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She woke up in a white room. White walls, white sheets, white tile floors. White is a very impractical color, she knew, so this must be some place with a need to stay perfectly clean. That combined with the annoying and periodic bleeps of various machines told her that she was in a hospital. And the many tubes that were attached to her body told her that she was the patient.
So she knew the building she was in but she did not know where. What city? What state? What country? And in a particularly fantastic moment her thoughts brought her to: what universe?
The doctor came in only a moment later. She smiled when she saw that her patient was up. "How are you feeling?" the doctor asked. But the girl's throat was scratchy from going long without use. That aroused another question that she hadn't thought of at first. How long had she been there?
The doctor poured her some water in a paper cup handed it to The Girl, as the staff called her when she was unconscious. “What is your name?” She asked as the patient drank.
"Connor," the patient said after she had finished with the water.
"Connor?" The doctor repeated. "That’s your name?"
The patient merely shook her head. "A name. But not mine."
The doctor frowned. "Then what is your name? Do you remember?" The patient shrugged and the doctor decided not to press it at the moment. She moved on, "do you remember what happened? How you got here?"
The doctor waited for more detail but none came. "How did you get here?" She specified.
A wild grin spread across her face. "You wouldn't believe me."
The doctor didn't like the grin across the girl's face. She also didn't understand her answer. The Girl was brought her unconscious after a car accident. They did not know the specific details of the event since the only witness was the patient, but what could possibly be so unbelievable about a car accident? Was she simply trying to make it seem like she remembered?
"Please tell me. It might help us discover more about your health."
The patient bit her lower lip thoughtfully. It was an old habit which she had been trying to cure for years. "You will lock me up." She smiled again, "maybe I need to be locked up."
The doctor sat in the swivel stool and waited. "Very well," the Girl decided. "I will tell you everything. As much as I know." And so she began her tale.
The middle of autumn was when she saw the shadow in the woods. It was during physics and she was not-so-inconspicuously staring at the window. It was only the second period of the day and she was already bored. As far as she was concerned her brain was absolutely full and it would begin to leak if she tried to absorb anymore.
She did not think that she knew everything. Far from it. She thought that she was the most moronic person that she knew. And who are we to tell her otherwise, as she must know herself better than we ever will? Yet people continued to tell her that she was brilliant and she continued to try to prove them wrong. There was nothing she hated more than people telling her who she is.
And what happens next, she told the doctor, proves it completely. It has been proven so thoroughly that I won't ever have to try again.
The rational part of her thought that it could just be a trick of the light or even the trees bending. But the irrational part of her knew that it was something else. Possibly an animal. She had no thoughts for the rest of class other than what the shadow could possibly be. As the bell rang she did not even consider going to the next class. Her teetering-on-the-edge grades didn't even come to her mind. Or her shaky attendance record on account of her weak immune system.
Instead she followed her curiosity right to the woods were she saw the shape. It was the excitement of doing something forbidden that made her tremble. Surprisingly, she wasn't afraid. I was too curious to be scared, she added. Stupid girl, they always said curiosity killed the cat.
The brush grabbed at her clothes and scratched her skin. But she ignored their warning and continued on. The shape always stayed in the corner of her vision. Whenever she turned, it edged further away. She ran after it but with every step it gained more ground.
And so began the chase.
The freshly fallen leaves crunched and crackled under her hurried footsteps. The very leaves, still on the branches, that she had admired on her bus ride that morning were now her hindrance. Branches snapped at her face and arms holding her back from her her intended target.
What she would do when, and if, she caught up to it didn't cross her mind. And that it could be potentially dangerous she didn't even fathom, though to us it seems an obvious fact. All she knew is that whatever was, she needed to follow it.
Her lungs burned furiously and her legs felt like lead, but she could not loose it. She continued on, adrenaline keeping most of the exhaustion at bay. She ran faster than she had ever run in gym. Probably faster then she ever ran in her life.
Until the animal stopped.
The suddenness that it halted caused her to loose her balance and fall to the forest floor.
Still on her hands an knees, she tried to catch her breath. Her hair fell and hung down around her face, cutting off her vision of the animal. She almost forgot about it completely in her struggle not to lose her breakfast.
She was only reminded of the reason that she ran so many miles when it growled at her. For the first time, she looked up at it. The first thing she noticed was it's eyes. Brown with almond shaped pupils. The next was its huge teeth, meant for tearing flesh. Panicked, she took in its stalky tan body, it's wiry mane just a shade darker, and its clawed paws.
The earth seemed to shatter as the lion roared. "I must be imagining this," she thought. "Please let me be imagining this."
"Then," the Girl said softly, "he said my name."
"Your name?" The doctor repeated in disbelief and with a note of impatience. The doctor has always been the down-to-earth sort. Her daydreams included, at most, a list of her duties for this day. She has never believed in fairy tales, except for maybe The Boy Who Cried Wolf. "The very name that you won't tell me? The doctor that has cared for you since the day you were brought here?" This was all said sharply.
But the Girl wasn't fazed in the slightest. She had stared into a lions eyes, she could handle an irate doctor. "Yes, the very same name."
"And why won't you tell me your name?"
"Because with knowledge comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes power. And I will not let anyone, even you doctor, have power over me." Her smile returned. She continued, "Besides, you have not told me your name."
The doctor blinked at her neglectance. Her patient, however, continued on with her story. "I looked into its eyes and saw wisdom there. And so I ran."
"You ran from wisdom?"
"I have my whole life. Why should I have stopped then?"
Which brings us to the accident. In her hurry to get away, she ran into the road. She didn't see the car coming and it hit her. The driver panicked and drove away from the scene, leaving her by the side of the road unconscious.
"You have a very active imagination," the doctor told her. "I am diagnosing you with special form of amnesia." Her patient nodded like something finally made sense. "What am I to call you?" She asked.
"Connor. That used to be my name."
Whatever questions the doctor had about this, she didn't voice. Instead she wrote something on a slip of paper and excused herself.
The next morning the Girl, who used to be known as Connor, woke up to a vase of posies in the bedside table next to her. "I know you remember." That's all the note said.
The doctor looked in shock at the television screen. There the reporter was rattling excitedly about a lion that had escaped from the zoo.