I flitted in and out of sleep, picking up snatches of conversation here and there. They knew I was coming around. I had such mixed emotions about returning to the land of the living just like I had after the earthquake, only this time it was for different reasons. How easy it would be to slip back into the blackness forever! I knew that wouldn’t happen, however, so it was up to me to get back to myself again and make yet another attempt to escape the violent woman that hid her evil side behind a gun and badge.
One day I finally had enough energy to keep my eyes open for more than just a few seconds. I found Lisa standing above me. “Hey,” she said softly as she gazed down at me.
I managed to moan.
The look in her eyes was mixed. It was obvious that she was concerned that I might remember what happened, even though the doctor informed her incorrectly that the chances were slim. Then again, it wasn’t that the doctor was incorrect so much as it was a case of me simply being one of the few to beat the odds. I wondered if that was a good thing or not. Would I have been better off not remembering? Probably not, I decided in the end, for sooner or later the abuse would only start up again. By remembering, I could hopefully avoid disaster before it struck again.
“How are you feeling, honey?” she asked.
I gazed at her with the blankest expression I possibly could, hoping and praying that she couldn’t somehow detect that my memory was just fine. My body was damaged, my emotions were in a turmoil, but my memory was just fine.
She continued to stare intently at me and it made me very uncomfortable. I began to squirm and moan, but unfortunately she took that to mean that I was confused rather than terrified of her.
She put a comforting hand on my arm. “Relax, sweet pea. It’s going to be just fine. We’re going to get through this together. God gave us a second chance.”
I knew what she meant by “second chance,” but God? Since when did she believe in God? My memory being erased, in her mind, was like deleting the hard drive of an old computer and starting anew. She believed this was her way of getting me back again, minus the memories and therefore minus the desire to leave her. If anything she was probably thrilled that I ran into that damn car.
“Do you remember what happened?”
I knew she would ask this as soon as she could.
“Do you, sweetie?”
She studied my face with an intensity that sent shivers throughout me. Thankfully, she also took that for confusion.
“What happened?” I asked, playing dumb.
“You were hit by a car.”
Oh, so she was willing to tell me that much? In my mind I challenged her to tell me why I was hit by a car.
“How?” I softly breathed.
“You rounded a corner a little too fast.”
I waited for her to go on. When she didn’t I asked, “Is the driver ok?”
“Yeah,” she said with a nod. “The little punk is going to be charged with reckless driving, though, so don’t you worry.”
“He’d just turned eighteen. Regardless, he was driving very erratically.”
“Where were we? Where am I now?”
She gazed at me, not sure of what to make of these questions. “Sweetie, what’s my name?”
She gave a slight nod of approval, eyes never leaving mine. “Where are we?”
“Auburn,” I lied, playing dumb again. “Stacey! Where’s Stacey?”
“Oh, sweetie I’m so very sorry.”
Did I actually detect a hint of guilt in her voice? Either way, I remembered how the doctor told her that I might be stuck in time as if it were a couple years ago, so I played into that as best I could. I didn’t want to overdo it either. I figured that the less I said, the more convincing I would be. I only hoped there weren’t any tests awaiting me that would soon be conducted to show that my memories were a lot more current then I admitted.
“Sweetie,” she began delicately, “Stacey was killed in a car accident a couple years ago. You then moved down with me and we got married. Don’t you remember any of this?”
I faked being surprised, and then I took on a look of confusion. “W-what? N-no. What? Oh, my God. I was always attracted to you but I honestly saw you as just the sister-in-law that never was, since Stacey and I didn’t get around to getting married. We just talked about it. We talked about getting a pet dog, too. Do you have a pet dog? I love dogs, Marcy.”
“No, no, Marcy is our other sister. And no, I don’t have a dog. I was actually under the impression that you didn’t really care for dogs any more than Stacey did. You have a pet hamster, honey.”
Burke! Oh, how I missed my furry little guy.
“You’re a hottie. Better looking than Stacey. But I love Stacey and I want her. I want her now!”
“Shhh, shhh… I’m sorry, sweetie, but she’s gone.”
I could see that she was becoming a bit exasperated. I knew I should tone it down. “So I’m going to go live with you now?”
Lisa nodded with a tight but satisfied smile. “You have been living with me for a while now, but you were also in the hospital because all you’ve lost over the last few years was really getting to you and you were both anxious and depressed. You even tried to take your own life.”
What a fucking liar.