And she didn’t. And now here she was, deep below a jewelry store in Miami, standing in a cavernous space where the walls seemed to be made of effulgent crystals of all the different colors of the rainbow, staring at creatures she knew didn’t exist outside of Hollywood, watching as these imaginary beings, with their big bug eyes and their swollen grey heads moved about attending to whatever it was they were attending to. Stacey Florence lost consciousness as Mrs. Sykes began to speak to her about the significance of the stone she received in New Orleans from a man she met on a smelly subway platform in New York last summer.
When she opened her eyes, Stacey gazed into the smiling faces of her mother and father. She watched their eyes light up and knew they were happy to see her awake. But she didn’t understand why. When she tried to ask them what the hell was happening, she found she was too exhausted to speak, even though she had a vague idea that she had just been sleeping for a very long time.
There was a great commotion in the room as voices rejoiced and hugs blossomed in a joyful celebration. But Stacey was in a fog and felt separated from the activities. She didn’t feel bad, per se, just tired and eerily detached. Something was missing. Something wasn’t right, but she had no idea what.
Then it dawned on her. It was her memory that was missing. She didn’t know where the hell she was or how the hell she ended up in this bed. She found she couldn’t remember anything from her past. She struggled and found she could recall her childhood with only a little difficulty. That was good. She walked through the halls of her memory while her family celebrated around her. ‘She must have been out a long time,’ she thought, back to her old habit of referring to herself in the third person. ‘They seem really grateful and excited. Wonder what happened.’
She got through high school and into her early twenties alright. Early boyfriends and part time jobs flashed by as she tried to bring herself current with herself. Remembered her apartment – hey, I wanna go home – and her full time job midtown – they can keep that. Some vacation memories bubbled up. Vacation!
She started to sit up and frightened everyone in the room. A nurse eased her into a half recline and settled her and everyone else down. She found her voice. “I have to catch my flight. Don’t let me miss my flight!”
“Sweetheart,” her mother’s voice was gentle, almost breaking.
“I’ve got to catch my flight. I’m going to San Diego, remember?”
“Sweetheart, that was a long time ago. You don’t remember anything, do you? Do you know you’ve been in a coma? For a while now?”
“Coma? I was in a coma?”
“Yes sweetheart, for a long time. You had an accident. Do you remember? Like you used to have as a child?”
“Accident? I wasn’t in an accident.” Her voice trailed off as she struggled to hold on to sanity.
“You don’t remember passing out on that hot subway platform?”
She shook her head. “No.” Something cried out from the back of her mind, but like a short yelp from a dark alley at night, she did her best to pretend she didn’t hear anything.
“The police said you fainted from the heat. But you hit your head on the way down, dear. You’ve been in a coma for a while now.” Then, to the attending relatives, “but we’re all so glad you’re back, aren’t we?”
There was general merriment amongst the clan. It was fortunate she woke on a Saturday and everyone was present. Had it been a weekday, at best only one relative would have been present. Stacey did her best to not be a downer at her own party of sorts, but she craved a chance to tear open her mind and rescue whatever memory she knew was trapped in there.
“Oh, and these are for you.” With a hopeful smile, her mother handed her a bouquet of flowers. They were pretty enough. Stacey sniffed them and they smelled nice enough.
“They seem fresh. How did you know I would be waking up today?” She laughed at the absurdity of her question, a little nervous at the seriousness of her question.
“Oh, they’re not from us. The note doesn’t say who they’re from. We just assumed they were from some boyfriend of yours.” She smiled a little, then continued: “as for the timing, well, I guess it’s a lucky coincidence!”
“Or maybe the flowers woke you up!” Stacey’s father suggested with a wink.
Stacey took a look at the note. The message was generic and familiar, but something about the flowery font on the card struck a nerve with Stacey and she began to recess a little into her mind. She could almost swear she recently sent a card with the same flowery font to someone… But who? And, apparently, she has been lying in this bed for God knows how long and not sending cards with flowery writing to anyone.
A wrought iron balcony above a gift shop. A selection of trinkets and collectibles. Images floated around in her head like motes of dust in the sunlight. The aroma of seafood triggered a cascade of emotion but Stacey only grew agitated and confused. Why did she send herself flowers and a card?
The nurses ran as fast as they safely could into the room at the sound of her scream. Stacey’s family was ushered out and a doctor appeared with a needle. There was darkness and the calm stillness.
Her mysterious friend appeared as a light in the darkness. All was calm and peaceful here. The two of them were surrounded by a white light which twinkled in all the colors of the rainbow, not unlike the room she remembered – she remembered! She didn’t pass out on any subway platform. She met a man who gave her a stone in New Orleans which she took to be appraised in Miami, where she ended up in an underground cavern filled with aliens… Aliens!
The other spoke to her now telepathically. “Thank you, Stacey, for doing what I asked you to do.
“But what did I do? That part I can’t remember.”
Before her eyes appeared the likeness of a small child. Stacey cried. She knew the child was hers.
“I want you to bear us a child.” That is what he had said. That is what he had asked her to do for him. And she didn’t feel it would be the least bit inconvenient for her to oblige the kind gentleman. Her mind was not her own, and had not been for some time! She began to panic before he spoke again and calmed her with his deep, soothing vibrations, if not with his words.
“We’ve met many times over the years since we selected you for our program. We’ve erased your memory each time and even brought you to what you would consider your past at times to allow you to recoup some of the lost time.”
She remembered now how she had gone to the building he had directed her to go to after they parted company after brunch. It was a gift shop that sold flowers as well as other assorted items. The shop had an elaborate wrought iron balcony over the ground floor and there were flowering plants up there which shed some red petals down to the street in front of the doorway. Stacey stepped inside and handed the clerk the note her friend had provided for her to give to the staff and, when prompted by the clerk, she selected a floral arrangement and a suitable card – he said it was for his sister who was recovering in hospital – and then Stacey was on her way to the next stop on the list her friend had given her. Here her memory did not return to her.
“Would you like to meet her?” Stacey shook in the very core of her being. How can anyone simultaneously want and not want something so strongly? She experienced a fear stronger than any she had ever known was possible. And a yearning for a world bigger and stranger than she ever imagined. But she was afraid to jump off the diving board.
“There will be plenty of time later. You should return to your family now. We’d like to include you as a partner from now on. Would you like that?” Stacey didn’t have a clue what the hell that entailed and he sensed as much.
“Don’t worry, you don’t have to decide now. We will partition your mind so you don’t have to worry about these things for now. We’ll visit you again soon and we can discuss things at greater length then, okay?” Stacey didn’t respond.
She opened her eyes and saw her mother and father in the chairs beside her hospital bed. “I’m hungry. Do they have clams here?” Her mother burst into tears and laughter. Her father rushed to call the staff about getting some food for her. In his haste he knocked the card that came with the flowers from its place on the small table in the corner. He picked it up and placed in on the bed near Stacey’s hand. She reached for it and brought it up to her face to read it again. It said “Get well soon. Can’t wait to see you again.”
Stacey smiled warmly in her heart, although she wasn’t sure why. “How about some clams already!? I’m starving!”