Copper Beaches

All the World's a Stage

“The scene is memory and is therefore non-realistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart.”
― Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie


For normal amnesia patients “exposing them to memories from the loss” meant that photographs of their lost years were shown to them or that they went to visit the house they had used to live in. But Sherlock Holmes was not to be considered a “normal” patient (he was not even a “normal” person – whatever that meant). He was extraordinary. And extraordinary circumstances demanded extraordinary measures. Hence his best friends had decided to take things into their own hands instead of sitting back, waiting and hoping for Sherlock’s memories to return. Time could heal a lot, but what if you had lost some of it?

The Watsons and Molly had arranged a meeting with all their other friends (even Mycroft had attended, although he had left the room a few times in order to take some phone calls) and had explained the idea of re-enacting scenes from the past with the patient. Everyone had been taken aback at first, but in the end all of them had agreed to be part of it (Mycroft had not really voiced his consent out loud; actually he had remained silent, and that was as much acceptance as the friends would get).

They had agreed on some instances they knew Sherlock remembered differently from what they had been and had decided to try and re-enact those. At the latest now they all had felt like they were part of some conspiracy. And no one was fond of that feeling. But they deemed it necessary to help their friend. And that was what kept their bad conscious at bay.

Molly had the honour of having the first scene in the memory play The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. The props were in place: The dead body on the slab, the riding crop and of course the lipstick. The play was about to begin:

When Molly Hooper (early thirties, pathologist and producer) heard the swinging doors being pushed open dramatically (enter Sherlock Holmes – mid thirties, consulting detective suffering from retrograde amnesia), she sent a mental excuse to the soul of the dead man whose body she was about to beat with a riding crop and hoped that he would understand that it was for a greater good.

Just as Sherlock rounded the corner, she started to beat the corpse on the table in front of her with the device in her hand. He stopped in the doorway and watched his fiancée with a mixture of curiosity and amusement.

“So, bad day, was it?” he chuckled and indicated with his head towards the dead man’s body.

Molly stopped dead in her movement. For a second she could not hide the surprise that washed over her face. This had been her line. He had stolen her line!

She did her best not to depart from the script, lowered the riding crop, smiled at her fiancé and explained, “Sixty-seven, natural causes. He used to work here. I knew him. He was nice.”

Sherlock cocked his head to the side, regarded her with interest and walked over to Molly and her dead friend. He indicated towards the object in her hand, “Doesn’t look like you were overly fond of him, though.”

Molly tried to stamp her bad conscious down. “He donated his body to science. I need to know what bruises form in the next twenty minutes,” she explained.

“Obviously,” he said and nodded as if it was indeed daily routine to beat a dead body with a riding crop.

On cue Sherlock’s phone went off. He rolled his eyes, took it out of his coat pocket and looked at the display. “John,” he told Molly and turned around to exit the room to take the phone call.

Quickly Molly put the riding crop away (asked the man on the table for forgiveness again) applied her lipstick (the same colour she had worn then) and once again Sherlock Holmes stood in the doorway.

Molly walked over to him. “What’s the matter?” she asked, meaning the phone call from John.
A bit annoyed Sherlock shook his head. “He just wanted to make sure that the meeting in the canteen later still stands. Why does he have to call me for that? A text would have been sufficient. Sometimes I wonder if his brain had suffered a bit under the birth of his child.”

For a second Molly was shocked. Not because of the rudeness of the statement, but because it sounded so much like the old Sherlock. And such a sentence coming out of the mouth of a man who suffered from amnesia; the irony was not lost on her. She shook herself out of it and proceeded with the scene. She came to stand in front of him and tried to look as nervous as possible.

“Sherlock, listen, I was wondering: maybe later, when you’re finished...”

His brows furrowed as he studied her face. “Are you wearing lipstick? You weren’t wearing lipstick before.”

The pathologist managed to keep her face in check, but she was sure her eyes had widened fractionally from the joy she was feeling. Was it possible that her plan worked?

Still she delivered her next line as scripted, “I... er... I refreshed it a bit.”

She smiled at him, just like she was supposed to, and he graced her with the same oblivious look he had given her then. He shook his head as if getting rid of some confusing thoughts. “Sorry, you were saying?”

Somehow Molly didn’t have to play bringing up her courage to ask him out, because suddenly she felt exactly like she had back then. She felt just as nervous and self-conscious as the first time she had wanted to be brave and make the first step. The only difference was that now she was not anxious because she was afraid of his rejection, but because she was afraid of him taking her up on it.

She looked him in the eyes. “I was wondering if you’d like to have coffee.”

The seconds until his reply felt endless. Molly didn’t dare to breathe.

Finally he opened his mouth, “Is this a conspiracy?” His eyes narrowed.

No, that definitely did not go according to the script. This was not his line. This was not scripted. Where was the prompter?

Molly’s heart stopped a beat.

“What?” she breathed and blanched.

“At first John asks me if the meeting still stands and then you are asking silly questions about coffee...” he sounded bemused; definitely bemused and not angry. “Of course I’d like to have coffee with you, but we’ve already agreed to meet at the canteen later, so...”

“Oh,” was all Molly could muster when realizing what he meant.

Sherlock looked at her as if he found her reaction endearing, effectively wiping all traces of the old Sherlock from his face. He leaned down, gave her a peck on the lips and said, “I’ll be in the lab. See you later in the canteen.”

He then turned around and left the morgue with billowing coat (exit Sherlock Holmes).
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