I stuffed the hospital papers back into the bag and picked up the cellphone. I figured it was mine because there was a picture of me as the screensaver. It must've have been taken by someone else because I was pointing upwards and my other hand was motioning for the photographer to pay attention to what I was pointing up at. It was a sideview of me staring at the sky at sunset. The gray eye that could be seen was wide with wonder and my mouth was in the shape of semicircle. My hair was straightened and all black so it led me to believe that the picture had been taken some time ago, despite the fact I looked more or less the same.
I wondered who had taken the picture. A friend, maybe? Relative? Boyfriend? None of the suggestions triggered a memory within me. I was more or less in the same place I had been when I was at the diner. All I knew is that I had been hospitalized for lots of minor injuries, a head wound, and a miscarriage and that I came from Spain maybe or some Spanish speaking country. I was positive that it was Spain though the same way I knew that I lived in New York. I didn't know exactly which city in Spain I originated from but I was quite sure that was the right country.
I picked up the bottles of medication but neither of them matched the pain relievers on my prescription. One was labeled Anafranil and the other was without a name or any type of labeling; it was just a bare orange bottle. The Anafranil was supposed to be taken three times a day and I knew it was for me because my name was on it. I pondered whether or not I took any of my pills today. If I had been without memories since leaving the hospital I probably hadn't. This struck me with a very potent feeling of panic. What was going to happen to me since I didn't take my medicine? Was I going to die? It had to be take thrice a day which meant that it was very necessary and crucial to existence. I was going to die then. First my baby and now me. I broke into sobs as my heart started to race faster than a horse in the Kentucky Derby.
Just as I was beginning to enter a full blown heart attack my phone ringed. I snatched it up, hoping that it was someone that knew me, calling to make sure I was okay. Sadly, it was just a reminder setting. It read Andraste Take Anafranil. I didn't need anymore incentive than that to take the medication. Even now, when I was sure that I had been reminded that I was supposed to take the medication, I was still in a panic. It was ridiculous. I had proof that this was the time I was supposed to take my pills; I was on schedule as always but I still could not shake the fear. The fear was so gripping, so surreal. I was fine or at least I should've been. But I could not escape the thoughts in my head that made me believe otherwise so whole-heartedly. It was exhausting and frightening all at the same time. To be trapped in your own irrational thoughts that you know are hyperbolic but you still cannot be liberated from them.
But soon it got better. After a few minutes my mind wasn't so busy anymore. I was able to slow down my paranoia and find some solace. In the midst of my delusion I had sank to the grown and so then, when I was better again, I decided to get up and explore the room. It was nice and so I guessed it was worth eight hundred dollars. There was a full marble bathroom with terry cloth robes and a crystalline sink and shower head. It was a spacious room with a big king-sized bed and a desk by the window. The window was large and provided an excellent view of the street below. I could see buildings and some lights since it was so gloomy and rainy even in the afternoon.
I picked up the cellphone on my bed and tried to see into my contacts but it was protected by a passcode I could not remember. I tried so many different combination of digits but stopped myself, knowing innately that after too many failed attempts the phone would be forever locked. Then, I paced the room for a few moments trying to remember things that had to do with my hospitalization since that was the strongest memory I had so far, but there was no luck. I figured that it'd be prudent if I didn't follow the address on my driver's license, so I grabbed my coat and the backpack to brace the rain. I did acknowledge the fact that I had no set of keys to get into where I lived but I figured I could just break in if it was indeed my home. I hoped that maybe I had a roommate or friendly neighbors that would recognize me and help me. Sure, I probably waisted eight hundred dollars tonight but if something terrible happened and I found myself truly without a place to live at least I could always come back to the Four Seasons for the night.
So I set off. I seemed to know exactly where to go as well once I was out of the hotel. I decided that money was tight and the subway would be much more efficient to use if not sanitary or safe. It was indeed a strange place but I was confident. I looked at the signs for the different terminals and cars and just went off my instincts and the map they provided for tourists and people with amnesia like myself. I seemed to know exactly how to get to my home without the map's help but it was nice to have it anyway.
As I sat on the subway cart with the most peculiar people I hoped that one of them would recognize me. A couple of men gave me flirtatious smiles and one man even asked me to jerk him off while exposing his dick to me. I reacted by slapping him clean across the face to the amusement of the other riders. Huffing in frustration, I began reading my map again. On my license it said I lived in East New York, Brooklyn. I got a sense of comfort reading the name but also a faint image of girl. Her face was blurry but I could see her hair was blond. Maybe this blonde was my roommate, I thought hopefully. That would have been just perfect.
When the subway ride was over, I raced through the terminal to catch the next bus, above ground, that would take me right to where I needed to be on Maven Avenue. People weren't so inappropriate on the bus but someone did ask me for my number. I responded truthfully that I had forgotten what my number was and he looked at me like he thought I was a liar. Oh, well.
The streets of East New York were soaked through and through just like me and weren't in the best condition. The buildings weren't as nice as the ones in Midtown and I definitely did not see any Range Rovers or Audis as I trekked through the downpour, reading the buildings for my number. I lived in a building inside the apartment marked number twenty-three A. When found it I was excited. I didn't recognize anything there but I felt like I had been there before. I hoped that when the receptionist saw me she would recognize me but she was intent on reading her Glamour magazine and didn't even glance at me. I followed the signs up the stairs that pointed me in the directions that felt familiar. Reaching the apartment that was mine I felt a sense of angst wash over me for there were voices and smell of food that emanated from it. Inside that apartment could be my family or my friends. I could belong somewhere and not have to feel so alone. I could get some answers to questions that rattled around in my empty mine like balls in a lottery machine. Like what happened to me to put me in a hospital? Why were none of them there to take me home after I recovered? Why did I lose my memory? Why did I need to take Anafranil three times a day? What was Anafranil? But the most pressing thing that went through my mind was the fact that there was a truly high possibility that I could be home.
