If it was not so laughable it would be sad, to imagine that there could be some truth in the accusations had this world been his own. Thank good fortune it was not. But what of the people whose world it was, these unlucky folk who struggled day in day out in the passage of their lives, their time spent eaking out an existence of sorts, nothing special in the vast scheme of things by what he had seen so far, a very wealthy minority to be sure, and shamefully so, but a massive number of poverty stricken as well, unable to make ends meet, unable in the worst cases to make a meal to feed themselves and their children, and in between a working population grinding away at toils to keep the economy going, how could this be a way to manage a community, an ecosystem, an environment. Could there be a way to somehow let them know there was a better way?

The professors next question interrupted Mac’s imaginings. “Can you remember a favourite book? What do you like to read?” His tone had mellowed. Did he realise he had upset his patient. He tapped his pen on the notepad in front of him in anticipation.

“Nothing springs to mind.” Macs answer was curt and to the point.

“Where is your favourite holiday place? Do you like fishing, swimming, football?” Yes, his approach was certainly less intimidating, as he adopted a posture of sitting well back in his leather chair and stretching out both legs to rest on an upturned waste paper basket, yes it now felt a lot more friendlier an encounter.

Mac reciprocated. “I feel I should like fishing.” Perhaps a morsel of improvement would not go a miss. “Professor Smith, how can I know how to fish when I don’t even know if I like to?”

“The mind is a strange and wonderful place Mr Hammerton.” Professor Smith now stood to his feet, and arms behind his back pulled slightly on the buttons of his striped pink shirt, whose material would not at all look amiss if it were used for a pair of pyjamas. He looked to find a book out of all the collection on his two shelves. “I’ve had the privilege of being alive and practising in an age when we have learnt so much, but it’s true to say we still do not know everything.” Mac just sat and listened. The professors attitude appeared to be a summing up of his findings, almost in lecture mode, striding slowly from one end of the book shelf to the other, then back again, turning on occasions to look Mac’s way. “I have known it before,” he concluded, “and I am sure it will pass. We will manage your needs and evaluate your progress. Now you say you would rather be staying at this farm?”

This was Macs first opportunity to speak on that matter to the professor and he acknowledged the suggestion leaving nothing ambiguous.
“Yes please, I really feel at home there, and I feel I need to be active and forget what’s happened. Then hopefully it will all come back.”

Surprisingly the clinician’s investigation changed tack, and his whereabouts too, heading back over to the desk once more to pick up his spectacles, no book being found, perhaps he could not read the titles. “When is your birthday?” The question was asked as if it was just for confirmation of a previous answer.

Mac knew he had never given one and so thought for a moment. “I have no idea, but summer comes to mind, is that a stupid thing to say?”

“Not at all.” More note taking, then, “what about your parents house, your childhood home?”

“Again nothing I can recall, though I do think it’s a farm of some kind. How stupid does that sound?” Mac pretended to be exasperated.

Note taking again, then, and totally out of the blue. “Ok! I believe that’s enough for our first session Mr Hammerton. Today we have already ruled out a stroke, and epilepsy, thrombosis or aneurysm, the lumbar puncture will I am sure rule out any viral encephalitis.” Professor Smith glanced at his pad. “We don’t really understand the physiology of this complaint Mr Hammerton. There may be changes in the blood supply to the temporal lobes, the part of your brain that deals with your memory, or electrochemical changes similar to those that cause migraine, but we will endeavour to fix you of that you can be sure.”

“I do hope so, I feel so vulnerable all of a sudden.” The cream walls of the room seemed to creep up on him. A weird feeling, imagining, like the special effect on a movie screen, but this not make believe, this real, and happening, to him, right now. The truth of the matter not known, never to be known actually, to the professor, was his patient was feeling vulnerable, though not for the reason down on his file.

Professor Smith lectured again. “You were in denial Mr Hammerton, and now you have come to realise your circumstances….”

“It’s all hit home.”

