Remembering Robin

CW: This short story contains explicit discussion of suicide, self-harm and childhood trauma.

The floor was made of stone tiles so smooth and slippery that they might as well have been glass. With each footstep she felt the soles of her boots slide just a little even as they clicked against the alabaster surface. It was clean, clinically so; as if they wanted to emphasise how scientific it all was.

It wasn’t, of course.

Oh, certainly, there were plenty of scientists trying to pin down exactly how magic worked with their understanding of the world – but to little avail. It was, after all, magic.

Robin had been at the clinic for a little over two weeks now. Her room was small but comfortable, if a little minimalist, and had a view of the beautiful but slightly too man-made gardens. It was the end of summer, and the trees outside looked as if Midas had begun to wander through them, brushing his hands against the leaves. It was her favourite time of the year.

As she turned the corridor, a familiar door greeted her. There was a black plaque on it, bordered with gold. It read: Dr M. Singh – Recovery. She raised her hand and knocked clearly.

“Ah, Robin,” smiled the psychiatrist as he pulled the door open. “Come in, please. Have a seat.”

Robin wondered, rather idly, what he would do if she insisted on standing – but entered and took the seat on the right. His office was narrow but bright; there was a pale wood desk on the left with a computer and several files, and at the end of the room there were two chairs tilted towards one another. Their design looked strangely familiar to her, but she couldn’t place how. She supposed that was to be expected.

“How have you been feeling since the operation?” Dr Singh asked as he took the seat opposite her. “I know it’s a lot to adjust to.”

She chuckled. “It’s…strange. I keep getting déjâ-vu when I look at things, but I can’t ever recall why. Sometimes it’s quite frustrating – you know when you’re trying to think of a word, and it’s on the tip of your tongue? It’s like that.”

“How does it make you feel?”

Angry, the first night. She was trying to sleep, and had the strongest sense that there was some reason to be afraid of it; but couldn’t come up with a reason why. It had worked her into such a state that not only did she fail to sleep, she’d ended up stalking around her bedroom in desperate anger, trying to work out what it was she couldn’t remember.

“Furious. Upset. But only in bursts – mostly I feel…kind of numb, I suppose. Like I’ve lost access to a lot of the things I normally feel. I mean I do still feel things, it’s just – like there’s something missing.”

The doctor smiled. “Well, given how many of your memories were neutralised, it is entirely understandable for you to feel that way. Some of our patients – those who have experienced a single highly traumatic event for example – have a very small set of memories targeted. Your case was a far more pervasive one, so your experience will be quite different to many. It’s why you were chosen for this wave of testing.”

Neutralised, Robin had decided some time ago, was an exceptionally interesting term to use. Removed would be a lie, of course – the operation did not remove the memories, it simply rendered the brain unable to access them until they were drawn out through the recovery process.

She wondered whether the mages and psychiatrists who had come up with the treatment had met at some point to decide precisely what language they were going to use to refer to it, like advertisers pondering how best to market their product.

“I remember you telling me, before,” she replied thoughtfully. “That memory is a little strange. I have it, and I don’t think it’s incomplete or anything, but I guess I associate it with a whole lot of feelings that don’t make much sense. I was terrified, but that seems reasonable. I was relieved, which makes sense. But whenever I think about it, I feel…overwhelmed. Like I’m feeling so many things at once I can’t comprehend them.”

This caught the doctor’s attention, and he leant forward in his seat. “You were in a great deal of distress. Now that the memories that lead to that state of distress have been neutralised, it is difficult to contextualise the memories of our earlier meetings. As we move forward, you will begin to make more sense of things.”

That was the whole point of the treatment. Neutralise the ‘bad’ memories, and then tease them out one by one to try and make it easier for the mind to process and recover from them. Not every individual memory was recovered in this way, of course – many simply slotted into place as time went on – but each session, she had been told, would involve the uncovering of another major memory.

“Shall we get on with it, then?” asked Robin, the question coming out a little harsher than she intended. She was struggling to balance her curiosity with her fear – she knew the memories that had been neutralised were traumatic ones, but their absence gnawed at her like thirst or hunger.

Singh chuckled. “I just wish to be sure that you are ready for what is coming. The memory will flood into your mind a little like a dream – but because it is a memory, it may be a little fragmented, a little jarring. People often find that they are not chronological in their narrative. You may find yourself experiencing all of the emotions it evokes simultaneously, which can be overwhelming. I want you to take your time to process it before you feel you have to talk to me. Is that alright?”

