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Retrospection

Chapter One

“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.”



~William James

The familiar, crisp winter air tickled my senses as I plunged into the river, head fully submerged. I gasped for air, choking on the sub-zero monster, my lungs struggling to maintain function. Bubbles trickled from my mouth floating up to the surface, my body slowly drifting towards the river bottom. My lids snapped open, the water stinging my eyeballs as I caught sight of my fingertips turning a sickly pale blue color. I struggled to keep consciousness, propelling myself away from the unforgiving water. Suddenly, lethargy surged through every cell of my being, stealing away every bit of energy tucked inside. The cold bit through my remains, devouring everything, even what was left of my very soul hidden so carefully from harm. The lights that seemed so reachable at one time, dulled to a lifeless yellow. My eyes slowly closed, but my mind buzzed unready to enter the awaiting endless sleep. I felt my bare back smack against the jagged bedrock, but the numb ache soon disappeared all together. My head fell next, smashing against the cruel river bottom with such force that I was knocked into nothing. My mind faded into blackness as I lost connection to everything I held near and dear to my heart.

An electrical current rushed through by body, charring my toes and singeing the tips of my hair. My green eyes were shocked open, growing wild and animalistic as I stared at my surroundings. I was on the shoreline, a tall boy in denim jeans looming over me. I tried to speak, but as soon as I opened my mouth I exploded into a coughing fit, hacking up water and algae. He patted my back slowly, but the pain was excruciating. I moaned and tears began to stream down my face from the shooting agony. He grew worried and started to pull up the back of my shirt, to examine my injury.
“Don’t!” I managed to choke out one word, but he obeyed, releasing my shirt from his grasp.
“I need a…need a!” I whimpered, nearly inaudible. He looked at me, his intense brown eyes glistening with emotion.
“I have to see what’s bothering you.” He gently helped me to a sitting position, then gingerly pulled up the back of my soaked t-shirt. He took a shallow breath as he examined the injury.
“You’re bleeding heavily,” he said in an airy, exasperated breath. I could feel the fear on my face hardening like a plaster mask, permanently scarred into my tender flesh. He stood up from his kneeling position and started to pull off his now saturated t-shirt. He took his shirt and rung it out over the demon river that had consumed me with its raw power. Then he walked over to the bank where I lay like a squirming fish and gently placed it on my tattered back. The sting was almost unbearable and I yelped in pain, my wounded back throbbing. I fought back the tears that sprinkled by lashes and I sat up slowly, coughing up more water until I could talk. My eyes were blurry with wasted tears. I felt ridiculous crying. I took my arm and rubbed the tears away until I could see the details of my savior and hero. He had sandy blonde hair, just beginning to dry and tanned skin. He was a hard worker, and his hands calloused and worn from overuse. I wiped the crocodile tears from my eyes as he looked at me.
“So now you’re crying. Fine, fine better then trying to drown yourself I suppose.” He ripped his t-shirt in two, slowly wrapping my back.
“What makes you think I’m crying? And what makes you think I would try to drown myself?” I said sniffling as quietly as I could. I analyzed him, from the veins in his neck to the way his chest glistened from the arctic water.
He chuckled, his tanned skin catching the dim sunset light. “I know you like the back of my hand. And I know you’re not stable. Why would you try and hide something like this from me?” looking at him again he did have a vague familiarity, a certain ring that rung inside my head every time I stared at his face or body too long. His face slowly sunk to a soft frown. “Skylar what’s wrong? You’re looking at me like…like you have no idea who I am. That’s…impossible.” I racked every part of my brain scavenging the deepest and most intimate memories, when I realized: I didn’t remember anything. Not who I was, where I was, or who this mysterious boy was. It was on the tip of my tongue, hanging there, taunting my every thought. It was like forgetting a word you’ve known how to spell for over 10 years, it was there, just lost in transition. Sitting there, somewhere hidden, was all the personal details that I could not be brought to the surface. My eyes narrowed, not because of anger towards him but directly at myself. I let out a long frustrated sigh. “No, I don’t have the slightest idea who you are.” His eyes closed as if his greatest fear had just been realized. His shook his head to himself and placed his hand on his forehead softly caressing back his damp hair.
