Copyright© 2018 Rebecca Jane
All Rights Reserved.
Author's Note:Oh my God, first things first... I am so so sorry that this has taken me this long to write... Life has really been keeping me busier than I've been in a long time. Both of my daughters started softball and have pulled me into helping with it as well. That and with me working 6 days a week for the last few months, I usually have a half hour to write (if I'm lucky) a day... My muse has won, with my limited time to write, I quit fighting with her... I let her write what she wants, just so I have forward progress on something... To any that read my super short story, The Petulant Muse, you can see my struggle... On a happy note, the way things are going by the time I get Guardians wrapped up I might have 3 other stories almost finished at the same time. lol. Once again, my sincere apologies for the delay in my writing. I hope you enjoy. ~Rebecca
The next morning, Belle found that Jess had been true to her word. Shortly after her morning rounds, paperwork was started to have her discharged from the hospital. Her mother had arrived earlier in the morning and had brought her some clothes for her to go home in. That is how she found herself in that moment just staring in the mirror, hoping to rekindle any memory of the girl that she saw staring back at her. She was hoping to find anything that would spark a memory, even if those memories might be painful. Unfortunately, all she saw was a complete and total stranger.
The stranger was no doubt beautiful, even with her partially shaved head, and only standing in a pair of faded jeans and sweater. Her pale blue eyes were striking, and with the pale almost white-blonde hair that was growing in gave her an almost ethereal quality. How fast her hair was growing was also bothering her a bit. She had only been awake for a few days, and her hair on the side that had been shaved, had at least doubled in length since she had first woken. She had asked Jess about it, only to be told that it was just a few side effects from some of the new procedures that they had done to save her life. Things like her hair and nails would probably continue to grow quicker, plus she would heal quicker for a few more weeks until it fully ran its course. She had tried to accept that, but for some reason that just didn’t sit right with her. There were also many other things that felt off to her as well, how her memories about herself were completely blank, even though she could remember others as soon as she saw them. How quickly she seemed to have healed was another one, she knew that it was miraculous that she was walking around pain free after it only being three weeks since she had been so horribly injured in the wreck. There were just so many different things that were bothering her, she couldn’t put her finger on any single thing, so she just kept trying to brush it off as a result from being in a coma and her amnesia, still that feeling of wrongness persisted. She was so lost in thought, she didn’t even notice her mother had walked into the bathroom to check on her.
“Everything okay baby girl?”, Jill asked, which startled Belle and caused her to jump.
“OH! Mom! I didn’t hear you!”, Belle exclaimed while holding her hand over her racing heart. “You scared me!”, she tried to fuss, but couldn’t hide her giggles once she realized how it must have looked. Her mother came up behind her as they both then stared into the mirror.
Jill told her softly, while using her fingers to try to cover up the shaved side of her head, “Jess told me your scar is completely healed so we can see about getting this fixed if you want.”
Wrinkles appeared in her forehead as Belle asked, “Fixed? What do you mean fixed?”
Still brushing Belle’s hair, Jill said, “I don’t know… Maybe get this cleaned up, its long enough Julie said she could put some extensions in it, and we can dye it all to match your normal hair color… You know get you looking like your old self?”
Turning her head back and forth, trying to decide from the longer hair or the shorter side, she sighed, “Mom… I don’t know... I mean, from what you’ve said… I don’t think I want to look like the old me, she doesn’t sound like a person I’d want to know, let alone look like... Do you think we could just get it all cut?”
Nodding at and understanding her daughter’s reasoning, Jill softly told her, “I think I understand… You know? I think you could totally rock a short hair style.” She then softly wrapped her daughter in her arms and they just hugged for a long while, until Jess interrupted them.
“So, are you two ready to get out of here?”, The young doctor asked, to which both the ladies nodded vigorously.
After a dozen signatures and an hour later, Jill was finally pulling out of the hospital’s parking lot with Belle sitting in the seat next to her. Belle hadn’t realized until leaving the hospital that her memory of her home town had been just as blank as her other memories had been, until she had seen visual reminders at least. As her mom drove, Belle just stared out the window as the memory of each street and building they passed bombarded her. She was amazed at first, but then she noticed that her memories and what she was seeing didn’t exactly match. Some of the storefronts were different, and some, while the same, seemed to look older in her memories.
“Honey? Are you okay?”, Jill asked her daughter.
That shook her out of her thoughts, “Yes Ma’am. I was just thinking and remembering. It’s just… I don’t know exactly… Something doesn’t seem right…”
Confused, Jill asked, “What do you mean not right?”
Belle shrugged her shoulders, “I can’t quite put my finger on it… It’s just when I see a place, like the Western Auto there… I didn’t remember it was there, until we just passed it… I remember it looking… I don’t know older?!? Have they repainted it recently?
Jill, slightly concerned, told her, “It hasn’t been repainted, but the building is only six or seven years old… Are you okay? Do I need to go back to the hospital?”
