Lost: A Mind
“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the
remembrance of things as they were.”
― Marcel Proust
“Now what?” Molly was the first to break the silence with her question. They did not know how much time had passed since Doctor Moreau had walked away. For them it felt like hours or days. For people who had not just been told that their best friend suffered from amnesia, it had been 12 minutes.
John cleared his throat and answered with unmistakable uncertainty in his voice, “It won’t get better by standing outside his room.”
“So, you think we should get in and talk to him?”
“What else can we do?” John looked utterly helpless.
It didn’t make Molly feel any better. “I don’t know. It’s just... I mean... We don’t even know what the undercover story is that he has constructed.”
John sighed deeply and realized that he had done that a lot in the last 12 hours. “No we don’t, but the only way to find out is to go in there and talk to him. We have to test out the waters what he believes to be the truth.”
The former soldier was about to open the door to Sherlock’s room, when Molly’s voice made him pause, “I don’t know if I can do that, John. I’m afraid.”
When he turned around to look at his friend, he was shocked to see tears in her eyes. She was having a hard time holding them back. She looked so fragile and lost standing there in her beautiful dress and her eyes pleading with him that this was all a bad dream and soon she would wake up with a pounding headache, because she had had too much wine at the Rucastles. John could sympathize with her. He wished the same. Taking a deep breath he went over to the pathologist and embraced her. He needed her with him when facing Sherlock. Sherlock needed her. He may have been Sherlock’s doctor, but she was his pathologist.
As opposed to Molly Hooper and John Watson, Sherlock Holmes did not wish for a headache, because he already suffered from one. The worst headache of his life so far. The painkillers did not help and given his history with drugs they refused to give him stronger ones. But he figured it was for the better. He did not want to be slapped by Molly again.
Funny thing that just when he was wondering where she was, the door to his room opened and in came is best friend John Morstan and his fiancée Molly Hooper. He smiled at them, because he was glad to see some familiar faces. The talks with Doctor Moreau and Mycroft had exhausted him. Having a conversation with his dear brother on a good day was barely bearable, but when being in hospital and suffering from a head trauma it was a different matter altogether.
Molly and John went over to stand next to his bed. He reached for his fiancée’s hand and was surprised to see her hesitate before she grabbed his. Her hesitation shouldn’t have stung, but it did. She looked like she had been crying and tried to avoid his gaze. He was just about to ask her what the matter was, when John beat him to it, “How are you doing, mate?”
Sherlock sat up slowly in his bed (he still felt a bit dizzy), but kept Molly’s hand firmly in his. Somehow he knew that she would pull away as soon as he would let go of her. Her small hand felt familiar, yet strange in his. His hands felt unnaturally numb, displaced from his body and somehow out of scope of his conscious command.
And his voice felt disembodied when he answered his friend, “I’ve got a massive headache, but apart from that...” His voice trailed off, looking for the next thing to say, but finding his head uncharacteristically empty.
John nodded gravely before he continued, “I assume Doctor
Moreau and Mycroft have filled you in?”
“If you mean that they’ve told me that I am suffering from a concussion and a mild form of retrograde amnesia and mix some things up, then yes, they have.”
John nodded again and was looking for the next thing to say, but Sherlock went on, “But it’s not as serious as they think. Apart from what happened right before I got knocked out I remember everything quite clearly. I don’t miss any rooms in my mind palace.” The way Sherlock said that with absolute conviction made his friends cringe.
John cleared his throat. “So, you know who we are?” he asked tentatively.
Sherlock scoffed, “Of course I do. You are my best friend John Morstan and this is my fiancée Molly Hooper – soon to be Holmes.” He squeezed her hand and smiled openly at her. Not the fake-smile, but a genuine one, wide and carefree. Molly had a hard time not pulling her hand away and fleeing from the room. This was too weird to be true.
“Well ...,” John replied and scratched his head, which looked exactly like the helpless gesture it was, “that is almost accurate.”
Sherlock’s eyes narrowed at him. “What do you mean almost?”
“My name is John, and I am your best friend, but my surname is Watson and not Morstan.”
