Milly flicked her tail as she whined and buried her face into my calf. Reaching down behind her ear, I scratched her favorite spot and struggled to recall the last time she’d been so needy. I wondered if she somehow knew that in just a few hours she would no longer be a part of my life. At best she’d be the spark of a memory that never quite ignited. A fleeting wisp of familiarity that dissipated quicker than it appeared.
Not so long ago people lived with their pasts, no matter how painful. The lucky ones would go through years of therapy, talking about their issues until they became manageable. That wasn’t enough for me. I had no doubt that most people in my position would make the same decision. Would sacrifice everything they once knew to forget the feeling of their cheekbone crushing under the fist of the man they believed loved them. Forget the time—every single time—they accepted his apology and stayed.
In my isolated world, Milly was my only bright spot. My only constant. She never judged me and was always there to lick my wounds. At the first appointment I’d asked about the possibility of keeping her in my life, but they made it clear that memory swipes were all or nothing. Losing her was breaking my heart, but at least it wouldn’t last for long.
I nuzzled my nose into her neck and held her until she started to squirm in my arms. She leapt soundlessly onto the hardwood floor, but didn’t go far. She stared at me with her piercing yellow eyes and somehow I knew she’d miss me. Without breaking our gaze, she let out a single meow. Just one to say goodbye before she turned and hopped up on the couch. She never looked up again as she circled her favorite spot and curled up into a fuzzy gray ball. My hand itched to pet her once more, but I couldn’t. One step would be all it took to weaken my defenses.
I grabbed my bag from the floor and read over the carefully crafted note one more time. It said nothing of how or why I’d reached my decision, it only held instructions for taking care of Milly. Her new owners would need to know about her favorite spot, her favorite toys and that she was afraid of the vacuum cleaner.
I wished it had been that simple for me. A note full of care instructions that broke down my needs as simply as a laundry tag. Handle with care. Be gentle. Do not hit.
Long, lazy purrs wafted from the couch. I found the sunlight circling Milly and giving her an ethereal glow. A fitting reminder of what an angel she’d been in my life. My old life.