Belle shook her head firmly, “No Mom, please don’t. I feel fine… Could you just drive around for a bit? I mean I want to remember more of around here… Hopefully enough will come back so I can figure out what’s going on…”
Still concerned about her daughter, Jill reluctantly nodded her head and continued driving. She even turned down side streets and ended up driving all over downtown trying not to miss anything. Belle just silently stared and tried to take in everything, hoping to figure out what was causing the problem. They had covered almost the entire town in less than forty minutes, but unfortunately it had not done anything but confuse Belle even further.
As Jill started to turn down one of the streets that was off Main, when she remarked, “Look! Julie’s parking lot looks empty. Do you want to see if she can get in you in?”
As soon as she saw the building her mom was looking at, she remembered Julie’s Salon, at least a little bit. Thankfully the shop didn’t have any noticeable differences from her few memories of it. She only had memories of her mother bringing her here when she was younger though, and it was only of her mother getting her hair done, but not any of herself getting styled. Thankfully the memories were close enough to what she saw she was relieved, and said, “That actually sounds good… This half a head of hair is really annoying.”
A few minutes later Belle found herself swept up in the hurricane that was Julie. Julie had run this salon for longer than Belle had been alive, and for a middle age woman she was energetic and had a youthful spring in her step. Julie fussed over Belle, and thankfully she didn’t press Belle too much about the accident, but mostly about what she wanted done with her hair. It took Belle almost twenty minutes of explaining what she wanted done, and at first Julie was hesitant to simply cut the rest of her hair to match. Finally, she listened and understood Belle’s concerns, after all it would be much simpler for her to cut it short and let her hair grow back naturally.
When Julie was done cutting, washing, and finally styling her now short cut, both Belle and her mother were amazed at how drastically a difference the new cut had made. Her short pale blond hair, with her piercing pale blue eyes made her look almost ethereal. Even Julie was amazed at how well her new look had turned out. Julie and Jill had just gushed about how pretty she was, and then turned to some other small-town gossip. Belle was oblivious to their conversation though, she was so entranced by the beautiful young stranger that was once again staring back at her in the mirror. A brief time later Jill roused Belle from her trance, so they could go, and quickly found themselves back in the car.
“I still need to go get something for dinner, do you want me to take you home first, or do you feel up to getting groceries with me?”, Jill asked.
The question pulled Belle from staring at herself in the side mirror, she thought for a moment and told her, “I feel okay, I’d rather go with you. I’m not sure I really want to be at home by myself…” Her mother sadly nodded, and quickly they were on their way once again.
When Jill pulled into ‘The Pig’, otherwise known as Piggly Wiggly, Belle sat up and with a confused expression said, “I thought The Pig closed…”
Glancing over at her daughter, Jill said, “No baby… This place will never close… It’s the only grocery store in town… Don’t you remember that?”
Afraid that her mother would take her back to the hospital, Belle just muttered, “That’s right… Guess I was thinking about someplace else… Sorry Mom, guess things are going to be jumbled up for a while longer…”
“Okay… If you say so…”, Jill told her. Concern was clearly etched on her face, but she was wanting desperately to trust the person that her daughter was now, so she let it slide.
Walking into the store, Belle grabbed a buggy and pushed it alongside her mother, and once again she was assaulted by memories. More than she had been used to so far, enough that she started feeling a slight pressure in her head. She tried to hide her discomfort but failed with the amount of attention her mother was giving her.
“Belle what’s wrong?”, she asked.
Shaking her head to try to stop the influx of memories, she glanced at her mom and tried to smile, “It’s just a lot coming back to me at once… I seem to have a lot of memories from here… Did I work here or something?”
Jill said, “No you haven’t… You’ve never had a job before. Most of your time was spent with your friends and cheerleading… I used to bring you here a lot when you were younger though… Think that might be it?”
Not convinced, but also not wanting her mother to worry any more, she just replied, “Maybe…” They both silently resumed shopping and as they were passing the frozen food section Belle suddenly had an idea, so she asked, “Do you know what you’re making for supper?”
Jill replied, “No I don’t… Is there something you want me to make?”
Belle nodded, “Yes ma’am there is… I just remembered the spinach ravioli alfredo and its sounds really good after all the hospital food.”
“Belle… I’ve never cooked anything like that… Where do you remember it from?”
Belle’s eyebrows knitted together in confusion as she tried to remember, after a moment she said, “I’m not sure… I remember how to make it though… Would you mind if I made it?”
Surprised, Jill said, “You’ve never tried to cook anything before… Where did you learn it?”
“I haven’t?”, Belle asked in surprise, seeing the frozen ravioli bag in the freezer sparked that memory. It felt like a memory to her, but if what her mother was saying was true then it was one she shouldn’t have. She softly asked, “Mom… I don’t know where I know this… I really don’t… I remember how to make it for some reason… Can I? I need to see if this is a real memory… Please?”