For a moment there was silence in the room and Sherlock did not move. He sat there unblinking. The consulting detective’s friends held their breath. They had no idea how he would react. Would he shout and call John stupid, would he retreat into his mind palace – never to return? Slowly Sherlock’s eyes focused on John again and he asked, “Are you sure?” The words sounded like he was testing how they felt on his tongue.
“Well, ... yes, I am quite sure I know what my surname is, Sherlock.”
The man in the bed cocked his head to the side. “Why do you call me that?”
“What?” Now John was the one to be confused.
“You call me Sherlock.”
“That’s your name.”
The detective slowly shook his head. He already had a headache, and he didn’t want to make it worse. “Sherlock is my second name. My first name is William.”
Molly and John looked at each other. She had no idea how to explain it without giving away the truth. Although it was the truth that Sherlock was his second name, and she did not know why he chose to be called by that and not by his first name.
She hoped John would come up with some explanation. She was lucky, because he did. Or at least he tried to, “Yes, but you want to be called Sherlock. It is more extraordinary, suit’s you better.” John joked and hoped that his friend would buy that.
But of course his friend did not so without protest, “Why would I want that? As opposed to Sherlock, William is a nice name. After all, I share it with one of the princes. Why would I want people to call me Sherlock instead?”
John shrugged and looked at Molly for help. “I don’t know, maybe… wait… You know that one of the prince’s names is William?”
Sherlock sounded affronted, “Of course I do. What kind of British citizen would I be if I did not know such a thing?”
John took a step closer and tested the sudden gained knowledge about the royal family of his friend, “Do you also know the name of the current king?”
Sherlock sounded irritated. “King? John, what are you talking about? It seems like you are the one suffering from amnesia.”
John waved a hand and tried his best to hide his surprise. “Never mind.”
The detective went back to their initial topic, “So, why would I prefer a weird name like Sherlock to a royal one like William?”
John shrugged helpless and started to feel frustrated. “I don’t know.”
He was not the only one, because his best friend seemed to lose his patience bit by bit too. His voice got louder when he accused John, “You are my best friend, you are supposed to know stuff like that!”
“No, you are supposed to know stuff like that!” John yelled.
He and Sherlock stared each other down for a moment and Molly stood between them, not knowing what to do.
Finally it was John who released a breath he had been holding. “I am sorry, Molly, but I need to get out of here for a moment. See you later.” With one last look at his best friend he turned around and left.
As soon as John had left the room, Molly felt the tension drain from Sherlock’s shoulders. He loosened the strong hold he had had on her hand, but did not let go. She felt his gaze on her, but did not dare to look him in the eyes. What was she supposed to do now? She was alone with him now. It had been too much for John. How was she supposed to deal with it? There must have been something she could say to make it better. But what?
She was still trying to untangle the knot of explanations that filled her head, when she heard his voice, “So it seems I am mixing some things up?” Never before had she heard him sound so uncertain. And Sherlock Holmes being uncertain was just wrong. It turned her whole world upside down.
She gathered up all her courage and looked him in the eyes. He tried to hide it, but she could see the confusion and fear. In that moment she realized that she had been selfish. It was not her, for whom this situation was a nightmare, it was him. Before her was Sherlock Holmes, the man with the most brilliant mind, and now he had lost part of it, and he did not even know it. He just knew that something was wrong. And if there was something that Sherlock Holmes hated then it was not knowing. She needed to be strong. She needed to be there for him and help him; not matter what it took. And if she had to play his fiancée, so be it.
She turned her hand in his grip so that she could stroke his hand with her thumb, in what she hoped was a comforting gesture. She was anxious to let her voice sound calm and gentle, “Yes, you mix some things up, but those are just minor details. We’ll help you figure it out. Everything will be back to normal in no time. Don’t worry.”
He closed his eyes for a moment to let her words sink in. He squeezed her hand lightly when he asked, “Are you sure it’s only about minor details? I did not forget something important, did I?”
He gazed from the ring adorning her left hand to her face and the look in his eyes and her next words that came out almost choked up, broke her heart, “Yes, I am sure. You remember everything that is really important.”
Little did Molly Hooper know that she was closer to the truth than she was to a lie.