May 20, 2008
“Eric? Eric Rempton?” The doctor picked up his penlight and waved it in Eric’s eyes. The orbs of vibrant blue lazily followed the beam of light across and back. With the shake of his head, the doctor spun on his heals to the nurse. “Is he alright?’ said the nurse. The doctor looked down. “I’m a little worried about the symptoms during his attack. He complained of a headache and described seeing in double vision.” The nurse nodded. “It sounds ominous…” She pulled her clipboard. “He’s already on file here, but it’s been awhile; twenty-four years it’s been?” “Yes, Eric hasn’t been in the hospital in twenty-four years. I would like you to update his information in to the database.” The doctor looked down the clipboard. “Get him into the MRI, then back to his room please.”

Eric’s vision came into focus. He put his palm to his face and reached over the pull the IV out of his forearm. His clothes were neatly folded and on top of a chair. The nurse ran in and pursed her lips at the sight. Eric had pulled off all the wires that connected him to the machines. A plethora of beeps and tones rung through out the hospital room. “Mr. Rempton? What are you doing?” Eric looked like a child getting caught stealing from the cookie jar. After the first initial reaction, his composure calmed and he continued with his mission to escape the hospital. The doctor also entered the room soon after the nurse had arrived. “Eric, I have some troubling news…” said the doctor. Eric turned towards him. The doctor slapped his MRI on the light board. “Eric, you have a brain tumor in your visual cortex.”

Eric chuckled in disbelief while turning his head away. “This is bulls***.” Eric grabbed his clothes, quickly pulling his shirt over his head. “Where do you think you’re going? Do you know how serious this situation is? This tumor can potentially bleed out or give you severe visual disturbances!” The doctor grabbed Eric by the arm. “Let me go doctor.” I few tense seconds passed. The doctor’s grip slowly weakened then slipped away from Eric’s shirtsleeve. Eric finally left the hospital after getting a candy bar form the hospital cafeteria. He was expecting a decent visit to his hometown for the two weeks he was doing an investigation there. Maybe he could go sight seeing, maybe even visit some of his old childhood hang outs. He walked about a half a mile before the vertigo began.

10:35 a.m., the clock tower read. Eric managed to find a bird-poo encrusted park bench to sit on. He wondered why he even looked at the swirl of grey-white gunk. “Disgusting.” He placed his hand into this pocket and pulled out a flask, which he liked to call “his little buddy.” The bitterness sloshed around in his mouth for a couple of seconds before he gulped it down. He looked out at the quietness of downtown Maryville. It seemed like there was a Starbucks on every street corner, this made him unhappy. His head flung back to look at the sky. Instead of seeing the clouds passing over, someone else stood over him. To his surprise, he wasn’t startled. Just…intrigued. It was a young woman looming, looking down.

Silence. The girl’s bangs covered her eyes. Her hair, a ratty and dirty snarl. Her dress looked mud stained, and her brown shoes dulled. She wore no socks. Eric couldn’t remember there being a homeless problem in Maryville, but he assumed that the times have changed. She sat down next to him, hands folded in her lap. Eric thought it was strange that she didn’t emit the usual putrid smell of a homeless person. Her head turned, “I’m Anna who are you?” Eric felt awkward. He thought about what he should say. This “Anna” could be literate or some sort of crack head. “I’m Eric Rempton. Nice to meet you Anna.” Anna looked over. “Oh! I heard of you! You solved that case that happened in the big city. I thought that was really cool. You did a good job.” Eric became confused yet interested in at the same time.

