Chapter Four

Questionable Memories

I didn't know what to say to that at first. I mean I was there because Ms. Bennet had put me in a program for underprivileged kids, but I didn't think that was what Brady was asking me. His question had sounded as if he expected me to be somewhere else. Where, though? I wanted him to tell me everything he knew about me, but I noticed that his crowd of admirers were now studying me closely as if they were looking for something. Scrutiny of that intensity never sits well with me, so I almost retreated again.

"Why don't you come up to our room, Brady," said Ian, and I was so thankful that he intervened. Maybe he understood that I didn't want to have this conversation around so many.

Brady continued to look at me expectantly for a minute before he nodded his head and followed as Ian led us out of the cafeteria. I was also happy that Ian directed the conversation away from me as we walked out of the main building and over to our dorm. He asked Brady about school and what kind of things he'd been doing at the university. I didn't pay much attention to their conversation as we walked. I was too busy hoping that Brady would be the key that unlocked the iron door in my memory.

"Ok," said Brady once we were behind the closed door of our room. "Are you going to tell me why you're at Rhaven when just before Christmas last year you were my cousin's roommate at the University of Chicago?"

"I'm a college student?" I asked, looking at him hard. "I'm only sixteen."

"Yeah, I know," he said. "Actually, you're probably seventeen now. Tucker said something about your birthday party coming soon. Look, why are you here? I mean I know that you must have been upset about Tucker, but why did you go back to high school?"

"Wait," I said, holding up my hand as my head began to swim.

"Brady, Brian has amnesia," said Ian. "He was in an accident the day of the eclipse, and he doesn't remember anything before the day he woke up in the hospital here in Storyville."

"You're serious?" Brady asked after he'd looked at his little brother for a few minutes. Then he turned to me. "So you don't remember anything at all?"

"I remember you," I said slowly. "At least I remember part of our conversation. I didn't know where we had that conversation, but I guess I do now."

"This is outrageous," he said, sitting down on Ian's bed. "You mean you have no memory of Tucker or anything from the university?"

"How would I be a university student when I'm only sixteen?" I asked.

"Because you're wicked smart," said Brady, smiling. "Tucker was always telling us about how smart you are. He said you were smarter than most of the other students in the school, but you never acted like you were better than anyone or anything. That's why Tucker thought so highly of you."

"Where is Tucker now?" I asked. Maybe if I could see him, see my college roommate, I would remember more.

"Tucker died a few weeks after your accident, Brian," said Ian. "He had an accident of his own."

"But you know my last name, right?" I asked, turning back to Brady. "You know my name. If you tell me my real name then I can find out if I have family out there. I could go and live with them."

"Slow down," said Brady. "I'm sorry, Brian, but I only knew your first name. It shouldn't be too hard to find out what your last name is, though. The university would still have a file on you."

I thought about that for a minute. I now had a lead on my past. All I needed was help getting to Chicago. Then I could go to the university and find out more about myself. If they still had my stuff then I could claim it. Surely they had a picture of me in my file so they would know that I was who I claimed to be. I just needed to get to the university. That was next to impossible. How was I supposed to get from Storyville, Iowa to Chicago, Illinois? They didn't just let sixteen, or seventeen as the case may have been, year old high school students travel freely for just any reason. I also didn't think Ms. Bennet would take Brady's word for it that I really was a missing student from the University of Chicago.

"I'll never be able to get to Chicago," I sighed. "I wish that I could just leave on my own."

"What about your doctor?" Ian asked, sitting down beside him. "He could do some checking for you and put an end to all of this guess work."

"I guess I could call him," I said, thinking that I could also call Ms. Bennet and at least tell her what Brady had said.

"Well I have to get going," said Brady. "Brian, it was nice to see you again. I hope everything works out for you. I'm sorry that I couldn't do more."

"You helped me a lot," I assured him. "Thank you, and it was nice to see you again, too."

Ms. Bennet was easy enough to get in touch with. I just called her cell phone shortly after Brady left. When I told her about meeting him and what he said, she told me not to put too much stock in it. She said that it was highly improbable that I was actually a teenaged college student, but she would look into it for me. I was less than convinced, and once again I thought I heard something in her voice. It was getting harder and harder for me to like that woman, and I was starting to think the feeling was mutual.

I called Dr. Carlo next. He told me that he was thrilled that I had come across Brady. He seemed a lot more excited about what Brady had told me. He told me that he'd made my appointment with Dr. Lightner for the next day, and I was actually excited about going. I was sure that if I could just get Dr. Lightner to hypnotize me I'd remember everything. Dr. Carlo cautioned me not to get my hopes up. He explained that hypnosis wasn't always effective in cases of amnesia, but I couldn't shake the hope that it would at least tell me more than what Brady had told me.

