Absidee Clemens swatted at the alarm as it screamed out at her from the nearby nightstand. She turned it off and made herself sit up. She stretched her neck from side to side and took a deep breath. The pillow and warm covers were calling her back to a sleeping position, but there was no time. Her life was a strict routine, and if she took one step outside of that routine, everything might come tumbling down.
She walked quietly to the kitchen first where she turned on the radio to a classic country station. She pulled a bowl down from the cupboard and pulled two paper towels from the roll. She laid one paper towel down on the table and set the bowl on top of it. She then folded the second paper towel in half and laid it to the left of the bowl. Her next task was to retrieve a spoon from the drawer to the left of the sink, and a banana from the counter behind the chair at the head of the table. She set the spoon on the folded napkin and laid the banana to the right of the bowl.
Going up on tiptoe to reach a pot from the top shelf, she then filled it with water and set in on the stove to boil. The oatmeal came down from the same cupboard as the bananas, and while the water boiled she went out to the front porch to get the newspaper.
The sun was already warm on her face, and she lifted her chin slightly to let the rest of her skin bask in the warmth. Spring hadn't given way to Summer just yet, but the temperatures were more consistently hot than just warm, and cold days were completely behind them. Wishing she could stay outside and let the grass tickle the bottoms of her feet for a few moments longer while she soaked up the sun, Absidee turned back into the house with the newspaper.
She fished out the Local News section and set it on the table next to the banana. The rest of the paper she folded back up and set just above the bowl. She poured a glass of milk to place above the spoon, then waited next to the stove until the water boiled. Once it began bubbling, she poured in just the right amount of oatmeal, and stirred it occasionally until the hot cereal was at the right consistency.
Once the oatmeal was in the bowl and she had powered brown sugar and cinnamon over the top, the hardest task of her morning had to be completed. Absidee left the kitchen and walked back down the hallway. She caught a glimpse of her bed, still calling to her, but she ignored it and kept going, down to her grandfather's room.
"Good morning, Grandpa," Absidee said in a singsong voice. She flipped on the light, but the old man didn't even stir. "Come on, Grandpa. It's a beautiful morning. Your breakfast is all ready and hot for you. If you get up now, by the time we get down to the kitchen, the oatmeal will be the perfect temperature."
His eyes slowly opened and he frowned at her. The reason behind that frown would more than likely tell her how the rest of her day was going to go. Instead of the usual impending confusion though, her grandfather's frown gradually turned to a smile and - to Absidee's complete delight - a look of recognition.
"Sidee," he grinned. "What are you doing here? Came to visit your old grandpa?"
Okay, so maybe he didn't remember that she had moved back home months ago or into the same house with him, but at least he remembered her. "Something like that. Are you hungry?"
Absidee helped him sit up, then brought his walker in front of him and helped him stand. She walked slowly behind him while he shuffled down the hall to the kitchen, then helped him lower down to his chair.
"Oatmeal is my favorite. How did you know?"
"Just a wild guess," she replied, kissing his cheek. "I'm gonig to take a fast shower. Think you can stay out of trouble until then?"
He didn't reply as he was too busy peeling the banana to give her an answer. She smiled briefly before making sure the baby monitor on top of the microwave was turned on and taking the receiver into the bathroom with her so that she could hear for any trouble her grandfather did manage to stir up while she cleaned herself up.
As bad as he wanted to remember, he couldn't make himself conjure up the words the woman across the table was asking him to repeat. She'd given him three easy words to repeat to her just a few minutes before, and he'd seen them in his mind like a mental pencil writing the words onto a notepad. Now, however, she was asking him to repeat the words and he couldn't find the page on the notepad where he'd jotted them down.
Beau Montgomery shook his head. "I'm sorry. I don't remember."
"That's okay," Dr. Turner smiled. "This is just to feel out what's going on, Beau. It wasn't a graded test, and even telling me you don't remember isn't a wrong answer."
He nodded. Her soft tone and easy demeanor helped him relax some, which seemed to help with his memory sometimes, too.
When Beau's family first moved away from the North Carolina town he'd grown up in and moved to Kansas, he wasn't exactly thrilled - more so because of the reason for the move. Things seemed to be looking up in the first couple of weeks though. The two motocross tracks he'd found weren't bad at all, and his new neurosurgeon, Dr. Turner, was a nice lady who didn't hold herself all high and mighty like a lot of brain doctors did. He only hoped that her personality wouldn't be the only thing different from the other doctors; after all, if she couldn't fix him, what was the point in coming here?
