Day 58 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about a character who has amnesia.
Shannon: “Amber,” a girl came up to me in shock. “I heard about your accident. Why didn’t you tell me?”
She might as well have been a stranger. Memory is a tricky thing. You don’t realize how much you’ve relied on this power you have never seen, never felt, and never genuinely thanked until it’s gone. Like a pyramid of cans, I’m quickly witnessing what happens when you pick from the bottom row first. Everything comes crashing down. “I’m so sorry, but I had memory loss after the accident. I don’t remember you. I actually can’t remember anyone I met in the last five years.”
“Oh wow,” she took a step back. “That would explain it. Are you ok?”
“I’m getting there,” I shrugged, “But it would be easier if I didn’t feel like I traveled to the future and woke up in a hospital bed. How do I know you,” I questioned, wanting to know who else knew me better than I knew myself.
“We were college roommates, we’ve been pretty close ever since. Well, until you disappeared,” she gave me a sad smirk. “My name is Kim.”
I’d seen her name in my phone a few times while I was in physical therapy. I tried so hard right away to gain everything back, but eventually had to give myself a break. It was draining. No one could seem to help. Not in a way that made it clear. It was only a fake fix. You can’t pass on memories. They don’t feel the same.
Erin: “Why do you keep acting like you have the hardest life in the world,” my brother asked asking to be slapped.
“I never said I had the hardest life, but my life has gotten harder,” I pointed out.
“Yeah right,” he cackled stealing the remote from me.
“What’s that supposed to mean. I’ve lost memories asshole. I’ve lost some of the best years of my life,” I stood up just about ready to strangle him.
“Lucky for you, I know what some of those best years entailed. The good and the bad. I’ll help you recapture the good without all of the tears,” he smiled.
“That’ll take time,” I reminded.
“Yes, it will, but it’ll be fun,” he smiled at his DVD collection. “We’ll start by watching your favorite movie for the,” he air-quoted, “first time.”
You remembered to write today, good for you. Write about someone forgetting.
Narlton in the fall was truly something to behold; spectacular fiery colours lit the trees along every laneway, drab rainclouds hovered just out of reach and people bundled up against the sudden cold. There had been slightly lower temperatures lately, only slightly askew but enough for me to notice. After a few weeks I realized it had to be Hugo reminding me that my sanctuary was not safe anymore, that he had managed to infiltrate it at long last. I spent hours a day pacing and meditating on the porch, split between figuring out how to get rid of the egomaniacal psychopath and ignoring said crazy person.
Quin was forever following me with her tired emerald eyes, attempting to decipher the code that was my thoughts. But just when I thought she’d figured it out; read what Hugo’s presence meant to me and seen the constant worry I felt. Fortunately, she never quite got close enough, which was a saving grace when she went missing.
One day when I came in for breakfast, my yoga socks slipping across the floor, Quin wasn’t there flipping pancakes into the air while singing along to decades-old rock. Flicking the coffee maker on, I grabbed an odd pair of mugs; one was hand-thrown with pale blue paint dripping up the bottom while the other was a clean-cut pitch sky with stark alabaster stars clustered together. My fingers drummed on the side of the quartz counter as I waited for Quin to saunter down the stairs.
But she never did come down the stairs. I went out to the greenhouse to tend the plants, half-expecting to see her singing softly to the carnivorous flowers. Upstairs our comforters were messily tossed aside, as though I were the only one sleeping in the bed. Nothing made any sense as I texted her with no reply, and asked Joan and Kiara if they knew anything. She was nowhere to be found.
Around noon the doorbell chimed through the house as I was studiously making the bed like Quin did every morning. When I finally got downstairs Joan was standing in the foyer with a tiny black box cradled in her arms; glaring down at the uninteresting object. Gazing at her eyes I noticed the irises were ringed with black, an early symptom of a particularly dangerous mind-controlling spell. I paced toward her, without making any sudden movements, and gently pried the container from her clammy fingers.
She didn’t move a single muscle. In fact, if I hadn’t known of the enchantment well, I might have thought she wasn’t even breathing. But this specific curse was inscribed in a grimoire I knew well, one that was older than the hills, as they say. It had been written by an original elemental magick user; a direct descendent of Aurora Cor herself. Calming myself I turned away from Joanie; she was already under the curse and her mind couldn’t be awakened until it was lifted.
