We had no idea what to think the day Otto started living backward. We might have had a clue if we’d noticed he woke up all cranky and sleepy when he’d always been a morning person. It’s hard to spot subtle things like that, though, when your bright, happy ten-year-old wakes up unable to form a coherent sentence and unable to understand anything you say. I thought he was having a seizure, or had developed some god-awful disorder. I had Aidan call for an ambulance while I ran around the apartment like a madwoman: grabbing a change of clothes, our insurance cards, and a couple of Otto’s favorite toys.
The doctors could find no physical cause for his sudden incoherence and no indication his life was in danger, so they sent us to a local neurologist. I’m the one who actually figured out what was going on, though. Or really Otto did, but I helped him express it.