Chapter Ten: Wake Up
New Orleans, Louisiana: 3 Months Later
A tall, sinewy seventeen-year-old girl walked down the bricked streets of New Orleans, wearing low jeans and a black tank top. Her big sunglasses shielded her brown eyes from the sun and her hair, stained red, framed her face.
The move from Illinois had been rough and strangely disconnected, filled with memory gaps. Everything felt like it was going to blow away any second. She had disappeared, her parents had said, for nearly a year and she had shown up on her bed, sprawled as if she had been dumped there, three months ago with a tattoo of a spiky V on her shoulder blade and a huge memory gap, and blood soaked clothes.
There was no protocol on what to do when you disappeared for a year with no memory of any events, so Mia did what sounded fine.
Her new short black hair shimmered in the sunlight and she turned abruptly, still not used to the new strength she possessed, to enter the café she worked at. The black and red tiles were shiny and clean and she walked straight to the back where the cooks greeted her, and one specially, gave her a toothy grin.
"Hey, Mia," Jimmy said, waving an oily spatula and Mia grinned back.
"What's up?" She asked, leaning on the doorway, holding her black apron, black skirt, pad and pencil.
Jimmy expertly flipped a burger and smiled. "Nothing, just waiting for the dinner rush to hit." Like most days, he studied her outward appearance, hoping that he would find out something new about her, but she was still mysterious, even though she dressed like every other teenager in the world, there seemed to be a depth of something different about her that he couldn't quite put his finger on.
She was pretty and friendly, but quiet, and according to the owner a wholly different somebody of the girl she had been before. She had worked here before, Jimmy thought. The owner had a steel trap for a brain and he remembered the girl, with long black hair and the same red stain on the front… except her name wasn't Mia, it had been Cleo. Jimmy nodded and remembered when he had asked Mia.
"You worked here before right?" Jimmy had asked, leaning on the counter, his arms crossed.
Mia had looked confusedly up at him. "No, I've never been to New Orleans until now. We moved from Chicago a few months ago."
Jimmy paused, looking at her upturned face, and her confusion. He accepted her answer because there was nothing about her that said otherwise.
Although… she had arrived, waiting tables as if she had done it all before even though she claimed she had never waited before and talking only to him and the manager, avoiding direct questions of why she had moved.
There was a simple reason that Jimmy didn't know and that reason for that was because she didn't know.
There was a yearlong gap in her mind, in her memory of things she had done, said, felt and she knew it. She felt it. Her mother and sister refused to comment on what had happened in the house while she had been gone, and had questioned her relentlessly about where she had been but it was hopeless. There was just nothing but a strange blackness that seemed to be covering something crucial that had happened to her.
Mia tied the apron and walked out, scanning her tables for new people and spotted a doctor in a white coat sitting in one of her tables wearing a peculiar expression. She approached them with the plastered smile on her face ad before she could get word out the doctor stopped her.
"Cleo? What are you doing here?" The woman said and Mia's stomach clenched and something fluttered in her mind. A vision of the woman leaning over her, her mouth moving as if she was talking and Mia gasped. Her fingers tightened on the pad.
"I…" Mia gestured helplessly, her mind whirling. This was the second time she had been called Cleo, and a part of her recognized that this was familiar territory – that she had been in New Orleans before. "Do I know you?"
She hadn't been on drugs, had she? All the tests came back clean for any signs of drugs in her system.
"Yes, I treated you… six months ago at the hospital," the woman said and looked more closely at Mia, and with that Mia realized that a missing piece of her life had been spent here.
"I was here?" Mia whispered, her eyes widening with shock.
"You don't remember?" the woman asked doubtfully and Mia shook her head vigorously, a part of her wanting to run away and forget and the other part wanted to grab the woman by the shoulders and demand to tell Mia what the hell she was talking about.
"I don't remember anything," Mia said and the woman suddenly looked uncomfortable, and she stood up abruptly.
"I have… a meeting," she stammered and Mia stumbled back and whirled around when the woman walked away quickly. She returned to the kitchen, feeling oddly calm, with everything being drowned under a static layer that Mia couldn't penetrate.
Is Mia had been in New Orleans for a time then how did she get back in Chicago?
"Mia!" She jerked, startled and stared at Jimmy's concerned face.