"So they're going to hypnotize you?" Ian asked when I got back to our room after my talk with Dr. Carlo.

"Well, I'm not sure yet," I replied. "I have an appointment for tomorrow. He's going to call Ms. Bennet so that she can let the school know that I'll be leaving after lunch. That's as much as I know right now."

"This could be just the break you need, Brian," he said excitedly. "What did your case worker say when you told her what Brady said?"

"She wasn't convinced," I sighed, remembering my conversation with Ms. Bennet. "She said she would check into it, but I don't think she's going to make it a priority."

"That really sucks," said Ian. "She's supposed to be looking out for you and doing what is in your best interest. How can she think that following a lead on who you really are isn't important?"

"I know what you mean," I replied with a sigh. "Try looking at it from my end. I really don't like Ms. Bennet, but I don't have any choice in the matter of having her for my caseworker."

"Well I know one thing we can do," said Ian. "It doesn't have anything to do with Ms. Bennet."

"What?" I asked, liking the sound of it already.

"Well you know that students have access to the computer lab all of the time, right?" he asked. I nodded. "Why don't we head over there and look up the university online? There's no harm in just looking at it, and if anyone asks why you're looking just tell them that you're thinking about college."

I thought about it for a moment, but I really liked that idea. Maybe seeing pictures of the campus would spark memories for me. Like he said there was no harm in simply looking it up on the internet. I followed him out of our room and down the stairs. We were silent all the way to the main building of the campus and into the computer lab. He sat down at one computer, and I chose the one next to him.

I searched the net for any reference to the university and found the school's main page. As soon as the file began to load I felt odd. Suddenly the screen in front of me changed. It wasn't the screen of the computer in Rhaven's computer lab anymore. Now it was a laptop screen with all kinds of words and codes on it. I couldn't quite see what it was that I was looking at, but I knew somehow that it was dangerous information. What shocked me was that I was more excited about what I was looking at than I had been when I received my scholarship to the university. Thoughts like that kept running through my mind as I looked at the screen, but I didn't know exactly where they were coming from.

"You found it," said Ian, breaking my memory flash.

The computer screen was as it should have been now, and on it was a page of information on the University of Chicago. There was a picture of the campus, but it was too small for me to really look at. I noticed then that I was breathing hard and sweating. Ian was looking at me hard, but I didn't want to say anything just then. I was still trying to think about what it was I was looking at on the laptop screen in my memory. It made absolutely no sense to me at all, but I knew that it had at one time. After a few minutes I calmed down again. I was no stranger to disappointment when it came to my memory, so we just started clicking through the pages on the site.

I clicked on the link for the scholarship program, but there were no pictures of individual students. The same with the link for the computer club. The names of the students involved in the club were there, though. However there were six Brians listed. I had no idea if any of them were me or not. It was frustrating, but I had to accept it. The computer hadn't revealed anything more than a confusing memory about a file filled with what looked like nonsense to me.

We went back to the dorm after our search yielded nothing. I didn't say anything to Ian about my memory flash, because I still didn't understand it myself. What I needed was to get to the university and look around. Surely if I'd been a student there someone would remember me. I just didn't know how I was supposed to get from Storyville, Iowa to Chicago, Illinois.

I had another nightmare that night, but I can't remember what it was about. It must have been a really bad one, though. I woke up tangled with Ian, so he must have gotten out of bed and crawled into mine to comfort me again. This was the second time he'd done that, but this time something was different. The sun wasn't quite up yet when I opened my eyes, so it took me a minute to figure out what it was that woke me up.

Then I noticed our positions in the bed, and I was horrified at first. Ian was lying with his back to me and my arms were wrapped around him. What horrified me was the fact that my morning erection was pressed against his butt and my left hand was resting on his morning erection. His arms were folded over my right arm, and he'd dragged my right hand up under his head. I didn't know what to do at that point. I was afraid that if I moved anything, Ian would wake up. I'd have a lot of explaining to do if that happened.

That's when it occurred to me that I still had a lot of explaining to do to myself. What bothered me more than the way we were lying there was the reaction that my body was having to it. My heart was beating a bit faster, and I couldn't mistake the tell tale signs in my body. My arousal wasn't as easily explained away by my morning erection. Sure that was normal enough, but I found that I actually liked the way it felt to have it pressed against Ian that way. I also really liked the feeling of his body pressed against mine and the way it felt to touch his erection. Without even thinking about it, my hand had tightened around it. I didn't even notice until Ian moaned and moved slightly. Without thinking about waking him I snatched my hand away from his erection and moaned a bit myself, though I'm sure he'd moaned for a completely different reason. I turned slightly, and that tugged at my right hand which was trapped under his cheek.

"How are you this morning?" he asked, turning in the bed to face me.

