cropped in the back and on the sides with a little length on the top that lays in a slight wave over my head. My eyes are brown with little specs of green in them, and my face is evenly proportioned. There are no scars on my body to help anyone identify me. I have no tattoos or piercings to go by. I'm just John Doe.

The night after Doctor Carlo diagnosed me with focal retrograde amnesia for real, I began to have nightmares. I couldn't remember them when I woke up, but I always woke from them covered in sweat with a scream itching the back of my throat. One dream that I do remember told me what I think my real first name is. I was right, my name isn't John. I just don't know if it was more than a dream or not.

I was standing in front of the mirror over the sink in my small bathroom, and my reflection wasn't right. It was me all right, but I was dressed in a grey and black sweater and there was blood in my hair. I stood there gaping for a few minutes before I realized that I was speaking. Rather, my reflection was speaking to me. I can't even begin to tell you how astounding it was, but what my reflection said to me made my heart ache.

"They're dead, you know?" my reflection said. "They were the only family I had left and now they're gone. I'm alone."

"Who were they?" I asked my reflection, and it occurred to me that this was stupid and might mean that I was not only suffering from amnesia, but I may be psychotic as well.

"They were my parents," he said. "I don't know they're names any better than you do, but I know my own name. It's Brian."

Brian. It felt right. I stared at my reflection as I tried to remember my last name. I couldn't ask my reflection anything else, because when I blinked, I was looking at the right reflection. I was dressed in the hospital robe, and the blood was gone from my hair. When I noticed that, I realized I really was in the bathroom, and I was awake. I was sure it was just a dream, but if I was awake, then I probably really was psychotic. That would be too much to deal with on top of amnesia. I went back to bed and pulled the thin cover up to my neck. I hadn't even taken off my robe.

I was all set to fret and worry about my mental state when it occurred to me that people who were psychotic never realized it. The fact that I was worried about my mental state told me that I was most likely not insane. No, it had to have been a dream. There was no way I was actually speaking to my subconscious self in the bathroom mirror of my hospital room. So, if it wasn't possible, then it had to a dream.

I liked this thought, so I held on to it with all of my might. Those were the last thoughts I had before I finally drifted off to sleep for the night. Again the nightmares ensnared me, but when I woke up the next morning I couldn't remember a single detail. It had been three weeks of nightmares and no memories since the day I had opened my eyes to all of the pain in my head. My fear upon waking that very next morning was that I'd been asleep for months again. That wasn't the case, though. Doctor Carlo assured me that he'd talked to me just the day before.

My head continued to hurt, but the pain was getting less and less intense, and I'd started requiring a pain shot less and less. I thought about a pain shot very much when my catheter was removed. That was almost as excruciating as the pain drumming between my temples. I was very happy when the event was over. The nurse that had removed it was nice enough to give me a small tube of ointment that she said would stop the stinging sensation caused by removing the catheter, and I applied it as soon as she was out of the room again.

Lucky for me, that was the most pain I felt that day. I still hadn't told anyone about talking to myself in the mirror, and I was still trying to convince myself that it was merely a dream. After all, who wants to admit to themselves that they might be crazy? I sure didn't. Fantasy was far better than reality if I truly was going a bit mad. I would be happy to remain blissfully ignorant while it happened. However the second time it happened, there was no doubt that I was wide awake.

I'd just finished putting the ointment on the head of my penis when the call of nature made itself very well-known. Now, I had thought that I wouldn't have to go to the bathroom so soon after having a catheter removed, but my bladder was definitely full. I had no choice but to get up and relieve it. I made it to the bathroom all right and actually did take care of my bladder problem. It was when I was washing my hands and glanced at the mirror that things went haywire on me.

There I was again, but not the me that should have been reflected. The black and grey sweater was back, and the bloody hair was present, too. Something was different about the reflection, though. I didn't look as sickly as I did the first time. My eyes were brighter and my color was better. How I had the presence of mind to see that about my reflection I'll never know.

