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Sam kicked the soft snow, feeling the cold tremble through his toes. Ten P.M. had never seemed so dull- or cold. With each kick of the fresh snow, it was like a silent scream of boredom. Kick, step, kick, step, kick… Suddenly he plummeted to the soft, snow-covered concrete with a silent thud. Frustrated with his fall, he brushed the icy frost off his legs, completely oblivious to the change in his environment. After muttering a few curses, he looked up. The reflection of the gleaming city lit his chocolate brown eyes with an luminous glow. Ironically, Sam had a feeling he wasn’t in Salt Lake anymore.
He breathed the city in. An unfamiliar scent overwhelmed his being. Searching for any clue as to where he was, Sam telescoped the town with wide eyes, but after several minutes of gawking at the dark, velvet sky, bright sky scrapers, and brilliant street lights he still had no idea where he could be. His concentration was shattered with a dense voice, “Sam?”
Clumsily, he sought the voice’s owner. A strikingly similar figure stood in front of him- almost like a mirror image. Sure he looked like an idiot with his jaw on the pale cement; he trembled for words- any words. Finally, he toppled over a mundane sentence, “Who are you?”
The stranger’s chuckle painted the hollow environment, “Rehv, but not the obnoxious noise your automobile makes.”
Sam stared at the foreigner. It was crazy how comparable he was to himself; the deep brown eyes, the feathery brown hair, the meager size, and even the same mole-like birth mark on the base of his neck. Rehv intruded Sam’s deliberation once again, “I don’t mean to interrupt you, but could you stop staring at me?”
Sam’s cheeks lit up with a soft red, “I’m sorry, it’s just…”
“I look just like you?” Rehv cut in.
“Well, yeah,” Sam felt dumb-founded.
Rehv laughed with an uncomfortable tremble, “We should really get out of here.”
Sam’s mind sprinted through utter chaos. He didn’t want to leave. This was like a hyperbolic Salt Lake City- a Salt Lake City on steroids. He gave Rehv a dumbfounded look, “I’d rather not.”
Rehv’s face looked as if he had just drunk milk that was two weeks sour- his eyes focused on something behind Sam’s head. Sam’s stomach twisted with an uncomfortable quiver as he resisted turning around- a melodic voice vanquished his reflexes, “Rehv, who is this?” It was a girl- a beautiful girl by the sound of her song-like voice. Sam spun around before he could see the panic in Rehv’s eyes.
She was beautiful- stunning, really. Her skin radiated with an amber glow, almost perfectly framed with her lush, auburn hair. Her bottomless green eyes met his with an inexplicable stare. Sam thought if he could only touch her skin, his entire body would furnish with warmth.
Rehv stuttered, “This is Sam.”
The girl’s stare broke with a silent snap, “Why is he here, Rehv?” It was almost like Rehv was in its own sentence.
Sam waited- he wanted to know the answer to this as much as the girl seemed to. After a few tense moments it was obvious Rehv wasn’t going to answer. The girl hastily jostled in front of Sam, “Get him out of here, Rehv,” she rattled. Her anger blustered the calm night.
“Come on, Sam,” Rehv quivered.
Sam hesitated, choosing his words carefully, “I don’t want to.”
Rehv reached out to grab Sam, but the girl beat him there, “Are you sure?” she smirked.
Sam didn’t feel threatened, though. In fact, he almost felt aroused with excitement. He nodded at her curiously. Her eyes lit up with a sickening pleasure as she went to grab his hand. When the strained instant finally ended, her hand felt like a warm jolt extending throughout his whole body and she led him away- leaving Rehv to the busy city street.
The nameless girl seemed hurried as she dragged him through countless soggy alleys- never stopping after her long, graceful strides. Sam halted, “Hey!”
The girl jumped, seemingly startled, “What?”
Sam didn’t mean to scare her, he just wanted to know her name, “You never told me who you were.”
Never before had Sam see such a vulgar look seem so perfect as when the mysterious girl rolled her eyes. After an uncomfortable pause with no answer, Sam finally intervened, “I’m serious. If you’re going to keep trekking me through these empty alleys, I’d like to know who you are.”
“Sage,” she muttered as she spun around and started walking again. Not pressing his luck, Sam fought to keep up with her.
Steps turned into blocks, and blocks turned into miles. After what seemed to be hours, he felt his ankles swelling at the base of his legs and he decided nothing this “Sage” had to say could be worse than the sharpening pain that was overwhelming his body and he was willing to take his chances, “Uh, Sage?”