"Confused," I admitted inwardly sighing with relief that he didn't freak out about the way we'd woken up. "Did I get loud last night?"

"It must have been some dream," he said, but I noticed a guilty look on his face for just a moment before he yawned and closed his eyes. "What time is it?"

He scrambled out of the bed without even bothering to mask his erection. He fumbled on his night stand for his glasses and then stretched and yawned again. This gave me a marvelous view of his body as the muscles stretched and his pelvis was pushed outward. His erection was clearly defined behind the soft cotton material of his underwear, and I had to drag my eyes away quickly. I couldn't believe myself. Was I so perverted that I would ogle my room mate hungrily when he didn't even know what was happening? That would require more thought, but at that moment all I could think about was the bathroom.

After a cold shower I waited for him to shower as I dressed in my uniform. He came into the room wrapped in a towel, and I concentrated on my textbooks and thoughts of math problems the whole time it took for him to dress. By then the sun had come up and it was almost passed time for us to go to breakfast. I followed him out of the room thankful that the blazer of his uniform covered his butt. I already knew how well his pants fit him. I was so angry with myself for what I was thinking.

We didn't discuss my dream or the way we'd woken up that morning as we joined the others for breakfast. Ian sat with Travis as they went over something in their textbooks while I sat between Tristin and Hamilton. Hamilton talked all through breakfast, so I just abused myself mentally for my dirty thoughts about Ian as I ate my breakfast. Then it was off to the first class of the day, and that put me with Ian again. We walked through the building quietly. He nodded to people as we walked, but we didn't say a word to each other.

I tortured myself all day long with thoughts about Ian. Was I gay? That was a thought that scared the hell out of me, so I tried to stay away from it. It was impossible, but I tried so hard that when it was time for me to meet Ms. Bennet in the main office I almost didn't notice. This was big for me, and I wished I could remember the past so I could know if I really was gay or not. My reaction to Ian clearly indicated that I was, but couldn't that be explained away by hormones and the lack of female students at Rhaven?

"Having a bad day?" asked Ms. Bennet in her "I don't care" voice as we walked out of the building and to her car.

"Just thinking about something," I replied. "Nothing important."

"You'll go to your appointment with Doctor Lightner first," she said as if I hadn't spoken. "Afterwards you have an appointment with Doctor Carlo. I have to pick up something from the office, so I'll drop you off. Please be waiting when I return."

"Yes, Ma'am," I replied, trying hard not to sound sarcastic as we drove out of the school parking lot.

We were both quiet all the way to the clinic. I'm sure she just didn't want to talk to me at all, but I was still badgering myself about my sexuality. I thought about discussing it with Dr. Lightner, but that wasn't going to happen. I was going to see him to get my memory back. Talking about my confusing sexuality wasn't on the bill for the day. Besides I really didn't want to discuss it with anyone until I figured it out for myself.

She dropped me off in front of the clinic without even telling me where I was supposed to go. The building was three stories with a huge main entrance. There were people coming and going, so I just followed a woman and her young son into the brown brick building and stood behind them when they stopped at the check-in desk.

"Name?" an older woman with fluffy white hair asked when it was my turn.

"Brian Carlo," I replied. "I have an appointment with Doctor Lightner."

"Yes," she said, flashing a warm smile at me. "Just take the elevator to the third floor and let the ladies at the desk know that you're here."

"Thank you," I replied, smiling back at her before heading for the elevators across from the desk.

Once I reached the third floor, I told the receptionist that I was there to see Dr. Lightner. She handed me a clipboard with papers for me to fill out and sent me to sit in the waiting room. I looked over the forms and was shocked when I just started to fill them out without thinking. I filled in my name as Brian Carlo, but the address I listed wasn't Rhaven. It was an address in Chicago, Illinois. I filled in the personal information without thinking as well. I looked it over and wondered if it was correct. One thing that stuck in my mind was that where it asked about siblings I had written that I had one brother that I had never met.

Did I really have a brother out there somewhere? Why would I have a brother that I'd never met? It didn't sound like it was real, but I'd written it down just the same. I'd also written that my parents and step-father were deceased. That shocked me, too. I hadn't once thought of the man in my memory flashes as my step-father. I had just thought he was my father. Was this my memory working, or had I just written random things in the spaces provided without thinking?

"Mr. Carlo, Doctor Lightner will see you now," said the same blonde receptionist that had handed me the forms to fill out. She pushed a button to unlock the door beside her desk and told me to head on in.

The office itself was warm and inviting. Plush blue carpet covered the floor. There was a comfortable looking rust colored sofa against one wall with a coffee table in front of it. Two recliners sat across from the sofa with a desk sitting across the room. Seated behind it was a blonde haired man with bright blue eyes. He was dressed in a pinstriped dress shirt with a dark blue tie.