Instead, I focused my mind on the box waiting, tied with a black and scarlet bow, in my hands. Light, but not empty, it glared up into my soul as I carefully placed it on the pristine counter. Stepping away deliberately I eyed its reaction to being left along and was not disappointed. The tiny, perfectly-wrapped package imitated a tea kettle on a hot stove; shaking minutely and whistling high enough to hurt my ears.
“Alright, then, beastie,” I whispered, stalking towards it. As my finger stroked the macabre ties, the whistle quit; my mind was still and clear in the sudden silence. Slitting the ribbon at the side with my nail, plus a sprinkle of magick for effect, I tossed the morbid bow to the side and uncovered a folded letter. Hugo could be so predictable with some things; sending letters ahead to create anxiety for his grand entrances. But this time I wouldn’t be taken in by his dramatics since the deeds were already done. He’d already taken my girlfriend and cursed my roommate so there didn’t seem much he could do. Plucking the letter from its place I ripped the seal off, fully intending to do something horrible with it, but thought it best to read his words first.
My dear Lily,
It’s such a shame, it really is, that we are forever meeting like this; in the scrawled pages of a madman and at awkward times. But I assure you that a time shall come to pass where we are allies, not enemies. At any rate, this is a warning that I intend to take revenge upon you and anyone you love. Oh, I suppose I have already begun that, haven’t I? I do hope you didn’t care for the Flora girl as much as she cared for you.
My blood ran cold and I clutched at the counter as I read his words. Part of me wanted to give up now, knowing Quin was probably already dead, while the other part burned to destroy his very soul. After a moment of careful deliberation I let the page fall to the quartz and turned back to the box and its feather-light contents. Without thinking I knocked the lid off and stifled a shriek; pressing a hand firmly to my mouth, the sob was muffled.
Resting within a nest of straw was a human heart, bloody and deathly still. As I forced myself to examine, visually, the grasses for anything abnormal I noticed something shining in the far corner; something metal winking at me. I reached in and shifted the prickly hay to reveal a tiny key hiding from view. When I pulled it out, turning it under the fluorescent light to study the strange bumps encasing the key, I could nearly make out words engraved in the metal.
After a few moments I had an idea and scoured the entire kitchen for the drawer containing the house address book, stamps and, to my great fortune, a stamp pad for addressing letters. Having brought a well-used notepad out along with the stamping pad, I got to work carefully rolling the key in the ink and, with equal precision, rolling the letters onto the paper. “Vacat vobis, liberum est in anima, corpus et animam,” I murmured, tracing the syllables on the page.
“Lily? What’s going on?” asked a terrified voice from behind me. When I swiveled, letting the key fall from my fingers, I was shocked to find Joan quaking in the middle of the hallway with a strange look plastered on her face. There was a moment where I was attempting to comprehend the cleverness of forcing me to reveal myself, before the mild admiration turned to roiling hatred. But before I could answer her, Joan posed another question, “Who was that guy? He-he just gave me that box,” she paused, perfectly recalling the encounter, “and-and then he said, he said something in, like, Latin, or something, and I felt super dizzy.”
I was just hoping she was going to have her own reasoning as she continued in a trance, “Then he told me not to move a muscle and I-I just couldn’t move at all. It was like that one time I went to this circus with my boyfriend and this, uh, this street magician guy had this woman act like a chicken-” cutting herself off suddenly, her expression changed from wonder to worry. “But this guy wasn’t just screwing around. He said, he, uh, he said you,” I fidgeted with the inky key nervously, rolling it around on my fingers as she thought back, “He said he’d be gone by the time you got the key and that there was something, no, someone. No, it was definitely something waiting for you on the lawn.” With her tale finished she looked about to pass out, so I helped her to a chair where she passed out immediately.
Gripping the key in my now-sticky fingers, I marched to the door and yanked it open with all my might, letting it bang against the window. In the unkempt grass, stood an old-fashioned piece of leather luggage that, sitting upright, was taller than I was. I trudged through the dew-drenched yard to stand before the monstrosity and searched for a lock that could fit my key without seeing anything else. When I found it and inserted the key it gave a satisfying click and popped open.
As it dropped and was lost in the grass I took in a deep, steadying breath to keep from losing my mind. Not thinking about what I knew I was going to find in there, I wrenched it open and nearly fell on my back with shock. Sitting on a wooden stool in the case was Quin, blinking into the brilliant afternoon sunshine; it was as though the clouds parted just for us. Though, the more likely event was that Hugo wanted to give us a false sense of happiness.
