What is There to Leave Behind?

“You have twenty minutes to write down as much as you can on this piece of paper before we erase your memory,” the Doctor explained and slid a blank sheet of paper across the table. “It is entirely up to you how much you write. If you even want to write anything.”

“Thank you,” I said without looking up.

I placed the tip of the pen against the top left corner of the paper expecting that even though I hadn’t been able to decide what to write beforehand that it would just come to me. The Doctor left the room and sealed me alone with the stark white walls and furniture. It was as spotless as my memory would be in twenty minutes. And the paper would match it if I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to remember.

With no family, friends or relationships to speak of it wasn’t even worth a single word to talk about what had happened to them or why I was alone. Better and easier to start with a clean slate than to begin my life anew by reading about the pain and heartbreak I suffered.

What I could write about are the innumerable talents that I possess, but I can’t trust that somebody won’t read the document while I’m undergoing treatment and work out that they could use me. That will just have to be something I rediscover on my own and hopefully put to better use than I did the first time around.

I run through every memory good or bad that comes to mind and decide that none of it is worth remembering. The childhood growing up in foster homes and orphanages always on the run from something or someone. Having to fend for myself from the age of twelve because I was too clever for my own good. Being drafted into the Movement and discovering that I was not the smartest, fastest or bravest kid around. None of it was necessary for the future me to know.

As the door opened and I realised that I didn’t have any more time I wrote the only three words that I knew would help me.

I flipped the sheet of paper before the Doctor could read what I had written or see how little there was. If he was going to read it anyway he could easily turn it over, but he had promised that they were not interested in knowing any details of their patients’ lives. Past or future.

“Are you ready?” he asked, looking at the clipboard in his hands.

“What happens If I’m not?” I asked as I rested the pen in a position that I would know if it had been moved. Before I remembered that in a minute I wouldn’t know I had done it in the first place.

“We go ahead with the procedure anyway. We just ask so that you can pretend you are making the final decision before we begin.”

“Because I’ll remember that it was my decision in a minute,” I responded sarcastically.

“Some people find it comforting,” the Doctor said, heading towards the door.

“People are idiots. How can they forget that this isn’t happening by choice just because you ask them a basic question?”

The Doctor shrugged and said, “When you forget what you’re doing here read your note and then get up and follow the blinking lights on the floor and walls.”

“How am I supposed to remember to follow those instructions if I forget everything?” I asked, but he closed the door before hearing me out.

I didn’t know how the memory wipe was going to happen to me, just that I would forget everything. So while I still could I closed my eyes and took myself back to my favourite place. I held onto the memory for but a moment before I forgot what I was doing.

When I opened my eyes I saw an unfamiliar white room with a blinking sign on the door ahead of me. Read, it said.

I looked down and pushed aside the pen to uncover the blank piece of paper. I didn’t know how I was supposed to read nothing until I flipped the page over. The three words jumped off of the page at me and the strange calmness I had been feeling disappeared.

I almost tripped over the chair as I rushed to put my back against the wall behind me.

The three words could have been written by anyone but the writing seemed oddly familiar even though I couldn’t say why. The message however was simple and one that I knew I had to follow.

Don’t trust anyone.


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