"Food's ready," Jimmy motioned to the plates between them and Mia nodded mutely. She stacked them expertly, once again wondering how she knew how to keep the plates balanced and walked back to the floor where she numbly dropped off the food and walked back to the kitchen.
"Are you okay?" Jimmy asked and Mia looked at his blue, blue eyes and shook her head.
"I have no idea," she admitted.
That night, Mia walked down that same street and this time she had her eyes set on the white cross of the hospital. Jimmy was next to her and he still seemed in shock over Mia's plan.
Mia's walked through the parking lot of the hospital and saw the clear glass doors and experienced a bit of dizziness when she suddenly had a vision of herself walking out those exact same doors. Mia shook it off and walked inside, holding onto Jimmy's sweating hand and dragged him through the halls to the third floor where she instinctively knew where the records where kept, but also where the doctor – Annie – had her office. She knew that if her records – under the name of Cleo – weren't in the record room, they were in Annie's office. Mia held onto his hand tightly and suddenly jerked him into an empty room.
The hospital changed shifts in exactly five minutes and that corridor would be completely empty, which would give them an excellent chance to pick the lock of the Record room, which was exactly ten feet from their door.
"You know there are better places to break into. Like a bank," Jimmy whispered and Mia smiled in the darkness. She had no idea why Jimmy was coming along when he could so easily turn her in.
"This is important," Mia said.
"Right to help you discover your lost identity," Jimmy muttered, more to himself and received a jab in the side when someone walked dangerously close to their room. Mia looked over Jimmy's shoulder and picked up a long metal tool and slid it up her sleeve. She – somehow – knew she had broken into another place before and knew how to pick locks.
The noise outside ceased and Mia stuck her head out the door after cautiously opening it. The beige walls frowned at her when she slithered out to the hall and took four long steps to her destination with a very nervous Jimmy following. She picked the lock expertly and before she could say 'Wow', she was inside a long room, breathing hard and clutching onto Jimmy's jacket.
"Oh shit," Mia said and grinned.
As farfetched as her plan sounded when they had been outside. Mia could hardly believe it had been that easy to walk into a hospital and break into a room.
She immediately turned on the lights, but took off her jacket and shoved it against the space between the door and the floor – just in case the people outside could tell the light was on.
"Mia," Jimmy said, looking at the rows and rows of organized papers. "Are you kidding?"
"No. You look in the A's … Al's and … I'll look in the P's." Mia said, recalling the P. on the doctor's nametag. "It should be Cleopatra or Cleo," she called to Jimmy, who bent over to look at the labels under the cardboard boxes of files. He pulled open the box that had Al in black marker scrawled on the yellowed paper and flickered through the names, pausing at Altone, Clemetine and moved on, Mia on the other hand was riffling through three boxes, and drawing in a breath when the doctor's last name jumped at her.
She separated the folders and looked closer at every page until she found it.
"Jimmy!" She called, holding the red folder in her hand.
"What's up?" he asked and saw her sitting in the middle of a box circle holding a red folder with an almost fearful on her face.
"Is that you?" Jimmy asked, his heart pounding madly.
"I think so," Mia responded.
"Well, do we look at it here, or do we take it with us?"
Mia pondered the question and motion for him to help her shove the boxes back and they tip-toed back to the door where Mia shut the lights and slid on her black jacket, sliding the red folder into the waistband of her jeans under her shirt.
She pressed her ear to the door, holding on to Jimmy's hand tightly and listened for footsteps. Closing her eyes, she opened the door and nearly jumped out of the room, dragging Jimmy with her. He closed the door and they immediately stared at each other.
"I cannot believe - " Jimmy began.
"I know," Mia said and began walking fast – the fast walk of someone suspicious and nearly ran down the stairs and walked out the glass doors, not being stopped once.
The edges of the papers were digging into her skin so almost a block away from the hospital; Mia sat down on the curb and pulled the folder out from her pants.
She sighed and waited for her heart to stop pounding, acutely paranoid that a giant flock of police will spring out and arrest them. She opened the folder when Jimmy sat down next to her and nearly dropped the pages.
"Jimmy," She gasped.
"What? Were you a drug addict?" Jimmy jokingly asked, not noticing how her face went whiter than snow.
"No, Jimmy, I was dead."
AN: Yep. That's it.
Part three… is coming.