Glossolalia: incomprehensible speech in an imaginary language, sometimes occurring in a trance state, an episode of religious ecstasy, a schizophrenic episode, or meshnet interpausations.
I heard the whirr and pump of liquids pushing through an intravenous array, linked by clear plastic tubing to my elbow. My second memory sequence came into focus. My fingers burned. I blinked. White-grey ceiling tiles flaked and gathered dust. A woman who seemed familiar stood by my bed. She said, “Hello?”
I wanted to say something. I couldn’t speak. I must’ve looked confused. She said, “It’s me, Reena, your wife.”
My mouth refused to produce words. Reena was angelic, brunette, her features soft and her cheekbones puffy. She seemed right, normal as far as I could tell. She didn’t melt. I was awake.
She said, “You don’t know how you got here, do you?”
All I could remember was snow, a night walk, some residual anger.
She said, “You must’ve fainted again. I found you flat face-down on the side of the road. I flagged down one of the plows when they came, and we took you here. You’ve been out for a day.”
“Hrrrrung,” I said. I wanted to say more. Nothing else came out.
She said, “I love you, but I’m sick of introducing myself to you. I can’t take it anymore. We have to do something.”
A day or two or three passed while I lounged in the hospital bed and fought through bouts of confusion.
The blare of other patients’ NetLoop shows, and the machinery of hospitals together zipped and echoed around the room: rolling wheels on carts and beds, the soft slap of nurses’ work shoes on tile floors, the beeps and whirrs of pumps and electrodes attached to me.
The neurotechnologist reviewed the readouts from my meshnet and my brain. She said, “No sign of a tumor. And your meshnet isn’t quite synced yet. So we’re running through some routine protocols to see if we can find a better sync. I’m sorry it’s taking so long. You know how it is, the patterns of millions of neurons have to be set just so, and it’s a little different for each one of us.”
She had a nice smile. I wanted to remember it forever. I still couldn’t speak and got nothing to come out of my mouth. The nurses walked me up and down the hall. They said I had to walk to keep the motor centers of my nervous system active and keep my muscles from atrophy.
“What, cat got your tongue?” said a patient. I waved.
The nurse said for me, “He’ll be back to full brain in no time.”
I didn’t feel like I would. But I was happy that they thought so.
The next two days I tried to chat with the staff and the neurotechnician. They looked quite puzzled by me. But they let me go home and Reena was fine with that.
Home. There were plenty of photos and portraits around, books about Physics and Neuroscience—my passions, said Reena. I thought it might not be my home at all. Nothing seemed familiar. I pretended it was. The photos did look like me. And Reena hugged me many times. She seemed happy I was there, but her eyebrows often squinched up and I caught her consulting the Internet for more information about recovery from meshnet interpausations, the gaps caused by trying to get them to make a good fit. Neural Lace. It was supposed to be so easy.
“The neurotechnician said it could be a few more days. My memories should come back. I hope they do because,” I said, “you really seem great and I want to remember our relationship. For you.”
Reena said, “Oh dear, don’t talk. I can’t understand a word you say. Just give it some time.”
She brushed my hair and fed me some soup. I had trouble holding the spoon myself. My hand wobbled. My wrinkled, knurled knuckles presented only one conclusion: I was rather old. Probably not much use, really. I was very lucky to have Reena’s help, and glad for all of the medical resources.
I slept in tiny fits. My neck hurt and my tongue stayed too stiff. I remembered a quite explicit dream where a brain fell into a very small gravity well, and spun like a star. Everything in the universe that has mass pulls at each other. Gravity. But light doesn’t have mass, just momentum, lots of momentum. And I wondered about memories. Do they have mass? If they don’t, isn’t that maybe why they keep pulling apart? Do memories have momentum? It must’ve been a very long time for them to pull so far apart from each other. But neurons surely had a little mass, and the brain itself, about three pounds of attractive force, spinning.