Who am I?
"Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand."
- Chinese proverb.
Jamie led me into the house, his arm lovingly wrapped around my waist.
"Are you OK Marie?" he whispered, as though he was afraid of my response, as my body tensed at his touch.
I wanted to scream NO until the roof collapsed or I lost my voice.
"I'm fine," I choked out.
I wanted to say No. I needed to say No. But I couldn't bring myself too voice the feeling aloud. That would make it real. This was my shame. It was my problem to bear. Mine alone. I'd just have to figure it out. Everything would be alright…eventually.
"It's just…you're a lot quieter these days. I mean...well you know. I understand it, after everything you've been through. Just worried about you, that's all."
"I'm just tired…seriously," I murmured back, hoping he got the hint.
'Its just', I thought to myself, pretending that I was saying it to him, 'I want to be alone. I need to be. I have to figure this out.'
They say that I'm married. They say that we're happy. But that's just it…they say.
The silence is deafening - more so than any noise I have ever heard – as I try to free myself from the tangled mess of the sheets. My heart is pounding so hard that I would swear its about to explode. I need to get out of here. Out of this room. Away from him. Just out. I need to get away.
He's not quite asleep yet, although he pretends to be; I know he's watching me toss and turn, anxiously struggling against the gaol that keeps me here. He's worried about me. In any other circumstance, I'd find that sweet. Romantic even. But right now, I know he doesn't believe I'm fine. Hell, I don't even believe it!
Before I can react, his warm arms engulf me; his soft hands gently brushing back the stray pieces of hair that were framing my face.
"Shhh Mar… It'll be okay. I promise" he tries to reassure me, as he gently wipes away the tears; I didn't even realise I was crying.
We stay like this for hours. His arms wrapped protectively around me, a gesture that's supposed to make me feel safe, at home – but, at this moment, it only achieves the opposite. I feel as though I don't know this man, or this house. I am not comfortable laying here, alongside this man, inside this house. I am supposed to know this feeling, all evidence points to this… but I know none of it and it scares me. I don't even know myself.
As I listen to his breathing slowly even out, I reflect on what I know - which at this point, is next to nothing. I know my name is Marie Hogenson, formerly Capps. I know I'm 23 years old. I know this man is my husband. But I don't know him… not personally. Not at all.
Once I'm sure he's fallen into a deep sleep, I crawl out from under his embrace and quietly tiptoe to where a spare bedroom is located down the hall. In the coming months, this room will be my haven. I continue this routine of swapping beds once he's asleep and getting up before he rises. For now, it works to my advantage; this time alone I cherish. I need not pretend here; I don't feel as though someone is watching my every move, wondering why I may do something differently. It means I can wonder about the house, our house, sussing out everything, while slowly putting my life back together.
Jamie was at work the day I found our wedding tape and photos. Everyone looks so beautiful. I cried when we said 'I do'. How come I don't remember this? Surely if I was to remember anything, I would remember this day. I watched the video three times, and analysed the album cover to cover. I definitely looked happy. Like really happy. So does Jamie. His eyes are always on mine, as though he was afraid I might disappear any moment.
The last time I flicked through the album, I found a hidden picture at the back. It had crease lines on it, as though someone had continually stroked it. Now that I looked closer, I realised the photo is of me. I'm looking over my shoulder, as though I'm searching for someone. Who? I do not know. It's the only time throughout the ceremony that I'm not smiling. It unnerves me to not know. Not to know how I was feeling then, or even to remember for whom I was searching for.
It scares me that I can't remember what's meant to be the happiest day of my life. I do not feel married. I do not feel loved. Worst all I don't think I feel love. Not for Jamie. Not yet. It pains me to feel this way, especially when he looks at me now. His eyes alone can
speak to my soul, communicating the way he feels. While I don't feel loved, I know the Marie Hogenson is most definitely loved.
We had guests over for dinner tonight. I don't think I have ever felt so alone before. I do not recognise their names, or the faces. Yet, I'm told Cathy was my best friend.
She speaks of the past in a dreamily manner, laughing about things we did, things I have no recollection of.
"Remember when we…"
I smile at her, pretending I remember and take a sip of my wine as she launches into a story of how we snuck out of her house when we were thirteen to see some concert.
