Art by Mackenzie Holman, 2021
Maison Foley woke up to the rain.
It pounded against his window in vicious splatters, desperately trying to find a way into the house. The clouds were dark and soft rumbles of thunder rolled in the distance. It pounded against the windows, the walls–inside his own thoughts.
There was something about the rain.
Maison laid back down on his pillow. What was it about the rain? It had rained before, of course, so what was it this time? Why did it send shivers down his spine? Why did he have to consciously avoid flinching everytime a drop pounded against the window? It was that haunting feeling, the feeling that death was knocking at his door, pounding like the rain outside.
Maison jumped as he felt movement to his right side, then relaxed as he realized it was his wife, Helen.
“Are you awake, honey?” she asked. Then when Maison didn’t reply, “Are you alright?”
“Yes,” Maison realized he had been staring blankly out the window and into the storm outside. “I’m fine.”
He looked at the clock sitting on his dresser, “I’d better get up.”
“You don’t want to be late for work,” Helen muttered, then rolled over.
Thunder rumbled in the distance and the pouring rain seemed to intensify.
Maison looked at his hands. He felt like they were dirty, like they were coated with… something. He slowly got out of bed and went to the bathroom to wash his hands. As the cold water ran over his hands, he looked up at his reflection in the mirror. He figured he should get ready for work. He’d need to be ready to go to…
He needed to be on time for…
What was it he did for a job?
Maison suddenly felt panic crawl up his throat as he struggled to remember something so simple. What did he do each day? Where did he go to work? Why could he not conjure up this trivial fact, something so essential to his everyday routine?
What was it?
What was it?
“What was it?”
“Hm?” Helen mumbled from the other room.
“Nothing… nothing…” Maison was leaning over the counter now, his hands trembling in frustration, trying desperately to remember; he couldn’t remember anything, anything at all.
“Maison, are you sure you’re alright?” Helen asked again. “What’s wrong?
Helen sat up and turned on their bedside lamp.
Something seemed off about the way she looked at Maison. He took a long look at Helen. He remembered her face, he remembered her voice, but he didn’t seem to know her. She was beautiful, but something about her beauty wasn’t right. She seemed to look past him–through him–as if her focus was on another figure past himself.
Something wasn’t right.
“You’re not my wife,” Maison said suddenly. “My wife is dead.”
Thunder rumbled once again in the distance. Helen was left speechless, not knowing how to respond.
“Maison, I–” she stumbled over the words.
“No,” Maison flinched. “This isn’t real.”
The rain was now pounding on the window. The wind outside was howling, but it wasn’t outside anymore; Maison could hear it only in his own head. The rain was inside him, blowing and pounding in his own mind. The thunder was rumbling in his own ears. He felt his jaw shake and he flinched as another bullet of thunder shot through his ear drums.
“The rain,” Maison barely whispered. The words were no more than a breath that escaped his lips. “It happened in the rain.”
Tears were now falling from Helen’s eyes. Maison looked at her, wanting this to be his reality, wanting so hard for this to be real, but it was too late. The illusion had shattered.
Thunder rolled through his head once again and lightning flashed before his eyes.
“It’s not real,” Maison repeated, tears rolling down his face.
Then, the window shattered.
The rainwater poured in. Splintered glass pierced the air. The thunder clapped and lightning flashed, and the entire room shook from the impact. The room began to flood, and Maison felt the current pushing him to the wall. He struggled against the waves, searching for Helen, but she seemed to have disappeared beneath the water.
Maison closed his eyes, letting the waves take over him.
“It’s not real.”
The water crashed over his head, and Maison felt himself go under.
It was quiet for a moment. Pure silence. The nothingness was an ethereal comfort, and for a moment, the strange feeling disappeared as his reality shifted.
“Mr. Foley,” a voice echoed through the nothingness.
Maison’s eyes flew open, and he was awake on a hospital bed with unfamiliar faces looking over him. Most of them were nurses, but two of the figures were tall, intimidating men in suits: one bearded, one clean shaven. A needle was stuck into his forearm and an opaque substance was being pumped into his veins. The room around him was pure white. The blinding lights hanging from the ceiling made the room even brighter.
The bearded man waved the nurses away.
“Mr. Foley,” he said as the two men in suits were left alone with Maison, “Are you alright?”
Maison sat up in his bed and scanned his surroundings, “Where am I?”
The clean shaven man pushed Maison so he laid back down on the bed, “Careful there, Mr. Foley, you’re still adjusting.”
“Where am I?” Maison repeated through gritted teeth.
The two men looked at each other for a moment, as if figuring out what to say. Then, they turned back to Maison.
“What do you remember about your life, Mr. Foley?” the clean shaven man asked.
Maison closed his eyes in frustration, “Tell me where I am.”
The bearded man hesitated, “Mr. Foley, we work for a government program that specializes in memory alteration, and…” The man struggled to find the right words to say, “and we have altered some of your memories, Mr. Foley–for your safety.”
“My safety?” Masion asked.
“Yes,” the other man answered. “We specialize in trauma therapy.”
“Yes, Mr. Foley,” the bearded man replied. “Do you remember anything?”
Maison closed his eyes, struggling to think, “I remember the rain.”
“Yes, the rain…” Maison opened his eyes, “it happened in the rain.”
The two men looked at each other.
“And I remember…” Maison drifted off, then continued, “a gunshot. It sounded like thunder.”
A look of concern flashed across the bearded man’s eyes for a brief moment before dissolving back into mock sympathy, “Is that all you remember?”
Maison looked directly into the bearded man’s eyes. He felt tears fall from his eyes, “She died, didn’t she? My wife, my real wife, died.”
The bearded man closed his eyes for a brief moment, resting his hand on his temple, “Yes she did, Mr. Foley.”
“Who did it?” Maison demanded. “Who did it?”
Maison jumped up from the bed and attempted to push past the two men.
“Mr. Foley!” they pressed Maison back down onto his bed. The nurses had rushed back in and struggled to help keep Maison down.
“Tell me who did it!” Maison was thrashing in his bed now, frantically trying to escape the hands restraining him.
“Put him back under! Double the dosage!” the bearded man yelled at one of the nurses, “Do it now!”
Then Maison stopped moving. He became perfectly still.
Because that’s when he remembered.
“It was me,” he said quietly, as if he was saying it to himself and nobody else.
The room became suddenly still.
“What?” the bearded man asked.
Maison looked right at him, right into his eyes. His face was full of regret, full of remorse. The tears poured down from his eyes like the rain–that dreaded rain.
“It was me,” Maison repeated. “I killed her.”
“I said put him back under!” the bearded man yelled frantically. “Now!”
Maison closed his eyes. He saw himself in the rain, watching his wife from the shadows. He saw her standing there beautifully in the doorway, her back turned towards him, oblivious to the imposter that she had chosen to love. He pulled the trigger, the bullet fired, and he was left with her blood on his hands.
The white room dissolved from his vision, the voices subsided around him, and the rain returned with a roaring crescendo.