Marguerite was ten steps away from the locker room when she realized she forgot to check if she had locked her car doors. It had only been a habit to check and double check the car doors for a few weeks, but Marguerite couldn’t do anything without checking…and sometimes vlogging herself doing it so that if she forgot, she could just look at her private social image-sharing account. She used to boast to anyone who would listen, and sometimes to those who happened to be within earshot, of her impeccable memory. Locker combinations, class schedules, menu items, board of directors, starting rosters of her favorite sports teams — all she had to do was study those printed lists for three to five minutes and it was filed away in her brain.
Something changed when she was a junior in college, though, because it took more than five minutes to commit to memory the names of the rookies on the volleyball team. She was on the team captain; if anyone should know their names, it would be the team captain. There were only six names to remember and she could only recall four of them easily, because they were short and rhymed. Lori, Glory, and Zoe. Marguerite didn’t want to alarm the coaches unnecessarily, so she didn’t tell anyone. She didn’t even worry about it initially — she figured it was just stress. Being a junior meant she had to pick classes strategically not only to fulfill the requirements of her applied statistics and data science major but also the general education requirements.
If only the names of her new teammates were the only instance, but the memory lapses continued. She couldn’t always remember if she’d brushed her teeth before going to bed or if she’d swapped out her dirty practice clothes for clean ones. Routine activities that she’d previously hardly had to think about were suddenly consistently in the spotlight of her mental checklist. It had been a couple of months since her memory began to fizzle, and while Marguerite still wasn’t alarmed, she was becoming increasingly frustrated. Forgetting to check if she’d locked her car doors when she was so close to the locker room was the first likely scenario among many subsequent ones that could offer a modicum of rationality for the strange events that befell Marguerite over the next several months.
She resisted the urge to go back to her car. She trusted that she’d locked the doors even if she couldn’t remember if she’d done so. The idea of walking down two flights of stairs and crossing a courtyard to student parking wasn’t appealing either. Marguerite proceeded into the locker room and changed into her practice uniform. Midge, her co-captain, was supposed to meet her to go over some pancake maneuvers, but she wasn’t in the locker room or in the gym. Obnoxiously punctual Midge was late. Marguerite reached for her phone to make sure she had the time and date right but couldn’t find any record of it in the calendar app. She sent Midge a text.
So Midge, are we practicing today or what?
I thought we were going to go over pancakes.
But we already did…two days ago ’cause you said you and Patrick had to finish a project together tonight.
Right, that’s right. hahah.
Marguerite opened the calendar again and there it was: Patrick project. Library. 8pm.
She undressed and redressed back into her normal clothes as fast as she could and braked hard at the opening of the roundabout at the center of the campus. There were four libraries and her calendar didn’t indicate which one she was to meet Patrick. She texted him, hoping that he wasn’t already at one of them otherwise it’d be quite likely that the message wouldn’t reach him in a timely fashion. Marguerite’s eyes flitted between her phone and her rearview mirror as she waited at the mouth of the roundabout and thinking about what Midge had texted her. She had no memory of practice two days ago.
A car approached from behind, prompting Marguerite to drive a lap around the roundabout and then pull into the guest parking spots in front of the food hall. She pulled her dark brown hair into a low ponytail and checked her phone. No word from Patrick. Right as she was about to start calling the libraries to ask if a lanky, bronze-skinned male with a tattoo of a snake around the back of his bald head was waiting impatiently by the circulation desk, she saw him walking towards her car. She honked and he slowed to a stop. She opened the door and waved him over.
“Hey, Patrick,” she said noticing the unlocked passenger side door. “Get in.”
Patrick slid in and Marguerite pressed the power lock button.
“So, which library is it?”
Patrick’s jacket pocket started to play a lullaby. He took out his phone, looked at the screen, and then turned his attention back to Marguerite.
“You forgot again.”
“I guess so,” Marguerite said more confused than ever.