“Damn it! How could I let this happen?” He grew livid, his eyes raging with anger. I could tell he was trying not to scream at me his identity, in a wasted attempt for me to remember memories I could not. Then he looked down for a moment and regained his focus. He let out a puff of air then continued on, “Did you hit your head or anything underwater?” I pressed to remember what happened. A fuzzy far off image came to mind of the water flowing over top of my head, jerking me this way and that like a limp rag doll being pulled with equal strength by two feuding sisters. I saw nothing after that, as if the power shut off inside of my brain. One single tear ventured from my eye and streamed down my face dripping slowly off my chin.
“I don’t remember. But I should.” I was beginning to get worried my heart pounding like a tambourine, and desperation ran through my body’s entirety. Did I have a mother at home wondering why I didn’t come home for dinner? Maybe a father asking his daughter’s whereabouts when he got home from work? Even a little sister begging her mom to tell her when sissy will be home to play with her. I started to break down the possibilities, which grew restless and wild in my blank mind. My head snapped up towards the boy. “Who am I? How could this happen to me! I need to know!” He looked at me warily as if telling me was a crime he wouldn’t soon commit. I saw in his eyes he couldn’t bear to tell me. “Tell me now! I need to know.” I was getting dizzy from my uncontrollable shaking, and my body began to vibrate like a washing machine set on the highest setting. For one moment, a flash of fear darted across his muddy eyes, but before I could recognize it fully, it disappeared. “Skylar, I’m not going to lie, you are freaking me out. There, you happy? I gave you your name; now let’s focus on getting you fixed. Your back is bleeding so bad you might lose consciousness again if you let yourself get all riled up. We will figure this out together, okay?” I shook my head hard, and the water that had been lodged in my ear poured out.
“No, I asked who I am, not my name. Do I have family or friends? How old am I? Who are you?” With every question I wrenched forward, my back screaming in an agonizing plea. The boy grabbed my arm and pulled me back down. He moved uncomfortably close, and I could feel his warm, sweet breath on my frozen face.
“Stop trying to cause yourself pain. I won’t tell you. I can’t tell you. Quick, we better get you to the hospital before you get worse.” I was scooped up into his arms, my head lying serenely on his chest.
“Is this position all right?” he asked, and worries never leaving his face. I nodded slowly and he began to run, his muscled arms supporting my weight as if I weighed no more then a piece of sodden wax paper. My teeth chattered up and down. My back stung with pain, the numbness from the cold slowly disappearing revealing hurt I had never known before; well I don’t think I’ve ever known it.
“Where is the nearest hospital…um…? I would call you by your name but you don’t seem to want to give me any information at all.” I managed to clink out between clacks of my teeth. He did not stop to look at me, nor did he turn his head, which was stationary in place staring at the land in front of him. It really was a beautiful area, whatever this area was. Snow blanketed the slightly sloping hills, and sparkled like a freshly polished opal. The air felt crisp and clean to taste, but biting cold, nipping at my bare cheeks every time the wind blew. Icicles hung from tree branches, dripping softly onto the icy earth with tiny plinks and plunks. Besides that, the wood sounded eerily quiet, as if everyone in the world had retreated into hibernation.
“Just call me Dag. That’s what you always called me anyway.” The forest cleared around me into a cityscape, so teeming with life that I had to squint my eyes to keep from getting another head ache. I struggled to see everything, from the towering buildings that seemed to soar miles into the sky, to the people, each having there own style. I saw men dressed to the hills in suits that seem to be spun of night, children with empty cups begging for just a tiny bit of money, wearing nothing to shield themselves from the frigid wintry air but raggedy cloth, and women hurrying through the streets with shopping bags hanging from their delicate wrists. I looked up at Dag’s soft face, confused.
“What is this place?” I asked, my world completely blown away by this hustling and bustling city I had never seen. It felt vaguely memorable, like I had been there in a dream years and years ago. It was pure déjà vu. But I had never felt this feeling of complete freedom before this day. That’s one emotion my amnesia couldn’t take away from me. Dag turned to me his brown eyes sparkling with excitement for the first time, ready for the big reveal.
“New York City.”



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