Feeling somewhat chastised, Robin nodded, and the doctor leant forward to place his cool palm on her forehead – just as the surgeon had done before the operation. He began to chant an incantation in a language that Robin could not comprehend even a little, the plosive syllables melodic and fluid.

As before, the magic sent warmth through her body, like stepping into sunlight. Her eyes fluttered closed against her control, and she felt herself slip into the memory.

The classroom was a strange one; though rectangular in shape, there was a huge pillar at its centre that cut off one side of the room from the other. In front of that pillar rested the teacher’s desk, the only point from which both sides of the classroom could be seen.

The room as a whole could be cut off from the corridor, which ran its entire length, by shutters that unfolded like sliding doors – though they were tired and old and stuck so often that they were rarely used. And, though the sound of children could be heard in the distance, the classroom was empty save for two figures.

One, Robin realised, was herself. She could not have been more than eight or nine years old – a good deal shorter and with thin brown hair that ran almost to her waist. The familiarity of the uniform flooded back into her memory as she beheld it: a brown sweatshirt over a white polo shirt, with black trousers and shoes. The cuffs of the jumper were frayed, and her younger self picked nervously at them as she stood before the second figure.

The woman – her teacher for this year of school, she recalled – was in her early sixties, or thereabouts. She had a shock of reddish hair that puffed about her head, and a warm if imposing smile. Robin remembered going to her retirement party; perhaps the year she had been their tutor was her last.

It was there that the memory became much less like a dream. Rather than hearing the conversation, Robin began to recall what had happened – not like a script, but in a wash of ideas that flooded into her mind. It was the end of her penultimate year of primary school, and she was receiving her exam results. Everyone else in the class had been given theirs before the break, but not Robin. She was made to wait until everyone had gone.

Pain, shame and fear flooded through her in a dizzying wave of emotion. The other children had stared at her, mocked her for being the odd one out. Perhaps the know-it-all had finally failed a test. Perhaps she was going to be thrown out of school – and good riddance to her. No one liked her anyway.

Robin began to feel herself shrinking, as if the memory of the words were causing her to recoil slowly into a ball. Perhaps if she became small enough, they wouldn’t look at her anymore.

It hurt.

It hurt so much that Robin tried to turn, as if she could pull away from the onslaught of emotion.

But she hadn’t failed her exams – on the contrary, her marks were exceptional across the board. One of the only students to gain top marks in all three subjects, Robin had been singled out not because she had bought such disgrace on herself that it could not be repeated in front of others, but because she had succeeded so brilliantly that her teacher had not wanted the others to mock her for it. Realising this only made Robin feel all the more ashamed; her teacher’s compassion became pity, a pity that made her feel small and unimportant.

In Robin’s mind a small voice, a cruel voice, began to wonder: why hadn’t she done better? She was meant to be gifted. But the marks she had received were those that any other student could get. Other people had gotten them, though her teacher seemed to be suggesting that hers were better.

Why hadn’t she been given the chance to take additional tests, some that might have given her the chance to score even higher, prove that she was just as clever as the eleven or twelve-year-olds that were already at high school? Being a year ahead was nothing. Plenty of people were. But she could have been two years. Three. Right?

This voice struck Robin even deeper than the remembered taunts of her classmates, because it was her own voice. She was supposed to be unique, but she was just like the rest of them. She was never going to be good enough; she was never going to get the chance. Even when she was offered it, she never managed it. She never put the effort in.

The pain of this realisation clutched at Robin’s heart as she opened her eyes to see Dr Singh’s room once more, the memory of a cold metal computer table under her hands and the safe stacks of the school’s library ringing in her head like echoes of another life. To her confusion, she found that her pulse was racing, and her breaths were short. She even had tears on her cheeks.

As panic began to set in further, she felt Singh’s cool hands wrap around her own, which were shaking. “It’s alright, Robin,” he said, his voice low and soothing. “You’re back. Just take a nice, deep breath for me. That’s it. Keep taking slow, deep breaths. There’s no rush.”

Robin did her best to follow the instruction, but it seemed frustratingly difficult to do so. Surely she couldn’t be incapable of breathing properly; it was the most natural of all things to do, and yet every time she inhaled she felt as if a weight was pressing down upon her chest, preventing her from getting enough oxygen.

