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Try to Remember
“Don’t tell me you’re not afraid Griffin.” Andy said “Please don’t tell me you’re not afraid!”
“But Andy, what is there to be afraid of? I don’t understand why you keep telling me I should be afraid.” Griffin said calmly.
Andy and Griffin were sitting next to each other on a log that sat on the dirt road that both of their houses rested on. The road was wet and muddy from the recent rainfall, and both Andy and Griffin were soaked, their shoes as brown as the road beneath them.
Griffin and Andy were both twelve years old. Three years previously Andy had moved into the house across from Griffin’s which was in fact the only other house on Chcerryblossom Lane.
Andy hadn’t been like any of the other kids at school. She was a weirdo, a freak, and no one wanted to be associated with a girl like her.
That first day was horrible for Andy, but when she saw Griffin walking home from the bus stop with his little sister, she bounded toward them with hopes of making a new friend. Griffin and Andy had been completely and totally inseparable ever since.
Next year they would be in middle school, but Andy was moving again. They would be separated for the first time in three years, and they would probably never see each other again. That was why Andy wanted Griffin to be afraid because Andy herself was afraid, afraid of going to a new school where no one knew her and almost everyone was older than her.
She was afraid of something else though; Griffin could see on her face that there was some other cause of her fright, some other reason she was so afraid to leave Taylorsville, Oregon, and go back to Miami, California where she had lived until she was nine years old. Griffin was Andy’s best friend out of the few friends she had, and obviously there was something big that she had never told him.
Andy had told Griffin that when she was back in California and settled in she would write to him, and Griffin was sure she would. Their last goodbye would not be the day this summer when Andy got in her car with her mom and left their house on Cherryblossom Lane for the last time. Andy would come to visit him in the summer, and Griffin would go to California each winter. They would be friends forever. Then eventually Andy would tell Griffin her only secret. Wouldn’t she?
“Hello, Griffin?!? Are you even listening to me?” Andy asked frustrated, “You weren’t, were you?” she paused as if too say more, but then burst out laughing at Griffin’s reaction. His face was contorted with what she interpreted as embarrassment. Andy wondered what could possibly be on his mind that was of such importance that he would ignore her. It had to be pretty important, because it was easy to see that usually whenever Andy said anything it was the most important things said to him during the day.
“Sorry,” Griffin looked at Andy “what were you saying?” He asked smiling weakly.
“Forget it.” Andy said smiling back at her friend. After a moments silence Andy stood up and pointed at the car coming down the lane. “There’s my mom.” She said. “I better go get started on my homework. Meet me back out here at sundown ok?” Andy asked walking backwards towards her house so she could see as well as hear his response.
“Alright,” Griffin said, “see you later.” He stood and watched as Andy turned around and walked across her front yard and went into her house. Griffin sighed. He was beginning to realize that everyday he was coming closer to losing the best and only friend he ever had. “But you’re not really losing her.” A voice in his head kept saying. “You’re not losing her, because you two love each other more than anything in the world, you will always be together, and certainly the simple act of her moving to California can’t change that!”
“But can it?” Griffin said to himself. He was sure it could, but then he was sure it couldn’t. One minute he was very optimistic about their future together as friends, and the next he was sure that when Andy moved he would never talk to her again. That would be the end. He wondered if Andy thought about this as much as he did. Surely she didn’t. Andy had much more important things to worry about. She wasn’t just going to be at a new school without him, she was moving to a new home in a new state where who knows what could happen too her.
“No wonder she’s afraid.” Griffin whispered to himself. He stood there for a few moments longer, he had no clue as exactly how much time passed, but when he came back to his senses he realized that he was wet, and not like he had been before. Before he had been soaked, but it was almost a dry soaked; now he was dripping wet again, and he realized that the rain had started again.
He knew he must look stupid, just standing there in the rain staring at Andy’s front door. Griffin looked around quickly, stupidly, to see if anyone had seen him. “Who is around that could’ve seen you?” The voice in his head asked, “No one, except for Andy and her mother, and soon they won’t even be here. You will be able to look stupid and no one will care. No one will tell you if you look stupid or not. There will be no way for you to correct it. . . . .”
“Just stop it!” Griffin screamed to the sky “Leave me alone. Stop confusing me!” He fell to his knees, scraping them against the dirt road. “Let me think…. Please…. Just let me think.” Now he knew he looked stupid, he felt stupid. Why was this such a big deal? Why was he finding that he couldn’t stand to think about it anymore? Why did he keep telling himself that it was going to be ok, but that it wasn’t going to be ok?
“Why am I so confused?” Griffin asked himself. He stood there for a moment, as if waiting for an answer, and then turned towards his house and ran inside.
