ďThis isnít the first time,Ē she said.
When I woke up I went to check the snake room. Itís pretty much a daily thing. If youíve got live animals you understand that. It may not be first thing in the morning, but itís got to be done just about every day.
So, I step outside my back door to go to the snake room and it looks a bit off, the shadows arenít in the right places and the sky is a different shade of blue from what it normally is, but hey, itís morning and Iím not really paying that much attention. Besides, there was supposed to be a storm coming in later today.
Oddly, there is now a handicapped ramp and set of stairs outside the door of my snake room but I continue on in, knowing that while this is weird, there must be some reasonable explanation. I go with it, Iím that kind of guy. It takes a lot to throw me.
I put my key in the lock. I always, always, lock the door. The key fits, just like it always does, perhaps a tad smoother than usual, but the weather change could account for that. The door swells when rain comes and doesnít when the humidity is down, so a smooth socketing of the key into the lock is not something Iíd ordinarily notice.
When I open the door though, thatís when I begin to think something really bizarre, even for me, is happening. There are no racks. No snakes. No rats. The paneling on the walls is the same but thatís about the only similarity between what I see now and what I saw yesterday.
There are Pothos plants, at least a dozen, probably more, sitting in pots on a shelf that rings the room about a foot and a half from the ceiling. Thereís a glass showcase with a cash register on it and stuff for sale inside it. There are, I think, books and maybe computer components on other shelves and stacked about the room. The floor is still concrete but in here itís been buffed all nice and shiny. No more splats of paint from when Antonio painted the ceiling.
ďCan I help you?Ē asks the man behind the counter, like someone with the key to his front door coming in unannounced is a common occurrence.
ďNo, thanks,Ē I manage to stammer as I turn around and head down the ramp, noticing that there is now a beach and ocean right outside. This is weird, more than weird.
I walk back to my house, where in my world I live alone in the middle of a valley with no water in site and in this place which I now find myself seems to be on some sort ocean front walk. As I am walking towards the house, which is now not only a different shape but larger than it normally is, I see a really big oriental guy in a pink bunny suit, complete with big pink bunny ears, go walking by. He looks at me in a significant way.
I donít know how itís significant, but I know it is. Heís also carrying a couple of 2 maybe 3 year old kids. They are not oriental but seem to enjoy being carried. This guy is huge. Easily 6í4íí, maybe even taller and weighs at least 350 lbs. He could be a sumo wrestler. The bunny suit was obviously made for him, it fits perfectly.
I walk in the back door, which takes me in to the front of the house, which is not the one I went to sleep in last night but I know, I know this deep down, is still my house.
I donít have a single memory. I donít know my name, where I am, who any of the people in the house are and there are a lot of people in there. I start to panic, seriously, I mean I havenít a clue who or where I am, how I got there or what to do. My mind was a total blank, an empty slate. Then I remember that I donít really do panic, from where this memory comes is not known to me but it is there and it is correct. I calm down as soon as I realize that.
I see a girl, a pregnant girl, something my sister is not capable of becoming, who is my sister. I call her by name, not knowing I knew her name until I called her and she answers.
ďDo you know who I amĒ I ask
ďYes, youíre my brother,Ē she says matter of factly, like itís not at all unusual to have people query her about their identity.
Sheís got to be at least 7 months pregnant, sheís huge. She doesnít look much like the sister I remember, even though I know I donít remember what my sister looks like, I know this is her, but not the her I canít recall at the same time.
A man walks in with 2 small children, signs a piece of paper by the door and walks them further into the house, which is fairly bustling with activity. People I canít focus on are coming and going and obviously doing their jobs, though I have not a single clue what those jobs may be. That they are efficient is without question.
I walk through the house, my house, but not at all my house. The rooms are not the same, I know theyíre not the same, but I donít know how theyíre different. There are more of them, that Iím sure of, but I donít know why. This house is far larger. Somehow I wind up back at the front entrance, which I have not used, and find my sister there.
ďCan I talk to you in private?Ē I ask. I try to touch her stomach, something I know I did when the other my sister was pregnant the one time she caught, but this my sister slaps my hand away. Not mean, she just doesnít want me touching her belly. I know itís magical, the growing of life inside her and thatís significant, but I donít know what the significance is. She nods toward a door that opens onto a room, neither of which had been there a second before.
We go in to a bedroom. Thereís a large closet with two huge doors on the wall to the left, a doorway leading to a bathroom on the wall in front of us, a bed immediately to the right as we enter on which we sit, and a hallway to the right of the bathroom door that leads to a larger part of the house. That doorway hadnít been there when we walked in. But the time we sat down, it had always been there. The large oriental man in the bunny suit, still carrying 2 children, though a different pair than I had seen outside, walks by, coming from I donít know where and heading into the rear of the house. Heís taken his bunny ears off. Maybe they rub the ceiling. He looks at me like he knows me or knows something about me, but says nothing.
My sisterís husband, a skinny truck driver, heads into the bathroom. She is waiting patiently for me to speak.
ďI have no clue who I am. I donít know how I got here or where here is. I have no memory of anything before today. I donít even know how I know youíre my sister.Ē
She speaks to her husband, but I canít make out the words. Sheís 2 feet from me, I can hear her just fine, but I canít follow the conversation. He steps out of the bathroom, drying his hands on a towel, and leaves. Without telling me, I know heís got a long distance haul heís got to move.
ďDo you know me?Ē I ask her.
ďYouíre my brother,Ē she answers, not at all put out by my strange, to me at any rate, behavior. She sits and waits patiently for me to speak.
ďI canít remember anything,Ē I say again, or for the first time. Itís getting difficult to remember if Iíve had this conversation with her before. ďI donít know how I got here or who I am or what I should do.Ē
She looks at me, totally non-plussed, not worried or bothered at all.
And then, like itís nothing at all, she says, ďThis isnít the first time.Ē