Dorothy paced her room, trying to figure out a homework problem when she heard her mom call her name. She exhaled before leaving the room and bounding downstairs, taking the steps two at a time.
“There’s a visitor for you. Her name is Karen, and she was your best friend at school before the accident.”
“Yes, you two used to hang out with each other all the time.”
As Dorothy walked to the front door, she sent a silent prayer to whoever was listening to help her recognize the face of her best friend, but when she opened the door the face who greeted her was a stranger.
“Hi, I’m Dorothy.”
“Karen. I see your memory hasn’t come back yet, huh?”
“Not quite. So, I hear we’re best friends. Pretty crazy.”
“Not so much. School has been really hard without you. We were kind of like loners, outsiders; our own pack of two.”
“And now that pack of two has turned into a solo thing, but I miss you. Want to go for a walk?”
“Let me ask my mom first. I’ll be right back.”
No sooner than Dorothy managed to get back in the house did her mom yell from the kitchen that it was okay and to take as long as she wanted.
Dorothy was all smiles when she and Karen embarked on their first journey together.
“Where do we usually walk?” Dorothy asked, following Karen’s lead.
“The woods behind my house. It’s only about a mile up the road. We have our own spot with something like a tree house we built one year. The wood has kind of rotted, but it still holds us.”
“Wow, that sounds like fun. I wish I could remember it.”
“Me too. We had a lot of awesome adventures. I’ll have to share with you our photo albums and my journals.”
“We had photo albums?”
“Of course. We were best friends. Are best friends. That is, if you still want to be after today.”
“What happens today?”
“We meet again for the first time, silly. You’ll tell me if you still want to be my friend.”
“Well, it’s not like I have people banging down my front door every day at seven in the morning asking to walk with them in the woods for a leisurely stroll to hang out.”
“I’d sure hope not.”
“So what do we do out there in the woods?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Whatever we decide. I was hoping just to catch up. I figured your memory would be completely wiped, so I suppose we could just talk.”
Dorothy walked in silence next to Karen while she ranted about who was dating whom, who her classmates were, how stressful classes were already – and it wasn’t even halfway through the semester yet, and how she wished she could just run away. Dorothy wondered if these were normal teenage problems, and she wondered why she wasn’t thinking about the same things. She had come to realize that she liked the comfort of staying at home, curling up with a blanket next to her mom, and watching re-runs of a television show.
Karen stopped suddenly. “So what actually happened out in Colorado?”
“I wish I knew. My parents told me that I hit my head on a tree, but I don’t remember it.” Dorothy looked around. “Wow, this place is beautiful.”
“It’s all right. It was the first quiet spot far removed from town we found. The tree house is hidden up here. Follow me.”
Dorothy trailed Karen, watching her step and wondering how she used to do this every day. The footing was slippery, and a few times Dorothy slipped.
“This is ours?” Dorothy asked when they reached the top. The view from the top spanned miles of forest. She couldn’t even see their neighborhood anymore.
“All ours. And check this out.” Karen jumped from one tree branch to another and brought down a picnic basket. “Food.”
Dorothy and Karen talked until the sun was high in the sky, and Dorothy felt like the missing piece she couldn’t identify had been found.