Absence of Mind This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

After the accident my reflection has become something I have failed to recognize. Six months ago I was involved in a terrible car crash and as a result I suffered from subdural hematoma. I felt like I had lost part of my character in that crash. I even had trouble writing my own name among other problems. I’ve been getting better slowly. Pieces of the memories I’ve lost have been coming back to me, just like the doctors said they would.
“Alex, someone’s here to see you.” My mother knocked on the door.
“Who is it?” I asked nonchalantly. I already knew who it was.
“Kita.” Her voice was low; she already knew what my response would be.
“Tell her I’m busy.” I turned to the other side of my bed to face the wall.
Physically you wouldn’t be able to tell there was anything wrong. Most of my cuts and bruises healed. However just by spending an afternoon with me anyone would be able to tell there was something off. I didn’t want her to see me like this. No one wants to see their loved ones suffer. Seeing me like this, helpless and pathetic, it would only hurt her, and I care about her too much to do that, even if being away from her makes my entire body ache with loneliness. Shakespeare was right when he said absence from those we love is self from self - a deadly banishment.
“Where are you heading off to?’ I swear my mother was a hawk in another life.
“Uh, Camden town. Just for a bit.” I grabbed my jacket when I reached the bottom of the staircase.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Alright.” She gave me an incredulous smile.
“Bye.” I smiled before I turned to walk out the door.

Truth is, I just needed to get out of the house. My mother could use some time to herself anyway. I watched what seemed like a beautiful moving painting outside of the window. I used to do this all the time: board a train without any real destination in mind; a long train ride to think things over. It was peaceful, and peace of mind was what I needed.
“Penny for your thoughts.” I picked up a penny that landed in my lap and looked up at a girl sitting across from me.
“I think too much,” I said nearly whispering.
“Mm, you did look deep in thought.”

I couldn’t quite understand it but there was something intriguing about her. Her hair was unkempt in a sensual way and her eyeliner was slightly smeared. The sun’s rays stroked her pale skin and I could feel her cryptic topaz eyes scrutinizing me as if she were looking right through me. Honestly it was kind of frightening.
“Where are you going?” Her eyes locked onto mine.
“I’m not really sure.”
“Lost?” She never broke eye contact.
“No, I’m just not sure where I’m going.”
“You’re afraid.” She tilted her head to the left and gave me a taunting half smile.
“What?” I didn’t mean for my voice to sound harsh but she caught me off guard.
“You’re afraid because you’re not sure if things will ever be the way they used to be. Truth is, once change has run its course you can’t ever go back. You can try to replicate every detail but it will never be the same.” She crossed her arms. “And you feel guilty because your accident was the cause of the change. Disturbance in your lovely pattern of life. Except it’s not only your life; it’s everyone around you. You created a domino effect.”

She must be high. Who the hell does she think she is? How does she know all this? This didn’t make any sense. She studied my face for a long moment, speculating.
“If this is some kind of sick game you’re trying to play, it isn’t funny. Who the hell are you anyway?”
“Mary Jane.” She let out a gentle chuckle.
“What?” My anger seemed to amuse her.
“That’s my name,” her voice softened, “and this is my stop. I’m going to see an old friend. Would you like to come with me?” She reached out her hand.

I took her hand without even thinking. As soon as I stepped off the train, everything was setting in. I was confused with my impulsive decision. This entire situation was bizarre to start with and it was only going to get stranger. I didn’t recognize the neighborhood we were in. The houses all looked the same and there was no one in sight. When she knocked on the front door, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A tall, skinny man answered.
“Mary Jane!” He gave her a big hug.
“Hello, Cedric.” She smiled as their embrace broke. “This is my friend, Alex. He’s going to keep me company.”
“No problem.” He gave me a quick glance then looked back at Mary Jane. “Everything is set up in the living room. I’ll be there in a minute.”

When we walked into the room it was clear that she was here to get a tattoo. Why she brought me along, I don’t know. It’s not like I had somewhere to be anyway. I watched as Cedric worked on what looked like a tribal symbol on Mary Jane’s wrist.
“Does it hurt?” Cedric asked, still focusing on her wrist.
“Beautifully.” She closed her eyes and smiled.
“What are you getting?” I asked.
“A mark of inspiration. It means ‘awakening’.” She opened her eyes, her gaze piercing into me. “Let fear go, Alex. Accept that things happen for a purpose and don’t let guilt poison your energy.”
“How did you know about my accident?” That’s the only thing I could come up with.
“Finished.” They completely ignored me.
“Thank you.” Mary Jane kissed Cedric on the cheek and took my hand.

She took me back to the train station. The train should be here any minute now. Mary Jane looked over at me, analyzing every facial expression. Then she smiled that familiar smile that I have grown used to.
“It doesn’t matter, you know. About how I know” The moonlight reflected in her liquid topaz eyes.
“You’re right. About all of it.” I couldn’t deny it. Everything she said on the train was true. “It was nice to meet you.”
“Goodbye, Alex.” She kissed me on the cheek. “Find what you lost and get it back.”

I boarded the train and tried to make sense of everything that happened today. I figured I’d take her advice and just let go. Let go of my fear and guilt. Let go of this strange situation. Try to reconnect with my friends and family. I was on my way home when something stopped me in midstep. Kita was sitting on my doorstep. I ran and held her in a long passionate embrace.
“I missed you,” she cried in that velvet voice that I had dreamed of for months.
“I’m sorry, I should have – “
“Don’t,” she interrupted. “You had things to work out. I knew you’d come back when you were ready to.” She gave me the warm smile that I’ve longed for such a long time. I tucked her hair behind her ear and kissed her on the forehead.
“When did you get a tattoo?”
I traced the blue symbol with my fingers on my left wrist and smiled.
“Come on, let’s go inside.” I took her by the hand with absolutely no intention of ever letting go again.





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