A part of her knew that this was one of the symptoms she’d experienced before the operation, that it was normal for her – but that did not make it any the less terrifying.

Only at length did she finally get enough air to calm her racing pulse and hitching breaths. Though she could not bear to look into his face, she did her best to smile faintly at the doctor, who gently pulled his hands away. A stray thought – that physical contact was sometimes necessary to ground the subject after an awakening – drifted by in her mind.

Cautiously, Robin began to try and articulate what she had just experienced.
“I was at school,” she began, but even the mention of it made some of the panic set in again. She continued slowly and deliberately, as if forcing herself onwards word by word. “I was getting my exam results in primary school. The teacher told everyone else their results during the lesson, but kept me behind after to tell me mine. I got top marks, but…for some reason that felt horrible.”

Dr Singh nodded, and waited for her to continue, but Robin was lost for words. She couldn’t comprehend how she could feel so utterly awful about something that was cause for celebration. Had she failed to see what the memory was truly about? Perhaps it had gone wrong somehow, and she had missed something vital to understanding it.

“What was horrible about it? How did it make you feel?”

Robin paused. To say that she had felt ashamed, or small, felt rather childish – but she could not make sense of why. She told him anyway, though she quickly added, “I suppose I must’ve had some reason to. All I remember is getting the results. I mean I guess the other kids weren’t all that nice about it, but…”

“Weren’t that nice?”

Swallowing, Robin tried to ignore the sudden vice-like grip of panic about her throat. “Okay,” she backtracked, “maybe that was more unpleasant than…I just remember knowing that people would stare at me, that they’d know I was the weird one, the odd one out. They said some unpleasant things, but kids do that, right?”

The doctor’s expression was inscrutable. “Children can be very cruel,” he said, an odd lightness in his tone. Robin wondered what he knew that he wasn’t telling her.

“It’s…” she began, but all the sentences she could begin were forming and dissolving in her mind, as if she were trying again and again to create the perfect statement. This sent a new wave of anxiety through her. Gritting her teeth, she forced herself to continue talking. “It’s confusing. The emotions I felt were so, so strong – but they didn’t really do very much, the other students I mean. At least I don’t think they did.”

“As we uncover more of your memories,” Dr Singh explained, “this will happen less. Since this is your first recovery session, you do not have a lot of context for the memory. Tomorrow we might unlock something related which makes this memory a lot easier to understand.”

Robin sighed. “And the more memories I’ve recovered, the more likely it is that I’ll already have the context.”

“Precisely.”

“The school was in the village I grew up in,” Robin said after a moment’s pause, as more information trickled back into her consciousness. “Our house was on the outskirts, by a nearby hamlet. It was…five, ten minutes walk to the school? Both my brothers went there as well. It was split across two sides of the road, the first few years on one side and the rest on the other. Sorry, I…I don’t know where this is all coming from.”

The doctor smiled and nodded his head. “Recovery takes two forms,” he explained. “The initial recovery, the vision-like part, is the first. After that you will find yourself remembering more and more. This can continue for some time.”

A sick feeling began to settle in Robin’s stomach. When she continued talking, her voice was thin and crackling, like brittle fabric pulled too tight.

“They used to chase me home from school. I remember running – but I couldn’t let them see me run. I would walk as fast as I could out of sight of the school and then run.” The memory came to her as rushes of fear and words that bubbled forth into her mind. She said them aloud because she had no idea what else to do with them. “I don’t – I don’t like this. Please make it stop.”

“It’s alright, Robin.” He sounded calm, soothing. He always did. “Why don’t we move out of this room, yes? Many people come to associate their recovery rooms with painful emotions, and it’s not uncommon to have trouble letting go of remembering at the end of a session. Let’s go for a walk, we have some time left.”

Nodding, Robin got shakily to her feet and followed the doctor out of the room, down the corridor, barely paying attention to anything but taking one step after the other. This, too, gave her a jarring sense of déjâ-vu. It wasn’t raining, though. That was wrong. It should be raining, and there should be noise everywhere, cars and buses zipping past her. It would be so easy to step in front of one and get rid of everything.

The warmth of the autumn sun on her face pulled Robin from that thought, released the vice-like grip it had on her heart.

The next day, sat in the same seat as before, Robin closed her eyes and began to remember something new. But it wasn’t new; it was the same old story. A different school, different people, but the same gnawing fear.

