The boy awoke on the side of a road unsure of how he got there. ~ He slowly opened his eyes to see storm clouds dissipating above him, the night sky behind the thinning mist alight with twinkling stars, the likes of which he had not seen in weeks, or so he thought.
But how many weeks? How did I even get here? Where was here? He had no answers for the questions. A cool breeze brushed over the skin on his arms, distracting him from his thoughts.
The young man stood then and looked around, trying to make sense of his situation. He took note of his clothes which were damp and cold on his skin, his white t-shirt and jeans smudged with mud. The hairs on his neck were settling, goosebumps were sinking back into the skin on his arms. His heart too was slowing down to a steady pace. It was as though he had just finished doing something exciting, or frightening. He took a deep breath, the moist air feeling cold on his palate and back of his throat. He closed his eyes and searched his memories… but nothing came.
He opened his eyes and surveyed his surroundings, only to find that his location was just as mysterious as his memories.
He was at the edge of a field, looked to be the same wild wheat field where he had… where I had… he couldn’t remember. He knew that this field was familiar somehow, but he couldn’t quite remember why. Sure, he walked by this road many times on the way to and from school, but there was something else pricking at the back of his mind; more recent memories threatening to reveal themselves. Another cool breeze snatched him away from his wonderings again, blowing over and rustling the stalks of grain before him.
The field itself was in a disheveled state, he took note. Patches of stalks of grain looked as though they had been ripped from the ground, while others lay bent and twisted in their place. Looking further out over the field the young man could see that a tree line bordering the edge of the field was not in any better shape. What used to be a thick collection of sycamores at the edge of the field, creating a border to the more wooded part of his small town, was now a mess of lone limbs, splintered remains of the once-grand trees that stood out in his memory. The damage stretched on for at least a half-mile in either direction, as well as deep into the forest where the woods remained dense. Then… he saw her.
The young man’s heart leapt in his chest and he took a slight step forward at the sight of a girl lying amongst the natural rubble of the broken trees. He hesitated for just a moment before rushing over to her.
He stopped at her side, unsure of what to do next. She lay on her stomach, and a closer look as he knelt revealed her back was rising and falling at a steady pace. This calmed the young man a little, his heart and breathing slowing as he assured himself that this frail creature before him was okay, or at least alive and breathing. He noticed then she was wearing what appeared to be a hospital gown and a questioned look captured his gaze.
She had dark hair, he took note, bordering on black. It was sprawled out in several directions as if blown about by strong winds before settling. It lay in tattered strands across her back and on the ground mixed in with twigs, debris, leaves, and branches.
I think I know this girl, he thought to himself, prompting him to reach toward her face. He gently moved some strands of her hair to the side, revealing the pale skin of one of the most beautiful faces he had ever seen. Again, the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Then her name dragged out in his mind in a long whisper as a look of recognition seized his stare. Amelia…
Soon enough, the young girl, Amelia—now awake—and the young man were sitting in front of their parents. Amelia’s father, Gary, and the young man’s father, Donald, both waited with expectant eyes. The four of them sat silently for a moment in front of a warm fire that crackled and creaked in the fireplace; the young ones wrapped in wool blankets. The boy’s father broke the silence.
“Jimmy,” Donald began, his voice but a whisper, “what happened?”
Gary’s expression mimicked the question, his eyes also falling heavily on the boy.
The young man, Jimmy, lifted his head peeling his eyes away from a stoic gaze into the hypnotic glowing embers of the fire. He only took a glance at his father before his eyes settled on Gary’s worried, watery eyes. Jimmy searched his mind for answers but could only turn up more questions. He was aware that he knew the man before him well… but how? Jimmy could feel deep respect within himself for this man, Amelia’s father, as though they’d been through a lot together… the institution, the thought suddenly pierced the fog in his mind. Amelia, she was… in trouble. He looked up at the girl to his left.
She met his eyes. Amelia looked just as confused as Jimmy, if not more so. They searched each other’s eyes for answers.
Memories started to come back to Jimmy, memories of a budding friendship with this girl, the new girl: time spent together in wild fields; on long walks to and from school; and… and… he couldn’t remember. He knew there was something else, something of great importance, but he could not bring it to the forefront.
“Jim,” Donald snapped, but softly, more urgent than harsh. “What happened? One minute you were visiting Amelia at the hospital, the next minute you two were gone. Then the sirens sounded… I…?” Donald trailed off, clearly just as confused as everyone else in the room, as he too tried to remember the day’s events.
Again, Gary’s expression echoed the question, as well as the concern behind it; his words seemingly snatched away by the current circumstances.
Jimmy turned to look at the two men. “I… can’t… remember.”