“We’re almost there,” she shot back quickly.
“Seriously?” Sam’s body ached, “Can we just take a break?”
“We’re almost there,” she said again.
Sam’s eyes filled with tears of frustration. How could she be so selfish? Knowing he would be lost without her, though, he continued to limp close behind.
“See?” Sage sang.
Sam looked up through his varnished eyes at a pastel sided building that was slightly faded from the intense sun rays, “Where are we?”
When she took his hand, her warm skin pressed against his softly, “I live here.”
Sam paused. Not three minutes before he couldn’t have wanted to be away from her more, but now he wanted nothing more than to be here- with her hand so carefully placed in his, following her into her simple home.
Minutes turned into hours and hours into days while Sam and Sage continued the relationship that had started off with such a subtle revulsion. Soon enough, a month had gone by and Sam was sure he never wanted to leave- sure he was in love with her. They did everything together in her pale condo- made silent jokes, watched horror movies on her semi-broken television set, slept on her frameless mattress… Sam had almost completely substituted his home life, his family, with this eccentric world- with Sage.
Feeling the stiff mattress underneath his back, Sam was awakened by a harsh shaking. As he opened his eyes, the familiar condo seemed to disintegrate into white with a wave of mundane, safe scents. A faint voice seemed to be calling his name, “Sam… Sam… Sam.” With every word his vision became a little more focused. Two unfamiliar faces emerged. He groaned, unsure what else to say. One of the faces lit up with a tearful smile, “Sam, are you awake?”
Sam looked around, confused, “Yeah?”
The stranger delighted, “He’s awake. Doctor Miller!”
A quiet, monotone beep started up- slowly, at first, but quickly gaining speed. Sam investigated in panic for what was making the noise until a little black screen with green lines that resembled mountains came into his peripherals. Perplexed with the sudden, overpowering chaos of the frighteningly safe environment; his heart dropped in realizing Sage was nowhere in sight. His voice shook quietly staggered, “Where is Sage?”
The joyous stranger’s smile seemed to melt as a third person entered the cold, white room, “What is it, Mrs. Nielson?” The lady’s shook her head miserably and whispered one word: Sage.
Sam’s head twirled with the assorted beeps that accompanied the black screen raced and mingled with the slow commotion of the alien environment when the lady’s last name was revealed, “Mom?”
Both the strange man and the woman’s head snapped back to Sam. In a faint, trembling whisper she replied, “Yes.”
Sam choked up dense tears and forced a weak smile, “Could you tell me where Sage is, mom?”
She turned away, her shoes squeaking with her rotation. The man spoke, “Sam, I’m Doctor Miller. I’ve been your doctor since the accident almost a year ago.”
Sam felt a soft push on his temples and instinctively pressed his fingers against his head. He wanted to ask the doctor what he was talking about, but he couldn’t.
“Do you remember the accident, Sam?” the man spoke again, quieter this time.
Sam shook his head “no” as he felt his eyes fill with a liquid glaze.
Doctor Miller subtly nudged for Sam’s mother’s approval, but she had left the room leaving a trail of wet tears on the smooth tile. Sam waited patiently for any response- any answer. The doctor turned back to Sam, “Well, you see, about a year ago you were hit by a drunk driver in Salt Lake City. You should have been killed at impact, but you weren’t. And something, somehow, has kept you hanging on by enough that your mom just couldn’t pull the plug.”
Disturbed with the sharpening pain in his temples, Sam began to whimper. Again he asked, “Where’s Sage?”
The doctor sighed, “We have no record of you ever knowing a Sage- no Sage has ever attended your school, your church, or any other activities you have been a part of. Your mom never recalls you ever being acquainted with a Sage. The only likelihood we’ve left to assume is that you…” he drifted off.
“What?” Sam blared, “I made her up?” The erratic thought painted Sam’s face with a bright red and a quivering lip. He couldn’t have made her up- with her impossible perfections and their countless memories.
“When people enter a coma they sometimes compose characters, even whole lives and worlds. I’m not saying you made this person up, it was just a possibility,” the doctor’s voice was filled with a thick seriousness.
Sam searched for any recollection of Sage he could, but his vivid memory seemed to be intertwined with the vast amount of information and calamity he had just been presented with. He looked at Doctor Martin, “I want her back,” his voice shuddered.
With honest sincerity, the doctor only gave him but two hollow words before he left the room, “I’m sorry.”