It was a dream he knew it was a dream the minute he found himself sitting across from Izzy at an Italian restaurant. The restaurant seemed familiar and he could almost smell the garlic and pasta sauce as he took in his surroundings. The table clothes were checkerboard red and white and each table had one lit votive candle. A basket of breadsticks sat on the table. They were untouched. Sounds of Dean Martin wafted around him as he sat across from Izzy. His hands were resting on his legs, sweaty. He remembered this night, his first date with Isabelle.
“Do you really believe that?”
Brian looked at Isabelle confused. Those weren’t the first words he remembered. He wouldn’t forget the first words from his first date with her. She had threatened that if he whispered rumors about that night, rumors that weren’t true, he would be unable to procreate. He had thought about leaving her, her face was so serious but when her smile broke out across her face and she laughed he felt at ease. She apologized, her sense of humor wasn’t finely developed she had told him. She never said the question she now asked.
“Don’t tell me you believe them so easily Brian. They couldn’t even keep it straight. What was it? Did you collapse or were you involved in an accident with a lighting rig? Your doctor told you that you collapsed but when you remembered your injury suddenly he is talking about an accident that conveniently killed Howie?” Isabelle sat back in her chair and crossed her arms and stared him down.
Brian closed his eyes from the image in front of him. It wasn’t real. She wasn’t real. She was just a fan he had met and his mind focused on to help him cope with everything that had happened. The memory of their first date wasn’t even real. There was no first date with this woman; there was only his first date with Leighanne. He tried to picture that first date and when he couldn’t he focused on when he met her. The video shoot for As Long As You Love Me. He couldn’t remember being so captivated by a woman before. Not only was she beautiful outside but she was kind and warm. She was exactly like someone he always thought he’d end up with. He focused on Leighanne’s smile when he finally asked her out, she had been so shy around him he wasn’t sure she liked him at first. When she said yes, he couldn’t believe how happy he was to hear that word.
“Why was she sad? Why did she sake her head when you started to talk? What was she keeping from you? You know she wasn’t her usual self when she was there. Something was off.”
Brian shut his eyes tighter to Isabelle’s voice. He didn’t want to hear her voice; he wanted to hear his wife’s voice. He wanted to wake up and to have Leighanne and Baylee next to him. He wanted to be on tour with the guys getting ready to sing in another city to a crowd of thousands. Better yet, he wanted to be home helping Leighanne build the business she had started when Baylee was very little. Why couldn’t this other woman’s voice simply go away and leave him alone.
“It’s because you know I’m right.”
The voice responded to his thoughts and he opened his eyes to see Isabelle still sitting across from him. Her arms were crossed but now her face was swollen and bruised, her lip was fat and one of her eyes was almost closed from the swelling.
Brian gasped and stood. He wanted away from her, she only lead to trouble. But he couldn’t help but think about some of the questions she’d been asking. He moves to leave the restaurant when but Isabelle grabbed his arm and pulled him to face her again. Now she was wearing a white wedding dress. He couldn’t help thinking that she looked gorgeous. Her tan skin complemented the white like so few women wearing white did. Instead of the harshly pulled back ponytail he’d grown accustomed to seeing her with; her brown hair was soft and wavy. He reached out to grab one of those curls but stopped midway.
This was not his wife. This was a dream.
If this was a dream, how come he couldn’t control it? No, he could control it if he thought about changing it he could. Brian turned away from Isabelle again and focused on the set of the music video again, his first meeting with Leighanne, what better way to end the images of Isabelle and refocus on his wife? He smiled as the blond woman smiled up at him and started to walk towards him her arms outstretched to embrace him.
He sighed as the scene completely changed to the video shoot, he could see the other girls on set and the guys dressed in their crazy costumes. He chuckled remembering the antics on set and how they released the behind the scenes video for the fans later. The fans loved it and they loved sharing that part of themselves with the fans. All thoughts of Isabelle and the other life he supposedly lead were seeping away, he could feel them leaving. This was his life, he was sure of it. Leighanne was getting closer; her arms were almost around him. Once they were, he knew everything would be alright and he would be whole again.
“And why did she say Baylee was ‘still’ safe?”
The voice came softly into his ear. He could almost feel the warmth of Isabelle’s breath as she said it. Those words brought the world around him down. The video scene faded out, the guys disappeared one by one, and the set became black. Brian tried to reach towards Leighanne to hold her close, he didn’t wan to lose her, but she also faded into the blackness.
Brian spun on his heel to confront Isabelle. It was her fault this had happened to him. It was her fault that he lost his entire life. When he turned, she was not there either. He was surrounded by darkness.
His breaths were heavy when his eyes shot open and he sat up in bed. The first thing he noticed was that he was no longer strapped down to the bed. He rubbed his wrists and looked around the room. It was windowless, like the other, but larger. A dresser sat across from the bed, he stood and moved closer opening the drawers he saw his shirts, pants, socks and underwear inside.
He made his way into the rest of the room. It was more like an apartment than just a room, but the entire place was windowless and he was sure that if he tried to open the door it would not budge. He opened the fridge and found that it was fully stocked. The kitchen had everything he needed to live. He took note of where the knives were located. There was a couch, a television, books and even a computer for his use. This was meant to be like a home for him. It didn’t take him that long to figure out where he was. He had been in one of these rooms before. They were for observation after someone goes through the memory altering ‘treatment.’
He sat down on the couch and turned on the television. He knew that in order to get out of these rooms he would have to play along and pretend that his memories had been altered. They would be watching to make sure the memory erase took place, to make sure he only remembered what they wanted him to. Playing along shouldn’t be too hard, he hoped. He flipped through the channels and smiled at himself. He would get out; he would find Leighanne and Baylee and make sure they were safe. He would help Isabelle to get those after them stopped, and then he would settle back down into his life.
“But which life, with which wife,” He heard Isabelle and Leighanne’s voices whisper in unison.