Someone Else's Story - Page 3

After a deep breath it managed to continue. “I felt like I was a stand-in for a character in a play who had just woken up to the fact that he was a stand-in. I knew everything I needed to know about myself and those around me, liked or disliked things as my character did, but I didn't have any sense of real interaction with people or things because I hadn't had any yet.” It hung its head in misery. “I thought I was going out of my mind.” Privately it admitted to itself that it was trying to play on the man's sympathy to somehow counterbalance any lingering damage from its previous outburst.

It needn't have bothered.

“And what makes you so certain that you haven't?” the man, his tea now set aside, asked it sternly.

Despite everything, it found itself chuckling at the question. “That was the first thing I asked myself, in fact,” it admitted ruefully. “But then I realized that just because I didn't have a sense of attachment to anyone or anything around me, the source of my memories did, and that was something I could confirm, if only to mark off the possibility that I'd always felt this way and somehow just failed to notice. It was a place to start, at least,” it added with a shrug.

That answer seemed to satisfy the man. “Confirm how?” he wanted to know.

“How else?” it asked rhetorically. “I called his mother, nice lady, still sharp, and no more than usually prone to motherly blindness when it comes to her children. We talked over 'old times,' his old times, until I was convinced that he'd grown up normal enough, and then we talked about our . . . their last visit until I was sure he hadn't seemed unusually distant to her, which he hadn't.” It absently polished off the last of its tea. “Since they had last seen each other around the holidays only a couple of months ago, crazy or not, whatever had happened had to have happened recently, otherwise she would have noticed and commented.” Fondness lurked about its smile. “She's that type, you understand?”

The man nodded. “Perfectly, but that hardly proves your sanity.”

“I know,” it said with a grimace, “but I thought if I continued to approach this problem rationally, it'd be a mark in the sanity plus column, you know?” It didn't even pause to give the man time to nod again. “So I kept digging.”

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