It was like waking up after you'd been ill for a long time, she thought. She didn't really have a clear sense of where she was, she vaguely remembered being... well being somewhere else in a house, a familiar place, her house? She thought that must be right but it felt like trying to remember through thick curtains. Trying to think but she just got a blurred shape, and the feeling that she did recognise the memory.
Now, she was belted into the passenger seat of a car, parked by the roadside in a forest. It was quiet and dark outside, and as she looked to check on her surroundings her vision wobbled, slid. Shaking her head she blinked quickly, but the view stayed indistinct, and as her eyes refocused she realised it was rain sliding greasily down the windshield. But something was strange... when she tried to recall it she couldn't pin the thought down...
"So, I'm in a car," she reasoned, talking out loud to be reassured that she could reason and function. "I guess I didn't drive here or I wouldn't be belted into this seat?" She felt oddly divided, like her attention was not where she was now, but being pulled elsewhere, a kind of searching, seeking for something that was not entirely pleasant, but she yearned, hungered.
"So I'm in a car," she tried again. "I'm alone, but maybe there is someone who drove me here? It was almost impossible to see outside of the car, for the rain blurred the outside world. There were no lights that she could see, looking directly ahead there was only the glimmer of the hood reflecting what slivers of light fell through the trees. The gloom was not frightening or threatening though, and she knew that this wasn't how she normally felt about being somewhere dark and wet and alone. She wasn't scared. Was that a good thing?
"What can I remember? There must be something that will remind me where I am and why," she thought. Under her rib cage she felt something contract, or clench. And again the feeling that she was focussed somewhere else, somewhere outside her body. She let her mind drift off to follow that sensation. There was something at the edge of her perception, but she wasn't sure what. It was intense, a concentration of something, a burning core and she wanted to reach out to it, wanted to reach out and pull it towards herself. Wanted, yearned, and as she wanted inside her something stirred, something pale and torpid uncoiled within her.
"Oh for f*cks sake," she chided herself. "Can I not just keep my mind on my problem? I don't know where I am or what I'm doing here? I can't remember how I got here. I can't remember who drove me here and..." She didn't want to finish the thought. She didn't want to acknowledge the slowly dawning truth. She gazed at the rain on the windscreen again, sharp splashes pulsing against the glass. The distinct drops burst and spattered and disappeared into the watery film covering the windshield, fading into the foreground.
"I can't remember how I got here, and I can't remember my name!" Panic rose, she twisted in the seat, struggling to get out, feeling held down, constrained. Oh, God, I can't get out, I can't move, I can't, I can't...
When she came to herself, she remembered the familiar convalescent feeling she'd woken up with last time. Looking down, the seatbelt was still tight around her, pressing her down into the seat. Her mouth twisted as she tried a wry smile. How stupid to have panicked over being belted in! She reached down and pressed the seatbelt release, catching her long fingernails as she did so. The belt snickered back across her body as she thought "Long fingernails? I bite my fingernails, don't I?" But when she brought her hand up to her face the nails were perfect and long, and maybe even painted as they were a much darker colour than her skin, which did seem pale in this light. Disquiet rushed through her, but how absurd to look at yourself and think "These aren't my hands."
"I have to get out of the car!" she thought. And no sooner had she completed the thought than the door was open and she was standing outside of the car, twirling back to it to shut the door. Twirling, she saw movement, she saw a blur of motion reflected in the glass of the window. A fleering white oval. Pause. Stop to think. Stop to process the visual information and assimilate it, place it into context.
"My face!" she realised. "That was my face reflected in the window," and she drew closer to the car door to see herself more clearly. As she bent down to the window a curtain of white blonde hair fell across the pale reflection and made her draw back in shock. "I am not blonde!" but even as she thought it she was looking at the image in the window and losing the indistinct memories of herself as a different person, feeling them dropping away from her.
She gazed at the window, she couldn't say for how long, transfixed at the face that was hers but somehow new to her too, a glamorously pale version of what she remembered. She gazed, and barely noticed anything else. It wasn't until a she heard a faint rushing sound that she glanced at the tall trees around her.
The two Elders in the forest who had called her here watched, waiting for the moment she would recognise herself for what she had now become. The shorter of the two suggested sending a small mammal to her to see if the time of knowledge was yet upon her, and the taller concurred.
She had that feeling again, burning, empty hunger, and scented warm wet life through the dripping off the branches. Her lips drew back.
Julia Davies is a practised reader and practising writer; living in Siegburg, Germany. Her blog can be found HERE