Editors note: The following is a serialized science fiction story by Adam Brewer. Part 4 (the conclusion) is featured.
Pain seared through Patrick’s very being, needles pulled back from the base of his brain, leaving him awake and in the real world. The white lights were harsh on his eyes, but he didn’t pay much heed to them. He stared unblinking at the ceiling, everything that had just been recalled to his memory at odds with his new memories. The idea that he had hated Tina was foreign to him, but the memory of those feelings was still there. He wasn’t a new person, he still had to face his old problems, he had to deal with the reality that he had married a woman he hadn’t loved, yet had still loved him. He had had children, none of whom loved him. A single tear streamed down his face. He shut his eyes to prevent any more from following.
When he had at least for the moment quieted his sadness, he opened his eyes and sat up. The wall clock read forty minutes until death. Doctors were panicking around the controls, trying to figure out why Patrick was awake.
“Don’t worry about it, you’ll have heart attacks and die before I do.” Patrick joked. Patrick had joked. That was new.
“But you should be out for another forty minutes,” the lead doctor said.
“No, I meant for this to happen. Only needed a new set of eyes.” The doctors looked at him like he was crazy. Maybe he was. “My wife should be here; please let her in.”
Flustered, a nurse went to show Tina in. When his wife came into the room and he saw her face his heart began to flutter, it had a little left in it until it died and took him with. This was the woman Pat had never loved. No, that wasn’t right. He had loved her near the end. If he hadn’t loved her then he wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of rewriting memories in the first place. He had loved her, he had just been too prideful to admit his feelings even to himself. Patrick had written his final lies. That lie had been that he didn’t care. But he had also written the truth, maybe the first truth he had written in a long time. The truth was that he had been afraid of love.
Tina’s face was astonished. “What did they do to you?”
“Only what I wanted them to, Tina.” Pat took a deep breath before the plunge. He had just lived a lifetime saying his next words, but now they were terrifying. “I love you.”
“It took fifty years and a new pair of eyes, but I finally realized that all those years, you loved me. But I never saw it. I was a sad old man from my twenties while you tried to make me happy.” Pat waved a hand over the medical equipment.
“Patrick, I know what they did to your mind. I know that you changed your memories of me so that I was someone you could love.” She started to cry. “That was my one nightmare since we met, that you would love me for being someone else.”
“I didn’t change you one bit, I only made myself love you for who you are.” Patrick hoped she would believe him. “I can never come to terms with what I did to Alex or Sarah, but I thought maybe I could ask your forgiveness. I’m sorry.”
Tina wiped away even more tears. What had he done wrong? Why was she crying? After all that, he was still a failure. Then she smiled. Through the tears she smiled.
“I will always forgive you, love.”
Patrick jumped off the medical machine and embraced the woman he loved. “What ever made you love someone like me?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Hope, maybe.”