“Exactly.” The professor nodded in agreement, then an unexpected final announcement concluded the appointment. “Let’s make a date for a few days time shall we? I’ll send in my secretary and she will sort it out for you.” A look at his watch and that was it. With a shake of hands Professor Smith was off out the beige coloured door, leaving it ajar for a view on the corridor outside.

It was three thirty three by the digital clock’s red readout on top of the rooms only filing cabinet, a scratched grey metal affair that had seen better days. Mac was exhausted. Slumped in the easy chair he thought the best course of action might be none at all. Just sit. What in all the world was Margaret going to make of all of it? Maybe he should just make a run and dissapear back to his proper time without any explanation. If only Margaret was not Sal in this universe he may even do that, but to leave without any explanation would not be fair, or correct. What was she going to say?

He had to come clean, tell her and then make for home. Returning back here would be an option if Aunt Bessie was to be believed, though all that could still prove to be imaginings, and if it was then there was no going home anyway! Was this place his home, maybe this loss of memory was not too far from the truth, was it his own minds way of dealing with some impact upon it? Where was that secretary with his appointment so he could escape? On the other hand why did he not just leave any way, never to return? Once home he would have that bracelet and so be more in control, able to travel more accurately. He shook his head in an attempt to dispel the ever mounting options, or lack of them as the case may be. Where was this secretary, or even Aunt Bessie?

“I’ll come and find you.” he repeated her words mockingly to himself, then felt bad for doing so. “Come on Mac.” These last words seethed with remorse, ” this is not you and you know it.”

So, if or when he did return, what had he learned? The time waiting offered a moment to think seriously on the subject.

“This world is a lot different from home,” he whispered under his breath, “a greedy, segregated world.” He spit out the words. “On economic, racial and religious grounds just to begin with. There’s just no harmony in people’s lives, or peace for that matter, they’re always trying to better themselves at the expense of others. It’s like a massive worldwide competition, which causes conflict, at the worst war, poverty, misery and even death. Those scenes on tv the other night? Agh!” A brain in free fall attempted to collate and construct sense out of all it stored. “They haven’t learned yet, to be at peace.”

Who would believe all this, Aunt Bessie for sure, but who else? Sal was going to know, of that there was no doubt, if he could not tell her then this fantastic opportunity of a life more travelled he would gladly relinquish, and every opportunity that came with it for that matter, hierarchy or not this was not a question up for debate. Who were they anyway, why had no one heard them mentioned before? Fancy his own Aunt keeping such a secret all her life, or at the least since the privilege had been bestowed upon her, a member of his own family involved in such seripticous behaviour.

People did not keep things hidden where he came from, there was no need, it was unnecessary, what would be the point. What was the point? There was no spite or competition in his world, no hidden agendas, no winning at any cost, everyone worked for the common good. One religion, one hierarchy, one nation, different countries yes, but one people all paying forward, an altruistic society pulling together and not against.

“They just don’t care for each other,” he went on, “they’re so inpatient, rushing here there and everywhere. I bet their years just pass by without knowing themselves or anybody around them, all in an effort to be better than their neighbour. It’s sad really.”

The door to the professors office creaked open, the secretary must be here with the appointment. Mac turned around. No secretary, but Margaret instead, stood in the open doorway. Dressed in Sunday best, smart black jeans and blue sweater she had been crying by the look of her face, slightly swollen underneath her eyes, both of them red where they should be that marvellous striking white.

“Darling, what’s happened?” she began, rushing over to kneel by the chair and hug him tightly. “I’ve been worried sick, have been to tell the truth. How are you, what’s happening? Dad tells me you’ve been taken to the police station for something and nothing, then there’s an announcement on local radio, a man who’s lost his memory, says his name is Mac Hammerton! I went frantic, rushed down the station, they tell me you’ve come here, no one would let me know where you are ’till I could prove who I was, are you ok love?”

“I’m just the same bloke you knew last time you saw me Margaret, the very same,” he began, “Mac Hammerton.” There were tears in his eyes now.

