Chapter 8 Answers
Ryan waited in the car whilst I spoke to Nanny. I wanted to apologise for asking her questions about my parents so bluntly. It was insensitive. She hugged me tightly as I spoke and hushed me into a silence as she patted my back. To my annoyance I saw that she had done the drying up.
“Is it alright if I go with Ryan for a little while?” I asked as she pulled away. She looked at me in shock as I asked.
“Of course honey, you never usually ask” her blue eyes appraised me.
“Oh, well...um...” I had the strangest urge to apologise although I was being polite. I kissed her cheek and shut the door quietly behind me, after stroking Sabre’s head.
Ryan had started the ignition and it hummed in the afternoon air, his lights flashes as I looked down at the car.
The car smelt of Ryan has I got into it, his heady scent was thick in the material of the chairs. He sped up and his wheels kicked the dirt around as he turned towards the main road.
“I am going to help you remember everything” Ryan said determinedly “Eventually you will remember what happened to you the night of the attack and I'm going to be there with you through it all ok? it makes me sick thinking the people who tried to kill you are still walking around freely” he snarled his words as he spoke. He continued to accelerate the car; it was old and made gurgling sounds of pain as if the speed was causing it. I shifted in my seat holding the seat belt around me. I couldn’t remember Ryan’s dangerous driving. After ten minutes, we reached our desert spot, blowing up the orange dust as Ryan stopped the car.
I was relieved to feel the ground beneath my feet as we climbed out. The night was beautiful again; the dark blue sky above was like a gigantic dome, surrounding our own orange dusty world. Ryan came around the car to hold my hand as we started to walk in a silence that only Ryan and I can endure, it wouldn’t be necessary to break it, I knew from my memories that we didn’t always have to talk to make each other comfortable. We looked at each other, and in one quick motion, Ryan pulled on my hand and ducked, throwing me onto his back. I laughed and clung to his shoulders as he ran to our creosote bush.
“Why do we come here?” I asked breathlessly. Ryan set me down onto my feet and then pulled me to lie across his chest. The dusty ground beneath us, floated up at our movements and I felt it settle on my arms. The stars up in the sky were extra bright and clustered; the full moon was just visible.
Ryan laughed, vibrating my head on his chest “My dad used to come here too, when he was a kid. He was told by his father and he was told by his father before him that every few years a UFO would fly across the sky” Ryan’s hand obscured my vision as he mimicked the flying of a UFO. “He used to bring me when I was little, we used to sit here and watch the sky day or night”
“Your dad is alive? Yeah?” I asked slowly. I kept my head directed up at the stars. My fingers had absently started to caress the skin on Ryan’s chest, beneath his shirt.
“My dad? Yeah he sure is”
“Does he know me?”
“Of course he does. I don’t think you realise how long you and I have been together...it goes way back to the dinosaurs...even my great, great grandfather knows who you are” Ryan chuckled and I laughed. I was going to question whether is great, great grandfather was a cave man, but the sound of our laughter was quickly extinguished; there were no walls for the sound to reverberate from.
“What about your mother? I'm sorry...I just can’t remember these things” I was so worried he would tire of my curiosity.
“Hey, don’t worry about it” he said nonchalantly. His fingers tickled the back of my neck; it felt so good that my heart was starting to flutter, and my eyes were starting to drift to a close. “She left my dad years ago, now I mean years I can barely remember her, but my dad says that she was awful...of course he would. But I don’t think I'm missing anything. Plus, your Nanny seems to have adopted that role for her” Ryan chuckled again, I loved that sound. Along with his fingers at the back of my neck and the sound of his voice I was ready to fall asleep, even in the desert.
“Ryan? I can’t remember any of my friends. Do I really have any? Or are you just being nice?”
“You have friends” Ryan sighed “I just – I just don’t know whether it’s a good idea that you go and see them just yet”
“Because...Your friend Sophie...she’s the last person who saw you the night you were...y’know? She feels responsible...and kind of freaked out that you’ve come back y’know?”
