The next morning Jacob woke up feeling well-rested but dazed like his whole mind had been wiped cleaned. He didn't know anything about who he was, where he came from, or why his brain felt so foggy.
Looking past the wooden bars of the crib, he admired the themed decorations in the room and noticed how the furniture appeared neat and pristine, almost brand-new. He appreciated the framed paintings of sea creatures that decorated the ivory-white walls. It seemed reasonable to him to assume the owners of this house had to be well-off.
Staring at the surprisingly soothing mobile above the crib, he hoped some information about himself would come back to him. For whatever reason, he still had access to his knowledge of trivial things. He could easily distinguish between the different species of the fish rotating above him, but all of the more important details were gone. One particular question tormented him in his mind above all the others.
Why can't I remember my name?
As part of her daily routine, Angelique went to the nursery to give Jacob his early-morning diaper change, and when she peered into the crib, she was surprised that he was fully awake.
"Wow, someone is up quite early this morning," she commented pleasantly, lifting him out of the crib and placing him on the changing table.
Deep in thought, Jacob didn't reply. He simply looked at her with a blank expression on his face.
"How do you feel this morning, Jacob?" she asked as she pulled down his pants and removed his diaper.
Jacob...Oh, yeah. That's my name. I'm Jacob.
Jacob furrowed his brows, staring at the unfamiliar woman. "Miss, what happened. I don't...I don't remember anything," he admitted, scratching his head.
"We had to take you to the hospital yesterday, and they performed a procedure. The doctor told us that memory loss is a normal side effect, but it should all come back to you before the end of the day," she informed him, pulling his pants back up.
"What was the procedure for?"
"You were having some really terrible migraines. Does your head feel better now?"
"Yeah, I think so. I'm not in any pain."
"That's good. Well, let's get some breakfast in you. I'm sure you're starving. It's been a while since you last ate," she proposed, stooping down to put the powder and wipes back under the changing table.
"Okay," Jacob agreed and held his arms up, waiting for her to pick him up.
Angelique hesitated for a moment when she faced the little boy compliantly raising his arms in the air. It was odd to her how frequently he shifted between blatant defiance and amiable acquiescence. Knowing it wouldn't last, she settled on enjoying the little boy's placidity while she could and picked him up.
She carried him downstairs, and when they made it to the kitchen, she placed Jacob in the high chair.
"I'll get you something to drink while I work on breakfast," Angelique said turning and walking to the fridge.
He watched as the mysterious woman filled a sippy cup with milk and deposited it in the bottle warmer. When the light went off, she tested it in her hands before stepping over and handing him the cup.
He took it from her and began drinking the milk, puzzled by how her pleased expression unsettled him.
Quenching his thirst, his attention was fixated on the mysterious woman as she gathered the ingredients to prepare breakfast. She moved so fast, chopping fruits and pulling items from the fridge periodically.
"I didn't expect there would be two early risers in the house," Simon playfully remarked as he entered the kitchen a few moments later.
"Ha, I didn't either. Jacob was awake before I entered the nursery this morning," Angelique replied continuing to stir batter in a bowl.
Simon stood in front of the high chair. "How are you today, buddy?"
Jacob sat silently in the chair, transfixed by the familiar, short man with dark skin. He couldn't place exactly where or why he knew him, but the memories surged forward in his mind.
"You're Simon," he said surprising himself and the two middle-aged adults.
"Yes, Jacob. I am. Did you just remember that?"
"Yeah, but that's all I remember," he confirmed, dejectedly looking towards the floor.
"That's okay. It's a good start. With memory, you just need time and patience. So, don't get frustrated if it doesn't come back right away. It will," Simon assured the little boy.
He went to help his wife in the kitchen, and after the couple finished preparing breakfast, Angelique walked over to the high chair.
She placed a sectioned plate on his tray. "Eat up!"
Jacob didn't realize how hungry he was until the small pancakes, strawberries and slices of hard-boiled eggs were in front of him. He didn't hesitate to begin stuffing his face, and it didn't take him long to finish his food with how quickly he was eating.
He sat, contentedly leaning into the back of the chair. His face and hands were sticky with syrup and strawberry residue. Thinking about how enjoyable that meal was, he wondered if those dishes might have been some of his favorite foods before he lost his memory. Shaking his head, he decided he was sure because the meal was just that enjoyable.
"Is your tummy full?" Angelique asked, pulling Jacob out of deep thought.
The little boy hadn't even noticed when the adults finished eating. As engrossed as he was in his mind, he hadn't even seen them take their dishes to the sink.
"Yes. Thank you. That was great."
"You're welcome. Now, let's get you cleaned up," she said, beginning to wipe his hands and face with some wet paper towels.
When she finished, Jacob was left sitting in the high chair while Angelique tossed the paper towels in the trash.
"I'll finish washing the dishes," she offered as Simon turned on the faucet.
"Yes, Jacob needs a quick bath, and I thought I'd let you handle that."
"Ah." Simon turned off the faucet and took Jacob out of the high chair, carrying him upstairs.
As the two of them entered the bathroom, Jacob caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror before Simon stood him on the tile floor.
While Simon turned on the faucet in the tub, the little boy thoroughly surveyed his tiny body, realizing he didn't feel as small as his reflection in the bathroom mirror seemed, but he brushed his concerns off. Maybe I'm just small for my age.