When he got inside he ran up to his room and sat at his desk trying to do his math homework, but he wasn’t really trying, he was sitting there his hands over his face, elbows resting on his desk, just thinking. Thinking about Andy, thinking about California, thinking about Madison County Middle School; in truth he didn’t know what he was thinking about, but he knew it was important. He knew that if he really knew what he was thinking, it might just help him sort this whole thing out.
He didn’t know how long he sat like that, but he knew it had to have been over an hour because he was pulled out of his thoughts by his mother coming into the room and asking him why he had been ignoring her calls for him to come down to dinner. “Sorry mom.” He had replied “I’ve just been thinking.”
His mother had looked at him knowingly and left the room saying that he needed to wash up and come down to eat really quickly if he wanted to be able to go play with Andy tonight.
He ran down the stairs as fast as he could after washing his hands in the bathroom, and sat down at the table across from his sister, Amy, who was already half- way done eating. “Hey Ames, did you take care of that bully how I told you?” he asked. Griffin was very protective of his little sister, and he didn’t stand for anyone being mean to her.
“Yeah, and I gots in lots of trouble because you didn’t tell me hitting her was bad.” Amy said with her mouth full of spaghetti. “Mommy said that hitting is bad, and I should’ve just told the principal about the mean girl.”
“Yeah but Amy, that’s just what she wanted you to do. Now she knows you mean business and if she tries to mess with you again she will pay.” Griffin lowered his voice when he heard his mother in the kitchen.
“But Griffin,” Amy said softly.
“Yeah Ames?” Griffin replied.
“Why are we whispering?”
“Because mommy wouldn’t want you to hurt someone. She doesn’t understand that it’s self defense.” Griffin said even more quietly.
“Ok Griffin, but if we get in trouble….”
“We won’t get in trouble.” He said eating the last of his spaghetti.
“Wow!! How did you eat all that food without me even noticing?” Amy asked looking at her brother in awe.
“Magic.” Griffin said simply, no longer whispering. He grinned at Amy, brought his plate to the sink, asked his mother if he could go play.
“Sure Grif, but don’t be out too late, you still have homework to do.” His mother said while washing the counter.
Griffin ran across his yard to the log in the middle of the street. Andy was sitting there looking at some sort of book in her lap. As he got closer, he realized it was her notebook. A little blue hard covered notebook that was held shut, when not in use, by a black piece of ribbon glued to the inside of the back cover and wrapped around a quarter sized black button on the front.
Griffin had never paid much attention to this note book, besides the fact that Andy always had it with her. He didn’t think it was her diary because Andy would let their teacher read it during recesses sometimes, and Griffin had seen her diary. Andy had let him read a page out of it once.
Her diary was not as important to her as this note book. “What are you writing Andy?”
“A story.” Andy said looking up from her lap “What took you so long?” she closed the little note book and set it on the log with her pen.
“My mom took a long time to make dinner.” Griffin lied “and Amy was telling me about her class play that is on Friday night. (This wasn’t a total lie. Amy had mentioned it the previous night at dinner.) She said she wanted you to come.” He finished saying, totally forgetting about the note book.
“Oh. I’d love to come!” Andy said grinning. Amy was the sweetest little girl she had ever known, always asking Andy to play with her and such.
“She’ll be thrilled when I tell her.” Griffin said still standing in front of the log. “Now come on, last one to the tree house is a rotten egg!” he challenged, but he waited for Andy to stand up, which he realized was a bad idea when she sped past him towards the end of the lane and into the meadow that was what they considered to be their back yard.
By the time Griffin made it up into the tree house, Andy was already sitting in one of the overly stuffed bean bag chairs, reading a magazine as if she had been sitting there for hours.
Andy and Griffin played in the tree house for hours that night. They wouldn’t have left if Andy’s mother hadn’t come and found them telling them that they needed to go home and go to bed. They did, after all, have school the next day and if they fell asleep in class it would mean trouble worse than any other.
“Ok, bye Grif, I’ll see you tomorrow!” Andy called as she walked back to her house with her mom. Griffin stared at her retreating form wondering how things were going to be without her. He stalked back to his house thinking about waking up every day without being able to walk to the bus stop talking to Andy, and just enjoying her presence.
When he got inside his mother told him to go to bed. So he showered and got in his pajamas and got into bed after making sure his alarm clock was set. It crossed his mind for less than a second that his father wasn’t home yet. His father was usually home before dinner. After all, being a police man in this area was very boring work. There were never any crimes seeing as the town was mostly old people in a very poor situation.
Suddenly Griffin didn’t know where he was. It seemed that he was overlooking a very large city intersection. As he watched he wondered where this was, and yet he seemed to know that he was in New York City, and he seemed to know that it wasn’t the year 2007, but instead the year 2027, and he was thirty two years old, not twelve. He studied the intersection wondering why he was here, why he seemed to be hovering a mile above as if he had wings, instead of standing on the sidewalk with everyone else.