"I'm feeling better," my reflection said in a bored tone of voice. "The doctors here are nice. I like them."

"I know," I replied, staring. I still wasn't sure about talking to my reflection even though my reflection was already initiating a conversation. It seemed to me that even though I could see this reflection, I was sane. However, talking to my reflection would somehow mean that I wasn't sane any longer.

"It won't be long now, you know," he said. "I'm getting better, and they won't have to keep me in the hospital."

"I know," I replied again for lack of anything better to say. My stunned mind wasn't working as well as it should have.

"I'm not sure where I'm going to go now," he said. "I can't go home, because I don't remember where that is. I know it wasn't here in this city, though."

"How do you know that?" I asked quickly. "How do you know that I didn't live in Storyville?"

"I don't know the answer to that," he said. "I just know I didn't live in this city or this State. No one here knows me. I'm not going to be 'found' by any long lost friends here."

"Where did I live before?" I asked, hoping that even though this might be completely crazy it might help me remember things. It was a long shot, of course, but it was the only hope I had.

"I don't know," he said. "It was nice there, though. I had a lot of friends and I was very happy until the night they died."

"My friends died?" I asked in misunderstanding.

"No, my parents died," he corrected me, looking at me as if I was a small child that had said something silly. "They died and left me alone. Now I'm here in this place, but I won't be for very much longer. I need to know where I'm going. Who is going to take care of me? I need to know."

"I don't know any of those answers," I told my reflection patiently. "The doctors haven't even said that I'm well enough to leave the hospital yet."

"But I am," he said adamantly. "I know I am. I can feel it. My head doesn't hurt as much, and I'm getting more and more steady on my feet. I even eat all of my meals now."

I wanted to talk to myself a little more, but I noticed that my reflection was the way it was supposed to be at the same time I heard knocking on the door to my private room. I came out of the bathroom as Dr. Carlo and Dr. Gordon came into my room. They both smiled at me when they saw me walking across the room to my chair.

"Brian," said Dr. Carlo. I'd shared with him my belief that my name was Brian, and he'd encouraged me to use the name. "It's good to see you up and moving so freely."

"I'm feeling stronger every day," I replied. "Hello, Dr. Gordon."

"Hi there, Brian," he said, smiling. "I'm happy to hear that you're feeling stronger, because I came to tell you that your physical health is almost perfect. You're in great shape, and your injuries are healing very well."

"So, I'll be discharged soon," I said, finishing his thought for him. "Where am I going to go?"

"Well, you have a few options," said Dr. Carlo slowly. "Social Services will be here later today to talk with you. They'll basically tell you what I'm about to tell you, only they'll actually have options for you where I can only tell you about options."

"What options?" I asked in a tired voice. This conversation hadn't even really started and I was already weary. I didn't like the idea that my future was as unknown as my past. I needed something concrete and steady to stand on.

"Well, you can go to a foster home," said Dr. Gordon. "There are many families in the foster care program with children your age."

That thought didn't sit well with me. I didn't want to be the only one, but I didn't want to be the outsider, either. I knew how foster homes worked. The parents got monetary support for taking me in, but that didn't actually mean that they would be happy to see me. It also didn't mean that the children in their homes were theirs, either. Foster Homes usually took in more than one child.

"Or you could just meet a few of the couples who already want to adopt you," said Dr. Carlo, obviously seeing the look on my face. "There are three..."

"Adopt me?" I asked in disbelief. "They don't even know me. Why?"

"The Social Services worker will be able to give you all of the details," said Dr. Gordon, giving Dr. Carlo a stern look that was completely ignored by the former doctor.

"We've been in contact with all three couples," he said, eyeing Dr. Gordon sideways. "They're all really great people..."

"Excuse us," said Dr. Gordon, grabbing Dr. Carlo's arm and pulling him out of the room.

I was stunned to say the least. Why would anyone want to adopt a teenager they didn't know? What kind of people were they? What kind of life would I have with any of them? I was so stunned that the questions that kept coming to my mind didn't have anything to do with who I was for once. I wasn't as worried about remembering as I was about getting to know strangers would wanted to become my family.

