04/22/2013 12:28 pm ET

Teen Fiction: 'Amnesia'


This is a teen-written article from our friends at Teenink.com.

By Irenie

It’s snowing lightly as I slip down the street, beating a soldierly march against my leg with a rolled newspaper. I am neither content, nor afraid. The season of my mind is late autumn or early spring. I am neutral to the world. I skid against the grains of the sidewalk and find myself with my face buried in the white expanse of the snow. It smells like earthy chocolate and angel wings. My face stings as if it’s been slapped and I struggle to my knees. I find myself in front of a nondescript house, just another one of the boxes lined side by side on the street, identical even to the patterns of peeling paint on the walls.

I hear two pairs of feet crunch up beside me, and someone pulls me up.

“You okay, honey?” a woman’s voice -- no my mother’s voice -- says. “We’re almost home.”

Home. I’d forgotten.

My mother moves me gently towards the door.

Coming back home is hard. I remember some things so clearly that it aches, other things I have forgotten, and that hurts worse. Somehow, as I stood at the door, the key slippery in my hand, I believed that everything would be just as I had left it. Dinner would be cooking on the stove, the kettle would be boiling, and the baby crying. My hand shaking, I slid the key into the door and turned it. The door opened easily and I stepped into the prickly darkness. I had forgotten the smell of my home—that it even had a smell at all—and now it overwhelmed me with a wave of memories. I stood in the doorway, breathing in the musty familiarity of home. Finally, I forced myself inside, closing the door behind me. The house was deathly silent. With a stabbing ache of hope, I waited for a moment for someone to come out of the bedroom, bleary eyed, choking on sleep. But the house was silent.

The rest of the day is a blur. My parents take me to a room—the place that I once called my own. It is covered with posters and wire letters that spell out my name, but the room is the most foreign part of the house. I sleep uneasily, constantly waking up in a cold sweat with fading dreams that make no sense.

The next morning, the alarm clock rings at precisely six in the morning and I begin the ritual dance of the awoken. It is quite a shamanistic dance, really. I throw myself and my blankets around, twist about in agony as the light from the window burns my eyes, and dance jerkily as I step over the unthinkably old text books and post-it-notes that litter my bedroom. The dance carries me into the kitchen, where I sink numbly into my old creaky chair, only to jump up again to turn on the coffee pot and the radio. At least I remember how to do that. As the slurring of static fills the kitchen, my brain finally begins to open its eyes. My senses turn on with a jolt. The light from my window, sticky with dust, seems suddenly painful.

I hear a hurried step in on the stairs and the man who I have forgotten was my father stumbles down the railing.

“Emily?” his voice is shrill with concern. “What are you doing? You know you’re not supposed to be alone.”

The word Emily makes me startle like a deer. I am not used to hearing that name. The room begins to spin, and I find myself vomiting noisily into the sink.

Shortly after breakfast, Dr. Ghael arrives.

We sit in a semicircle at the kitchen table, my mother nervously picking at a hangnail, the doctor scribbling notes on his pad.

They try to help me remember for hours, but the effort is grueling and it gets me nowhere.

The light from the window is beginning to burn into my eyes. They sting and, crusted with dried tears, begin to water again. I feel sick to my stomach, but I can’t tell if the nausea is simply due to my emotions or because of the accident.

My mother’s voice becomes a shadowy echo in the front of my mind. I look out the window, and see a little girl waiting outside at the bus stop.

I hear my mother sigh.

I blink, and the room comes back into focus.

Dr. Ghael speaks up “Don’t give up, Diana. She just needs time. She’s been through a lot. Let’s take a different approach. Tell her about Helen.”

“You know that little girl? The one in the pink jumper with Hello Kitty slathered across her chest like the cream cheese she loves spread all over her bagel? The one with the chipping sparkles on her shoes, and the braid that’s coming undone? Of course you know her. You see her every day, don’t you. She’s always at the bus stop, her backpack clenched in her sweaty fist. Sometimes she talks to the stray cat that waits around the bus stop because a little old lady used to leave cans of tuna there for it. I always wonder what she said to the cat, but I’m never close enough to hear. And I don’t want her to think that her mommy worries about her and watches her at the bus stop. Anyway, you know her right? Really? Her description doesn’t ring a bell? She’s your sister, Emily. She’s your sister don’t you remember?”

I shake my head. The emotion in my mother’s voice frightens me more than the realization that I don’t know my own sister.

“Do I have any brothers?” I ask, genuinely curious.

My mother begins to cry, but Dr. Ghael interjects “No, this is good, see? She’s beginning to come out of her shell, she’s beginning to want to remember.”

My mother resolutely wipes her eyes and nods.

“You don’t have any brothers. Just one sister. Kristen.”

“Oh. I remember now,” I lie.

It’s easier to pretend that I remember. Perhaps, in some time, I really will remember. But for now, all I can do is try.


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