Seeing the conflict in her daughter, and with her begging as she was, Jill told her, “Okay… Let’s see… I’m curious to see this too. Besides, if you can cook now, it will make my life a bit easier too.” She smiled as she said the joke, hoping to alleviate some of the stress in her daughter. Seeing Belle smile at her in relief made her feel she knew she had made the right decision, “Okay so tell me what you need for this?”
With Jill keeping a close eye on her, Belle spent the next ten minutes getting all the ingredients she needed. She picked up each item without hesitation, almost as if she’s made the dish many times. As the entered the check out line, Belle was looking over the items she had gotten with a confused expression.
Jill asked, “Did you forget anything?” Belle just shook her head no, and her mom asked, “Then what’s wrong?”
“That’s exactly what’s wrong… I know I didn’t forget anything… But I don’t remember how I know that… You’ve said I’ve never cooked before?”, Belle asked, perplexed.
Jill shook her head no and said, “Not that I’ve seen baby… But it sounds interesting at least. I’m looking forward to seeing how you put it all together.”
They both then waited in silence, Jill keeping an eye on her daughter, while Belle just kept staring at her ingredients. Finally, when it was their turn to check out a very familiar voice said, “Do y’all prefer paper or plastic?”
Belle immediately looked up at the cashier and blurted out, “Oh my God! Shannon, it’s so good to see you!”
The cashier, Shannon, looked at her but couldn’t place her until she glanced over at Jill, she then said warily “Belle?” Belle just smiled and nodded. Shannon gave her an uneasy glance, “I heard about… Uh, your accident… I’m surprised you’re up and about already from how bad I heard it was.”
Jill then asked Belle, “You remember Shannon from when she used to be your babysitter?”
That caused Shannon to tilt her head just slightly as Belle said, “Of course I do Mom… There’s something else though…” She paused in thought for a moment before she noticed the way Shannon was staring at her, so she told her softly, “Oh yeah, it’s a miracle that I feel as well as I do, physically at least… My memories though are pretty jumbled… I don’t remember a lot…”
Shannon then forced a small smile as she started ringing up the items, and said, “I’m sorry to hear that, but at least you’re getting better right?”
Belle nodded and replied, “Yeah… I hope so…” She then looked down in thought, trying to remember what it was that was nagging her about Shannon. She remembered the baby-sitting years ago, after all she was four years older than her, but there was something else she couldn’t quite place either.
Belle remained quiet and in deep thought while Shannon finished checking them out. As she was helping her mother put the full bags into their buggy a young mother walked by with a young boy and it suddenly came to her. She then looked up and as Shannon was finishing up loading the last bag of groceries, Belle asked, “I remembered… How’s your brother doing?”
Shannon looked up at her quickly, obviously startled and said, “How do you know about him?”
Belle looked down and softly said, “I don’t know how I remember him… I do though… Is he okay?” She then looked up pleadingly at the surprised cashier.
The obvious look of concern on Belle’s face softened Shannon’s initial reaction some, after taking a deep breath she told her, “He’s tired a lot… We’re hoping he regains his strength some for the next round of treatments…”
Belle sadly smiled and told her, “Well for what it’s worth, I’ll keep you and Sean in my prayers okay…”
Shannon not having any idea how this strange girl had known anything her or her family was going through, looked at her for a long moment. She then returned her smile and told her, “Thank you… It actually does mean a lot… Oh and Belle? You take care of yourself, alright?”
Belle smiled and said, “You too.” She then followed her mother out of the store.
The ride home was in silence at first, Belle lost in thought, and Jill constantly glancing over at her daughter worriedly. They were about half way to their house before Jill couldn’t stand it anymore, “Belle… You looked like you had met a long-lost friend when you saw Shannon. What do you remember about her and her brother?”
Belle thought and said, “I felt like I had met a friend Mom… I don’t know why, other than a feeling that we are, or at least were friends…”
Jill asked, “What about her brother? You said his name was Sean?”
Belle nodded, “Yeah… He turned eleven a few months ago… It was about the same time he started getting sick…”
Jill pulled the car over, so she could look directly at her daughter, “Belle how do you know all that?”
Belle just shrugged, she was feeling quite overwhelmed at the moment. As a tear started to run down her
cheek she said, “You know what’s worse than not having any idea how I know all that?” Jill just shook her head, so Belle continued, “Somehow I know something even worse…”
Jill reached over and put her hand under Belle’s chin and softly turned her head towards her, “Baby… You’re scaring me…”
“Mom, I’m scaring me…”, Belle whimpered.
Wiping her daughter’s tears from her cheek, she asked, “Belle you can talk to me okay… What’s worse than knowing he is sick?”
Belle then started to seriously get upset, but before she completely broke down she did say, “I don’t know how, but I know that he’s got cancer… He’s not going to make it… He dies a week before his twelfth birthday… I know that… Because I remember going to his funeral…” Then the floodgates opened.
To be continued.
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