by Snow Angel
Cassandra can’t remember her ninth birthday
|Prompt: On your 30th birthday, you receive a package from your family that includes a photo album filled with pictures from your ninth birthday party. As you look through it you realize that not only do you not remember your ninth birthday party, you don't recognize the house where the party is being held, or anyone in the photos (except your nine-year-old self). What's going on here?
Word Count: 508
“Happy birthday, Cassandra,” Dr. Becker said as she stomped into his office, “how are we…”
“Stuff it, Doc,” she slammed a pink lace covered photo album on the coffee table in front of the overstuffed love seat and sit down.
“Cassandra, are you having your midlife crises at thirty,” he smiled as he studied the frown the face of his most volatile patient.
She scowled at his smile and then sighed. “Doc,” she opened the photo album to the first page. “I can’t remember my ninth birthday and the only face in those photos I recognize is my own.”
“I see,” he turned the album toward himself and leafed through it. “Where did you get the album?”
“My mother sent it to me as a thirtieth birthday present. She thought I would get a kick from reminiscing about my childhood.”
“Which one of those women in the pictures is your mother?”
“None of those women are my mother,” Cassandra’s left hand began to tremble. “At least I don’t think any of them gave birth to me.”
Dr. Becker made a note in a pad he had in his hand. “What’s frightening you?”
“I’m not sure, Doc, I called my mother when I opened the album this morning. I asked her which one of the women in the photos was her.”
“What did she say?”
“Started crying and then my sister picked up the phone and told me not to call again until I sobered up…”
“I didn’t know you drink anything stronger then black coffee.”
“I don’t, Doc,” Cassandra took a deep breath and leaned back in the love seat. “Why can’t I remember my ninth birthday or anyone in those photos?”
“Didn’t your father die when you were nine?”
“My father was murdered when I was nine; they found his body in our backyard with a gun shot wound to the head.” Cassandra began to recite, word for word, the same speech she always gave when anyone asked about her father’s death. “The wound was not self inflected, but the police never found a weapon or identified a suspect.”
“Cassandra, is it possible you witnessed your father’s death?”
“No, Doc! It is not possible!” She glared at him. “Dad’s body was found on Christmas Eve, three months after my ninth birthday. Mom, my sister and I went to Grandma’s house on the evening of December 23; we were not home when Dad was…” She was trembling all over and unable to say any more.
“It’s all right, Cassandra,” his brow wrinkled as he considered his next words. “I think we need to explore this issue further, but not at this time. May I keep this album for a week or two?”
“Keep it as long as you want, Doc. When shall I make my next appointment?”
“How about two weeks, if that’s in your budget?”
“Two weeks it is, Doc.”
She’s hiding something, Dr. Becker thought as he watched Cassandra leave his office, but I don’t think she realizes she’s hiding something from both me and herself.