This time she was in a small room that had a piano, a chair, and a number of stands for sheet music. Although she was sat on the piano stool, there was no music in front of her, and she was not playing – she was just waiting. Waiting for it to be time for rehearsals, where she would be safe.

Safe.

The word jarred through her like ice, and even though she was still locked in the memory Robin was aware that she was crying. A knock came at the door in her vision, and the younger Robin turned to look into a face with raised eyebrows.

“Have you been in here since the bell?”

Robin nodded, and the teacher fixed her with a stern glare that made her flinch. He was the one who guarded these rooms, her safe rooms, the ones where she could hide from the others. But he was also the ammunition they used against her – “Are you going to the music room again, Robin? Visiting your boyfriend? Guess you weren’t clever enough and had to sleep your way to -”

“Robin, the lunch break is for eating lunch.”

Turning, she picked up her bag and her instrument case. “I wasn’t hungry. Can I come and set up?”

The teacher’s sigh filled her ears as she felt herself being drawn out of the memory, heart still gripped in a vice by the memory of words. As she began to realise what had happened to her, with more and more pieces of the jigsaw presented to her, Robin couldn’t help but wonder why she couldn’t have been in an accident. Or lost someone close to her. Or been assaulted.

That would be a much more reasonable explanation for her pain than just words, wouldn’t it?

Robin looked up at Dr Singh, her eyes skittering away as soon as they met his. This time she wasn’t short of breath, but there was a knot holding her heart in a vice again, and every time she tried to understand what she was feeling it only tightened.

“He was my hero,” she said, staring at a patch on the floor where one of the glass tiles had cracked. “Talented and unflappable and kind. I loved him in that way you love people when you’re a teenager. When it’s impossible to do anything but yearn for something. It was silly, but he was the one who I trusted to give me somewhere to escape from them. And they broke that, too.”

“How?”

“Rumours.” It sounded so stupid, when she said it out loud. So weak. How could something so small make her feel so terrible? “And the only place I could hide from them was there, in the music room; it was the only place they didn’t go. So the more they said things, the more I hid there, and the more they had to say.”

The doctor said nothing, in that infuriating way that psychiatrists always did when they wanted you to continue talking, so you could get to the things that you didn’t want to say. In the empty space created between them, Robin chuckled, the sound bubbling up out of her throat from the knot in her chest.

“He told me once,” she said, picking at a loose thread by her knee, “that I was an excellent student. But that I would be an exceptional one if I ever learned to ask for help.”

Dr Singh smiled and folded his hands together in his lap. “Well, you’re here now. So you must have.”

“Maybe. I guess. But I think you can go through the motions of something without actually meaning it.”

Robin hoped, with everything that she had, that she wasn’t doing that.

Several days into her treatment, Dr Singh insisted that Robin take a break – a day without a memory procedure, where she could allow things to process. The instruction felt like icy-cold jabs of fear into her abdomen, so she walked out into the gardens (which were too perfect, too pristine to be truly beautiful) and tried to understand why.

She knew now that she had been abused. Not by her parents, who were good and kind; not by anyone in her family. By the children who had been her peers, who were meant to be her contemporaries, the people with whom she could find solidarity. Robin remembered the fear, the pain, and the hate. She remembered needing to hide.

It was some minutes before Robin realised she had walked out of the gardens, around the compound and towards the front gates – not to escape, but in search of something. She came across what she was looking for just past the car park, on the edge of a small roundabout that lay a few dozen feet from the gates themselves: a bus shelter.

Sitting amidst the metal and glass frame, Robin felt herself begin to remember something. At first she started to panic – she wasn’t in the room, Dr Singh wasn’t there, this wasn’t meant to happen – but then it became impossible to focus on her fear, as the vision took hold of her fully. She had come to the bus shelter, she realised, because she had spent so much time in one before.

Hidden from sight, she had finally been safe in a place where there was no safety. No one knew she was here. No one could say things to her, no one could interrupt her, no one could encroach on the shattered purity of the new place she had hoped so very much would be better. It wasn’t better; all schools were the same, even those that were meant for people like her – people who were special. Sometimes Robin hated being special, and sometimes she clung to it like a lifeline.

In the bus shelter she tore through the pages of books, seeking the solidarity her peers denied her. She hid from everything – everyone. Even herself.