"All right, I'm going to ask you some more easy questions that you should be able to pull from long term memory for, okay?" Dr. Turner asked.
"Ask away," Beau said with a shrug.
"Great. What's your full name?"
"Beaumont Rushmore Montgomery." He smiled and continued, "You know, they always say to watch out for guys with multiple first names. What about a guy with three last names?"
Dr. Turner chuckled. "Humor well in tact, that's a very good sign. How old are you, Beau?"
"I'll be twenty-six next month."
"And where were you born?"
"Onslow Memorial Hospital, in Jacksonville, North Carolina. I weighed seven pounds and two ounces, and all the nurses knew I was going to be a heart breaker."
"How could they not?" Dr. Turner replied, playing along. "Tell me about your parents."
Beau gave her his parents' first names, ages, and dates and places of birth. He relayed how the couple had met and when they got married, and then told her about how unexpected he had been, eight years into his parents' marriage.
"So no brothers and sisters?" she asked.
"All righty, then I think we're done for today. Come back tomorrow afternoon, we'll do some tests and go from there, okay?"
More tests. Great, Beau thought to himself. Oh well. If Dr. Turner could take the answers to all those questions and the results of all the tests and fix his memory, then it would be well worth the frustration.
Absidee and her grandfather had gotten through the morning rather uneventfully by the time the nurse parked in the driveway and waved cheerfully at both of them.
"Hello, Mac," she greeted cheerfully. "Good to see you, Sid."
"Hi, Julie. Good to see you, too," Absidee smiled. "Grandpa, this is Julie. She's going to keep you company for a few hours while I go to work, okay?"
"When did you get old enough to work, Sidee?"
"Since I could see over the counter and Dad decided it would be a good idea to teach me responsibility, I suppose. Julie, all of his medicine is out on the counter. He had breakfast, but he may ask for some lunch soon. I'll be home by dinner."
"Don't worry," Julie assured her. "We've got everything under control."
And Absidee didn't doubt that at all. Julie had been her grandfather's nurse for the last year and a half, and had quickly picked up on Mac's routine. Absidee had been away at college then, making the three hour drive home one or two weekends out of the month to keep up with the family. Julie understood how important routine and stability were for an advanced Alzheimer's patient. She did the best she could, but after a year or so, it was pretty clear that Mac was going to need round the clock care.
She tried to put all the thoughts out of her head for now as she pulled her car around the back of her father's motorcycle shop. When Absidee had left college to come home and live with her grandfather, her father had immediately put her back behind the parts counter where she had worked most of her teenage years. Although she didn't want for much and her bills were minimal living with family, it gave her good income for the things she did need and a little pocket money to keep her going.
Michael Clemens was nowhere to be found, but Absidee figured her father was out on business. Just as well; the other parts clerk was looking a little overwhelmed with the line forming that morning, and Absidee hurried to help.
"Just let me get clocked in, Bill. I'll have us good to go in no time."
The mid-forties man smiled. "I don't doubt that at all, Sid. If a couple of you gentlemen would like to move over to this next register, this pretty lady will get you helped out."
Three of the five customers moved over to Absidee's line, and she helped them as quickly and politely as she could. More customers streamed in, and just as the line seemed to diminish, it began to grow again.
"What's with the sudden crowd?" she wondered out loud.
"Night races start this weekend," Bill reminded her. "You don't race the first one, you don't place at the end of the season."
Absidee frowned. "Oh, that's right. I remember now."
"Are you going to race?"
"Not sure. Depends on Grandpa, I suppose."
Bill didn't say anything further on the subject; he didn't need to. He was well aware of the situation with his boss's father. He felt sorry for Absidee sometimes; a girl who took awhile to find herself in the first place shouldn't have to put her new life on hold for anything. Still, he knew Absidee to be a girl greatly loyal to her family, and wouldn't have expected anything else from her.
"How long have you been on, Bill?"
"Few hours. Your dad was in this morning, but had to go talk to some people about sponsoring the race this weekend, and then had an appointment with the advertisers. I've been covering for him since we opened."
"Take a short break, if you want. I can take care of these guys, no problem."
"Wouldn't have offered if I wasn't." She disappeared into the rows of shelves to find the part that her current customer needed, and then returned to the counter. The man agreed it was the part he was looking for, so Absidee rang him out and waited for her next customer to approach the counter.
After leaving the doctor, Beau had gone straight home and got to work in the garage on his dirt bike. It had been a couple months since he had raced, but since Dr. Turner had given him the okay for the time being, he was wasting no time in getting his machine up to par. He had to take a few things apart, but he finally found the part he needed to replace.
