16 Chapter 16

Lucy cocked her head to the side, and Emma said, "Hmmm." Then they looked at each other.

"Seriously. Like, I found it, and I don't know when I wrote it." I was beginning to panic a little on the inside. What if I started to forget other things, too, like my friends or the days of the week?

"Well," Emma said, straightening her glasses as she got up and moved back to her chair, "I guess that means you don't remember any of those things actually happening either?"

It was a good question, and the short answer was no, I didn't. But then, I'd just discovered this page before I'd come over, and I hadn't really thought about trying to remember.

"This is so bizarre," Lucy said. "What would make you write something down and then forget it? Were you sleeping when you wrote it?"

"I don't know. I don't remember writing it."

"Okaywell what is the last thing you do remember? Maybe we can work backward."

Emma had a good point. I took a deep breath and started talking through my day. "I remember riding over here with my dad, finding the notebook, asking my parents if I could come over while eating pancakes. And Aaron came by this morning."

"Aaron? The same guy you wrote about?" Lucy asked, gesturing at the notebook.

"Yes. And I know that wasn't the first time he's been there, but I don't really remember anything about what he said the first time he was there. I know that doesn't make sense."

"But the first time you talked to him wasn't the first time he was there," Emma reminded me. "Your notes say he was in your sister's room the night Drew died."

"That's true. There's something about his voice. It's hard to describe, but it's memorable. I think he was the one in my sister's room that night. But I don't really remember what happened the night Drew died. I just have a feeling about it." I let out another sigh, this one in frustration. "It's so hard to explain."

"That's okay. We might be getting somewhere," Lucy said, reassuringly. "So, you do think what you wrote here is accurate?"

"I do." My voice didn't sound too resolute though. "I think I remember enough to say it's probably accurateat least according to what I knew at the time."

"All right, so that strategy seemed to get us somewhere. What did Aaron say today? Do you remember that?"

I couldn't help but roll my eyes at her. "I remember today, Luce."

"Well, I don't know," she shrugged. "I remember yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that."

"All right," I said, cutting her off. "I couldn't really hear a word Aaron was saying, but I did hear some of my parents' responses. So they said Cadence was sleeping." I tried to go back over their conversation in my head. "Oh, and they said something about a procedure."

"A procedure?" Emma asked. "Like a medical procedure?"

"I don't know," I admitted. "I couldn't hear the context. Just that the procedure went well. I don't even know if it had to do with my sister."

"That's bizarre." Lucy scratched her chin for a second. "You know what, we need to write this down in case you forget again."

"Good idea," Emma agreed.

Lucy got up and walked to a desk across the room, producing a pen. She came back and started a fresh sheet. "I don't want to contaminate your questionable work."

I absently wondered if I might, at some point, forget there were now two important sheets in the notebook. Lucy began to write. "So after that, I heard the name Jamie. I am pretty sure I'd heard that before."

"Yep, it's right here," Lucy said, turning the page and pointing to the last paragraph I'd written. "This says Jamie has a processdo you think that might be the procedure Aaron was talking about today?"

"Those words are very similar in meaning," Emma noted.

"Maybe. It's a possibility." Lucy wrote that down. "And I heard two new names today. Eliza and Christian."

"Are you sure they weren't saying someone is a Christian?" Lucy asked. "You know, like religious?"

"I don't think so. I think my mom said she'd never met Christian, but I couldn't make out the exact sentence. I think it's a person named Christian."

"Do you think the purple-haired girl you mentioned is this Eliza?" Emma asked.

"Maybe." It seemed like that was my favorite word now. "I thought my mom said something about a car in that sentence. Like maybe Eliza would be the one bringing Cadence home tomorrow." I was seriously considering rigging up some sort of surveillance in the living room so I could hear my parents' conversations from now on.

"Anything else today?"

"Not when Aaron was talking to my parents," I said, feeling more confident than I had about anything else. "But my parents did say something weird when they got back to the dining room table."

"What's that?" Lucy asked, pen poised.

"My sister is dropping out of college." I couldn't even believe the words, so I didn't expect them to.

"Shut up!" Lucy said, her mouth hanging open in disbelief.

"That's unfortunate," Emma stated quietly. "She won't be able to find gainful employment easily that way."

"Actually, that's the thing," I said, "my parents said that she was going to be working with Aaron."

"Say what?" Lucy asked. "Doing what?"

"That's also weird." I replayed the conversation with my parents. I realized I hadn't asked a lot of questions, and I remember feeling, at the time, that I didn't really care about the answers. I had no idea why that might be. I certainly cared now. "My mom said security, but that it was complicated. But" something in my notes jarred my memory, "My dad said that Aaron used to work with my grandmabut he almost said grandparents."

The other two girls exchanged glances. "Why is that weird?" Emma asked.

"My grandpa died in the '80s, a long time ago. Aaron looks like he's about my sister's age, maybe a little older. I'd be shocked if he's even thirty."

"So he couldn't have worked with your grandpa unless he was a little kid or something," Lucy reasoned.

"Exactly. And my grandpa was an engineer, like my dad."

"That doesn't make any sense. Maybe your dad misspoke?" Emma asked.

"Maybe." There was that word again. "But even the idea of Aaron working with my grandma doesn't make sense to me. As far as I know, she's never had a job. Not in my lifetime."

"So weird." Lucy's pen moved to capture every word. "What else? What about this other dude who showed up?"

I inhaled through my nose, trying to remember. The notes I'd written down seemed so cryptic now. "I don't know," I admitted. "I remember there being another guy." I closed my eyes. I thought back to when Aaron had knocked on the door that morning. My initial reaction was to hope that it wasn't him. That it was someone else. "Elliott." My voice was a whisper.

"Who?" Emma asked.

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"Dr. Elliott Sanderson." It was coming back to me now. "The guy with the curly hair, the one I wrote about, he was the doctor. He was there the night Drew died. And he came to talk to me about it."

"Hold on a minute," Lucy said, setting the notebook down. "You mean, the last thing you did before you talked to that doctor was write in your notebook that he was at your house, and then you don't remember having written this stuff down?"

I nodded. Things were suddenly starting to come back to me now. I remembered sitting across from Dr. Sanderson, the soothing tone of his rich voice, the things he said to me about Drew. "Lucy do you think he has something to do with me forgetting?"

"Uh, yeah," she said, her face turning even more pale than normal.

I couldn't believe it. I had trusted that guy. He seemed legitimately concerned about me. And my parents had encouraged me to talk to him. "So all those things he said to me, about Cadence being okay, and Drew's death being no big deal all of that was just in an attempt to to."

Emma finished my sentence for me. "Brainwash you."

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