"I need to get in the bathroom!" called my own voice from the bathroom, and I stared at the open bathroom door. Never had my reflection called out to me to instigate a conversation. What was going on? Was my psychosis getting worse? "I need to hurry up before the doctors come back. They're arguing now, but they won't forever. I don't have much time."

I quickly rushed to the bathroom. There it was. The reflection that I'd been speaking to before the doctors arrived at my door was back in the mirror when I stood before it. He looked excited, and he kept smiling at me.

"What?" I asked, still not believing that he was anything more than a figment of my imagination. Perhaps I was just so subconsciously upset that I had no one that I was conjuring this reflection of myself to help me cope with being alone.

"Stop that," he said. "I'm here, and it isn't my subconscious pain that brought me here. I'm here because I want to be. It's the only way I can talk to myself about things that my mind isn't really registering the right way. I'm not crazy, and this is more normal than I think."

"Would you mind explaining what the hell you're talking about?" I demanded, having lost patience with my reflection's rambling.

"That's a discussion for another time," he said, shaking his head slightly. "I know what's happening. I know why they're fighting. One doctor thinks it would be better if I go into foster care, and the other clearly wants me to be adopted by one of the three families he was trying to talk to me about before the other dragged him off to argue about it."

"But how could anyone want to adopt me without ever having met me?" I asked with a sigh.

"Why should I care about that?" he asked, looking back at me like I was stupid for considering the question at all. "I have no family. Why wouldn't I want to be adopted? I'd have a family. It wouldn't be hard to get to know them, and maybe I'd even grow to love them."

"How old am I?" I asked him, completely changing the subject.

"I'm sixteen," he said impatiently.

"Ok, so I'd have two years with these people before I was able to live on my own," I reasoned. "How in the world could I ever grow to love a family in just two years?"

"Oh come off it," he said. "I know that love doesn't take long to grow if everyone involved is open and ready for it. I'm not stupid."

"But wouldn't it be better if I just went to a foster home and got on with my life?" I asked.

"I mentioned that I'm not stupid," he said, regarding me as if I were really stupid. "I don't want to live with strangers that don't care about me at all. At least the couples that want to adopt me care about me in a way. That's better than cold strangers and a room that isn't mine. I'd pick a room that belonged to me and a family over a foster home any day. I know I would."

"It scares me to think about this," I mumbled more to myself than to my reflection.

"Of course it scares me to think about living with people I don't know," he said anyway. "I've been living in this hospital for five months now, and I didn't know any of the doctors or nurses until I took the time to get to know them, did I? This can't be any different. I've already developed a sort of bond with Dr. Carlo. I can feel it, and I know he feels it. Why else would he want me to go to a family that would adopt me and accept me as one of them over a foster home?"


"No," he said, cutting me off before I could even voice my objection. "They're coming back. I have to get back in my seat. I don't want them to know I talk to myself in the mirror."

And just like that, my reflection was normal. I heard them talking outside the door, so I hurried back to my chair. It was then that I heard another voice. This one was female, and she sounded as if she was trying to calm one of the men down. I heard very little of the conversation they were having, because the door was closed. I did get the feeling that she was probably the social worker that had been mentioned. Then the three of them came into the room.

The woman looked to be in her mid to late thirties. Her dark red hair was pulled tightly back and tied behind her head. Freckles warred for space on her pale face, and her green eyes were framed by lashes that were the same hue as the hair on her head. She was dressed in a charcoal grey skirt and jacket with a crimson colored mock turtle neck shirt under the jacket. She smiled at me, showing perfectly straight and white teeth.

"Hello, Brian," she said. "My name is Sarah Bennet. I'm a case manager for Social Services. I understand that Dr. Carlo informed you that three families are interested in adopting you."

"He said that," I replied slowly. Something wasn't right, though. I couldn't put my finger on it, but something about the sound of her voice was wrong. It sounded like she was attempting to soften bad news or something.

