Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
I know I'm going to die soon. I feel my spine twisted into an unnatural angle, my pelvic bones facing the left of me, both legs shattered, bones protruding through the skin. The pain is unbearable. I want to scream and cry and swear but I remind myself that it'll all be over soon. I sit still and wait to die.
I lay there with my face in the mud for maybe five or ten minutes before I realize that I'm not breathing. And yet, the pain hasn't stopped. I prop myself up with the better of my broken arms and observe my surroundings. I lay parallel to a narrow, smelly stream of water trickling around rusted shopping carts, and a broken TV. I notice the dark blue sky, and golden light reflecting off the metal surfaces: It must be dawn, and I'm in a ditch. From the corner of my eye I think I can see the light, but as I drag my body towards towards it, I realize its just sunlight reflecting off of shards of broken glass from a beer bottle.
My body hurts. The pain makes my vision blurry. The black brown of the wet earth mixes with the orange and silver of the rusted shopping cart, the mossy green of the algae growing along the side of it, and the dark blue of the early morning sky. It does this until everything has mixed into an even tone of black and I feel myself relax into a deep sleep. This must be it.
In the dark I hear a mess of chords crashing down the piano, starting again at the top then crashing back down again and overshadowing a constant pit-pat of subdued high-hats, and a beautiful, clear, brassy voice. I focus on her words:
...warm like the month of may it was and I'll say it was grand
Grand to be alive, to be young, to be mad, to be yours alone
Grand to see your face, hear your voice, feel your touch...
The smell of burning food penetrates my thoughts.
...say I'm all your own
It wakes me.
I didn't know what year it was, life was no prize
I find myself aggressively tucked, almost wrapped, into gold satin sheets. The loud piano stops so that the track can finally be heard in full.
I wanted love and there it was, shining out of your eyes.
A wobbly baritone sings along, off key:
“I'm wise and I know what time it is now.”
Alarmed, I sit up quickly, breaking through the barrier of bedding to feel a sharp pain in my back that halts my movement. To the left of me is a dark-wood armoire with mirrors on the doors. I see myself dressed in a man's button down shirt with the barely legible words “cheater” written on it several times in black sharpie. My arms are covered and my neck is bruised.
I move again, gently this time, and notice that my broken limbs are healed and able to move freely without pain. My back is still aching. I ignore it and ease myself out of the bed, slowly. Not only because of the pain, I don't know where I am, or who's with me. I need to be cautious.
As I stand in front of the mirrors, I see purple bruises where the bones in my legs had been shattered and had protruded from the skin. My legs seemed to be otherwise intact. My face seems unscathed: down-pointing nose unbroken, full lips intact, round eyes without redness or swelling. I find this odd, since my earliest memory is of me taking a rod to the face over and over and over and over and...
It's odd that this is my oldest memory. I was then, as I am now, and the laws of nature dictate that at some point I should have been a child. I realize that I have no memory from before the beating at all, not even prior events of the day of, or why or how it happened: just the smell of sage burning all around me, the taste of blood in my mouth, the chanting men in gray, the sound of my own cries, and the synchronized rhythm of the rods at they made contact with flesh and bone.
The doorknob twists and I leap into the armoire. It rocks a bit.
I hear the door squeak, then heavy foot steps approaching the bed. The sheets ruffle and the bed squeaks. He must be sitting directly in front of me.
“I brought you breakfast.” say's the baritone voice. “I burnt it a little, but I scraped off all the black stuff... Or most of it anyways.”
I sit still, heart thumping in my chest. I take in a deep breathe to steady my nerves, and wait.
“It's supposed to be eggs and bacon but I had an incident with some sugar, thinking it was salt, so I added extra pepper to try and fix it, then the sugar burned so I put water on it... meanwhile the turkey bacon is over cooking.. I really can't blame you for hiding, I'd jump in some furniture too if somebody tried to offer me this crap.”
He knows where I am and could get me if he wanted. There's no point in squatting in a cramped armoire. I open the door and stretch my legs. I see him sitting on the newly made bed, molasses eyes squinted and gleaming with amusement, thick brows raised with curiosity. Tiny black dots speckle the sides of his face where hair wants – but is not permitted – to grow. He is attractive: almond toned with a square jaw and piercing, narrow eyes.
“You don't have to sit in there staring at me like that. Unless it's Narnia in there, I'm pretty sure that's very uncomfortable.”
I bite both lips, trying to squish my embarrassment. He just smiles at me and offers me his spot on the bed, next to the tray of “food”. As I step out of the wardrobe, he rises and sits in one of the bright red armchairs placed near the set of french doors. I don't understand why he would cook for me and let me sleep in his bed.
“Do I know you?” I ask. Maybe he's someone I used to know and forgot, and there's some prior relationship between us that explains his kindness.
He looks puzzled for a moment then laughs. “Wow, is that how you talk to someone who's been wiping your ass for four days? To answer your question: No. You don't know me, and I don't know you either. I found you laying in a ditch a little ways off. Saw your wounds healing, and decided to bring you me back with me.” He waves his arm as if modeling the entire room. “This is our first time meeting.”
“Why did you do it?”
“To be completely honest, I saw you laying there with you back all twisted and your bones sticking out, and thought you were dead, until I got closer and saw you breathing. I knew you had to be in a lot of pain, and I thought you weren't going to survive. I shot you, but you didn't die.”
I resent that. “What does that have to do with you bringing me here?”
“I felt responsible.”
The entire time he answers my questions his eyes stare straight into mine with an open look to them, as if to show me his soul.
I pick up the charred turkey bacon and take a large bite. I find myself crunching on it for nearly a minute and a half. The man watches me expectantly. When I finally swallow he asks:
I glare at him as I stuff the rest in my mouth at once and chew deliberately. He throws his head back and laughs from the gut.
“You know you don't have to eat it, right?”
I glare and chew soot for another ninety-seconds and swallow.
“What's wrong?” he asks.
“You tried to kill me.”
He sighs and hangs his head in his head for a moment, then perks up.“Lets start over. Hi, I'm Will.” He approaches me with his hand extended. I look at it for a moment, bemused.
“I don't know how to take you.”
He grins at me, arm still extended. “With burnt bacon, maybe?” I can't help but to chuckle.
He continues “With not-burnt bacon? And fried eggs?”
“Let's not get fancy.”
He laughs some more.“ Agreed. Now shake my hand, my arm is getting tired.”
I concede. “Hi, Will, I'm...I'm...” I hold his hand and stare at him blankly. I shouldn't be surprised that I can't remember my name, but for some reason it hurts.
Who am I?