The man looked up at the questioner and shook his head. Every day it was the same thing over and over.
“No, I can’t. Please leave me alone.”
The questioner moved away and looked around the room. Someone here had to know. They just had to. He saw a woman playing solitaire at a table by a window, her frail hands trembling as she dealt the cards. She saw him approach out of the corner of her eye and she cringed visibly but the questioner was not deterred.
“Could you tell me who Alan Greely is please? I need to know.”
“She looked into his eyes and sighed, then went on with her game.”
He continued looking at her, hoping against hope, but turned away at last and continued his quest. He turned to a man passing by.
“Please sir, do you know who Alan Greely is?”
“Don’t know anyone by that name.” He kept moving and didn’t look back.
A woman approached him with a scornful look on her face. “Why don’t you just go sit down and stop bothering people?”
“I’m sorry, I need to know. I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. Please understand.”
She snorted derision and turned away from him.
His shoulders slumped and he collapsed onto a chair and put his face in his hands. If only someone would tell him. Someone must know. He was here with these people but he didn’t know why. He only knew the name Alan Greely and he was certain if he could only find him he could solve this riddle that was his life.
He got up and started walking around the room again. No one would look at him. He went into the hall. A man was emerging from a room a short distance away. He moved to him as a moth to a flame.
“Excuse me sir, I don’t mean to bother you, but could you – “
“You again! Look, I told you yesterday, I don’t know no Greebly, leave me be.”
“No, it’s Alan Greely, please sir, search your memory, I –“
“Is that supposed to be some kind of joke?” The man sneered and moved away.
A woman appeared at his elbow. “There’s no sense in upsetting yourself, let alone others. Why don’t you come have a nice cup of tea?”
“Why won’t anyone tell me who Alan Greely is?”
She made soothing noises and let him to the cafeteria and made him sit down. She went and got tea and a plate of cookies and brought them back. When she got there he was sobbing soft and low.
She reached across the table and patted his hand. “There, there. Don’t upset yourself. There’s nothing for it.”
“Nothing for what?” He smeared mucus across his face with the back of his hand. “I must be in hell!”
“No, you’re not in hell. Look, drink your tea and I’ll show you something.”
He drank the tea, ignoring the cookies and calmed down as best he could. When he was done she got up and took him by the hand. She led him down the hall to a restroom and pulled him inside.
She looked him in the eyes and then guided him to the mirror and stood him in front of it.
“There’s Alan Greely.”
“What? You mean…”
“Yes. It’s the same thing every day. You’ve been here with us for a month now. This is an amnesia ward. We all have it in some form. They tell me you were in an accident. At least I think that’s what they said. The only thing you could remember was that name.”
“But…then it might not even be my name?”
She shrugged and looked away. “Tomorrow is another day, or so I’m told.”