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Devi’s sigh was soft but audible in the near silence of the car. “You really don’t like cars, do you?”

“My family says I used to,” I said, without opening my eyes or letting go of the handle. “I got my license the day I turned sixteen. I got my first car six months later. Paid for it with my own money and everything—I’d been saving since I was eleven.”

“But you don’t remember any of that.”

“No. None of it.” I forced my eyes open, if only so I could be sure that Devi was watching the road, not watching me. Her face was turned reassuringly forward. I relaxed a little, but still didn’t let go of the handle. “I know I always say this, but I say it because it’s the truth: I don’t remember anything before waking up in the hospital.”

Just the dark, the hot warm dark, and the distant sound of drums that never stopped their pounding…

“I can’t even imagine,” said Devi. She paused before adding, thoughtfully, “Well, some selective amnesia would be welcome. Like my first college girlfriend, or my high school boyfriend. I could easily deal with forgetting either one of them.”

“You had a boyfriend?”

“I had a mother, and my mother had a lot of friends with kids my age, and my mother and her friends all wanted grandchildren very, very badly. Anand was nice, he was my age, and he seemed like a good prospect for a respectable marriage.” Devi slanted a wicked look in my direction, there and gone before I could worry about her taking her eyes off the road. “The funny part is, I didn’t end it.”


“No. He did, when he showed up at the Homecoming dance with a different date and an apology for making me waste money on my own corsage.” Her laugh was bright in the confined car. Beverly shifted in the backseat, making a curious buffing noise. “The replacement date’s name was Nikhil. In case you don’t know enough about Indian names to get the joke, it’s a boy’s name.”

“Oh,” I said. “Well, I guess that made your coming out a little less awkward.”

“Not really. At least Nikhil was Indian. Still is, presumably—I haven’t spoken with Anand in years.” Her tone was light, intentionally more conversational than our previous relationship would justify. She was trying to keep me relaxed. Surprisingly enough, it was working. “Katherine is both incapable of giving my parents grandchildren unless we turn to medical science and she’s a white girl from the Midwest. I couldn’t even marry a nice Indian lesbian. Oh, the shame of it all.”

I laughed a little. “I guess when you look at it that way…”

“It helps.” Devi slanted another glance in my direction. Her hands were still steady on the wheel, and I found that I minded less when she took her eyes off the road, as long as she didn’t do it for long. “Like I was saying, though, I can’t imagine not remembering those pieces of myself. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for the things that happened to me yesterday, no matter how much I did or didn’t like them. You’re handling things a lot better than I would.”

“I might not be this calm if the memory loss was partial, but I don’t remember anything. This is the only version of me that I’ve ever known.” I shrugged. “I forgot everything. I wouldn’t even know I’d forgotten, if people didn’t tell me. These last six years have sort of been my childhood? But they’re my adulthood, too. It’s weird. I am not a social model that exists outside my own skin.”

Devi looked faintly embarrassed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think.”

“No, it’s okay. Everyone gets around to asking eventually, and I figure driving me home gets you privileges.” I leaned back in the seat, finally releasing the handle above the door. “Everyone who knew me before the accident—who knew Sally, I mean, since I don’t even feel like I can legitimately claim to be her—says I’m much nicer now. I have a personality, which was a worry for a little while, since they thought there might be brain damage. It’s just not the same one. I don’t stress about the missing memories anymore. I stress about the thought that someday, if I’m not careful, they might come back. And that’s when I don’t know what I would do.”

“You’re good for Nathan,” said Devi, and followed this seeming non sequitur by moving over a lane, heading for the exit that would take us to my street. “I was a little leery when he started dating you. It’s not my place to dictate his personal life, but he’s my friend as well as my colleague, and I was concerned.”

“Everyone was concerned,” I said. My parents had been at the head of that particular line of anxious people, convinced that Nathan was taking advantage of me by getting into a relationship with someone who had only recently been wearing a soy-paper gown, even if he hadn’t known that when we met. We’d been able to bring them around, but it had taken time, and showing over and over that Nathan wasn’t just good for me, he was great for me. I liked to think that I was the same for him.

“He has good taste in women,” said Devi serenely. “I’m not making a pass or anything here—my wife would murder me—but you should trust me, because I am an absolute expert on quality women.”

I smiled. “I’m glad to know that I’m acceptable.” Then I pointed toward a house about four down the street from our current position. “That’s me.”