Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Relieved, Alice took out the ingredients for the white-chocolate bread pudding and placed them on the counter-vanilla extract, a pint of heavy cream, milk, sugar, white chocolate, a loaf of challah bread, and two half-dozen cartons of eggs. A dozen eggs?? If the piece of notebook paper with her mother's recipe on it still existed, Alice didn't know where it was. She hadn't needed to refer to it in years. It was a simple recipe, arguably better than Marty's cheesecake, and she'd made it every Christmas Eve since she was a young girl. How many eggs? It had to be more than six, or she would've taken out only one carton. Was it seven, eight, nine?
She tried skipping over the eggs for a moment,but the other ingredients looked just as foreign. Was she supposed to use all of the cream or measure out only some of it? How much sugar? Was she supposed to combine everything all at once or in a particular sequence? What pan did she use? At what temperature did she bake it and for how long? No possibility rang true. The information just wasn't there.
What the hell was wrong with me?
Neither of them spoke. They go in the car, John paid the garage attendant, and they made their way onto Storrow Drive in silence. For the second week in a row, tempertures were well below zero with the windchill. Runners were force indoors to either jogon treadmills or simply wait for slightly more habitable weather. Alice hated treadmils. She sat in the passenger seat and waited for John to say something. But he didn't. He cried the whole way home.
"I'm so sorry I have this. i can't stand the thought of how much worse this is going to get. i can't stand the thought of looking at you someday, this face I love, and not knowing who you are."
She traced the outline of his jaw and chin and the creases of his sorely out of practice laugh lines with her hands. She wiped the sweat from his forehad and the tears from his eyes.
"I can barely breathe when I think about it. But we have to think about it. I don't know how much longer I have to know you. We need to talk about what's going to happen."
He tipped his glass back, swallowed until there was nothing left, and then sucked a little more from the ice. Then he looked at her with a scared and profound sorrow in his eyes that she'd never seen there before.
"I don't know if I can."
Alice stood in their bedroom, naked but for a pair of ankle socks and her Safe Return bracelet, wrestling and growling at an article of clothing stretched around her head. Like a Martha Graham dance, her battle against the fabric shrouding her head looked like a physical and poetic expression of anguish. She let out a long scream.
"What's happening?" asked John, running in.
She looked at him with one panicked eye through a round hole in the twisted garmet.
"I can't do this! I can't figure out how to put on this fucking sports bra. I can't remember how to put on a bra, John! I can't put on my own bra!"
He went to her and examined her head.
"That's now a bra, Ali, it's a pair of underwear."
She burst into laughter.
"It's not funny," said John.
She laughed harder.
"Stop it, it's not funny. Look, if you want to go running, you have to hurry up and get dressed. I don't have a lot of time."
He left the room, unable to watch her standing there, naked with her underwear on her head, laughing at her own absurd madness.
"Okay, Alice, can you spell the word water backwards for me?" he asked.
She would have found this question trivial and even insulting six months ago, but today, it was a serious question to be tackled with serious effort. She felt only marginally worried and humiliated by this, not nearly as worried and humiliated as she would've felt six months ago. More and more, she was experiencing a growing distance from her self-awareness. Her sense of Alice-what she knew and understood, what she liked and disliked, how she felt and perceived-was also like a soap bubble, ever hight in the sky and more difficult to identify, with nothing but the thinnest lipid membrance protecting it from popping into thinner air.