The intersection was full of the usual New York City hustle and bustle, and how Griffin knew what this was like he wasn’t sure. He couldn’t read the street signs, and he couldn’t see the signs on the businesses nearby, so all he knew was that the road heading east and west had a red light, and the north and south bound light was green.
He could hear the car horns honking, and he could smell the gasoline, and he could see the cars, but he could hardly say he felt their presence, not until he heard that single blaring horn that seemed to be louder than all the others as it turned the corner at the red light almost hitting several cars.
Griffin saw a woman crossing the street, and he could tell that this was significant. He knew this woman. The dirty blonde hair, and slate grey eyes were so familiar, but he couldn’t remember this woman’s name. He knew it, but he didn’t.
The woman was wearing a short denim skirt, and a green tank top covered with a short denim shrug. She was carrying a white handbag with sequins all over it. He knew that this was not how the woman had been when he was twelve, but he couldn’t remember how she had been when he was twelve.
She moved quickly as the crossing sign counted down the seconds she had left before the light turned green, and as she was about to step onto the sidewalk, the bus whose horn he heard blaring a minute ago slammed into her. The glass on the windshield cracked, and she was flung about a yard away from the bus. Her face was on the asphalt, so there was no telling the damage, and suddenly Griffin was on the ground running toward the woman who lay sprawled and twisted on the ground.
He noticed that he was taller, what had to be over six feet, and he was wearing a long tan jacket that covered a white dress shirt. The jeans he wore were obviously new, and his shoes old. As he ran with agility he had not had as a child he got out his cell phone from an inside jacket pocket and dialed a number he didn’t recognize…..
After a few rings someone answered.
“Hello, N Y U hospital, can I help you?” the receptionist asked. He knew that voice too, he realized. He loved that voice, and he had no clue why. He knew her name though, it was Sarah. Sarah DeLoision an ex-girlfriend of his that still felt very strongly for him and tried to get him to notice her.
“Hello?” Sarah asked again, “Can I help you?” Griffin had reached the woman and was the first one there. He had been standing a few yards away from the crosswalk on the side of the road she had been trying to get too. He panted as he tried to catch his breath.
“Sarah? It’s me, Griffin. We’ve had a major accident here on…….” He said a street name, he knew he did, but he didn’t hear it. “A girl has been hit by a bus. It looks really bad, I think she’s going to die, but I need an ambulance right now. I also need a surgical room for her to be ready when we arrive at the hospital, can you handle that?” Griffin was amazed at his voice. So much deeper than it had been when he was twelve years old.
“Griffin, oh my god!!!” Sarah said “Are you ok, did you get hurt?” she sounded panicked, but for all the wrong reasons. She worried about him, when this poor woman was lying on the sidewalk dying as he spoke.
“Godammit Sarah! I’m fine, but there is a woman lying next to me on the ground dying. Get me a damn ambulance already!” he screamed into the phone and hung up. “Come on, come on. Hang in there.” He was saying to the woman “We’ve got an ambulance coming to get you. Hold on. Don’t let go, don’t give up. Please don’t give up.”
This was why Griffin made such a great doctor, (he had just known he was a doctor), he cared about every single patient that ever came into his office, no matter what the problem; he tried to make it better.
A crowd was beginning to gather around the girl and him. He tried to get people to back off, but it was no use. Eventually a young man, probably about twenty one, started threatening people to stay back, and Griffin was fine with that, as long as this woman had room to breathe so she wouldn’t die faster.
“Someone call the police!” People were screaming all around him. The honking had seemed to stop, and no cars were moving, everyone was trying to see if this woman was ok. The scene touched him; he had never witnessed such a sight of human kindness. So many people gathered around to make sure one person is ok. He knew that wasn’t the only thing though. Some of these people were gathered to see how bad it was because they were the kind of people who thrived on other people’s pain.
“Come on Sarah, don’t disappoint me.” He whispered to himself, “Get that ambulance here my girl. Come on Sarah. Come on….” He stopped because he heard the wail of ambulance sirens as they tried to reach the accident. Somehow it managed to get past all the parked cars and to the bit of empty street where the bus had tried to get past. Before that moment Griffin hadn’t noticed that the bus driver was standing right behind him watching to see if the girl he had hit was ok.
Suddenly the paramedics were there. Griffin explained the injuries he had noticed in medical speak and helped the two men get the woman onto the ambulance. He boarded the ambulance himself and tried to get all the bleeding to stop as they rode on towards the hospital. It wasn’t working. Her head was bleeding horribly, and nothing he tried would stop it. When they arrived at the hospital Sarah was standing at the doors waiting for him. He walked right past her as he rushed this very important woman into the hospital.
