Copyright©May 2014 Suzy Stewart Dubot
Published at Shakespir
An Anglo/American who has been living in France for over 30 years, she began writing as soon as she retired. It is a passion discovered late in life, but lived to its fullest.
Before retiring, she worked at a variety of jobs. Some of the more interesting have been: Art and Crafts teacher, Bartender, Marketing Assistant for N° 1 World Yacht Charterers (Moorings), Beaux Arts Model, Secretary to the French Haflinger Association…
With her daughters, she is a vegetarian and a supporter of animal rights. She uses words when she’s not protesting in the street. She is an admirer of the British abolitionist, William Wilberforce, who was also a founding member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (S.P.C.A.).
Her website :
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Shakespir License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy from Shakespir. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Cover design: Suzy Stewart Dubot
I don’t remember how it actually began and, to this day, can’t understand why.
One morning I woke up and it was there — Pain.
We have all experienced pain in one form or another. It can be sharp or dull, enduring or brief, but once it has gone, we can only remember that we didn’t like it. We are unable to relive the feel of it. This pain, which had settled upon me, was like none I had ever suffered. It was in my head. No, it was not a headache. It was the memory of pain without the feel of it. There was no way I could see a doctor with it.
As a writer, I had no trouble visualising the futile scene, imagining the dialogue…
‘Where does it hurt?’ the doctor would ask.
‘Well, nowhere in particular. It shifts.’
‘You mean, like you have swallowed something and as it goes down you feel it shift places?’ he would suggest.
‘To be honest with you doctor, it is vaguer than that,’ I would try to explain. I would see his eyes open wider and his eyebrows lift a little.
‘It is the memory of pain. I remember how it feels to have a leg amputated. I also remember giving birth.’
My examples would have the expressions on his face rapidly changing from astonishment to pity as he realised he must be dealing with a madman.
‘Giving birth, huh? Was it bad?’
He would be curious as well as mocking.
‘Let us say that I’m glad I’m not a woman,’ I would tell him.
‘And do you have the pain now?’ he might ask.
‘Not the pain, Doctor, the memory of it.’
‘You’re a man. You know perfectly well that you couldn’t have the memory of the pain of childbirth!’
I would nod in agreement.
‘That is why I am here.’ I would attempt to explain.
‘If you have not already had a similar case, you might like to refer me to someone who has, and failing that, to a reputable psychiatrist.’
‘Fascinating, fascinating…’ he might mutter as he thought about whom he could send me to see.
My doctor has known me for more than twenty years, so this unusual development would baffle him. His files would show that I have rarely needed to consult him over the years, and that I have never suffered from more than colds or food poisoning. In other words, I am not an alarmist or a hypochondriac.
I guess he is a man in his fifties, who has seen and heard a lot. The wheels will be turning as he contemplates his alternatives. I suspect that my case will get the better of him and he will want to know the extent of my pains.
‘Have you had other pain besides an amputation and childbirth?’
‘Yes,’ I will reply as I describe the other memories of pain that have come to haunt me. They stand separate from my own personal sufferings in the past.
‘I remember what it is like to have a broken wrist.’
I show him the wrist that I remember breaking without it being mine. There is nothing to show because mine has never been broken.
‘I have had my appendix removed and tonsils, but I know that they have nothing to do with me, doctor. I suppose that you are as baffled as I?’
The dialogue and the last question are only in my head, of course, because I cannot go and see a doctor. A doctor does not treat thoughts. How can I explain that I have the memory of pain which others have suffered?
Lying on my bed now, contemplating my unorthodox situation, the recollection of having my wisdom teeth pulled assails me. I hesitate as I examine the thought, because I am not sure if it is my own memory or not.
Yes, yes, it is. I remember how my face swelled on both occasions. Besides, my tongue has automatically gone to feel the empty spaces in my mouth.
This is really too much! Why can’t I keep my own memories unadulterated? Who is it who is using me as their personal pain dumping ground? Obviously, someone tired of remembering all their own sufferings through the years, or someone who has died.
I come to the conclusion that I should perhaps consult someone dealing with altered states of consciousness.
I turn to the tool which I could not live without — the internet. There I browse for Shamans from many different cultures, and I finally make my choice. For a small fee, they have given me the solution with the guarantee that I can return to them, free of charge, if it doesn’t work.
The idea is to use a sink’s waste disposal unit. I need only envisage it as the material that will be going into it is equally unreal. In a darkened room, one by one I take the memories of pain which are not mine and stuff them into the gaping hole in the imaginary sink.
It is strange that I can hear them being ground into a digestible size to let the sink’s mechanism swallow them.
I am a little reluctant to part with the child-bearing experience because this is as close as I will ever come to understanding what women go through. This memory is the last to go and the sink struggles with the effort of shredding twelve hours of labour pain.
All those foreign memories of pain are gone, and I feel surprisingly poorer for it, as I search the corners of my mind for a trace. Nothing remains.
It is then that I realise what an idiot I’ve been.
I should have noted those intruding sensations in a notebook before ridding myself of them.
Do they not say that to write convincingly, a writer should write about what he knows?
The waste disposal unit gives a final burp to remind me of my mistake.
I am now no better than all those other writers who do their research on the internet….