Chapter 5 Memory
Ryan’s brown eyes watched me in shock. He seemed to be seeing me properly for the first time. He scanned my face again and again; his hand had stopped its slow caress. The night air was soothing, I took deep breathes of it until there was a croak from Ryan’s throat. He looked at the bottle of brown liquid and I sensed his thoughts before he voiced them.
“You are not drunk enough to imagine this” I said sternly. I recognized the same tone in Nanny. I was still perched on his lap, drinking up his scent, his expression, his touch – everything. The air was warm as it whistled through my teeth, I waited, and waited. I felt like my body was experiencing the memories of somewhere else as different parts of my former life started to blur behind my eyelids. My head felt; full - as if there was something blocking the memories from coming to me.
“You woke up in the morgue?” Ryan spoke after what I guessed was ten minutes. I hadn’t disturbed him, but I continued my gentle stroke of his chin. I wanted to remind him I was there.
“Yes...but it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as it sounds.” I assured him. I felt his breathing on my neck as if he had been holding his breath for a long time. His fingers were suddenly on my chin, pulling my face towards his. “Do you believe me now?” I asked raising an eyebrow.
Ryan looked hard into my face. I felt like the intensity would set me on fire, and then I was on fire. Ryan had grabbed me so roughly, turning me to face him. His eyes smouldered into mine, his warm skin scorching mine.
“You’re really here? This is really Olivia?” His hands had tightened around the tops of my arms and his voice broke as he choked out his words.
“Yes” I squeaked, gasping in pain “Ew, Don't call me Olivia. Let me go you jerk, you’re hurting me.” calling him a jerk came out by accident, it seemed like a normal thing that I would do. But I wasn’t sure if I had said it right. I waited whilst glaring into his melting brown eyes.
He didn’t let me go. He pulled me closer until his mouth covered mine. How wonderful that felt. I wondered idly why he hadn’t kissed me earlier. I only cared for a moment. I felt like I had waited a life time for him to kiss me, but this new action made memories of others just like it burst into my memory. His kiss was so hungry, rough, his tongue was hot and I could feel my skin melting into his. My body reacted like I knew it would - the familiarity of his lips and the warmth of his skin beneath my hands. I forgot about my accident, and lost myself in what my body was used to feeling - something white hot, that was burning in my chest.
He let go of my arms to pull me up so I stood with my body against his. He was much taller but my arms wound around his neck, holding his face to mine. That felt familiar, like something my body was used to doing.
He was sighing and groaning quietly when he stopped kissing me - brushing my cheeks with his fingers, burying his face in my hair. “I can’t believe it” he murmured, his face split into the smile I had seen many times in my memory. He lifted me off the ground and spun me slowly round and round.
When the sun had completely disappeared, I convinced Ryan to get into my car and I’d drive him home. His car wouldn’t be disturbed; it seemed that only us knew of the desert.
He held my hand as I drove, changing the gears when he thought necessary rather than when I wanted them changed. He reminded me of memories that we’d had in our childhood and was laughing a contagious fit of chuckles; it was like music to my ears – like my ears were used to the noise, but my brain was hearing it for the first time.
“Do you know...who it was that attacked me?” I asked, immediately changing the previously happy atmosphere. Ryan’s face darkened.
“Of course not, if I did there would not be much left for prison” he growled staring out of the window shield.
“I’d rather they get the right kind of punishment” I said timidly. If Ryan did anything he would get into trouble too. “Do you know what I did?” I asked quietly, I didn’t know whether I wanted this answer. “Did I do something wrong? Was I a bad person?”
It felt right to voice these worries with Ryan. He looked me straight in the face, his eyes dark in the moonlight. His hand on mine tightened. I pulled up outside his house and waited for his answer staring out of the window shield.
“Hey” He said so I’d look at him. When I did, he had a calm concentrated expression. I exhaled the breath I hadn’t realised I was holding. “You were never a bad person. You didn’t deserve what those monsters did to you” he swallowed, anger was shaking him.
“You hear me?” he said after a moment.
I nodded. “But why then?”
“I don’t know. But I’ll help you remember, I promise” Ryan kissed my forehead and said “see you later” before getting out of my car. He seemed so certain of that. How strange, how was he going to see me later? I watched his figure walk into his house and when the door had shut. I reversed out and began my drive home.
The air was warmer here than in the desert. I could still feel the heat on my skin, both from the sun and Ryan’s skin on mine. I reminisced in the moments where his skin had brushed mine, the way his lips had smothered mine. The desire was white hot in my chest, to love and be loved was something no one should take for granted. It definitely wasn’t something I did. The feeling was so wonderful. Although I had memories of Ryan, my body felt as though it were feeling and loving him for the first time. It was incredible.
The kitchen light was on when I pulled into our drive. In the darkness the house seemed more familiar to me, the patterns the porch lights created in the white wood. The smell of lavender was thick in the air. I opened the door with familiarity and could hear Nanny humming to herself in the kitchen, I walked through to the kitchen.
The elevated happy feeling I had was familiar but new and overwhelming all at the same time. Sabre was lying on the conservatory sofa, he lifted his head sleepily as I walked through. I waved but continued smiling at Nanny.
