D. Edwin Burbee

It is a winter evening as workers briskly leave an office building to start and brush newly fallen snow from cars. Laughter seasoned with see you tomorrow blends and fades into darkness. One man remains, walking first left then right and stops. “I do not know where I parked my car,” budding fear soon blossoms into terror he checks his pockets. “No keys, no wallet; My God please help me, where am I?” The streets are empty he is completely alone. “I must get home I’ve been gone for weeks but where is home? He begins to run aimlessly, cold air burns lungs as tears freeze on his face.

Icicles captured by a clothesline tinkle lightly softly, played by unseen fingers of breeze. Translucent piano keys suspended necklace-like from the once taunt line perform micro symphonic music. A high-pitched clinking, much like the sound glass objects make when they knock against each other; create a grouping of sounds; a tune. The melody attracts, captivates, and hypnotizes the man rapt by this mellow music and he wonders, “Is this the key that unlocks memory? Will I then know who I am, why am I here, and where should I be?”

Ernie awakes drenched in cold sweat. “Same awful nightmare,” he mumbles, “identical situation every night for weeks” Brewing a tea Ernie’s thoughts go on, Ever since I kissed that airbag my sleep has been disrupted, but all tests show no damage. Amnesia so real so…A ringing phone shatters his thoughts. “Mr. Savage this is Doctor Sweeney’s office confirming your appointment for Wednesday.” “Thank you it’s at one correct?” “Yes, at one.” “I’ll be there.”

Doctor Sweeney is a neurophysiologist. Ernie made the appointment last week. One month ago, Ernie was in a severe car accident, sandwiched between an Acura in the rear and landscaping truck in front. Air bags deployed, and his car was demolished.

“Good afternoon Mr. Savage I’m Doctor Sweeney.” “You can call me Ernie.” “Alright its Ernie then, what is troubling you?” “Nightmares, actually singular as in nightmare every night it is exactly the same.” “Can you tell me the basic content?” “Yes Doctor, I dream I have amnesia it is real, petrifying. I need to go home but I do not know where my car is or make and color. I do not know what city I am in, no money, no suitcase but I must get home.” “Do you know where home is?” “No but the need to quickly get there is overpowering.”

“Ernie I’ve gone over your tests and no physical damage is indicated. It appears the emotional component of the accident, stress and shock may be the reason for this nightmare. What, if anything, do you see?” “A frozen clothes line with icicles hanging and the wind causes them to chime musically. I become enchanted by the sound believing it holds a solution to my amnesia. Yet, all the while, my brain is in turmoil trying to think where my car is, wondering where I am, where am I supposed to be; fear churns inside me. Every time I sleep the nightmare returns, the same. I believe that soon I will not wake up.” Ernie sobs intensely.

“Easy Mr. Savage, relax. I am going to prescribe a mild sedative. I have a few more questions, are you up to it?” Breathing deeply Ernie calms, “I‘ m fine go ahead doctor.” “During this dream are you cold, uncomfortable?” “No, I realize it is cold but I do not feel cold.” “Is there any background, can you see anything else?” It appears to be white all around me.” “Go home and take a sedative and if you need to see me just call. Relax Ernie; we will get to the bottom of this.” “Thank you doctor.”

Ernie leaves Doctor Sweeny’s office. Picking up his sedative he returns home. Washing down a pill with water, stretching out on the sofa, he falls asleep. Awaking at six AM, he is trembling violently in a cold sweat. A riveting thought shocks; I must see Dr. Sweeney, the nightmare changed! 

Ernie returns to the doctor’s office. His appearance conveying the condition within. Wearing the same clothing from the last visit, he is also wearing a vacant stare.

“Sit here Mr. Savage; I’ll have my nurse bring a glass of water. Your phone call suggests the nightmare has changed?” “Yes, the amnestic terror is the same, however as I stare at the icicles I hear a voice calling my name. “Do you recognize the voice?” “No but it sounds like a girl or women.”

“Ernie, are your parents alive?” “No I do not think so; I’m adopted and have no memory of my real parents.” The Doctor leans back in his chair. “At what age were you adopted?” “My earliest memory is being nine years old.” “And you have no recollection of an earlier time?” “No, not at all.” “Do you know what city you were born in or better yet a birth certificate; perhaps the names of your adopted mother and father?” “My adopted parents are both deceased, killed in a fire while I was in college. We lived in Milwaukee; unfortunately, any records were lost in the fire. A social worker told me that my mother lost her life in a plane crash, however I have no knowledge of my father.”

“You need sleep Mr. Savage; I am going to write another prescription for a stronger sedative. I suggest that you go home and attempt to rest. With your permission, I will research records using your Social Security Number to shed some light on your past. I sense having that knowledge may help in uncovering the basis of your problem.” “Yes, of course, Doctor you have my permission. Upon returning home, Ernie takes the stronger sedative collapsing on the couch. Within minutes, he is sound asleep.

Seeing the icicles once again, their charismatic tinkle bewitchingly freezing his stare. Ernest, come inside honey it is too cold and everyone is waiting for the birthday boy. How that boy loves the outdoors, why he would live out there if I didn’t call him in.” “Let him play awhile Millie, he’s well dressed.” “Now Alice, are you trying to tell your sister how to raise her child?” “Land sakes Millie, nothing worse than an over protective mother; Ernest is all boy.” “I know, but he is all I have. When I fly to New York next week just make sure he wears his leggings when outdoors.” “You worry too much honey, Aunt Alice will be in charge, now how about a glass of port on the rocks?”

Glasses are filled with ice and wine while Alice lights the five candles on Ernie’s cake. “Sit on this pillow birthday boy.” Raising drinks in a toast, the ice makes a high-pitched clanking sound and singing begins. “Happy Birthday too you, Happy Birthday too you, Happy Birthday dear Ernest…Happy birthday too you”. Ernie blows out the candles everyone claps and cheers.

“Open your present Ernest, your mother can’t wait.” “Thanks Mommy.” Ernie tares off the wrapping paper revealing a glass globe music box. Inside is a winter scene, a washerwomen is hanging clothes on a line; Icicles hang among clothing. Ernie turns the box on and a tinkling chime-like melody plays…

Jesus loves me this I know For the Bible tells me so

Little ones to him belong They are weak but he is strong

Yes Jesus loves me Oh, yes Jesus loves me Yes Jesus loves me

For the Bible tells me so.

A hospital loudspeaker blares; Cart to room 234…Cart to room 234. A nurse asks an Intern, “What is going on in 234?” “It’s Mr. Savage, Ernest I believe, the guy who was in a car wreck and has been in a coma since. Unfortunately he passed away a short time ago.” The nurse responds, “I often wonder if a person in a comatose condition has the ability to think.”

The intern pauses then replies, “There is no answer to your question but he died with the most pleasant expression on his face.”