The name Sophie did not trigger any response to my memory. I didn’t know why. I fought and fought, saying her name over and over again in my head.
“Ok...that seems fair, if it’s going to be awkward for her.” I said shrugging. At least I had a friend that’s a start.
“What was my favourite colour?” I figured I would need to know this sort of stuff, I was curious what my favourite food was, my favourite animal, my favourite school subject, what was I bad at?
Ryan chuckled and then adjusted himself so that he could look down at my face. His brown eyes watched my face, and the little smile on his lips appeared. He took my hand in his and said “You are very particular about this...I remember the first time I asked you” He shook his head and laughed silently “your favourite colour is, the colour of the sky at half past two in the afternoon in July”
“What?” I gasped then laughed. “Seriously?”
“Ok, I’ll have to check that out” I was beginning to see it; in my head...the colour of the sky at that time of day was pale but bright, dark but light.
“Your favourite food would be...I don’t know really, you eat everything” He poked my stomach playfully. “You love cereal, and different spreads on toast. You used to have peanut butter on toast all the time, but then it made you sick” he was on a roll, he spoke in a monologue answering some questions that I hadn’t even asked. “Your favourite animals vary, you love animals. Sabre is obviously your favourite. Butterflies you like, cats, dogs and tigers and wolves, you like horror movies, or at least your attempts to watch them...we’d rent one sometimes and you’d spend the whole time hiding underneath my arm or something” he chuckled again. “...does this all sound right to you?”
“Yeah” I nodded my head eagerly. I had been listening to him, with each new word he spoke my memories burst through my thoughts. I could see it all.
“When was the last time you saw me before the attack?” I asked apprehensively. I swallowed and watched his face contort a little. I’d have asked the question eventually.
Ryan sighed “We had been here all day, and then I had gotten a call from dad...he was at the pub. He’s an alcoholic and sometimes it gets him in trouble. You insisted on coming with me and back then I had a convertible and when we reached the pub there was no way of us all getting in it.” Ryan looked away from me; he was obviously ashamed of something.
“It’s alright Ryan” I put my hand on his cheek, brushing it with my thumb “I'm here”
“I let you walk home by yourself” his words were distorted and broken. He spoke apprehensively as if I would be angry at him for it. “You were walking home when you were attacked. I-I thought your Nanny would blame me for what happened, as she rightfully should but she didn’t and that’s what made it even worse.”
“Ryan, please don’t” He had sat up and was looking away from me. “Please don’t, you don’t even need to think of it now, everything turned out fine.”
“It’s a miracle it did...I mean, you’re actually here” his hand scorched mine as he grabbed it. There was a gentle breeze in the air, blowing the smell of creosote over us.
“Is it really selfish to feel so good that I don’t feel to blame anymore?” Ryan looked back at me.
“I don’t care...” I shrugged. It was my honest response. It didn’t matter to me at all. I curled myself closer into Ryan’s chest. He held my face in his warm hand. “I thought Sophie was the last person to see me, before the attack?”
“She told the police that she saw you walking out of Bellerose” that sounded odd to me, as Ryan said he seemed to believe the uncertainty of that. For one thing, why would I walk out of Bellerose, when Nanny’s house is at the end of it? Ryan and I sat in silence for a moment, both of us probably thinking the same thing. I put it into the back of my mind, for now.
“Do I have any allergies?”
Ryan chuckled, “I don’t think so...”
“How long have we been together? I mean, in a relationship together?”
“Err...oh it’s been ages! Err...since we knew what that meant really...maybe when we were thirteen? I remember asking you out – it was the most embarrassing thing I have ever done” he laughed loudly, and I giggled.
“Tell me about it” I closed my eyes and listened to him tell the story. Our story. It was still so hard to believe that when he spoke of us, he meant me and when he told me about myself that he was really talking about me. The girl I was and I seemed to have separated and I couldn’t help but feel the separation growing more and more. Ryan was my only link. The only similarity that this body and I had was that love for Ryan.