Allison Cramer In Two Parts
I can’t stop staring at her hands. They look familiar. Whose are they?
Where am I?
She looks around the room. It is darkly lit, greenly lit. It reminds her of a movie set. Or a hospital. Am I in a hospital? What else is there — she looks again. She’s in bed. Blue sheets pulled up to her neck. Oh God, it’s a hospital. Can I move? She sees the hands again. “Those are my hands,” she says slowly, out loud, recognizing them, right before her body splits in two.
It is a clean cut, right down the middle. This is not normal for her. She has never split in two before. Her left half falls away from the right.
The left eye blinks a couple of times. A feeling of panic wells up inside her. “No,” she says, audibly. I must control my feelings. If I panic, it will only make it worse. I can figure this out logically, and rationally, I just have to think.
“Alright, what do I know?” says the left side of her mouth. Let’s take this one step at a time. Can I move my hand? She moves her hand, slowly making a fist and then relaxing it. She blinks a couple times and the left side of her body wiggles back and forth, rocking like a gelatin into the metal arms of the bed. I can move. This is good. I am not paralyzed. I don’t feel any pain. Perhaps I’m in shock. Am I in shock?
Left eye looks around the room. There’s a metal table with silver instruments on it. They are clean. Dirty ones would be taken away; clean ones mean they will operate. This is all very good. It’s unlikely that they’ll leave my two sides detached. Her left side is starting to feel satisfied. Real progress is being made here. She grins a half smile.
There’s a curtain behind the table, and a television monitor in the corner. For the first time she notices that the T.V. is on.
“Concerns are rising in the farming industry that high demand for alternative energy will lead to shortages in common household products, such as oils, popcorn, and….” A newswoman with yellow hair is saying. She is standing in front of a corn field.
The left side quits listening. She doesn’t like popcorn. Every time she has it she just sucks on it and then spits it out. One time a date got her some at a movie and they both sucked on it and threw it onto the person in front of them who was talking on his phone. It stuck to the back of his jacket and, Wait! Other memories are suddenly rushing in. Left brain scans back. Flashes of childhood. Small girl with brown hair by the ocean. Jumps ahead, birthday party in Andy’s backyard, a piñata. More flashes rapidly moving in age sequential order; Halloween costumes, graduation, deer standing in the snow, college campus, apartment complex with stairs that wind up the back from the parking lot. Her mind stops here. She has something; my name is Allison Cramer and I’m 28 years old. Yesterday was Sunday, March 24, and I was with Joel. Joel. There’s something to do with Joel. Who’s Joel?
A sharp, piercing, slightly stifled scream distracts her thoughts.
The right side is screaming.
“Where am I? Help me!” Right side shrieks but it comes out as a muffled wail. During all the leftish mental activity, right side has been paralyzed with fear, probably due to the shock of splitting in two and is just now regaining her voice. Feelings, sights, sounds, emotions, colors all rush at her at once. She’s having trouble breathing and is gasping at the air like a fish grounded.
The right eye wildly scans the room. It’s green. A shallow, eerie, yellow-blueish-green. And for some reason it reminds her of chlorine. A fish tank with chlorine. The smell becomes so strong that she feels like gagging but her half of tongue can’t fill her open throat, so she ends up making more of a gurgle.
Her whole half shudders. I wonder if my heart is gone, she wonders, but says out loud, “Is anyone there?”
A pause, and then, “I’m here.” It sounds like her voice, only fuzzier.
“Who are you?” The right side asks.
“I think I’m you,” her voice comes back at her. “I know this sounds irrational, but I think I’m your left side and you’re my right.” Right side intuitively feels this is true and believes it. It calms her down to hear and feel so near to herself.
The left side of Allison Cramer continues, “Listen, I think we need to figure out what’s going on. Do you remember anything? Do you know why we’re here? What’s your last memory?”
“I don’t know,” The right side answers, “Do you have our heart?”
There’s a pause. The left side is annoyed, “Yes, I suppose I do. But I think we need to focus on figuring out what’s happening. I remember things, up to yesterday. I think it was yesterday, and we were with Joel. Do you know who Joel is? Do you remember anything?”
A smile trembles throughout the right side of Allison Cramer’s body. The left side feels the smile like energy bridging the distance. The right side sighs softly within herself; I remember the way Joel smells. The way he looks. I remember his kiss the first time he pulled us in close. I could smell the sweat on his neck, and I liked the way it smelled. His shirt was red. I can remember the red so brightly now. Do you remember how he tasted?
A warm feeling spreads throughout both halves. Perhaps it is love, it’s hard to know these things at a time like this, but yes perhaps it is love. The right side is lost in a gold-colored field, shirts with rough texture, hands roaming down the body, the sharp hairs of his chin against her back. They’re laughing and he’s whispering something in her ear. Her body is light, floating, glowing.
“Yes, Joel. I remember.” The left side reflects aloud. Flashes of memories come back. Lecture hall and his green eyes; he looked at me, cups of coffee, night walks, white sheets. The memories come tumbling back, sharp and then a pause. What is it? The left brain stumbled, searching. Something changed. The memories went cold. A fight. I remember a fight. Crying and pleading. He walks away. Names are in her head. He’s calling her names. “Shut up you selfish fucking bitch, you goddamn cunt. You’re such a fucking child. Quit crying like a fucking child.” His words hit her, throwing her down.
She remembers all the fights.
The left side takes a sharp breath in. There was an apology. I remember an apology. He is crying. He doesn’t want to live without us. We can figure it out if we both try harder. He seems so vulnerable. So breakable.
“I wanted to leave him” the left side says.
The right side pauses, “I wanted to stay.”
Two doctors walk in the room and approach the bed. They have a professional air to them, but are otherwise un-noteworthy by appearance. “Look, it’s happened again,” The shorter of the two sighs, “and always before we put the stitches in.” The doctor leans in to examine the severed body.
“What do we do?” the other doctor asks nervously.
“We’ll keep an eye on her for a while. We’ve found that if we leave the two halves alone and together for a while they sometimes will reattach all on their own. It’s best to just wait and see.”
The doctors walk out of the room. The two halves of Allison Cramer are silent, staring in opposite directions.
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Portland Fiction Project
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