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“Then I guess he can’t be all bad.”

Although I’d yet to see it.

“Listen,” I started. “I wanted to say that I’m—”

“No, Ray. I’m the one who’s sorry. I yelled at you.” Tanner shook his head. “I’ve never yelled at you before. I was so mad at myself when I left your house. I should have been sympathetic. You needed a friend and instead I unloaded all my bullshit on you.”

“No, I’m sorry. This has to be difficult on you. My attitude and being so defensive hasn’t been helping any.”

“Well, then I guess it’s settled,” Tanner said. “We’re both sorry.”

“That we are,” I admitted.

“So where should we go first?” Tanner asked, standing up from the dock and reaching out a hand.

“Huh?”

“I came to see you and ran into Nadine, she said you need a memory exorcist.” He pointed at himself with his thumbs. “I’m your guy.”

“You don’t have to do this.” I took his hand and he helped me up. Now it was my turn to shield my eyes from the sun as I looked up at him.

“I know exactly where we should go first,” he said. When I started to pull away he looked down at where his hand still held mine. “Sorry,” he said, letting go. “I can’t promise things like that won’t keep happening. It really is just a habit. But I promise I’ll be more understanding when you pull away.”

“Maybe this isn’t—” I started.

“Dress comfortably. Meet you out front in twenty minutes!” Tanner said, turning and jogging back down the dock. I didn’t feel threatened by Tanner’s affections. In fact, a part of me liked it when he grabbed my hand. Not because I liked him that way, but because it felt nice to know that while I was gone and worried that no one had missed me, that I didn’t have anyone who cared, that Tanner was here all along, missing me.

With our son.

Chapter Eleven

Doe

Everything in Ray’s closet, my closet, was light in color. Beyond the slatted bi-fold doors was a sea of white, yellow, and pink. Mostly sundresses, Jackie-O looking skirt-suits, and blouses that button up to the neck. It’s not that anything was ugly. On contrary, it was really beautiful. A little conservative, but beautiful. But I wished for the clothes I’d left back at Kings. Black tank tops, snug fit jeans, and flip-flops.

All were chosen and bought for me, courtesy of Preppy.

Which was another reason I probably loved them so much.

I ran my hands over the different fabrics on the closet and wondered how in the span of a few months my taste could change so drastically. Or maybe I always liked my comfy clothes, but just hadn’t been able to speak my mind.

Maybe when I lost my memory, I grew a pair of balls.

After a little further searching I had found a few things I felt comfortable in and after a quick shower I put on a pair of black Converse sneakers, a black V-neck, and a pair of ripped jean shorts. I met Tanner out in front of the house as he’d instructed. He pulled up in a newer model shiny black truck with bright chrome accents. Something had been done to it to make it a lot taller than most trucks on the road, which got me to thinking about another black truck. More of a farm style truck from the sixties or seventies, and the man who looked so good driving it. “Mommy!” Sammy shouted from the backseat, bringing me back to the present, and my heart did a little skip.

“Let’s go make some memories!” Tanner said, rounding the truck to open the door for me.

During the entire half of an hour ride, Sammy babbled endlessly. I was impressed with Tanner’s patience, especially when Sammy let out a high-pitched screech that could only be described as a pterodactyl scream and Tanner only laughed and shrugged his shoulders. “He does that when he’s frustrated.” Tanner pursed his lips. “And when he’s happy, and when he’s upset, and when…he does it all the time,” he admitted. We turned off on an exit marked Indian Reservation. We crossed under a sign made out of bent branches that announced that the place was called ALLIGATOR FUN LAND. Sammy squealed with delight when Tanner took him out of his car seat and the second his little feet hit the ground he raced through the gates in front of us.

We chased Sammy from exhibit to exhibit. The entire time, Tanner talked me through what we’d done there before. What I’d said. What I had thought about the flamingos or the turtles. Anything to connect the past to the present and trigger a memory. Most of the time, I just smiled and nodded as I watched the little boy of energy that was my son run circles around us.

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