I'm trying to remember the title/author of a short story I read about 5-10 years ago; I think it was new at the time.

It's about a teenage girl who lost her personality because of overdosing on some drug, written from the perspective of her new personality after the event. She can access her old memories but feels like they belong to someone else. Her parents want to restore her old personality and send her to a doctor/psychologist who turns out to be a quack (perhaps there were a series of other doctors before that but her parents keep switching until they find one who says s/he can help?).

There's a metaphor about a messenger not being able to find the queen so he gives the message to a servant instead (referring to how the new personality took over from the old one). I remember reading it twice, so it was probably reprinted in a 'best of [year]' anthology or perhaps nominated for some award and posted online.


1 Answer 1


Got it.

It was Daryl Gregory's "Second Person, Present Tense". Originally appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction in September 2005. Republished in "The Year's Best SF" volume 11 (also on isfdb) as well as in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Third Annual Collection. Readable online here:

In Daryl Gregory’s short story, “Second Person, Present Tense,” we encounter a young girl whose circumstances have led her and her family into metaphysical questions concerning personal identity. Gregory presents the story from the perspective of Terry, who believes she has only been in existence for two years, after waking up in a hospital in the body of a seventeen-year-old girl named Therese Klass. Therese’s parents believe that Terry, in the body of Therese, is their daughter, while Terry copes with the fact she is trapped in another’s identity. This interesting situation provides an opportunity for thoughtful application of theories of personal identity. In the story, we see characters who understand personal identity in terms of the body theory, and others who believe the psychological continuity theory. Each theory provides very different answers concerning Terry’s true identity. Overall, the reader is given a stronger presentation of the psychological continuity theory, but because of the emotional circumstances and drama in the fiction, the realization does not come without serious social consequences.

Absolutely brilliant, haunting story. It has stuck with me for years.

It appears there may be an expanded version from 2007 which I have not read and can not vouch for.


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