Eric heard the old chime of the ice cream truck in the distance. Anna looked pretty famished. Her shoulders were boney. “Anna, do you want some ice cream?’ asked Eric. Anna smiled, “Yes, that would be nice.” He walked over to the street side towards the stopped ice cream truck. “Two ice cream bars please.” Anna sat intently, still with her delicate hands folded. “I forgot to ask you what you wanted, so I got two ice cream bars, they’re my favorite.” Anna nodded, “Me too.” They sat in silence, slowly chomping down on the ice cream bars. Anna stared at Eric. “You seem a little down, Eric. Something happen?” Eric shifted his eyes towards her; he took a bite of his ice cream bar. “Well Anna, I just found out this morning that I have a brain tumor in my visual cortex. If I don’t get it removed…I could lose my vision.” Anna tipped her head. “That’s unfortunate…” she said in a sad voice. Eric stood up. “Hey Anna? Want to go visit some places with me?” She looked up. “I would like that.”

Eric and Anna walked together down the sidewalk. It was lunchtime, but Eric didn’t feel hungry. He even asked Anna twice if she wanted to eat, but she claimed to be full from the ice cream bar. Eric stopped in front of an abandoned building. His eyes filled with remorse. The old sign read “Rempton’s” Anna also looked up at the sign. “We’ve created memories here…” she murmured. Eric stared at her. “Anna, do you know what happened here?” Anna looked at him and nodded. “A murder, right?” Eric shifted is balance from his uneasiness. “The guy who murdered the owners…I finally caught him after all these years…” Anna started to walk towards a large concrete flowerbed. She jumped up on the sides and started to do a balancing act. “It was your parents, right?”

Eric froze. “Yes, they were murdered here.” “He’s a sick man.” “Yes, he is…” Anna turn towards him. “And the blood, it was all over place. He used the gun in your parents closet…” Eric gulped, “ did you know that? I never told anyone that!” He ran to her. “Eric, the memories we created are sad…” For that moment, Eric had reached towards her. His arms dropped to his side. “Let’s get out of here,” said Eric. It seemed like the day had melted away. He enjoyed yet detested Anna’s presence. They had visited many places over the course of the day. Eric’s mind still ached at their conversation in front of Rempton’s. Being thirty-six, he was confused at how a girl who looked about twenty to know details of the crime that happened twenty-four years ago.

Eric’s last stop was his childhood home, up the quiet street called Cherry Lane. He was happy to see things had changed very little. He could still see his 70’s ranch-style home on top of the hill. The old pond still sparkled with all the brilliance it had years ago. Anna walked ahead. “This place is nice…the memories are nice.” The wind blew Anna’s hair in the air. Her yellow dress wrinkled. “This the time of year when everyone goes on vacation. I would like to stay behind and just lay down in the middle of the road. Nobody would drive up.” Anna sat down on the road. “Let’s sit together.” Anna motioned Eric to sit down. Eric stood there, standing tall, his eyes pierced into the evening sky. “It’s about 6:00. Don’t you have to go home Anna?” Anna rose. Her head bobbed up and down as she walked towards him.

“My home, Eric…is right here” Anna put her hand on the back of Eric’s head. Eric went silent, and then spoke up. “I don’t understand…” Anna backed away and smiled. “Eric? Do you want to see my eyes?” He pondered at her request. With out an answer, Anna lifted the brown hair off her forehead. Eric gasped at the sight. She, Anna, had the same eyes as him. “Eric, I have to die…” Her eyes filled with tears. “No…don’t kill yourself! I don’t want you to leave!” Eric ran towards her. “Don’t leave me…please…” Anna’s expression soon turned to anger. “You’re the one who wants me to leave!” Eric became confused. “No! Why would I want you to leave?” Anna turned around towards the sunset. “Eric…we’ve created lots of memories together. If I stay around longer…I will kill you. I’ve been growing with you for a long time now. It’s time I leave. And take you with me!” Eric stood in the evening sunlight, his black hair glistening vividly.

He glared at Anna in an upset yet confused state of mind. Anna seemed innately good in nature. Eric question weather or not Anna was the girl he thought to understand. Before Eric could fit in another thought, Anna lifted one side of her dress to reveal a butcher knife in a holster strapped onto her upper thigh. The blade caught the sunrays, reflecting a wobbly beam of light onto Eric’s chest. He stood there. Eric knew for sure that Anna was a good girl underneath her shallow threats. But to his surprise, Anna ran towards him in an angry bum rush.