“Goodness Honey!” Nanny gasped when she saw me “You gave me a fright...honey, you’re all orange”
“The desert” I explained, looking down at my tangerine tinged arms. Because Ryan looked the same I hadn’t noticed. I had a smile on my face that even with force I couldn’t remove.
Nanny raised her chin with a smile creeping up the corners of her lips “So you found him then?” she asked.
I nodded - beaming.
“Well go wash yourself up and then you can tell me about it” she turned her back on me to get plates, so I darted up the stairs.
When I returned food had decorated the counter. I sat on a stool and realised that my stomach must be hungry. How many days had it been since I’d eaten? I took a sip of my lemonade, suddenly reminded of its wonderful taste and pulling harder and harder until I made an awful sucking sound as the glass came empty. Nanny chuckled and refilled it. The fizz tickled my tongue as I drank and drank.
“Oh that’s so good” I murmured putting the glass down. Sabre had found his way over to me now, His warm head rested on my knee. His dark eyes darted from me to Nanny; I watched his expression, until his eyes locked with mine. I tickled behind his ear, kissing the top of his head.
“I made light dinner, seeing as it’s the first thing you’re eating in a while” She sat opposite me and picked up a sandwich. Nanny looked effortlessly lovely. Her brown skin was free of makeup but still glowed in the lights of the kitchen, her eyes still sparkled.
I mimicked her, picking up a sandwich and biting into it, the tuna and sweet corn almost melting on my tongue. The bread broke apart in my fingers; the smell of it was delicious. Nanny let me eat in silence for a moment; she let me enjoy my food until the questions started to explode from her.
“So you found him then?” she asked eagerly. I nodded through my full mouth of food, swallowing large chunks then washing it down with lemonade.
“He wasn’t at home. He was at the desert, where we used to go. I'm amazed I found it...it’s so secluded” I took a smaller bite of my sandwich and chewed. Nanny didn’t seem to have any more questions, but she wanted answers. She stopped eating and raised her eyebrows at me – waiting.
“For a few hours, he thought I was a hallucination” I said slowly. She raised her eyebrows and took a sip of her lemonade.
“What did he do?”
Lying or editing what happened wasn’t a familiar part of this routine. It seemed that I told Nanny everything.
“He was crying when I found him. He refused to believe that I was really there. He kept telling me not to tell him I was. He noticed my wounds, and he kept saying I was different. But I made him listen to me and then he believed me” I shrugged a little movement of my shoulder. “It felt so good just to see him though” I confessed covering my heart with my hand as it beat wildly.
Nanny watched and then nodded sadly as if she understood. “He stayed with you for as long as the doctors would let him. He knew you’d come back. He said that you had promised” Her words were carefully chosen, so not to frighten me but I could picture it clearly in my head. His foolishness and his relentless beliefs, but I had come back.
I didn’t tell Nanny about the alcohol. My intuition told me that I didn’t want to tarnish the perfect impression she had of Ryan. She spoke so fondly of him, as if he were her own son. I helped her dry up the dishes and went to bed, not really feeling tired, but slipping into the routine as I would usually.
When I reached my bedroom, it wasn’t a shock to see my possessions sprawled around, in the mess I must have left them the last time I came in here. This morning didn’t count, I hadn’t touched anything. Odd socks and slippers were scattered on the floor, pens and notebooks littered the dresser, and the drawers were full of unorganised junk, things like makeup brushes and pencil sharpeners. It seemed drawing was something I really loved. The sketch of Ryan suddenly twinged my memory and I pulled it out of my bag, propping the book up so that his face looked out from it. My bedroom door swung open in that moment and Sabre padded through my bedroom, ignoring me completely and leaping onto my bed. With an air of indifference, he sprawled himself out, stretching and then resting his head onto his white fluffy paws.
“Make yourself comfortable.” I muttered, I chuckled and went into my bathroom, unsurprised by the blue sink and bath, or the fish that were stuck to them. I brushed my teeth and my hair then went to change.
My pyjamas were my biggest surprise, all were combinations of shorts and a vest tops and they all matched, unlike the socks I wore and everything else in the room that came in twos or threes. I chuckled at this, thinking how strange it was. I pulled on the combinations that were white, with thin pretty strips of lace on the neck line and the bottom of the shorts. I combed my long hair, feeling more accustomed to its length now. The gash on my cheek was still sore, and distorted my face the more I looked at it. My eyes were still too big, they were wide and expectant. I did not enjoy looking into them. I sat in front of my vanity mirror, remembering how my mouth curves and pouts, how high my cheekbones are. How straight and long my nose is.
I got into bed, nudging Sabre aside and hearing the birds in the trees outside my window. That was familiar; I remembered the noise in the mornings. I liked the sound more at that time. The softness of the duvet was comforting, not familiar but a preferable change to the hospital beds. Sabre was a familiar inconvenience in bed with me, he grunted in his sleep. Lavender was the scent around the whole house apart from my bedroom - which smelt like Quillaja, a kind of musky, sweet smell.
I closed my eyes. Something is wrong. My intuition was telling me. Something was missing from this situation and just then there was a thud on my window, directly above my head.