The Lady is Lost

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A woman finds herself lost in a city, not knowing who or where she is.

Mystery / Adventure
Dez Haidley
Age Rating:


“Enjoy your meal!”, the guy behind the counter said cheerily and nodded, “Next, please!”

I stared at him and then at what I held: Tray with a small sandwich, salad and juice. I didn’t move. The smiling young man again asked me if I needed anything else.

“No, thank you,”, I said and turned around. I was in a big, fancy coffee place. There was a couple waiting behind in line. I got out of the way and settled in at the first empty table.

I was really hungry, I realized and finished everything within minutes. While eating I became aware of the fact that I didn’t know how I got here, where I was before and who I was.

I watched people around me and outside the glass window. There was a street outside with pedestrians and cars buzzing around. A busy downtown street overshadowed by buildings. What time of day it was? I had no watch so I looked around for a clock. I asked a lady next to me. Three in the afternoon.

Who am I again? I checked my reflection in the window. A woman wearing white collared shirt, a black fitted pullover sweater and grey well-fitted pants. My hair is short and tailed in a small pony. My long face is attractive. I am not wearing any makeup. A pendant around my neck and very small matching earstuds. No rings or bracelets. Professional casual attire? But what do I do? While checking myself out, I rose up to leave. Five-feet-sevenish with quite a smart-slim figure. But where am I going? I suddenly felt my heart beating faster.

I sat back down and calmed myself: Don’t panic, worst comes to worse — and surely in any case — I will rush into a hospital or police station. It’s not as if I’ve lost any speech or vision or comprehension or awareness. Let’s first get a grip.

First things first, belongings. What was I carrying and where was it all? I scan the shop — nothing.

I walk by every table, enquiring… is this bag yours, oops sorry… did you find anything before you sat here, sir… nope, thanks.

Wait, I must have had a wallet. I went into the ladies room and do myself a full pat down. My back pocket produces an old washed out sales receipt. I put it safely back for later. I also find a couple of dollars and a half in loose change. Nothing else in any other pocket, not even a phone.

How did I pay for the food? I rush out and try to find the cheery guy who served me. In his place is a girl. I jump the line and ask about the guy. She doesn’t know. I tell her I lost my card with which I paid so it’s sort of an emergency. She calls a supervisor to whom I say I need to find how I paid because I just can’t remember and that it was important. He asks if I had the receipt which should’ve been on the food tray. That should tell me.

I return to the table and find the receipt. It says I paid in cash. And the change that was returned to me was exactly what I was carrying.

I sat down and waved to the supervisor who nods, smiles and goes away.

OK, I told myself. Let’s get some help now and let’s not stay calm. I tried to remember by closing my eyes and thinking deliberately hard, sending queries of all kinds to get an answer back from my brain. What was the last thing I remember? It was the young man serving me food. Right. Where was I before that?

Where was I before that? I tried harder. I just can’t concentrate enough to bring any memories before that. Where do I live? Who is my mother, father? I am an adult, so what do I remember from my childhood?

I felt my heart beating even faster. Was I beginning to panic? Yes of course I was.

But there was this oddly calm parallel second line of thinking in me now, which was somehow keeping me from being scared. And although I was deeply concerned at my predicament, I wasn’t scared at all.

Could the calmness be a clue to who or what I was as a person or as a professional?

Obviously I’d go straight into the nearest hospital’s Emergency room. That was something I had decided on, and I held that thought just fine. So whatever it was, I was retaining everything I had started to think after the cheery guy — moment zero — yeah, let’s call it Moment Zero. Sounded a little geeky. It appeared I was educated, I concluded from it — or at least well-spoken.

And all my cognitive abilities were normal. This was surely just an attack of sudden amnesia… That’s what it appeared to be. My intelligence abilities, combined with the comprehension of everything around me was perfect. I was thinking clearly and there wasn’t a single thing in the present that I was not able to understand or recognize.

I looked around the shop and out on the street. People, signs, advertisements. I recognized the brand names. An iPhone poster reminded me of a TV ad I’d seen. Was I an iPhone or an Android person? I quickly tried to remember where I was when I was watching the ad on TV, or was it on a computer. I tried harder but nothing popped up because I just couldn’t hold the concentration. More importantly, I wondered where the phone was that I must have carried with me.

Then I thought perhaps I should leave this place and find a quieter place where I could concentrate. Some place where I won’t attract too much attention if I were to close my eyes, held up my head and went into a meditative posture. Another clue. It appeared my mind was well-acquainted with some technique or form of concentration that I must’ve practised often, for it to instinctively suggest a practice like meditation. Was I into meditation too? I tried to remember. Nothing.

But where would I go? I recalled it was quieter in the ladies room. Let’s get out of this place and head to some other bathroom, where I’d just sit and think.

I got up and left the coffee shop.

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