Of course, after just a few minutes, he'd forgotten what that part was. Frustrated, he pulled the notepad and pen out of his back pocket and got to work again with what was in front of him. He put everything back together and started from square one. As soon as he'd figured it out again, he jotted it down on the notepad, put that and the pen back in his pocket, and grabbed his keys. He was thankful for the GPS navigator on the dash of his car, otherwise he'd have forgotten where he was going entirely until he'd been driving around for awhile.
Beau's memory hadn't always been this bad. It started out that he just forgot simple things, like anyone else would. He forgot where he had just set his keys down. He forgot the chores his mother had just asked him to do. He forgot the name of the boss he'd just sat down to a job interview with. Things that could be blamed on rushing or not paying attention or nerves. But then it started to get worse, and his father noticed that Beau was forgetting more than half of the things he needed to remember within just a few minutes of being told those things. He could come back an hour later and relay an entire conversation, but it was as though his mind took too long to download the information in order for Beau to recall it immediately.
The first doctor he'd seen had diagnosed him with adult-onset ADD. After a month of medication though, Beau's condition was only worse. The second and third doctors each referred him to a different neurologist. It was that second neurologist who finally referred him to Dr. Turner. The months in between doctors, however, had allowed Beau's memory to continually degrade. At this point, living anywhere but with his parents was out of the question. What if there was an emergency and by the time a 911 operator answered, Beau forgot why he was calling? He couldn't hold a job because it took too long to remember the different procedures he had just been told. Whatever it was that was causing Beau's memory to slip away had taken away his options for independence.
He found a parking spot not too far from the front door, and a bored teenager pointed him in the direction of the parts counter. There was only one register open, but with only one other customer in front of him, Beau figured waiting wouldn't be a problem.
He was surprised to see a girl maybe just a little younger than him emerge from the rows of shelves behind the counter, and explain the finer points of installing the point to the man ahead of him. The girl knew her stuff.
"All right, John. We'll put it on your charge. Have a good one." She waved to the man leaving the store before turning her attention to Beau. "Hi, what can I do for you?"
Beau pulled the notepad out of his pocket and handed her the list. "I need these parts, please."
She surveyed the things he'd jotted down and nodded. "Not a problem. I'll be right back with you, okay?"
"Sure." Beau watched as she disappeared again, without the list in hand. He left it on the counter just in case she needed to double-check it when she came back.
"I grabbed a different brand of spark plug than you had written down here, but I think you'll like it better. If you don't, come back and we'll exchange it out for the original brand."
She glanced at him with a faint smile as she began ringing up his purchases. "You're new around here, aren't you?"
"Yeah, how'd you know?"
"We don't get new customers very often. Usually when we do, they've just moved to town." She stopped just before ringing up the last part and extended her hand. "I'm Absidee."
"Pretty name," Beau said without thinking. "I'm Beau."
"Nice to meet you, Beau. And thank you." She found an empty cardboard box behind the counter just the right size for the parts he needed and placed everything in there. She gave him his total, and he pulled a card from his wallet. "And here's a business card for you. If you want to call ahead next time, I can have everything ready for you."
"Great, thank you … um … um …" Why couldn't he remember her name? He remembered it was a unique name and he'd thought it was pretty - fitting for the brunette behind the counter - but he just couldn't remember."
"Absidee," she smiled. "Most everyone calls me Sid though, if that's easier."
"Absidee," Beau smiled back. "Thank you, Absidee. I'll see you around."
"See ya," she called after him.
Beau set the box in the bed of his truck once he was outside and got in the driver's seat. He put the key in the ignition, but didn't start the engine. Instead, he first pulled the notepad from his back pocket along with the pen, and jotted down the one thing he wanted to remember out of all the things the girl had told him while he'd been in the shop.
She watched the young man exit the store and was thankful for the brief pause in customers. Although dating was out of the question right now - she couldn't risk letting dates or boyfriends interrupt her grandfather's routine - sometimes Abisdee let her mind entertain the idea of what it would be like to date a boy she'd just met.
Beau seemed nice enough, if maybe just a little odd. He had crystal blue eyes and sandy brown hair and he was tall. Absidee liked tall. Her mind entertained images of walking together hand in hand to the concession stand at the motocross track, or sitting together on the swing on her grandfather's front porch, leaning against each other and just watching the night pass by them.
The bell over the door alerted her to a new customer's presence, and Absidee slowly let those thoughts slip away. Maybe one day she'd be able to have a relationship, but for the time being, there were more important things that needed her attention.