This time there was no panic that hit Robin as she felt herself phase out of the vision. There was no grip around her heart. There was only loneliness – deep, terrible loneliness. How long had she been alone, like this? How long had she hidden so far and so hard that she had hidden even from herself?

Of one thing Robin was certain – she didn’t want to be like this, not anymore. So she strode out of the bus shelter and walked back to the compound, her steps speeding up almost to a jog. She did not stop until she had made it into the building, skidding along the clinically clean floor to a stop before the nurses’ station.

“Ms Davis? Is everything alright?”

The nurse on duty leant into the window, a concerned look on his face. He had a nametag pinned to his uniform that said ‘Mark’, and there was something comforting about his presence. Even in her distress, Robin found herself wondering whether everyone that worked in the compound was employed for their approachability.

“I’m not sure,” Robin said, feeling her heart pounding in her chest. “I just didn’t want to be on my own.”

Mark smiled at her, and unlocked the door next to him. “Then why don’t you come in and sit down.”

“I think I got another memory back.” The words spilled from her before she had done much more than graze the chair. “I was outside in the grounds, and found myself walking to the bus shelter, and as I sat there I started…remembering.”

“I’m hearing that this has unsettled you,” Mark replied. His turn of phrase should have irritated her – it sounded like it was copied straight out of a counsellor’s handbook, and probably was – but somehow Robin found it soothing. Genuine. “You’re having a day off treatment, I understand?”

Robin wondered if everyone in the building knew more about her than she did. “Dr Singh suggested it would be good for me. I’m not sure this is what he had in mind.”

“Or perhaps it is. Perhaps this is exactly the sort of thing he wanted to happen.”

“I suppose.” Robin wrapped her fingers around her knees. “Is it better for the memories to spontaneously un-neutralise themselves?”

With a smile, Mark asked, “Why don’t you tell me?”

“Heh.”

“You are the one who’s experiencing it, after all. Is it very different to when it happens in session?”

“Maybe. No. Yes. All of the above. I think I panicked because – you know, I wasn’t there, in the room. I was more worried about whether or not it was meant to happen than the content of it. But it’s a good thing, surely – that the magic thinks I’m ready to have another memory back?”

She hoped it was, anyway.

The next day, Robin returned to the treatment room and sat as Dr Singh pressed his palm to her forehead, transferring his magic to her mind and lighting up her nerves with unnatural tingles.

Around her, the world dissolved – not quite into a vision, but into the strange sort of half-dream you get when drifting in and out of sleep in the morning. Robin remembered rain, pouring rain, and a coat that wasn’t quite waterproof. She remembered the edge of a curb, being splashed by red buses that rushed past at too great a speed for the inner city streets.

But that was it, that was all; and when she opened her eyes again to see the treatment room, Robin couldn’t help but feel that it had been something of an anti-climax. She explained as much to Dr Singh, who scratched notes onto a clipboard and hummed thoughtfully under his breath.

“Sometimes it does happen like this,” he explained. “You get particularly significant memories in small parts; the magic does not want to give you the whole memory at once, incase it overwhelms you.”

Robin didn’t get the rest of the memory back until later that day, when she was out in the gardens. She had walked through them again, this time going a different way – to where the gardens ended at a cliff-face, cascading down to the rocks and the sea below. The air was saltier here, the wind greater; the spray of the sea almost made her feel like she was standing in the rain.

Perhaps that was why she got up on the ledge. She wasn’t really thinking about it. She placed one foot in front of the other as felt appropriate, and ended up standing on the very extreme of the wall. Distantly, she became aware of crowds of people. That was only to be expected, she supposed, for this time of day in the city. People were pouring out of their offices in search of an overpriced lunch.

Wind whipped past her, and she could hear the roar of too-fast traffic pushing her with its wake.

“Robin. Robin, listen to me – you are here with us, in the centre. You’re not in a memory, this is real.”

Evidently she had become so messed up that she was now internalising her psychiatrists’ voices. Robin looked down at her feet; her left toes were curled over the edge of the wall, looking decidedly ape-like. Evolution was a funny thing, wasn’t it? She wondered whether it had always been a gradual thing, and at what point people had stopped needing to climb.

“Robin, please – just step down off the ledge.”

Now that just made no sense. She wasn’t on a ledge, she was on the road – she could hear the sounds of the city, trains rushing past on the bridge ahead of her. She could feel the cold slap of the rain as it hammered against her face. Why hadn’t she bought an umbrella? Oh well. It was besides the point, anyway.

