Hayden stared out the glass. A breeze moved the leaves of the trees in the courtyard, making them dance. The door behind him opened. Hayden turned away from the window. A man in a white lab coat and glasses stepped in, the door closed with a soft click. He turned to Hayden.
"Hello." He said, smiling. Hayden stared at the man, waves of strange nostalgia washing over him. He watched the other man as he seemed to evaluate the room and suddenly Hayden felt self conscious. The man was a few inches taller than himself with a solid build, he had a warm tan, light brown eyes and light brown, shortly cropped hair.
"Who are you?" Hayden asked. The man smiled sadly.
"I'm your physician."
Hayden blinked. "Am I sick? Do I need a doctor?"
The man laughed.
"No, no, it's nothing serious. I..." The man sobered. "My name is Demitri." He pulled a chair from the table that sat to the left of the veranda doors. "Sit, sit." The man, Demitri, seemed to be assuming authority but somehow it felt alright to let him lead.
"So Hayden, how are you?" Demitri asked. Hayden started. He should have expected this, in hindsight. Demitri was his physician, of course he would have known Hayden's name. It would have been in Hayden's file.
"I-uh..." He stuttered. Demitri seemed perfectly willing to wait for him to find his equilibrium, pulling another chair from the table. Demitri sat in the chair farther from the window and smiled expectantly up at Hayden. What could he say? Hayden didn't know, so he simply sat.
For some reason he felt completely at ease with the man. And that in turn made him feel uneasy. Hayden licked his lips. "Well... I guess I feel fine, which is why I'm wondering why I need a doctor." He shrugged and Demitri laughed.
"There's no need to worry, I'm less a medical doctor and closer to a... how shall we say, psychologist."
"But why do I need your counsel?" Hayden stared down at the table, absently tracing the grain with an idle finger.
"Again, its nothing serious... Let me tell you a story."
Hayden blinked. He had no idea as to what was happening. He shrugged. "I guess, if you want."
"I had a friend."
"So what happened to him?" Hayden asked before he realized that of course Demitri would tell him what happened to the other boy, but he'd said it and interrupted. Demitri didn't seem phased by the interruption. Hayden was more startled by the fact that he'd known the friend was a boy. Why had he known?
Demitri chuckled. "That comes later in the story Hayden."
"We were nearly inseparable as children. It drove my sister nuts, the pranks we played on her. Of course, we didn't start out as friends. We hated each other in the beginning, always getting into fist fights, as boys will do. But after that we were together nearly every waking hour. We went through hook ups, and break ups and make ups and everything imaginable together."
The sad smile was back, Demitri was consumed by memories, ones that Hayden could only guess at. He pulled his knees up to his chest, hugging his legs to his body.
"But then, at around college age, he started drifting away from me, from his family. At first his family suspected drugs, but I knew him and he wasn't the type. I tried to reach out to him but he... he pushed me away." The melancholy surrounding the man was nearly unbearable.
"Did you... Like him?" Hayden blurted.
"Like him? Of course I liked him, otherwise why would I have been his friend?" Demitri replied distractedly.
Hayden blushed. "I mean like like him." Demitri looked at Hayden and, for the first time it was like Demitri actually saw Hayden.
Demitri blinked slowly. "Ah, I see." He said. His hands clenched on the water bottle he'd brought in with him. "Would it make you uncomfortable if I said yes?"
Hayden shook his head. "No, I mean, from what even you've said, you seem to care a lot about him and... I mean, if I had a friend like you maybe I would have appreciated you more..." Hayden mumbled. "I'm sorry for asking." He said.
Demitri shook his head this time. "No, questions are good. No matter how uncomfortable it makes either of us." He took a sip of the water. "Do you want me to stop or should I keep going?"
Hayden chewed on his lip. "Go on." A breeze made the curtains flutter inward, billowing shapes of white.
"He began to forget things."
A sour feeling hit Hayden in the stomach.
"It wasn't that bad at first, he only started forgetting inconsequential things; where he bought things, acquaintance's addresses or phone numbers... information that could easily be had with a little bit of searching for the receipts and such. But then it got more serious. He started forgetting dates, people's names and faces... not close people, but his memory was failing. We should have stopped there and realized that this wasn't something we could control, to seek help. But we didn't. He didn't let us realize," Demitri said bitterly.
Hayden tugged absently at a loose thread in his pants.
"I can make excuses like I was getting my degree at the time and school was a full time thing, but he should have taken priority. In fact, he was the reason I was becoming a doctor." Demitri swallowed thickly. The cold feeling in Hayden's stomach grew heavier.
"It was about two or three years after the signs first started showing up. He was starting to forget bigger and bigger things. One day he forgot my name. He immediately covered it up with a smooth save, but we both knew what had happened. And that day I saw something in his eyes that I never thought I would ever see in his eyes. Fear."
"... So what happened?" Hayden said after a moment. It didn't seem like Demitri wanted to go on.
"I told him a story."
Hayden's breath caught. Demitri was smiling at him, it wasn't even a sad smile, though it had a slightly bitter sweetness to it. "He won't regain his memory, no that would be too much to ask. But now he can live. Isn't that right, Hayden?"
Hayden looked out of the window. The sun was setting.
"Thank you for the story, Demitri."