Friday 28 April 2023

Trial by Lisa Rodriguez, sweet tea

Abby gazed down at the linoleum floor with orange squares and yellow flowers. She tapped her right foot. Solid. The plywood den walls and cord-connected phone, which hung next to the open kitchen, complemented the 70ish styled theme. A hundred recollections rushed into her mind simultaneously.

Dad’s gigantic dinner table still dominated the center of the room. Way too big for a family of four. The only inside illumination came from the kitchen, where a California Raisin commercial glowed on the 11-inch TV.

This must be a memory from the late 80s. But where is everyone? 

She glanced out the window.

Snow? Oh yeah! The winter of 1989. The last time it snowed. They’re outside, enjoying dad’s old radio flyer sled.

A loud clank emanated from the kitchen. Abby’s heart skipped when she saw a glimpse of her mother taking one of her famous chicken pot pies from the oven before disappearing around the corner.

‘Mom,’ Abby whispered, squinting her eyes to fight off tears. She glanced at the timer on her wrist. It flickered the number three in neon green. ‘Three minutes to go,’ she murmured.

Abby puffed her chest and stepped into her family’s kitchen. There was her mother, dressed in a typical blue skirt and colored blouse. For this memory, it was a pink one. The two colors looked amazing against her mom's chestnut-dyed hair draping her shoulders.

On the stove sat the pie along with buttered green beans and Pillsbury dough biscuits, the ones with flaky layers. The aromas of salted meat and fresh bread made Abby's mouth water.

She gulped and took another step. ‘Uh, mom?’

Her mother dropped her wooden spoon and spun around. A small gasp escaped her lips. Her hazel eyes stared into Abby’s.

Abby moved closer with outstretched arms, but then stopped short. Her arms became limp.

‘Mother, listen to me. I’m Abby, older Abby, and all this is from your memory. We’re in your mind, not the kitchen. It’s not the 1980s.’ She sighed. ‘I'm here to keep this memory alive. Something is trying to eat your memories, so you’ll forget us. You’ve got to fight it when it comes.’

Her mother kept her gaze steady, as if nothing had changed.

Abby waved her hand in front of her mother’s face. Still emptiness. Her brow furrowed. ‘Mom?’

‘No!’ her mother said, shaking her head. ‘You aren’t Abby. You’re an intruder. A liar.’

Her mother shoved her back with both hands. Abby stumbled before using the corner of the fridge to stand up. The thumps of her heart banging against her ears. 

‘Get out of my house!’ Her mom let out a scream and started yanking at her own hair.

The entire room shook. Old magazines toppled from the top of the fridge one by one. The hanging pots and pans clanked together in dissonance. Even the dish towel tumbled off its hook. 

A crack materialized overhead. Abby watched it rip across the ceiling, zigzagging the great divide. The tearing sound of fabric and ghostly wails.

The sirens blared from her timer, flashing green, blue, green, blue, and like clockwork, the portal materialized.

It was time to go.

She shot a glance at her mom. Rainbow glass had replaced her hazel eyes. Eventually, her whole body would reflect multiple hues of color before disintegrating into a thousand fragments, gone for eternity to the monster of sickness.

Abby wiped away her tears and rushed through the opening.

‘Welcome home, Abby Givens.’ She heard Dr. Cho’s voice first, before anything else. ‘The year is 2037. Don’t move until I unhook you.’

She felt a stabbing sensation in her arm, followed by a series of pops near her head.

‘Okay, you’re good to go. Take it slow.’

‘How’d I do?’ She asked the doctor, opening her eyes. She pushed up from the medical lab bed.

‘Fantastic for an initial trial’ She paused. ‘Your mother’s memory is depleting faster than I realized. To stop the disease from advancing, we need her to fight from the inside. This requires the conscious to realize what is happening.’ Dr. Cho put her hand on Abby’s shoulder. ‘Don’t worry. Together, we will find a cure.’

Abby glanced across the lab at her frail, 90-year-old mom, still trapped in her Alzheimer’s state of frozenness.

‘Yeah, but when?’

About the author 

Lisa Rodriguez lives with her husband and three year old in Washington State. She loves reading and writing all types of fiction. When not writing, she enjoys hiking and traveling. 


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