Another bus passed, shaking her with its wake. Was it going fast enough to kill her?

Robin wondered what it was that made people want things. What it was that gave them the urge to do things – was it the subconscious rearing its head for a moment, expressing its wishings? She remembered lying in bed next to the window; bashing her arm against the ledge because it would hurt. Trying to do it harder, to see if she could leave a bruise.

She remembered a knife, and her thigh, and watching the skin open up like a mouth gasping for breath. Would it leave a scar? She hoped it would leave a scar. Maybe people would notice it then. Either way, she deserved it. Either way, she’d wanted to. She’d wanted to.

She wanted to step in front of the bus.

Wait – no.

No, she didn’t. She didn’t want to step in front of a bus – what the hell?

Why would she want a thing like that? Why would she want to die?

Stumbling, Robin slipped on the wall and stumbled down onto the grass to her right. As she landed, clumsy on her feet, the rain stopped around her and she became suddenly aware of several pairs of hands catching hold of her arms – of shouts of relief, of murmured voices talking to her in soothing tones.

She had absolutely no idea what they were saying, of course. It took her several minutes even to realise who was around her – Dr Singh was on her left, Mark on her right, another of the nurses holding her shaking hand. It felt like she was looking at them through water; blurry and indistinct, coming in flashes whenever she opened and closed her eyes.

Before she knew it, Robin was back inside – in her perfect bedroom in the centre, sat on the bed with a blanket wrapped around her and someone trying desperately to offer her something to drink. No tea, of course. Caffeine interfered with the treatment. Just water, fruit juice, squashes. Robin had never liked apple and blackcurrant, which was strange – she liked both apple and blackcurrant separately.

“Robin,” Mark said at her side, “what are you thinking about?”

Distantly, Robin was aware that she had almost jumped off a wall – and so it felt inappropriate to explain that she had been considering flavours of squash. So instead, she went for, “Do you think we have control of our thoughts?”

“No. Not all the time, at least.”

“Right. Well. What do you do when you’re thinking things that you don’t want to?”

Mark took the glass of water from the other nurse who had gone to fetch it, and handed it to Robin. “Perhaps you’d like to talk about it.”

Though she opened her mouth to reply, Robin felt as if all of the words had gotten stuck on her tongue. It was one thing to think about wanting to die; it was something else entirely to say it out loud. To put sound to the words that were like burning ice in her thoughts.

“Take your time.”

It felt like the world of time, of stuttering with her very thoughts, of working and reworking the sentence in her head, before Robin managed to say it.

“I was just wondering what it would be like,” she mumbled, “if I stepped in front of the bus.”

During their next session, Robin sat across from Dr Singh and said nothing for the first twenty minutes. Words danced around on her tongue, but she couldn’t get any of them out. Only at length did she sigh, curling her knees up against her chest and finding that she didn’t care what he thought of her putting her heels on the seat.

“What was I like, when I came here?” she asked, causing the psychiatrist to tilt his head. “What had it done to me?”

There was a pause; likely he was trying to decide what he should and shouldn’t tell her. “You were overwhelmed. A decade of being treated so terribly had taught you certain ways of reacting to things, and left you bereft of what we would call a normal emotional response.”

“So I was a bit of a mess.”

“That,” he replied with a smile, “is exactly how you described yourself on your entrance form.”

Robin tightened her arms around her knees. “I don’t want to step in front of a bus.” Dr Singh said nothing in reply, but shifted forward in his seat to listen intently. “I think I would rather learn how not to be afraid. Or – no. No, I want to learn how to live with being afraid constantly.”

“Are you still afraid, even after the treatment?”

“Of course. Of course I’m still afraid, how couldn’t I be?” She didn’t mention that she had almost stepped off a cliff because the treatment had made her hallucinate; everyone here had been good to her, and they were already too close to thinking it was their fault. “I’m not going to stop being afraid, that’s not possible.”

Dr Singh smiled. “So what’s the point of the treatment?”

“Well,” Robin said, dropping her feet back down to the floor and leaning forward. “Now I know what it’s like to not remember all the things that happened to me…I guess I can better imagine a time where they don’t sit on me quite as heavily.”

“It sounds like you can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Robin shook her head. “More like I’ve now got an idea that I’m even in a tunnel. And that there’s the possibility that a light exists outside it.”

And that, she thought to herself, was enough. Right now, it was enough.

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