Margaret squeezed him even tighter, he her. Then she planted a huge kiss on his cheek, then his lips, it said everything was all alright.

“So what’s all this about,” she whispered in his ear, “lost your memory, are you just making it up to get out of the railway charge, they won’t wear it you know that don’t you?” She wore a hopeful expression now, attempting to overtake the one of worry.

Ok no lies. Off he went, looking her straight in the eyes to unburden the secret locked up for so long a time. “I am Mac Hammerton,” he began, “I know that for sure, but I seem to be missing a lot of facts that relate to my past life.”

Margaret hugged him again. “Well we’ll get you better I promise.”

“I don’t remember much, nothing really, I’m pretty sure my folks have a smallholding, though I can’t say where.”

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“It all sounds so pathetic, so far fetched, I might as well be from another world I know that little of this one.”

“Well we’ll get you better, don’t worry on it. What have the docs said, they wouldn’t tell me a thing?”

Desperate to make it all alright he knew it was impossible, so carried on the deception. “I’ve had so many tests Margaret, scans, blood, interviews. Everyone says it will pass but they can’t say when.”

“Don’t you have any ideas at all then?”

“Like I say, I honestly do know my name is Mac Hammerton, at least I think it is, I am not from around here, well you know that don’t ya, I found myself here and then found you…”

“And that was a blessing…”

“And the rest you know.”

“What about Whitby?”

He felt embarrassed now. “That I made up……from an article in a newspaper.”

“So you don’t know where you live?”

“I’ve no memory of anywhere around here to be honest.”

Another hug and kiss was interrupted, by presumably Professor Smith’s secretary, a woman at any rate, coming through the doorway to hand over the required information needed for his discharge. She certainly dressed secretarial, a formal grey two piece, jacket and skirt, and when she spoke it was slow, and to both of them, as if they were hard of understanding.

There was not long to wait, next Wednesday according to the card, but to be honest he should not need the meeting everything else being equal. Without much more ceremony the bringer of information but little interaction turned about, bid them good afternoon and left, leaving the door wide open, an obvious invitation to vacate the professors office.

Outside the rain had stopped, dried up in fact, not though Margaret’s concern and questions. On the way to the car park and then on the way back to the farm she carefully and considerately posed one enquiry then another, an aid she thought, by the manner in which she asked them, to help her lover overcome the situation he found himself in. Was he aware of any town names, could he remember his job, did he own a car, holidays, pets, did he have any children, that question slipped in as just a matter of fact though they both knew it held far reaching connotations, nevertheless it was sneaked into the discussion, did he have a sister, brother?

“I just need to get home Margaret and get back to work, relax and let things pass,” he finally confided, a tired expression topping a wilting body. For one day he had had enough, game or no and as soon as was possible he needed to get to the bridge.

Margaret immediately realised enough was enough. “Oh I’m so sorry babes, listen at me going on.”

“I do appreciate it love, but I guess it’ll come back when it wants. No one can force it.”

She joked now trying to make light of the dilemma. “And keep that phone charged up, so you can call me, and me you,”

Mac acknowledged her reprimand adding, “why aren’t you mad at me?”

“What for?”

“Not telling you.”

“It doesn’t matter, that, what matters is getting you better.” She picked up his hand in hers and gave a gentle squeeze.

“But what if ……..”

Margaret interrupted. “Let’s cross that bridge when it comes.” A bitter sweet smile, hope mixed with fear let loose her fear. She knew that she might loose him but wished for the opposite outcome. The next few weeks would make or break them.

The journey home held no surprises, debris here and there, the odd branch half way across the carriageway, grit and soil washed from the fields at the edge and sometimes across the tarmac, water standing everywhere, road and verge undefinable in places, flood after flood occupying lower levels of the route, sometimes only a yard or so, other times a quarter of a mile, river replacing highway. No match for a blue grey Land Rover though, any of the obstacles, and the two recently estranged companions made the farm gate with no hindrance or diversion, but water coming into the footwell at one stage had them both laughing with a hint of concern in case the engine did take a turn for the worse.