Instead of defending himself, he let Anna push him over onto the ground. Upon falling backwards, the back of Eric’s head collided with the pavement. The initial shock of the hit disoriented his vision. Then the pain came again. It seemed like Eric’s world was spinning around him. His ears were buzzing. His head was pounding. The evening wind filled with a primal scream. In the moments after Eric’s fall, Anna’s arm started to slowly trickle blood. Eric sat up grasping the back of his head. “Anna! Your arm!” She glared at him. “Shut up!” Anna looked at her bleeding arm, which was now bleeding excessively. Eric looked at the knife she dropped. Did she cut her arm?

Again Anna lunged for him, this time wrapping her hands around his throat. He failed under her powerful grip. Eric felt helpless. Being such a large man, he was amazed at how a girl with frail arms could totally paralyze him. Her grip got stronger and his eyes became blood shot. The lack of oxygen to his brain made the back of his head hurt even more. The realization soon set in for Eric. He was going to die. Just before his vision faded into darkness, the immense pressure let up. Eric sat up and gasped for air in a coughing frenzy. He looked over at Anna. She kneeled on the pavement, looking up at the sky. Blood gushed out of her mouth, ran from her nose, and fell from her eyes. Eric stared in horror. She coughed up blood that sprayed in all directions. “Anna!” said Eric as he pulled himself over to her. Her head wobbled, she was about to fall. Reaching out, Eric grabbed her shoulders.

Instead of grabbing her warm skin, and within the blink of an eye, she was gone. Not even and after image remained. All he could see were his trembling hands, reaching towards nothing. His lower lip wrinkled and the water filled his eyes. His knees crashed to the pavement. What was this day worth…why did this happen? The realization set in. The tumor…in his visual cortex…visual disturbances. He laughed. A hallucination. He slammed his fists into the pavement. Again even harder until his hands bled. With in this laughter, the sadness mixed in. He rolled over and lay back on the road, looking up at the emerging stars. His eyes closed.

The sheriff drove up Cherry Lane. He scanned the sidewalks for any sign of Eric Rempton. In front of him, Eric laid spread eagle on the pavement. Eric had been missing for hours…“Eric Rempton?” Eric’s eyes darted back and forth. He felt sick. “Eric? Eric Rempton!” He rushed over to him just before he fell unconscious. The next moments were blur to him. When he did finally wake up, he was on a hospital gurney, being rolled down the hospital hallway. “Eric, can you hear me?” said nurse with a concerned voice. Eric blinked. “Eric, your brain tumor is bleeding heavily, we have to perform an emergency operation,” said the doctor intensely. Eric closed his eyes. His torment would soon be over.

Eric sat up in the hospital bed when the nurse entered. “Eric, time for breakfast.” The eggs jiggled when the nurse placed the tray on the hospital table. It smelled ok, not the best, but Eric would eat anything at the moment. The nurse puffed up his pillows as he sat up straight. The toast was golden brown, just how he liked it. “Oh Eric, here’s the jar you requested.” The nurse placed a heavy jar with a golden top into his hand. Inside it of it was his brain tumor. “Thanks. Oh by the way, do you have a permanent marker?” The nurse pulled one out of her shirt pocket. “Here you go.” Eric eagerly took it. He started to write on the golden top. The marker squeaked against the metal. On it he wrote “Anna.” Feeling satisfied, he went to finish this breakfast. A week later, he was let of the hospital. Eric stared out the car window. It was his Aunt Mary. She drove out of the hospital parking lot. “Hey Eric. What were you doing the day you found out about the tumor?” Eric smiled. “Sight seeing with a friend.” His aunt looked over at him. “Who was this friend?” Eric shifted his gaze to the park bench where he met her. He could see a melted ice cream bar, caked on to the wood. Eric looked at her. “It was Anna.”

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