Begin Again

Every morning Ivy Munin wakes up and has no idea who she is or where she is. She relies on a crumpled piece of paper to remind her of everything about herself every time she wakes up from sleeping. Her parents were forced to suffer for disobeying King Tynan. They stood by as he poisoned Ivy as a baby. She fought back and survived. The king killed her parents when he hears he survived his deadliest poison. He not only took away her family, he took away her memories and any hope of her having a no

The bright rays of sunshine made their way through the small window of the room. A teenage girl laid on the straw mattress, twisted in her sheets. As the sunlight reached her mousy brown hair, her eyelids fluttered open. Her delicate eyebrows furrowed together, clearly seeming confused. After she untangled herself from her covers, she sat up in bed and looked around the room as if trying to figure out where she was. Her confusion quickly turned to fear and tears threatened to spill out of her eyes. Just as she began to cry, she noticed a crumpled piece of paper near her pillow. She reached for it gingerly, as if it might hurt her. She unfolded it and smoothed it across her leg. Relief flooded into her eyes as she read the note scribbled on the paper. She read it aloud, because it made her feel better.

“I am Ivy Munin. Every time I fall asleep, my mind resets and my memory is gone. I live with Aunt Alda. She is not really my aunt, just someone who took me in when I had no one. Each night before I fall asleep, I must make sure my paper is nearby, because I won’t know where or who I am when I wake up. The King killed my parents, but Aunt Alda always says there’s a reason for everything. Maybe today will be the day I find out that reason.”

Ivy flipped over the paper scrap and read a sentence that was written on the back.

“Look in the locket.”

Her left hand instinctively flew to her chest and opened the clasp. On the left side was a picture of her parents, and on the right side there was another folded up paper scrap. Ivy pulled it out and unfolded it. It had a similar note as the other paper. On the back, instead of mentioning the locket, she read this:

“You will always know who you are.”

As if it were a memory, she knew that just in case anything happened to her, she would always know who she was if she had her locket. Ivy refolded the paper scrap and carefully secured it inside her necklace. After making sure it was safe against her skin under her nightdress, she decided to get up out of bed. Her bare feet stepped lightly on the dirt floor as she moved towards the door. She walked out to the kitchen and found her Aunt Alda making tea.

“Good morning my Ivy,” Alda said with a sweet, grandmotherly voice. She smiled at the child that she had practically raised as her own. Her gray eyes seemed full of life when she smiled. “I trust you remember?” she asked with a hint of worry in her voice.

“I do Aunt Alda- I read my note,” Ivy said, waving the paper in her hand as proof.

“Well, that’s good. Let’s have some tea sweetheart.”

She wiped her bony wrinkled hands on her apron and poured out two cups of hot tea. She added two lumps of sugar to both, and then she sat down with Ivy at the rickety wooden table.

“Alright, then,” Alda said, after she took a sip. “Let’s talk about your day. You told me yesterday that you wanted to go to the market and see if you could get us some fabric. I could make you a lovely dress to match your pretty green eyes.”

Ivy sat for a moment to process what was being said to her. She had no memory of telling Aunt Alda that, but she nodded anyway. She sipped her tea as she stared at her note that she set on the table.

Alda reached out and cupped one of Ivy’s hands.

“Sweetheart, I’ll help you out a little bit. You saw that your birthday was on the second of June. Today is last day of May, so you will be turning eighteen in a few days. I thought you might be having a really hard time with all the memory loss as you are becoming an adult. I love taking care of you, angel, but who knows how long I’ll be around. I don’t want you to end up alone and not knowing who you are. Every four years, our town has the Juniper Festival during the first week of June. All of the vendors are coming to set up their shops today. I heard a sorcerer is coming all the way from Gower’s Kingdom. All my friends pitched in and we have just enough money for you to have a private session with him. I’ve heard he can make people remember things they did during their toddling years!”

Ivy arched an eyebrow, her eyes full of skepticism.

“Oh, honey, I just think it will be worth a shot,” Alda said.

“Thanks Aunt Alda, but I don’t want to take your friends money. I have this feeling deep inside of me that nothing is going to help me.”

Ivy got up and set her cup by the kettle. Alda watched her with sad eyes.

“I just wish I could make everything better,” she said.

Ivy leaned against the stove, deep in thought.What if this magic really works? What if I don’t have to read about who I am when I wake up in the morning?She shook her head in defeat.

“I’ll go Aunt Alda, but I really don’t think this is going to work,” she finally said.

A smile lit up Alda’s eyes. She didn’t say anything else, she just gave Ivy a tight hug. Ivy saw the hope in her eyes, and knew that if anything, she owed it to her Aunt Alda to try.

So, she walked back into the room she slept in and opened a big wooden trunk. She remembered what Aunt Alda said about her green eyes and picked out a pale green dress with a lacey collar and apron. Her aunt walked in with a pitcher of warm water and an old cloth. She cleaned the young girl’s face and wet her hair to rake out the knots. Alda carefully braided up her long hair, and she pinned it behind her ears. The braided bun made the girl look very mature, which she had to be. Anyone who wakes up each morning not knowing who they are has to have a certain level of maturity. She had to grow up very fast as she learned how to help herself remember anything she could.

