“Mr. Grey? You may come in and start getting ready for surgery. Just dress the gown and wait for the doctor. He will be here in five minutes to give you the anesthesia.”
She left Paul alone. He looked around. The room was white and cold. He took off his clothes and put the gown on. Then he sat down on the hospital bed and searched with his eyes for any object interesting enough to focus his mind on. But he did not succeed.
His mind flew back to Peter. He thought of him, the same way he has been doing in the past six months. Since they broke up, Paul can’t manage to get Peter off his head. Actually, Peter was more present to his everyday life now than when they were together. He was his company for breakfast and dinner. When Paul was showering, Peter watched him. When Paul walked the dog, Peter followed him. When Paul tried to work, Peter wanted to remind him of every aspect of their relationship that went wrong. And even when Paul slept, all he did was dream of Peter. Over and over again.
His friends told him that he needed more patience. That it was normal. And that it would soon be gone. But Paul knew that with him it was different. It was more than a regular heartbreak.
Paul suspected that he was suffering of a physical condition, so he went to the hospital some weeks before. The doctor, after listening carefully to all he had to say, came up with a diagnosis. Paul had a brain tumor. More specifically, all the memories from Peter had become a tumor inside Paul’s brain. And the tumor was located in the region where he storaged his immediate memory.
“So this is why I can’t stop thinking about Peter, Doctor?”
“Well, don’t tell anyone that I told you this, but… Precisely! All we need to do is to extract this tumor from your brain and you will be back to your everyday life.”
“And then I will be able to think of normal things? Like, complain about the bad quality of Sunday TV? Or laugh of the stupid jokes my friends make in a bar table?” asked Paul, hopefully.
“Indeed. I am sure that, once we get rid of this tumor, you will be back to your life. Peter-free.”
“So I need to do this surgery, Doctor,” concluded Paul, melancholically.
“I am happy you are so decided to be cured, young man. But don’t you want to know more about your condition and how are we going to help you?” asked the doctor.
“You see, when you and Peter broke up, you suffered intensely. Your body understood this as a trauma and tried to get rid of all the pain and suffering the fastest it could. So, as a defense mechanism, your brain gathered all the brain cells that contained your memories of Peter and kept it hidden in a specific region. You know, so it would be easier to handle them. It tried to isolate those memories.”
“Really?” asked Paul, “I’ve never heard of anything like this…”
“It is very rare,” explained the doctor, “but more common than you would imagine. There are several cases registered in the medical literature. I am sure even you already saw this happening. Let me give you an example… Have you ever met a couple that seemed perfectly in love, but after breaking up they just kept going on with their lives? As if they never loved each other?” Paul nodded, thinking about how Peter had asked someone else in marriage before meeting him, and that he was just fine when they met. “In those cases, their brain did the same procedure, but successfully. I mean, there was no tumor” clarified the doctor.
“Hmmm. And why do you think I have a tumor?”
“We can’t really tell, but… You seem to have a great amount of good memories… That is for sure. And everybody knows that those memories use more space than the bad ones. Another hypothesis would be that your brain understood that those were very relevant memories to you. They are what common people would call “a great love”. But what is specially interesting in your case is that your cells did not accept the isolation and started to reproduce uncontrollably. They left their area and multiplied incessantly. And they did it in the region where you keep your recent memories. And this is why Peter is present in every single thought you have.”
Paul stood there quiet. It was a lot to digest.
“Are you ok?” asked the doctor, a little worried.
“I am,” said Paul coldly, “So I believe surgery would be my best option, right?”
“Yes. But you must know that there are side effects, or better saying, consequences to this surgery. Do you remember that all your Peter memories are gathered in this tumor?”
“This means that all the memories you have of him will be in the tumor.”
“I see… And?”
“The same tumor we will get rid of,” explained patiently the doctor.
“I don’t understand.”
“This means that, when we remove the tumor, you will lose all your memories related to Peter. The good and the bad ones. You will forget you ever met him.”
“I will not remember I met him? Like if you could literally erase him from my mind?”
“Exactly. We will remove him entirely from your life. But remember, all medical literature about this indicates that patients are ready to go back to their normal lives after the procedure.”
Paul became even more serious.
“I need to think, doctor. Can I call you back about this?”
“Take your time, son.”
Paul went home and tried to think about the decision. However, Peter was in all of his thoughts. Anything he tried to do came back to Peter. Every conversation with his friends came back to Peter. Every movie reminded him of Peter.
Since he could not think straight, he understood that the only viable option was to undertake the surgery. It was not his choice. But the necessary condition to go on with his life.
“May I come in?” asked the nurse from the other side of the door.
Paul stood still. Silently thinking of Peter.
She opened the door and asked, “Are you ready, Mr. Grey?”
The doctor came in and started washing his hands. Paul laid down. As the nurse cleaned his arm with alcohol, Paul looked outside. The day was cloudy and the sky was white. Just like it was when he first met Peter three years ago. After the alcohol came the needle. It hurt a little.
“Please, Mr. Grey, count backwards from ten to one.”
“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six…”
And he finally rested.