In a blur of motion and chaos he found himself in a room that smelt of metal and antiseptics. He suddenly started calling to his nurses to get him tools and chemicals that he knew, but he didn’t. This was the most important thing he would ever do, he was sure of it, and as he did things that were surely supposed to help this girl that was definitely not older than himself, he thought of how tragic it would be if she died because Sarah was being an idiot worrying about him.
“Come on, come on, come on!!!!” Griffin screamed as the girl got closer and closer to flat lining.
“Don’t die baby, don’t die. You are needed on this earth. Everyone is needed, but you are definitely a special one.” Griffin’s favorite (he could just feel that she was his favorite) nurse was saying as she stood by the young woman’s head checking to make sure she was still breathing.
They had to have been working on keeping this very special girl alive for over three hours. All of them (three nurses and himself) were sweating and Griffin’s hands were shaking like crazy. He didn’t know what he could do anymore.
There was a sudden commotion and Griffin swore he had gone deaf, he would’ve believed it if he couldn’t hear that very distinct, high pitched, monotone screeching that to him was the very definition of death.
“Oh god. I’m sorry.” Griffin whispered as he stood over the operating table and looked at the girl’s face, feeling that he had had a connection to this girl. He knew he could’ve done more. He could’ve saved her life, but he didn’t. Sarah had called for the ambulance too late, and he had been too slow. “Story of your life.” The voice said.
A while later Griffin sat in his office at the hospital going over paperwork for the woman he had killed today. He believed he had killed her, he could’ve done more, but he didn’t. He could’ve saved her, but he hadn’t.
The woman was thirty two, someone had found a drivers license and had given him that information, and they had given him her name too.
Andromeda Lynne Peters
He knew that name. Oh how he knew that name! But yet… He didn’t. That name came from a different lifetime. A lifetime when little Amy, his little Ames loved to go to dance and would do anything to be around her big brother, instead of being the Amy who was druggie with several kids, all in foster homes. A lifetime before his mother had gone insane and was sent to Portland, Oregon’s best hospital where she still lived. A lifetime before his father had disappeared…
A lifetime before Andromeda Peters had been killed.
In that lifetime his best friend was Andy, but what was her last name? He couldn’t remember. He hadn’t thought of Andy in years. Andy who had moved to California and never spoken to him again. This couldn’t be her though. He told himself long ago, when he was just thirteen, that he would never see Andy again. Let alone kill her.
And yet he knew that there was a connection between his Andy, and Andromeda.
He just didn’t know what that connection was.
Griffin woke up with tears streaming down his face, mingling with the sweat coming off his brow. He killed Andy. In his dream he had killed Andy, and he didn’t even remember her! How could that happen? How could he kill Andy? And better yet how could he become a doctor, or a surgeon or whatever it was he had been? He didn’t know how that could happen. There was no way that could really happen.
There was also no way Amy would become a druggie, and there was no way his mother was going to go insane, and his father was almost certainly sitting in bed with his mother right now explaining to her why he had came home so late.
The next morning Griffin went downstairs to breakfast. His father still wasn’t home, and no one had heard from him since he went for his lunch break the previous day. “It’s ok mom. We don’t need him anyway. It’ll be ok.” He couldn’t hide the worried expression on his face as he thought of his mom sitting in a straight jacket in a hospital near Portland, Oregon.
Amy didn’t eat breakfast for the next week, and she refused to go to her class play. Their father wasn’t coming back, and they all knew it. Their mother very slowly went insane and was put into the hospital when Griffin turned eighteen. Amy dropped out of high school, and became exactly what was described in his dream, by the time she turned seventeen, Griffin went to school and became a doctor.
And that summer, Andy moved to California and Griffin received on letter from her, and never saw her again. Except for one day in New York City, but she wasn’t hit by a bus. Andy was working in a bakery that she owned somewhere in New York. She didn’t recognize him, and he didn’t tell her that he knew her because he didn’t want her to know his story. He didn’t want her to have to deal with what happened to the people he thought she had loved. He couldn’t deal with having to pick up his sister from jail and having to pay for his mother’s medical bill, and he didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him because his father had disappeared when he was twelve years old.
Because of his dream Griffin did remember Andy, but he didn’t remember the dream. He wrote Andy a letter in response to the one he had received from her, but he believed that she never opened it because she would’ve responded to what he had to say.
Or would she?
Twenty years later, Griffin sat in his office in the N Y U hospital and thought of that letter. “Andy, I know we won’t be friends forever. I’ve faced the facts. But I do think I will remember you. You want to know why Andy? Because I love you. You are the only friend that will ever mean this much to me. Please, Andy, just promise to try to remember.” He whispered. How he wished she had read that letter because she might just have kept it, and she might just have remembered him, like he had remembered her.