"Well, I'm afraid that he spoke out of turn," she said, giving me a compassionate smile. "Our office checked into these families, and we've determined that none of the three are suitable adoptive families. I've come here today to talk to you about a program that is very new in our office. Would you give me a few minutes of your time to explain?"

I thought about the request, and I nearly laughed. My time? Well, it wasn't as if I had a big event coming any time soon. I spent all of my time either in my room or wandering the halls on the floor. To ask if she could have a few minutes of my time made it sound as if she believed that I was a busy boy. That was what was funny.

"Sure," I said, opting to hold the rest of my thoughts inside.

She pulled the other chair over and sat in front of me, putting her black leather case, which I hadn't noticed until that moment, on her lap. She folded her hands on top of the case and let out a slow breath. I got the idea that she was nervous about something. I wondered just how long she'd been a case manager. I wondered exactly what a case manager for Social Services did.

"Two months ago our office received a substantial donation," she began, and I knew from the change of the sound of her voice that I was about to get "the big deal" speech that so often comes from a salesperson who lived off of commissions. "Naturally, we thought of all of the good we could do with the money that we received, and I'm happy to say that I believe we've set up something that children in your situation could benefit from."

She nearly lost me when she said children. I was not a child, and I didn't like being referred to as a child. However, as much as I wanted to interrupt her and correct her mistake I knew that doing so would only prolong her visit. That was something that I didn't want. I noticed from the looks on the doctors faces that they didn't want that either.

"Rhaven Academy," she continued as she took a folder out of her case and extracted three eight by ten glossy photographs from it and placed them side by side on my bed, "is a private school for young men right here in Storyville. Now, usually only the rich have been educated there. With the donation that we received, we're able to send six young men to Rhaven. You're going to be one of them."

"You're going to put me in boarding school?" I asked incredulously. I didn't think it was such a good idea. I wished my reflection would summon me to the bathroom and talk to me about it.

"You'll be housed in the dorm," she said, ignoring my question. "The dorms are set up into six quads. These quads have four rooms with two boys in each room. They share a common room and a bathroom. Now, I'm not exactly sure when you'll be moving to Rhaven. The doctors will have to speak with our director as well as the Headmaster of Rhaven. I'm sure it won't be long, though."

I looked at the photographs silently as she watched me with an expectant expression on her face. The main building was constructed of deep brown bricks on the first story. The second was covered with white stucco that was trimmed with wood stained the same shade as the bricks on the first story. The third story had the same white stucco, but the wood was crisscrossed in a neat row around the entire story. The grounds were immaculately manicured, and I could see students sitting in the grass under trees in groups.

"Some of the classes are held outside in the warmer months," she said when she saw me looking at the student groups.

The second picture was of a smaller two story building that looked almost identical to the main building. I could see a plaque near the door on the first story, so I assumed that this was a dorm building. Again, the grounds around it were immaculate. The entire front of the building was surrounded by hedges that looked as if they were freshly trimmed.

The third picture was split into three sections. The first showed a bedroom with two beds sitting side by side, separated by a night stand. The beds were covered with dark red blankets with an "R" embroidered in the center with dark green thread. The floor looked like polished hard wood, and the walls were covered with blue and white pin-striped wall paper. The curtain on the only window in the picture was the same color as the blankets on the beds.

The second section showed a bathroom. There was a toilet, sink and bathtub on one side of the room with a long counter and an enclose shower stall along the other wall. Above the counter was a long mirror that covered the entire wall until it met the shower stall. The floor was blue and white checked tile, and the walls were white tiles with a row of blue mixed into the center making a checkerboard boarder.

The third section showed what looked like a small living room. There was a blue fluffy sofa with matching lounge chairs. Two end tables that were some kind of dark wood and a large rust colored oval rug with the school's insignia on it. The walls were covered in that same blue and white pin-stripped wall paper.

