Sequel to "No Choice"
You are different than me.
You have a memory, a past. You also have a future. Me? I have nothing. I start from scratch every day, scrambling to recover what I have lost. You? You have no such problems. I still remember nothing before this occurrence. I find it odd that you, all of you, can remember so much. I can’t even remember my name.
My paws twitched as the dream roiled through my mind. I had gone to bed expecting the one dream, the maybe-memory, which I have had every night since Laura rescued me. I was sorely mistaken. The dream that did come was different, unusual, and clear—another vague memory of my past, perhaps?
But no. I have not had my memory, my mind, for four years... and that is in your measurement of time. Time creeps slowly, immeasurably slowly, for me...
The darkness was pressing down on her eyelids, heavy and terrifying. She struggled to sit up and finally managed it, peering into the gloom that surrounded her.
“Nessa, don’t be scared,” a voice said. Behind the reassuring words, an electric current of fear laced the sound of the voice with horror.
“What? Who are you? Where am I?” she cried.
“Don’t be scared, Nessa. Don’t be scared.”
She stood up, ready to run away, but a choking arm came out of the wall of shadows and held her down.
“Don’t be scared, Nessa.”
The dream replayed over and over again until the first muted light of the morn awoke me. The phrase repeated many times, burning into my mind in fiery letters: Don’t be scared, Nessa. Don’t be scared.
I wasn’t about to admit it to the terrifying and mysterious voice...
But I was scared.
For the past four years I have had the same dream. The same, familiar dream-memory—the one that involved me, a pet named Izzy—my brother perhaps?—and my old best friend Kylee. I understood that dream. I did not enjoy it, but I understood it. So suddenly I receive a new dream, a new memory? I did not like the feelings it brought.
The next night, I had it again.
The same feeling of fear, the same shadowed darkness, the same holding arms. I awoke shaking, my pelt damp with nervous sweat.
Quietly, I got out of my bed. The dappled black on the walls did nothing to calm my nerves as I slowly made my way down the hall to my sibling Day’s room. I slipped inside and sat down in one of his chairs, just content to watch him sleep calmly. Out of my siblings, I have always felt closest to Day, for the simple reason that he didn’t question me..
Somehow, Day felt my presence and opened his luminous green eyes.
“Hey, Nessa,” he said softly. He quickly probed his gaze over my face. I probably still had a fearful expression. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“A new memory,” I admitted quietly, shifting my paws.
“A new—but you’ve had the same single one for several years,” he said, puzzled.
“I know,” I whispered. Day was silent for several minutes, and then lay back down in his bed.
“Go to sleep, Nessa. Maybe you’ll get more memories. More clues.”
Obediently, I made myself comfortable in the chair and slipped away from consciousness again.
The dream replayed, just as clear and just as fear-inducing. Under the electric current of terror in the mysterious voice, though, I could hear a strong and determined desire to protect me. The realization sparked something in my mind—a feeling I hadn’t had for a long time. Something pricked, wiggled, jumped— a name. A four-letter name.
“Izzy?” I whispered, and the arms came out of the dark to pin me down.
The morning light no longer seemed warm to me; just bleak and bright, much too bright. I was still in Day’s chair, but he was not in the room. I stood up and stretched, my lean Lupe muscles cramped from staying curled in the chair all night.
I made my slow way out of the room and into the hallway. Day ambushed me as soon as I reached my own bedroom.
“We’re going on a trip,” he said, his excitement barely held in check. I shifted away nervously and scowled at him.
“Where are we going?” I asked nervously.
“We’re going to the crime scene,” he grinned.
“Wait...” I gasped.
“We’re going to the place of your accident.”
With those words, I was frozen to the floor. Go back to the place where my memory had been rudely stolen from me? Never!
My brother looked thoughtful. “Come on, Nessa. This could be your chance to regain your memory!”
With him bodily pushing me along, somehow we made it to Meridell.
I drew my paw gently along the hard earth, trying to imagine what could have made me fall from that train. Had someone pushed me? Had I just lost my balance?
Day was staring at the ground intently, his long dark tail whipping back and forth in dizzying motion. He looked up after a while, feeling my golden eyes on him.
“Remember anything?” he asked me hopefully.
“No,” I growled. It was creepy being there at the place of my accident, like something I had struggled to bury at the back of my mind had come back to plague me again. I meandered up to the metal train tracks and whisked my tail over the top. It came away dusty.
“These haven’t been used in a while,” Day mused. He stood up and began to lope slowly along the tracks, heading towards where the station was—or used to be. “Nessa?” he called back over his shoulder, continuing on his station-ward path.
“Fine,” I whispered, slowly jogging after him, then faster and faster, until the world of the past was flying by, blur by blur.
The station was abandoned too, looked like it hadn’t been entered in years. I sneezed as we stepped inside. Day was already sifting through the train trip records. “Do you really think they’ll have a record of my passage from four years ago?” I asked, my throat burning from inhaling all the dust.
“They might,” Day answered. I sat down on a slightly dirty chair and waited for him to finish. After a bit, he held up a yellowed sheet of paper. “This is it,” he murmured.
My mouth went dry as I reached out for the paper. He handed it to me and I ran my paw down the list of names...
There I was. My name in black and white.
“Adair?” Day asked, thinking. The name would mean nothing to him, of course. He hadn't lived that long ago.
As he spoke the name, something clicked. Adair. Adair... Izzy Adair, Ronny Adair. Ronny! That had been my owner’s name. I was sure of it. “Ronny!” I exclaimed out loud. My brother looked at me quizzically; I almost laughed at his one-eyebrow-up expression.
“Ronny was my owner’s name... Izzy was my brother. Izzy was a yellow Eyrie...” and as I explained my sudden epiphany to Day, some memories broke through the grey, silent wall and flooded my mind...
Standing up against a wall, swishing my red tail back and forth, making fun of a Blue Lupe, and somehow I know it is because of my own insecurity...
Backing away from him when he tries to claw me...
The realization that my life will never be as good—a new owner, no siblings...
The feeling of falling through the air and landing, hard...
I gasped. The impossible conclusion was making its way through my mind. “What?” my brother asked, looking somewhat scared. The amnesiac is gonna attack me for bringing her here, isn't she...
“I didn’t fall from the train, and I didn’t get pushed...” I started slowly, tears beginning to well in my eyes. “I jumped! I was so stupid... I messed up my entire life because I was too scared to try going to a new home. My life wasn’t that bad. I had no reason to jump!”
Day put his broad paw on my shoulder. “Maybe you did,” he said simply. “We may never know.” With that, we began the long walk home.
Yes, home... because no matter how stupidly I might have jumped on that fateful day, I was happy I had a nice house and family now, even if some of my memory still might be blocked from me.
I guess jumping wasn’t so stupid after all, if it brought me to them.