Joy filled me momentarily as I could see my love, breathing, before me but it soured and I fought to regain it. Smiling at my love, I reached toward her with an ink-stained hand, but she just stared up at me with doe eyes, shrinking from my hand. Her expression was that of someone unsure of anything in the world, but she was home now. After only a few hours with Hugo, I was certain anyone would crack.
When she finally gathered her thoughts, her tone was rough, “Who are you? Where am I? Who am I?” Tears streamed down her cheeks as it dawned on me that the heart in the box wasn’t Quin’s. Taped behind her head was yet another note, scrawled in Hugo’s loopy writing. I reached for it and the-women-who-wasn’t-Quin shied away, ducking my hand apprehensively. Unfolding the page, I read the lines quickly.
Lily, my dear,
It seems we meet again between the lines on a page; ought we meet in person sometime soon? I think so. But perhaps not today as I suspect you will have your hands full trying to remind your lovely girlfriend she’s in love with you. Oh, and don’t bother using any little spells to awaken her memory; she has none. Where most of your little memory repression charms just cover and bind the memories you wish to remove, I have managed to take every thought you’ve ever touched out of her mind. You can’t help her regain something that’s not there at all.
Quin was just staring at the house, watching a bluebird flit across the roof, picking at the leaves when I managed to get her attention. Instead of reaching to hug her I simply stuck my hand out to give her a lift out of the chest, and she took it tentatively. The dress she wore, a simple number I’d never seen before, brushed the ground as she stumbled into my arms, falling awkwardly against my shoulder. As I pushed her up, holding her weight with my steady arms I sighed in defeat.
“Come on, Quinny, you gotta remember me. Please,” I begged, my eyes shining with rouge tears. When she shook her head it nearly broke my heart. I let her fall back on me, silently pleading with whatever deities necessary to bring her back and murmuring every memory spell I could think of. But as I held the woman I loved I thought to the years of trust-building ahead; her relearning who I was and who she was. I thought about how she might just leave me if she decided not to love me again.
I sobbed into this stranger’s hair with complete disregard for my appearance. When she croaked, my heart did a double-take, “Lil?” Holding her at arm’s length to look into her smiling eyes I watched the light disappear from them.
As she collapsed I let myself be dragged down, blinking and breathing rapidly. I tried to say something but nothing would come, instead I just kept grasping at her in vain. Feeling for a pulse I could just see the silvery scar where her heart should have rested and my shallow breathing stopped entirely for a moment. I couldn’t lose her, not when I was prepared to stay with her even if she didn’t remember me; losing her was worse than her forgetting me because I had no chance to fix it.
Created to Write:
August hears screaming, so he turns the corner, against the current of strangers. There’s a lone pack that everyone is avoiding like the plague. He hears the ticking. He finds a child that fell in the crowd. Running to her, he scoops her up and dashes to safety. The mother finds him and takes her child back, before running more. August looks back for anyone lagging.
There are officers carefully working on the bomb. August can’t help them.
There’s an elderly man that’s walking with a cane. He goes to help him. They get off the street, down to the next one. There are still people running.
August goes back, stepping just inside the blast radius to look for more stragglers, when he’s knocked off his feet. He hits the pavement, debris falling around him. He lays there a second, then tries to sit up. But his head screams at him, and his lungs are still deciding if they can breathe. Paramedics get to the scene, and he is not the only one injured. August tries to sit again, even to look around, but he passes out as a paramedic starts talking to him.
August wakes up in a hospital. It’s not as pristine as a hospital in America, but in no way is it unsanitary. A nurse walks in. She starts to talk to him, but he’s unsure how to answer. “English?” She asks. He nods, only to wince. The nurse checks his head. “You… hit head hard,” she explains, “concussion…” she checks to make sure. “Stay in hospital few days.”
August closes his eyes.
“I have… few questions,” the nurse says. August looks at her. “Name?”
“August, er,” he groans, “August Evert.”
The nurse writes, “Home?”
“America. New York City.”
The nurse nods, writing calmly, “Visit reason?”
The nurse looks up, “No no, visit here.”
August thinks a moment, “Why am I in this city?” The nurse nods. August stares at the ceiling. “…I… I don’t know.”
“A… mother, and… I have a brother. Neither are here,” August says. ‘What are their names? …What does my brother look like?’
The nurse asks a few more questions, then leaves. August is left on his own, to try to sort out how he can’t remember why he’s not in America, who his family is… and why he has the urge to get out of the hospital to search as quickly as possible.
Search for what?