Tell Me Who I Am
A short story about a serial killer facing dementia, the daughter of one of her victims bent on revenge, and mothers who don’t know when to stop.
Kitty had dementia — she was sure of it. But how could you tell? Could you feel your brain shrink and millions of neurons packing their bags before their departure? Dementia was the rude houseguest because here you were, flashing vacancy signs for all your organs to take up residence, free of charge, and then one of them decided it was time to torch the joint. Because maybe it was bored. Maybe it didn’t like your cooking all those years and revenge was best served decades cold with a heaping side of plaque and loss of executive functioning.
Kitty had no means to evict. No way of fighting back. All she could do was get a hose and temper the flames. When the hose ran out of water and the fire spread, all she wanted to do was cry in a sink of water. If only she were the crying kind. If only she could remember where the fucking sink was. A year later, she’d also forget how to bend her head down to the sink and immerse herself in the water. Bu she wouldn’t forget how to die because that’s the one thing the brain remembers.
Dementia is losing yourself, by degrees. Your mind on the lamb with no place to go. So, it wanders lost without a guidebook or map — never reaching its destination.
But when did it start? Was it when Kitty couldn’t remember where she put the grocery bags filled only with gallons of orange juice even though she’d made a list — she knew she’d made a list. She was sure of it. Although she was tempted to turn her house upside down to find the juice if she had to, something gnawed at her. Made her stop. Told her the bags were in the car.
That was two years ago.
Kitty had long since forgotten about the day with the missing six bags of orange juice in the trunk because now she sometimes couldn’t remember where she’d left the car or whether she had one at all. Did she even know how to drive?
Kitty knew she had dementia when someone finally told her. But that was another conversation she’d soon forget. Vaguely she recalled the tests taken, the words, we should’ve gotten this sooner (the doctor)…