Apparently, our genius plan was to climb down the vine that grew outside her window. Which lead to the disaster when the vine could no longer support our weight; resulting in us landing in a less than graceful heap on the ground, barely escaping her parents who came running at such a commotion.
The funny thing is, I don't remember any of this….
As I stumbled out of bed the next morning, still fighting off last night's alcohol and effect of sleep, I realise I've made a major mistake. I didn't wake up early enough this morning.
Sitting on the bottom of the stairs is Jamie. His head slumped in his hand, elbows rested on his knees. I could feel my heart constrict with worry as I took in the devastated man sitting on the landing below me. It may not feel as though I love him yet, but I know now, that I could if I knew who I was.
I walk cautiously towards him and sit next to him on the step. I'm about to ask what's happened, what's wrong, my hand hovering inches from his shoulder when he turns to me. His eyes are blood-shot, his face crumpling, but I don't notice any of this. I'm too busy taking in the sight of the old notebook - which I had been using as a dairy these past months – lying in a discarded heap at his feet.
All of a sudden I can't breathe. My body tenses; Jamie knows it all. He knows I remember nothing from before the accident. He knows I couldn't even remember my own name.
Jamie knows the truth and I can't decide if this is a good thing or not.
"You really don't remember anything do you?" he whispers, his voice clearly praying for some miracle that he has the wrong idea.
I open my mouth and close it again, settling instead to shake my head as words fail me.
I shook it again.
His voiced is pleading; his heart is breaking.
"That night when I brought you home from the hospital…"
My whole body slumps against the wall, as I wait for the inevitable. Surprisingly, it does not come. There's no screaming of lack of trust, or lies. No thrown objects. Nothing.
When I gain the courage to look at him, he appears just as torn as I do. He raises his hand ever so slowly and brushes away a stray piece of hair. His eyes bore into my soul, communicating with me in a way no other ever has. He understands how I feel.
"What do we do now?" I whisper, my own voice sounding foreign.
" I guess… we try and help you remember who you were." A sad smile tugs at his mouth, " and then its up to you to decided who you truly are."
At first our relationship was rather strained. It was awkward to be in the same room as the other when we sidestepped the problem, neither of us knowing what we needed to do.
Jamie tried to remind me of my past. Of songs I used to love, the sports I played, even the way we were in high school. He patiently went through and explained every photo album - the stories behind the pictures, the lives of those in them.
… But what I do remember, no one wants to hear.
I'm not sure how it happened really. I had been remembering small bits and pieces for a while now. My life was beginning to come together and I'd been happier then… well, I could remember.
I was sitting under the table the day Jamie found me. My back pressed firmly against its wooden leg, my head bowed in my hands using my legs as a shield from the world. I was shaking uncontrollably. I was remembering.
At first it was happy things like our first anniversary, when Jamie had hired out a villa in the vineyards. Birthdays. Christmases. The wedding. I remember the look on my face as I was searching for someone. I remembered whom I had been searching for, my brother – Sammie. I remembered the accident.
The tires screeching, the sound of metal scraping metal. I felt the impact as the truck rammed into the side of the car, and then I remembered the last time I saw my brother - his bloodied face and lifeless body.
I remembered working, and the pregnancy test. Oh God, I remembered the baby! The look of utter joy on Jamie's face the day we found out. The look of devastation when he realised there wasn't going to be one. The horror in his voice as he tried to talk me through it, his frantic pleading for me to stay with him, that an ambulance was on its way.
"I remember now…"
Jamie pushed my legs down and pulled me against his chest. He stoked my back, letting me cry into his chest. He was all I needed now as my worst memories came flooding back to haunt me. He made me remember, not just the bad, but what meant the most, and he'd been there for all that.
After all, sometimes you just need to know you can breathe.
"Welcome back Mar," he whispered into my hair, as he cradled me to sleep.
A/N: Hey. Thanks for reading this is you did, please review. I really really want to know what everyone thinks of this story. I worked fairly hard to get it to this stage (It definately didn't turn out the way I original thought it would, but i like it none the less), yet it still feels a bit... I dunno. Somethings missing. One of my firends who read it, simply said that my characters exist merely on the page and not beyound. Anyone know who to help me make them exist beyound the page?
I would greatly appreaciate any help (both crisitism and praise -whatever you feel the need to comment on) that you could offer up. Just remember to tell my what you honestly thought about it! PLEASE REVIEW