Partition

Chapter 5

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Photo provided by Shutterstock.com

Kyle Cunningham, Staff Writer

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Five days. The party would come to fruition in five days. I remember dreadfully recalling this fact as I drove to work Monday morning; I hadn’t been terrorized by the party since the previous night. The Pain, too, had kept silence until this car ride. The morning with Elise, it seemed, had suppressed the attendance, or existence or whatever term one would use to define the presence of uncomfortable things, of both of the two Torturers, leaving me in relaxed tranquility.

“Jan!” she cried indignantly. “Jan! JAN.” “Ehhhuh?” “You just missed your sixth alarm. I swear, you lost your convictions with your memory. You never used to be this slow in the mornings!” Elise called from the kitchen. I rolled over, apparently for the sixth time. “Come on Jan,” she commanded. “You can’t be late. It’s your first day at your job. You know, the one you’ve had for twenty years or so.” I responded with the ordinal “Uhhffff.”

About ten minutes later, after the seventh alarm and about 45 minutes past the first, I finally rose. It was not for the alarm’s sake; it was barely for Elise. It was for food. Oh, how I love breakfast! I feel I have always loved it, although I cannot profess with any degree of certainty that I have. Perhaps it was always a passion, perhaps my adoration for the meal only sprouted after I lost my memory. But I do love it now, very dearly. It is plainly false whenever a heretic proclaims there is no value in the most important of daily meals. Whenever I hear it, I am struck with pity for a soul in sorrier shape than Job. Breakfast is serene. Wonderfully sweet foods, rich smooth coffee on par with Zeus’ ambrosia, and the calm conversations that can only happen over a Belgian waffle. Maybe even French toast, if you’re lucky. So, it was breakfast for which I woke up. It was breakfast that kept Pain, the tyrant, at bay. It was breakfast that held the unpleasant thoughts of a party, unfortunately necessary, away. The early hours, awake before the sun, the people, the traffic.

The traffic… At 8:30 on a Monday, traffic in Warsaw is atrocious. The Greater Warsaw Area is beautiful; however, one isn’t allowed to think of beauty on the way to work. It would behoove me, at this time, to give a bit of context. I live in Warsaw, Poland. I do now; I did then, or so I am told. It is a nice town, that is all I care to say on the matter. As for how I recalled the route, I did not. My path was decided by Elise and a GPS; Elise, the address, the GPS, the course. Now, on the subject of driving, my ability was undeterred by amnesia. I presume that it was much like riding a bike, or speaking, for that matter. Full disclosure, I never gave it a second thought until I was on 719 in the middle of rush hour. “Huh,” I spoke aloud, barely containing laughter. “I guess I can drive.” I then began to think that if I could drive, a man who can only remember less than forty-eight hours of his life, why couldn’t these other ignoramuses. I realized, on the drive to work that Monday, that I was not a very pleasant driver. As though by instinct, my hand constantly floated to the center of my steering wheel. HONK. A chorus began, as the sun rose over west Warsaw. I was the conductor. The sitting, the staring, the sounds; all provided a weak defense for thoughts of my pain and the party to launch a counterassault. The Axis Alliance did not disappoint.

First was the party, more of an anxious enemy. Elise had told me she would prepare me, and I was unsure of how she would manage. The risk of making a fool of myself was large, as the two of us were fully banking on the hopes that my memory would surge back into my brain. What if it didn’t? Elise’s plan was to essentially play the part of teacher in the week leading up to the party. We would study faces, put them with names and tastes. I was unsettled by this idea; it seemed unnatural. However, I had no alternative. I felt that the plan may not work; what if I were not a very good student? Thoughts of the party were very daunting at first. They were not to last very long, though. I would say it consumed about fifteen minutes on 719. By the time I was in downtown Warsaw, where my office is, I had moved on. The thought was simply not as pressing as the Pain.

Having afforded me a nearly twelve-hour reprieve, Pain decided to take center stage once more. Just around the time I entered Warsaw, my companion made himself known. I knew better than to swerve, as debilitating as his performances can be, so I screamed instead. Not a whiny, soprano scream; it was a terrible, guttural bellow. I felt as if my own eardrums were at risk, but there was simply no other way. My vocal chords and ear drums were my soldiers, tasked with shouldering the intermittent Blitzkreig of my pain. In this setting, as traffic failed to subside, and Pain grew with the minute, I finally opened myself to Warsaw. I had no choice. I wanted to die, partially, but one can’t simply die by thinking it. If it were possible, it would have been done. Since I couldn’t die, I did what any rational person would do: I embraced life. I rolled my window down, my screaming giving quite the scare to the Warsaw city life. The early morning air and the sun-tinted sky proved to be the cavalry that would put down Pain, at least temporarily. I smiled, and five minutes later I was at work. 9:00. I thought it would be better to wake up earlier the next morning to beat the traffic.

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