When her hair was done, Aunt Alda stepped out so Ivy could dress herself. She slipped off the rough brown nightdress and replaced it with the pale green one. She ran the fabric between her fingers and could tell it was very old. She pulled a pair of leather sandals out of the trunk and put them on her feet. She walked out of the room and did a small turn for Aunt Alda.

“Is this appropriate for someone who is going to a magician to help her remember her whole life?” she asked sarcastically.

Aunt Alda sucked her teeth and gave shook her head slightly in disapproval at Ivy’s tone. But, the disappointment didn’t last long. Her eyes soon lit up with a smile.

                “You look so much like your mother,” she whispered.

                Ivy’s eyebrows shot up and she felt her heart skip a beat.

                “Did I know that you knew my mother?”

                Alda nodded. She motioned for Ivy to sit down and began to tell the painful story that she told her almost every day.

                “I was the mother of your mother’s best friend. My little Layla and your mother were inseparable ever since they could both talk. When your mother was twelve, her parents disappeared.”

                Alda paused for a moment, biting her tongue. She looked like she was debating whether she should go on or not.

                “What happened to my grandparents?” Ivy asked.

                “No one knows,” she replied as she stared at the floor. Ivy could tell she was lying, but she could tell this story was painful for her to tell. She just let it go. “When her parents disappeared, I took her in and raised her and Layla together. Your mother never let the sadness get to her, though. She always put on a brave smile and laughed through any pain she had. I watched the girls grow up and finish their schooling, and I got to watch as they fell in love. Your mother and father were a match made in the heavens. I remember that I threw her a wedding in the backyard of this very house. It was the first day of September. Your mother wore a lace dress that I made for her. I cried as Hazelle pledged her love to Arun. She was named for her green eyes, you know?”

                She looked at Ivy with teary eyes. Ivy felt a chill run up her spun when she heard her parents’ names. She knew she had probably heard them a million times, but it felt like the first time.

                “Arun’s reddish-brown hair glistened in the soft, summer sun. He gazed into her eyes with a kind of love that I wish I had known. My own husband never loved me. My parents forced me to marry him for his money. He died when Layla was six. It was only then that I learned he had gambled it all away. So, I felt overjoyed with happiness knowing that the girl I had raised as my own for many years would have a man who would love her and not abandon her. Layla cheered when they kissed and ran up to congratulate them and introduce her man, Joseph. They nodded to him politely, but were too wrapped up in their own love to notice anyone else. I suspect that was the night that you first came to existence.”

                Alda smiled as Ivy made a gag face.

                “The next nine months flew by. Your mother’s stomach ballooned as you grew, and she was there for Layla’s wedding to Joseph in February. Nearly a week after their wedding, they announced they were having a baby, too. We all were there the night you were born. Your parents held you for the first time on that hot June night and their faces glowed with happiness. You were the happiest baby, Ivy. You hardly ever cried, only when your momma wouldn’t hold you enough. You were three months old when Layla went into early labor. The baby came out stillborn and she-”

                Aunt Alda paused to wipe the many tears off her face. She closed her eyes for a very long time. She finally took a deep breath and continued her story.

                “Layla lost too much blood, and she didn’t make it,” she whispered. “Your mother was distraught, and clung to you closer than ever- afraid of losing you as] she lost her best friend. Not long after she passed, the kingdom erupted into war with the Thesians. If you don’t remember, they were living on the outskirts of the kingdom and wanted land to live on. King Tynan wouldn’t have any of that, and he enlisted all the men to fight for him. Joseph went willingly to war, for he needed a distraction from him pain. Arun, however, wouldn’t go. The soldiers came, took him out of the house, and brought him before Tynan. As he was about to be banished to the dungeon for disobeying the king, your mother entered the castle with you clutched in her arms. She told me she shouted at Tynan with all the fury she could manage.

                “‘Your Highness, I respect that you need soldiers for your war, but I just watched by best friend and her baby die in front of my eyes. I can’t bear the thought of losing my husband, or my daughter growing up without her father. Please spare him!’”

                “The king had never had anyone stand up to him like that before. He was appalled and taken aback. He had the mind to put your mother in the dungeon with your father, but knew that would not punish her- she would still be with her family. He decided to punish both your parents for disobeying his rule by putting them through the worst suffering possible. He ordered his servants to feed you poison to have you slowly die before your parents eyes. He sent them home with you, sickly and dying. Hazelle was beside herself. King Tynan told her that if she told anyone what he did, he would do the same thing to Arun. Of course, she told me, but our lips were sealed. After a week of seeing you suffer, your parents watched you take what they thought was your last breath. Five minutes passed and your little body had started to drain of any color you had left. But suddenly, you burst out in a scream as you cried yourself back to life. Blood filled your cheeks again, and your mother cried tears of joy. After another week, you had regained some strength and were drinking more. When King Tynan heard that you had survived his most deadly poison, he was outraged. I watched as his soldiers captured your parents and tore them away from you. They dragged them, kicking and screaming, all the way to the castle. The whole town was silent after watching the king take away two perfectly good people. We all gathered on the front lawn of the castle. I had you tucked under my housecoat, keeping you safe from the king. After the sharp whistle of an arrow flying through the air, we heard their screams grow silent. They were gone.”

