As I Am
by Eddie D. Moore
Late at night Dan stood staring into the bedroom mirror with a mixed sense of admiration and revulsion. The helmet on his head used focused magnetic pulses to stimulate and adjust brain function. While wearing the unfashionable helmet, he could think clearly and live a normal life even if people did point and gawk at him in public. The helmet reminded him of the head gear worn by people with severe epilepsy and it drew a lot of unwanted attention, but without it his brain would return to its normal state of diminished function leaving him the mental capacity of a ten year old. Dreading the dulling sensation to follow, unstrapped the helmet, closed his eyes, and switched it off.
Dan opened his eyes and pulled off the stupid helmet with an excited smile. He ignored the wall of books and collectable stones that filled half of the room and quickly checked the other two walls. He eagerly inspected his action figures and matchbox cars then breathed a sigh of relief. Satisfied that nothing was missing, Dan selected his favorite video game and turned on the TV. He paused when he found a sticky note covering the power button of the game system. He removed the note and blinked twice while studying it. Someone had drawn a picture of the controller, circled it, and drew a diagonal line through it. A picture of someone sleeping was drawn underneath.
“Stupid pictures, you think I can’t read,” Dan said to himself. After a few moments of consideration, Dan took the sticky note to his sister in the living room.
Holly smiled when she heard her brother’s familiar monotone voice. He spoke slowly with very little inflection in his voice as if his mind was not sure which syllables to stress. She knew instantly that he wasn’t wearing his CAP, Cerebral Adjusting Prosthetic.
“Hey Sis, look at this note?”
After a quick glance at the pictures, Holly nodded. “Yea, you left yourself another note and you asked me to make sure you did not stay up all night playing games, since you have to work tomorrow.”
Dan gave her a doubtful and suspicious look. “I’m not dumb. I know I have to work tomorrow. They need me there. I just want to play for a few minutes.”
Holly glanced at the clock and nodded. “A few minutes shouldn’t hurt anything. Go on and play.”
“Do you want to play?”
Holly rustled the newspaper. “No, I’m going to sit here and finish reading the paper. Maybe tomorrow night.”
“Alright then.” Dan bobbed his head once apparently satisfied and went back to his room.
Holly checked on her brother as she shut the lights out for the night, and found him sleeping with the television on a cartoon channel. When she went to turn the television off, she found a note written in awkwardly printed letters by her brother’s CAP charging dock, and she chuckled softly as she read it. Shaking her head, she put the note back, turned off the television, and quietly left the room.
When Dan’s alarm screeched in ear splitting tones, he silenced it and sat on the edge of the bed wiping sleep from his eyes. He glanced at his game system and then glared at his helmet with a sense of dread. Life was so much simpler without the helmet; he remembered that much. Why should he have to change? Shouldn’t people just accept him as he is? It would only be fair; besides, he accepts everyone else they way they are. He glanced at the game system one last time before talking to himself in the mirror.
“You ain’t got time to play. The people at work need you, and you got to help pay the bills.”
Dan pulled on the helmet and closed his eyes as he turned on the power. He could feel his ability to focus sharpen and he sighed with relief as he opened his eyes. Shaking his head, he looked in the mirror and wished one more time that there was a way to conceal the CAP.
Holly knocked on the door. “Dan, are you about ready for work?”
“Yes. I just need to put my shoes on.”
Holly walked in and smiled at her brother as she looked around.
Dan watched his sister from the corner of his eye. “Okay, what is it? And don’t think I didn’t notice that you let me play games last night.”
“Oh, it’s nothing, but did you see the note you left yourself last night?”
“What, the one telling myself not to play games?”
Holly picked up the note from the desk and handed it to her brother.
He shook his head and rolled his eyes as he read. ‘Do not touch my stuff. I will get you.’
“Maybe I will sleep in the helmet tonight.”
Holly gave him a look of shock. “Oh, no you won’t. I get to beat you at a cart race tonight.”
Dan sighed and stood up. “Come on sis. The world awaits my amazing intellect.”
“Yes. Let’s get this day over with, so I can have my smart brother back.”
Dan stopped dead with a confused look on his face and watched his sister leave the room.
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Eddie D. Moore
Eddie D. Moore travels extensively for work, and he spends much of that time listening to audio books. The rest of the time is spent dreaming of stories to write and he spends the weekends writing them. His stories have been published by Jouth Webzine, Saturday Night Reader, Every Day Fiction, Theme of Absence, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Adventure Worlds. He can be followed on Twitter @EddieMoore27
2 thoughts on “As I Am”
Interesting question: what makes for happiness/adjustment? The “cap” begs the question of an implanted device. Its description seems heavy handed. The “Don’t touch my stuff” message doesn’t add much to the story. Perhaps Holly’s closing comment would be better as: “…so I can have my favorite brother back.” AGB
A good, fun piece