Silent conversations spun through my head, clashing with one another, being mixed into confusion. If they had made sense at one point, there was no chance of it now. Little snippets of them survived, in voices I recognized but could not identify. "My, that's new," marveled an elderly woman whose face I couldn't see, and "Don't worry. It's almost over," reassured a man I may or may not have known. They danced the tango in my mind, danced until they couldn't remember who it was they had come to dance with in the first place. And while they may have been content to leave it at that, I wasn't.
I was awakened from my reverie by a withered finger tapping on my desk. "Pay attention, Miss Alabaster!" droned my English teacher as I lifted my head lazily. "You should be copying this down!"
I scrambled for my pencil and begin to jot notes down in my notebook, my body at Aronton Public High School, room 134, but my mind somewhere else entirely. I was the kind of kid who was there but at the same time really didn't matter, the extra in the great film drama of the sophomore class. And so, this world was the kind of world, to me, which was there but didn't really matter. The one that did lay just beyond the barrier of my memory.
It was infuriating, really. Like reading a book and knowing what's going to happen next, but not remembering exactly where and when you read it before. I know amnesia is terribly cliche, but I can't help it. I could remember my fifteenth birthday, of course--it was only two months ago--and my fourteenth, thirteenth, twelfth, and so on. Well, until you get to the age of five. I could not remember ever turning five. Which is strange, because I could remember turning four. It's only my fifth year that lay shrouded in mystery, out with that World that Matters.
It was like a dream, and I mean that in the most literal way. I could only remember little bits of things, snapshots of what had happened previously. And those snapshots showed the kind of things that would normally alert you to the fact that it was, in fact, a dream. But this wasn't a dream. At least, I don't think so. And the more I thought about, the more I tried to force it into the confines of sanity, the more it just sounded wrong. Like calling a banana blue or an apple yellow. Instinct told me that I was running down the wrong trail. I might have never uncovered the secrets of my fifth year, but I still would have died trying.
I might never have uncovered the secrets of my fifth year, but I did. They were waiting for me outside the classroom as we filed out for lunch, waiting with expressions half-troubled and half-excited for me to appear.
Two men, ones I knew but didn't, were waiting.