                Ivy sat on the edge of her chair, feeling sick to her stomach that her parents were killed because she survived.

                “You were all I had left, Ivy. I had no choice but to raise you- you were my family. Layla was gone, your parents had been killed, and I never heard from Joseph again. I felt so lucky that you had survived. Your infant body rebelled against the king- I thought you were going to do great things.”

                Alda’s voice trailed off. She added emphasis on the past tense ‘thought’. More tears spilled down her cheeks.

                “I couldn’t understand why you would cry so hard every morning until you learned to talk. I’ll never forget the day you woke up screaming, asking me who I was and where you were. You were only two, and you were so scared. I knew then that the poison had taken its toll on you. You couldn’t remember anything once you fell asleep. Not only had King Tynan taken your parents, but he had also taken your memories and any chance of you living a normal life. I tell this story to you every morning, and you never remember any of it. I have to watch you as you live the pain for the first time over and over again. I’ve grown used to the pain, but for you, it’s fresh every time. This is why I just keep hoping something will help you remember, Ivy. I don’t like seeing you having to learn about your past each morning.”

                The two sat at the table in silence. Tears ran down Alda’s face as she held Ivy’s small hands. Ivy felt anger burn in her heart for the man who took away everything from her. She realized that thinking about her hatred for him would not accomplish anything. So she stood up and walked to the front door.

                “Aunt Alda, thank you for everything you have done for me. You watched your own daughter die, and heard your other daughter, my mother, be silenced by the king. I promise I won’t go away from you. I’m gonna will this magic to work. I will remember, Aunt Alda.”

                Ivy walked up the street and towards the lawn of the castle where the vendors were setting up their booths for the Juniper Festival. She reached into her apron pocket and pulled out the handful of heavy coins she was supposed to give to the sorcerer.

                She curtsied to the magician who was supposed to make everything better for her. He pocketed the money and asked Ivy what magic she wanted to see performed.

                “Every time I fall asleep, I forget everything that has happened to me. I want to have a normal life,” she mumbled to him.

                “Well, miss, you are in luck. I know just what to do to conjure up memories!” the magician said cheerily.

                He guided her into his booth and had her sit in his carefully crafted chair.

                “Just listen to my words,” he told her. “Close your eyes and imagine that each of your memories is a drop of water. You are standing in the middle of a street and you hear thunder. Rain begins to pour down. You spread your arms out and catch all of your memories on your clothes. You are soaked with water, but all of that water is your memories, and as it soaks into your skin, you begin to remember.”

                Ivy pictured herself in the rain, and as she imagined the water soaking into her skin, she saw a woman walking in the rain. Her hair was knotted and tangled, and she was crying. She noticed her eyes were a beautiful green color. Next to her was a man with reddish-brown hair; he was crying, too.

                “Do you remember anything,” the sorcerer asked.

                “I see my parents right now,” Ivy said excitedly.

                “Good,” the magician responded. “Now to allow all your memories to come back to you, you must relax your entire body.”

                He waved vanilla beans and lavender flowers near her nose.

                “Inhale deeply,” he told her. “And just drift off to a sleep filled with all of your memories.”

                Ivy imagined herself running towards her parents, but they didn’t take notice of her. They kept crying. She reached out to hug them, but when she touched them, they turned to smoke. They were gone.

                “Mom! Dad!” Ivy screamed. “Don’t leave me here!”

                She flailed in the chair as she fought to awaken herself from the nightmare she was in. The magician tried to bring her out of her sleep, but she would not wake up. She just continued to scream. Aunt Alda had heard screams from her house, and she ran to see what was going on.

                “What did you do to her?” she cried when she reached the magician’s booth.

                “I d-don’t know!” he stammered. “She was starting to remember, but as she drifted to sleep she began to scream. This is evil magic that is holding her memories captive.”

                Aunt Abel shakes her head at him and kneels by the still-screaming Ivy.

                “Ivy, it’s Aunt Alda. It’s okay. I’m here now,” she whispers in her ear.

                After a few moments, Ivy begins to calm down and her screaming stops. The magician waves the peel of an orange in front of her to wake her. Ivy’s eyes open and her screaming commences.

                “Ivy it’s okay! Don’t be scared darling.” Alda reaches out to hug her.

                “Don’t touch me!” Ivy screams. “Who are you? Where am I?”

                Her frightened face looks from Alda to the magician. Then she starts to cry.

                “Who am I?”

The End

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