When I woke, he was already rustling around downstairs. I could hear him shuffling his world maps and the distant clinking sound of his coffee cup being placed on its saucer. I lay in bed, enjoying the moment of solitude before I would start another day of answering Frank’s usual questions of where he had gone and where he was going.
The accident had taken away more than the hearing in his left ear, Frank couldn’t remember anything about himself past the age of 35, and he had difficulty retaining information from day-to-day. He was lucky though. A tiny scar ran a white, raised trail around the back of his head, leading to a slight indentation, and that was the only physical proof anything had happened a few months ago. He was still my Frank, even if I wasn’t his.
I rolled out of bed and put on my running clothes. I examined for any signs of gray streaking through my ponytail and descended the stairs.
“Have you ever been to Costa Rica?” He looked up from his glossy guide book when he heard me round the corner and took a gulp of coffee.
“Good morning. Is that where you’re headed?” I slid into the chair next to him and picked up the atlas bookmarked to a giant map of Cost Rica.
We had been to Costa Rica years ago, I had persuaded him to take surfing lessons with me. He hated it, and after the first afternoon he went and got drunk on mimosas and later he accused me of flirting with the instructor. It was the only time I had raised my voice at him, screaming actually, in the 25 years we’ve been married.
His strong hand smoothed the wrinkles from the giant world map he had carefully laid across the kitchen table. Choosing a dark green marker, he hesitated before tracing a line along the Pacific coast.
“We were in Tamarindo.” I pulled my ponytail tight and stood up to find my shoes.
He stopped and circled the tiny pin point that marked the town where we had vacationed years before. He reached for the stack of post cards and journal entries he had organized in a chronological timeline since his accident, and flipped to an entry from Costa Rica.
“May 14, 1997
I should have remembered to bring my cargo shorts. Costa Rica is humid and I’m tired of wearing the same clothes day after day…
Since the accident, Frank had clung to his collection of letters and photos in hopes of piecing together the years that had been erased from his memory. He had been an avid writer and obsessive collector of ticket stubs and museum pamphlets, but all the writing was nothing but a second-hand story to him. He joked that most times it was a really boring, second hand tale. That always made me sad.
Beneath the brochures and Costa Rican bar coasters was a post card of Peru. He picked up his marker and circled Peru on the world map typed in a bold-faced courier font, and began to research his own journey of how he went from Costa Rica to Peru, a time span that covered a year and a half, and one that I wish he would leave alone.
I tied my shoes and set my watch to zero.
“I’ll be back in 30 minutes.” He might not remember that I even had left. I scribbled down that I would be back soon on the back of a junk mail envelope by the door and left him to his research.