"Welcome, Brian," he said, smiling at me. "Have a seat. I'll take those forms. I understand that you probably don't know a lot of the information they asked for, but that's all right."

"Actually, I think I do know some of this information," I said as I handed him the clipboard and sat down. "I'm not sure, though. I didn't even think about it when I wrote it all down, but I answered nearly everything."

"Well why don't we start by going over the forms?" he asked.

"Like I said I'm not sure how accurate my information is," I replied.

"Well one thing we do know for sure is that you filled out your name correctly as far as the name you're currently using," he said. "What information did you write down that you're completely unsure of?"

"The part about a brother I've never met," I said after thinking for a moment. "I don't know if that's true, but it feels true. Then there's the part about my parents being dead. I know that's true, but I listed a step-father. I don't know about that, but I wrote it down."

"So you think your parents were divorced?" he asked.

"I don't know what to think," I admitted, and it occurred to me that though the situation was strange I wasn't upset about it.

"All right," he said, putting the clipboard down and picking up a legal pad. "We'll come back to the forms later. Doctor Carlo tells me that you've been having memory flashes. Care to tell me about them?"

I took a deep breath and told him all about the flashes that had come to me. From the way I'd reacted to the photo of Ian, Travis and Ian's brothers with the eclipse above them to the last flash I'd had where I was talking to Ian's brother, Brady at the college. Then I told him about my conversation with Brady the day before and about my dreams. It took a little while for me to get it all out, but I had a strange feeling that I would remember something more soon after I finished telling him about it all.

We talked about what Brady had said about me being a teen college student. He seemed especially interested in which college Brady had said I was attending. We talked about how I was doing in school, and I was sure that he was trying to gage my current school performance against my possibly being a college student.

"It sounds like Brady probably really does remember you," he said. "You're memory of talking with him coupled with his remembering you tells me that he did at least talk to you in the past. Can you remember anything more about the conversation you had with him in the past?"

"I've tried, but that's all I remember," I replied. "I looked up the school on the computer, but there were no clues there for me to find, at least none that sparked anything in my memory."

"I think that we might be able to get a little more of that memory of talking with Brady," he said. "How do you feel about hypnosis?"

"I was actually hoping that you'd want to hypnotize me today," I said. I really hoped he was going to.

"Oh, I won't be doing that today," he said, crushing my hopes. "Our time today is nearly over. Why don't I discuss it with Doctor Carlo and then we can try during our next session if he thinks it's a good idea?"

"Ok," I replied. "I see Doctor Carlo right after this."

"Yes," he said. "I'll call him in a minute. If he says that he thinks it will be all right for me to hypnotize you then we'll get started at your next appointment. I need you to give this to Lila at the reception desk." He handed me a slip of paper. "I'll see you in a week, Brian."


*   *   *


"So you think that it would be all right then?" I asked Dr. Carlo twenty minutes later. We'd discussed my session with Dr. Lightner, and I'd told him that I wanted him to hypnotize me.

"I don't think it would be a bad idea," he replied. "I just don't want you to get your hopes up, Brian. Hypnosis doesn't always work in cases like yours. Please remember that."

"I do remember that," I said. "Besides, I'm no stranger to disappointment where my memory is concerned. I promise that if it doesn't work I won't be crushed. I'm remembering a lot of different things on my own. I just think that this might help me remember a bit more. I don't expect my entire memory to return after just one session of hypnosis."

"I don't want to make you think that hypnosis is never successful in memory retrieval," he said. "It has been successful, but in cases like yours it isn't always as effective. You might learn things through hypnosis that you really didn't want to know about yourself, for one thing. Memories are tricky. Just think about the memories that you've recovered on your own for a minute. You said yourself that some of them are very confusing, because they don't sit right with the other things you've remembered."

"Do you think that I might be remembering things that didn't actually happen?" I asked. The thought had crossed my mind a few times. Filling out the forms in Dr. Lightner's office was one of those times. How could I know for sure that what I'd written down was the truth? I hadn't had a memory flash when I was writing, so I had nothing to go on.

"False memories aren't uncommon in cases like yours," he said slowly. "Sometimes we want to remember so badly that our mind will invent things. I don't know if that's what is happening with you, though. You may just be remembering things out of sync. We won't know for sure until you remember everything."

That gave me something to think about as I waited for Ms. Bennet to arrive to take me back to Rhaven. If everything I remembered so far was real, then maybe it just wasn't in sync. Remembering my conversation with Brady and then having him tell me that I was a college student had made me think that memories of being in a house that I thought was my home, talking to a man that I believed was my father when I was supposed to be in college had made me start to question the validity of the memories I'd had. What I hadn't thought about was that if I actually lived in Chicago, like I'd written on the form, then being in college and being at home with my parents at the same time was actually plausible.

A Boy Named Brian