Amber was not very grateful to the universe that day.
“Why me?” she asked Heaven as she took off her apron and hat and prepared to finish her shift in the restaurant’s kitchen for the day.
“Just when things were getting better for us after a hard life … just when we moved to a whole new city to enjoy a whole new adventure of a lifetime … my Michael, the love of my life, disappears?”
It had been a year since Michael had last left home for work. His start-up was about to be bought by a famous company.
“Amber, I’m off! I’ll see you in the evening, darling.
Amber was in such a hurry to get ready for work that morning that she didn’t kiss her husband back.
“I wish I had…” cried Amber, remembering his unkempt beard grazing her cheek.
“Where did you go, Michael?”
Meanwhile, police had no new leads to find the missing man, and half of the friends and family members believed Michael had left Amber on purpose. But the woman refused to believe it.
“I know you wouldn’t do that to me…,” Amber thought as she stopped on her way home.
She stopped at the same spot every day to feed an old homeless man who was there begging for alms.
But today, as she handed him the bag of food she had brought from the restaurant, she saw something that shocked her deeply.
“Hey! That watch…” she said, pointing at the homeless man’s hand. “Where did you get that?”
The older man was surprised by the woman’s unusual question.
This … someone gave it to me yesterday in exchange for my coat.”
Amber knew where she had seen this watch before, but she politely asked the man if there were any initials engraved on the back.
The man took the watch off and was surprised.
“You’re right! It does say AM. Does it mean anything to you?” he asked as Amber burst into tears.
“Yes. It’s my missing husband’s watch.”
The homeless man revealed that he had met the man who had given him the watch on a street corner not far away.
When Amber reached the spot under the bridge, it looked as if several men and women had been living there. All of these faces looked bitter and hungry, except for one.
“Michael! Michael, I found you! Oh, thank God you’re okay!”
Amber felt like she could breathe again. But as she drove him home, she realized Michael wasn’t himself. He seemed confused and worried, constantly touching the car with his hands and looking out the window as if everything was new to him.
It didn’t take long for Amber to figure out that her husband had somehow lost his memory. She patiently cleaned him, shaved him properly, bathed him and fed him.
And when Michael woke up after a short nap, she decided to try to solve the mystery of what had happened to her husband the day he disappeared a year ago.
“I’m sorry … there’s something wrong with my memory,” he said. Michael looked his wife in the eye and added, “I remember your face … but not your name …” His voice trailed off as he burst into tears.
It pained Amber that he didn’t remember her as his wife. But she couldn’t let herself break down. She had to find out more.
“Wait a minute … I remember a small TV screen … somewhere in a small room … and something about a girl dancing …” Michael scratched his head.
Amber sat there for the next hour with that clue, and it suddenly hit her.
“I think I know what you’re talking about!”
She drove Michael to the old office of his store and took him straight to the utility room.
“What is this place?” asked Michael, looking at all the empty chairs and glass walls.
This office had been sold shortly after Michael disappeared, but luckily Amber still had a key.
Amber opened the room, hoping for a miracle. And there it was, the small TV screen in the small room! Amber watched as Michael’s eyes lit up.
“Yes … yes! That’s the screen …”
Michael didn’t know it, but Amber had also figured out the meaning of “the dancing girl.” She waited in the room, hoping a woman named Ms. D’Angelo would show up.
Ms. D’Angelo had been hired by Michael when he rented the office space two years ago. She had become something of a mother figure to Michael, and he knew she had a granddaughter who dreamed of becoming a professional dancer.
Amber remembered Michael mentioning it to her several times, and Amber knew the woman still worked in the building.
“Amber! Michael! Oh, you found him!” the woman exclaimed. She was thrilled to see her former boss.
“The last time I saw Michael,” she revealed when Amber asked her, “I was in this very room when he bought me a fresh meal. He asked me when my granddaughter’s next dance recital was and that he would like to come …”
Ms. D’Angelo paused to think, adding:
“And I remember Michael saying he was on his way to this big, fancy company downtown. He had a meeting with … a ‘Mr. Felix,’ I think was the name he mentioned. I remember because I had a cat with that name once,” the woman sighed.
A few online searches were all Amber needed to find Felix and his company. When Felix heard who had come to him, he stood up in disbelief.
“I’m so happy Michael is doing well. Yes, he was supposed to meet me that day, but he never made it. It was a critical meeting where I was going to buy the company, and Michael and his partners were supposed to close that deal.”
Michael stared inquiringly into the abyss, grasping at straws to remember every little detail, cursing himself for not being able to.
He saw the disappointment and tears in Amber’s eyes.
“I hope I’ve been a loving husband to this kind woman all this time…,” Michael thought, falling in love with her all over again.
That night, Amber lay in bed thinking about how to break the deadlock in her investigation.
As the sun rose again, Amber decided to take Michael back to his old office, hoping to retrace his steps from that fateful day.
Before they could even enter the store, the universe sent them another clue. This time in the form of a hot dog vendor on the street.
From a short distance, Amber noticed the hot dog vendor frowning at Michael.
“Maybe he knows something?” she asked, approaching the man.
“Oh, that’s you … From that terrible accident last year. It’s amazing to see you alive and well after what happened …”
Tom, the hot dog vendor, recalled seeing Michael a year ago as he was leaving the office building and crossing the street.
“He looked very focused on a thought, like he was rehearsing or preparing for something. I saw him cross from across the street. He looked at his cell phone for a split second, and at that moment a speeding car came.”
Amber grabbed Michael’s hand as she imagined him being hit by a car.
“Within seconds, this man fell to the ground. We passersby rushed to check on him and we were shocked to see that he did not have a single scratch on his body. This man stood up, palmed his head with his hands, looked at all of us uncomprehendingly in the face, and continued walking. His gait was only slightly limp. Before passing me, he asked me a strange question, ‘Who is Amber, and where is she?
“I have never forgotten my strange encounter with him, and I have never seen him here until now,” Tom said.
Amber turned to Michael and saw the same old smile she had missed so much sprouting on his lips.
As he held Amber and crossed the street, he finally screeched, “Yes! I remember now, darling! I was on my way to the meeting with Felix after I met Ms. D’Angelo … I crossed this very street, and I got a call, from Felix!
I shouldn’t have checked my cell phone. I wish I hadn’t! It would have saved us a year of separation … a year of your suffering! I’m so sorry, Amber,” the man in her arms cried.
Michael’s memory had partially recovered, but there were still many unanswered questions. Fortunately, with the help of therapy and Amber’s loving support, Michael regained all of his memory.
He bought back his business and office, rehired Ms. D’Angelo, and offered help to all the homeless people he had been living with under the bridge. And most of all, Michael never forgot how much his wife loved him.