I used to wonder how he could forget. Billy hadn't told me then. Hadn't told me about the Hand or the Jailers. I was just an unlucky kid living a lucky life. I spent my time in the Library, exploring the stacks. In some ways, the Library is more my home than anywhere on Earth. I used to wonder how he could forget, and Billy would tell me that it wasn't his fault, that he'd had an accident. He'd tell me that it wasn't fair and that he'd done everything he could to stop it. He looked pained. I used to wonder if he'd ever recognize me again.
Billy didn't know that I knew. When he talked about accidents it was so generic… so clean. I think he wanted me to assume my parents were dead. I'm not sure if that's better. But I snuck out once. I found a door near my old house and walked back. As I stood on the other side of the street and looked into the window, I saw my father look right back at me. There was no recognition on his face. Nothing. I don't know why I didn't run up to the front door, or scream, or shout, or anything. I just… turned and I walked away. I walked out of his life again.
When Billy told me later, he told me that it was the jailers. They have ways of making people forget. They move like shadows in the night. He said he was pretty sure they could drive a tank down Pennsylvania Avenue, and no one would ever be the wiser. I believed him then. Hell, I believe him now. I've had it happen to friends who get caught. The ones who come back, they don't come back different. It's not the vacant expression you see in the movies, or anything. They just don't remember. At all. There's no trace of memory. Billy says in the earlier days, they kidnapped someone and went delving deep into their mind. The memories were gone. Not repressed— just gone.
Later, when I was older, I went to my father's favorite pub. He was there. He wasn't really irish, not really. Not enough blood in his veins or culture in his head. But he used to go to the pub often, I remember. I sat next to him for a long time, trying to muster up the courage to talk, to do anything. He didn't say a word to me. Eventually, I left. I didn't even have a drink. It was too much for me.
Do you know what it's like? When your own father doesn't remember you? Of course, Billy was good to me. But he's not a father he wasn't ready to be one, and I was too old anyway. I don't blame him. It wasn't right for either of us. What's worse is that my mother doesn't remember me either and it hurts but… not as much. Not as much by half. I don't know why, and deep down, I hate myself for it. Just a bit.