I didn't know what to think about the place. Did I really want to go to a boarding school? It would be worse than living in a foster home with strangers. I'd be surrounded by strangers at the school. I didn't understand why I couldn't just remember who my family was and go to live with a family member.

"You're going to love Rhaven," said Ms. Bennet, smiling at me. "Its a very good school, and the uniforms are very masculine and neat."

It didn't sound like I really had a choice about this. She'd started out by presenting the idea as an option, but it became clear that it wasn't a decision about halfway through her spiel. I didn't know how I felt about someone making decisions for me like this, but I knew that there was probably nothing I could do about it.

"When do I leave?" I asked lamely. I noticed Dr. Carlo looking at me with a sad look in his eyes, but there wasn't anything that he could do about it either.

"As I said, the doctors will be talking with my supervisors and the Headmaster of the school," she replied just a little curtly, making me snap my attention to her face. I'd irritated her with my question.

Didn't she understand that I was overwhelmed? I couldn't remember who I was, my parents, whom I couldn't remember anything about at all, were dead, and I had no one left. Now she wanted to stick me in a boarding school with a bunch of boys my age that I didn't know who had money that I didn't. It was all a bit more than I was prepared to deal with in one day, so yeah, I was going to forget the small details and ask repetitive questions.

"I'm a little tired," I said, looking at Dr. Carlo, hoping that he'd get her out of my room. "This is a lot to think about, and..."

"I understand," she said, smiling sweetly again. The smile made me feel sick in my stomach. "I'll report back to my supervisor that the plan is a go, and we'll come talk with you tomorrow."

"Ms. Bennet, I'd like to have a private word with you in my office before you leave the hospital," said Dr. Carlo. "Brian, you get some rest, son. We'll check on you in a couple of hours."

"Thank you," I replied not looking at any of them.

As soon as they were all out of the room, I got out of the bed and went to the bathroom. My reflection was normal, and I was frustrated. If ever there was a time when I needed to talk to myself it was that moment. I wished I could call on my reflection at will. Then it occurred to me that I was more unstable than I'd first guessed. If I wanted to talk to myself, then I was really gone. It was probably a good idea that I talk to Dr. Carlo about this. I thought about that as I turned to leave the bathroom with a sigh.

"I'm not crazy, and telling Dr. Carlo that I talk to myself probably isn't a good idea," said my own voice as I was leaving the bathroom. I turned around and there was the reflection I'd wanted to talk to.

"Sane people don't talk to their reflection in the mirror," I said as I stepped up the sink and gazed at my altered reflection in the mirror above it.

"Sane people do a lot of things that people would deem them insane for if they knew about it," countered my reflection. "What I'm doing is actually more normal than I realize. Maybe it isn't conventional, but it surely isn't unhealthy."

"I don't want to go to Rhaven Academy," I sighed, forgetting about my sanity and getting directly to what it was that I wanted to discuss with my reflection.

"I don't think I have a choice in the matter," said my reflection. "That Ms. Bennet sure seems set on it, and I think she has the power to make me do whatever she wants at this point."

"Dr. Carlo didn't look happy about it, though," I said, thinking about the sad look he gave me before he left my room.

"There isn't much he can do about it, though," replied my reflection. "He's only my doctor. He can't take me home with him no matter how much he wants to."

"How do you know that he wants me to live with him?" I asked.

"I don't know if he wants me to live with him or not, but I sure wish I could," said my reflection. "It would be a lot better than living with strangers. At least I know Dr. Carlo."

"But I am going to Rhaven Academy," I said sadly, hanging my head slightly.

"Yes, I'm afraid I am," agreed my reflection, sounding just as sad as I felt.

Narrator's Note:

Why was I sad to be going to an exclusive private boarding school when I had no idea who I really was or what had really happened to my parents? Well perhaps I was hoping for something a little more like family. I had no memory of what it was like to be a part of a family, so it would have made me feel better to know that I would have been a part of someone's family. I had no way of knowing what was in store for me, though. With amnesia, new discoveries lie just around every corner.

A Boy Named Brian