Simon quickly bathed Jacob in the tub, and the toddler remained passive throughout the whole process, obediently following all of the older man's directions. Once Simon finished drying the child, he wrapped him in the towel and carried him into the nursery.
Jacob let out a series of long yawns while he was diapered and dressed in a loose T-shirt and sweatpants.
When Simon finished, he addressed the little boy, "I think you need to take it easy today. So, how about you and I spend some time on the couch? You can watch some cartoons. That sound good?"
Jacob nodded his head and Simon picked him up, carrying him downstairs. The older man grabbed the remote and placed him on the couch. He turned on the TV and changed the channel to a station dedicated to kid shows and grabbed his tablet from the shelf. Plopping down next to Jacob, Simon turned on his tablet, intending on going through the articles in his reading list.
Jacob fixated his attention on the cartoon that played on the TV. The show followed a cheerful, blue octopus and his dog as they traversed the town running their daily errands. The calm voice of the main character was especially comforting to the little boy, and halfway through the episode Jacob fully relaxed into the couch. His head drooped every few minutes as he tried to stay awake, and a few minutes before the episode finished, he finally lost the battle and fell asleep.
Simon had just finished a really informative article when he looked over and noticed that Jacob was sprawled out next to him soundly asleep. He silently motioned to Angelique while she was in the kitchen making a list until he got her attention. When she approached, he whispered to her, "Will you watch him while I set up the playpen?"
The middle-aged man went upstairs to grab a blanket and the folded play pen from the closet in the nursery, and when he returned to the living room, he removed it from the carrying case, and swiftly set it up near the couch. Once he finished, Angelique carried the little boy in her arms, careful not to accidentally wake him and laid him in the playpen.
When Jacob woke up from his nap, he stretched his arms and the unmistakable texture of mesh material against his skin caused him to immediately open his eyes. Sitting up, he slowly realized he was inside of a playpen, and he was fully awake by the time Simon noticed him a few minutes later.
"Did you have a good nap?" he asked, handing the little boy a sippy cup filled with water.
Jacob rubbed his eyes with his free hand. "Yeah, I'm not tired anymore."
"That's good. Plus, you woke up right in time for lunch."
After the trio finished eating lunch, the couple quickly completed the cleanup.
"I'm going to head upstairs and take a warm bath," Angelique informed her husband.
"Alright, I think I'll take Jacob outside on the porch to get some fresh air and sunshine."
"Aw, that sounds great." Passing by Jacob who was silently standing behind Simon, she gently patted him on the back. "Enjoy the view," she encouraged the child and climbed the stairs.
Simon opened the front door waited for Jacob to walk onto the wrap-around porch. The little boy took a seat in the large chair, and after Simon closed the door behind them, he sat next to him.
The older man took a deep breath, clearly enjoying the fresh air and relaxed into the chair, looking out at the view of the lake in silence for a few moments.
Simon pointed at the leaves of the forest trees that were beginning to change color. "Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower," he contentedly recited stretching his arms above his head.
The gears in Jacob's mind were beginning to turn. The quote Simon recited echoed in his mind. This wasn't the first time that quote was recited to him. He didn't know how but knew that it was a quote by Albert Camus, a French philosopher. He had heard the phrase a year ago, but he couldn't place it.
Concentrating as hard as he could on the memory, more and more details slowly came back to him. He was in a room, talking to someone. He sat on a couch in a lit room talking to someone holding a notepad and jotting down notes. He was in a private practice office talking to his therapist. He was speaking to Simon, his private practice therapist.
With the awakening of that memory, the rest swiftly followed behind, and everything finally made sense to him. He didn't feel like a child because he wasn't one. He was twenty-two years old. Simon was his therapist, and he kidnapped him and took him to St. Ives where Dr. Kelly had forcibly turned into a toddler.
Stunned, Jacob accepted the harsh realities that faced him. He wasn't safe in this house with his kidnappers, and more than anything else, he had to get away.
The young man anticipated that he would never have another opportunity like this once his captors realized he got his memories back. His ticket to freedom was here. He just needed to wait until the right moment to take it.
The two of them sat in silence until the older man eventually asked, "Are you ready to head back inside?"
Jacob stiffened, frightened that he would not be able to maintain his prior facial expression of indifference towards his kidnapper. Thinking quickly, he averted his eyes towards the ground and slowly nodded his head.
"That's okay. It's probably time to start on dinner," Simon comforted him, thinking the little boy was ashamed to communicate his desire to retire inside.
When the middle-aged man stood up and turned his back to open the door, Jacob bolted down the stairs to the porch, running as fast as he could down the path at the edge of the lake. He intended to get into the forest as quickly as possible, planning to use the trees for cover.
He was sure his plan would work. He just needed to obtain protection from the authorities until he could reach to the closest medical research center and let them figure out how to undo the age-regression.
"Jacob!" Simon called out after him.
The young man didn't even turn around. He poured all of his strength into sprinting the last few feet of the path before the forest. His lungs burned, and his leg muscles ached. His tiny body wasn't used to much physical exertion, but he pushed himself, determined not to be stuck in captivity for too long. He couldn't give his kidnappers a chance to mess with his mind. Just the thought of possibly becoming a docile toddler for the two of them to play house with was more than enough to fuel his flight to freedom.
When he made it past the first tree, he assumed he was only seconds away from beginning the second phase of his plan, but his dreams disintegrated as he was lifted into the air midstride, spun around and tucked securely under the arm of his captor.