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Fantasy Science Fiction Fiction

Feed Your Head

In a dreary, gray, official-looking room was a small group of unsmiling people who were about to change where and how one of their number was going to live. That person was a man named Jim who was in his early mid 70s, and was seated in an uncomfortable chair, while all the others stood. He had a blank stare on his face. The others were those who had made the decision for him. They included a doctor, a counsellor, a nurse, a female psychologist, his wife Alice and a young man, their son, George. They were looking upon Jim with a look of resignation on their faces. There was little that could be done about his condition.

The problem with the man was that he could not access any memory of his past, not the job he had held for forty years, not his wife with whom he had been married for about the same time, not his son, and not his dog who would follow him around in their house. Often Jim would not even answer to his name, because he forgot who he was. Sure he could still speak a basic English, in short sentences, but that was all. And words that would help what he said make sense were sometimes neglected because they could not be remembered.

His memory lost had not been gradual. It had happened all of a sudden one day. Early that day, he was standing in the kitchen, motionless, when his wife Alice walked into the room. He looked at her with a stare of non-recognition. With words spoke in hesitation, he asked her two questions that would shock and surprise her. “Who are you? I do not know you at all. What are you doing in my house?” She looked stunned and was silent for about ten seconds, and then replied “Jim, I’m your wife Alice, don’t you know. Is this some sort of bad joke?” He slowly shook his head, followed by lowering his sightline to the kitchen floor so that he wouldn’t have to look at her, after his memory failure.

When he looked up again, he gazed in a daze around the kitchen and said, “I do not know you. I don’t know this place. Is this your house? I don’t remember ever being here before” “No”, Alice replied, “This is our house. The place the two of us have lived in for some 30 years now.”

From that point on, for the next few weeks, Alice took her husband to see doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, but with no change in his loss of memory, and no ideas for them to try out.  She considered this a far too serious a problem to consult Doctor Google or any of the bogus ‘miracle memory enhancers’ that were available on line. She grudgingly came to realize that this might be a permanent condition and that he might have to be taken care of in an institution

The purpose of today’s meeting was to arrange to have him admitted to an institution that specialized in taking care of people who had suffered severe memory loss. Alice had been told by the consultants at the institution that she should bring a few items that before his memory loss were very special to him. This included his hockey stick from when he played the game as a teenager, and with which he had scored many a goal. Also there were to be pictures of his parents, his wife and his son, and of their dog, who somehow had been able to sense that there was something wrong with Jim, the human who used to take him for long walks. There was no possibility of that bounding activity happening now, as it would be too easy for Jim to get lost, and for him not to recognize his long time neighbours who would say ‘good morning’ to him. And if the dog should run away, Jim would not know how to call the dog by name, as that was forgotten too.

A Special Parting Gift

Alice had worked hard preparing what had been Jim’s favourite dish. It was Jaeger Schnitzel, a dish which they had first had and both of them enjoyed in a German restaurant downtown. After-words, seeing how much he liked it (it became their regular place for a Friday night dinner)’, she learned to prepare it herself with skill matching the cooks at the restaurant. She wanted this parting gift to be a surprise, so she cooked it in their neighbour’s kitchen. She then wrapped it up in an airtight plastic bag and put it in the trunk of the car so he would neither see or smell the food he loved so much. She also brought a plate, a knife and a fork. She wanted him to eat it before he went to the institution where the food would lack variety and certainly be less enticing to Jim.

When they had been in the room for about half an hour, discussing Jim’s ‘case’, Alice told him that she had to go back to the car, to get something that she had meant to give him.  She did not use the word ‘forgotten’.

After she took the Jaeger Schnitzel out of the trunk of the car, she took the plastic cover off so Jim would be able to smell it when she came back to the room, give him something to enjoy before he was shipped out to the institution. Fortunately, taste buds don’t require memory.

Jim got a whiff of it, and for the first time in weeks, a smile crept onto his face. He hurriedly grabbed the cutlery from Alice after she put the plate in the table in front of his chair. He then scoffed it down like he had been starving for days. When he finished his hastily consumed meal, he began to sing a line from a song by Jefferson Airplane, his favourite band of the 1960s,   There was special emphasis on the lines: “Remember, what the the dormouse said, ‘Feed Your Head. Feed Your Head.’” He then stood up and hugged his wife, saying her name several times with great feeling, like it was part of an incantation.

           His memory had returned in a flash of favoured food. It had fed his head. Alice and Jim had Jaeger Schnitzel every week thereafter.

December 11, 2023 14:55

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2 comments

Terry Jaster
06:23 Dec 19, 2023

I really enjoyed this. The use of food as a cure all is something every good German family knows. Thank you for your story and time.

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John Steckley
12:58 Dec 19, 2023

Thanks for your comments. My wife is of German heritage, hence my choice of food in the story.

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