I rose my fist to the peeling brown wooden door and knocked incessantly until someone answered the door. The smell of delicious food hit me almost immediately once the door was open and the word Mexican rang through me. I knew I definitely was not Mexican since finding out my name. And the teenage girl before me definitely knew I wasn't apart of her family. The sting of no relief hit me like a mutated killer bee the size of a boulder.
I stumbled back and plastered on an apologetic smile. "Sorry, I got the wrong apartment number," I said in my Spanish accent.
She nodded. "No problem," she said, shrugging.
I walked away when I heard the door shut I let the tears cascade down my cheeks. I rose my hand to wipe my face off and hurried down the stairs and out into the rain. Good thing I still had my room back at the Four Seasons.
Not wanting to encounter another perverted man on the subway, I opted to take the bus back to my hotel. But again I was approached by another man. He was short, bald, and wore glasses by the way he was dressed I was surprised that he was on the bus. His clothing was clearly that of wealthy man—Calvin Klein jeans, Versace glasses, a burberry trench coat, and Tom Ford leather shoes. I was quite enthralled by how I could recognize fashion labels like that but not my own face.
I held up my hand to him. "I not interested in performing sexual favors for you, pal, keep it moving," I said harshly with a death glare on my face.
He laughed heartily, throwing his shiny head back. "No," he said peppily. "That's not what I want. I just wanted to give you my card and beg you to call me because I think you'll make a great model."
I cocked an eyebrow and pursed my lips. "Model?" Sure, I could accept that I was a pretty girl but models had to be beautiful women.
The man nodded earnest, reaching into his bag and handing me a card. "Definitely," he replied. "Better yet I should call you because I think you might flake out on me."
I continued to frown as I read over his card. His name was Adam Mack and he was a modeling agent for a place called Visage. I wanted to say no because it seemed so superficial but I'd need money and this was an easy way to get it without having to work at Dunkin' Donuts like I used to. Apparently, I wasn't so rich but if so I wondered how I afforded the red Michael Kors that were on my feet soaked through and through.
"Okay," I said pompously because I did not want to seem desperate for cash. "Call me. I'm staying at the Four Seasons room eight-one-seven."
He beamed. I guess I was a real find for him by how excited he looked. "Where are you from? Latin America?"
I shook my head. "España."
He nodded. "I knew you were were something...spicy." That comment made me laugh.
We reached my stop and I got out of there feeling only the tinniest bit happy that I wouldn't be penniless. However, I did still planned to check out of the Four Seasons and into a much cheaper but not seedy hotel. As I walked into my hotel, Nadia nodded at me and wished me goodnight. I forced a smile in her direction and headed up to my room for a nice hot shower. It didn't occur to me until I got inside my room that I had been gone for a while and it was already nighttime. The view outside my window was fully lit, giving me a small sense of familiarity when I threw my backpack on the bed. New York was a really beautiful place to live but it was really shitty to be without memories in it.
I walked into the bathroom and blanched as much as my Spanish skin would let a person of color. In the mirror I looked like the crypt keeper. My hair was drenched and tangled and the makeup on my eyes was all runny. I was shocked to think that I had just been scouted by a person who worked for a modeling agency looking the way I did. Perhaps he was working on a before and after piece and needed a horrendous before to make the after look even more spectacular. Or he was such a trained scout that he could see passed runny makeup and a bad hair day. Whatever the reason I just reminded myself that there was no task too degrading at this point that would give me money. I didn't want to include stripping or prostitution but, like everything, I had forgotten about my previous morals.
Turning away from the abhorrence in the mirror, I opened the sliding glass door to the shower and turned on the hot water. I remembered from my driver's license that I wore contact lenses so I made sure that the water wasn't hot enough to cause steam. I didn't remember it ever happening to me but I knew that if you wore contacts in steam they got really heavy on your eyes and I had nowhere to put them. If my contacts got messed up I wouldn't be able to see for I didn't find any glasses amongst my scarce belongings.
I scrubbed my face the best I could but some of my eye makeup was water proof so scrubbing with water really did nothing but smudge it and ruin the wash cloth. I'd have to find some makeup remover but it was by no means a top priority.
After I showered I put on the flimsy clothes from my back pack—cotton shorts and long sleeve Yankees t-shirt—that worked nicely as pajamas. My contacts were a tad heavy but not enough to cause me serious irritation. I was not sleepy at all so I gave unlocking my phone another go. I couldn't get it so I rummaged through my things again, hoping to trigger some more memories but that was a bust as well. Frustrated, I watched some television until I got hungry and ordered room service. I found the cheapest items on the menu which was a Caesar salad and vetoed the chicken that came with it. The price of the chicken was definitely a factor but also when I saw anything containing meat on the menu my stomach cringed; I could strongly remember the fact that I was a pescetarian. No actual anecdotes of my dietary habits bubbled to my mind but the feeling was strong to erase any doubt from my mind.
Washing down my modest dinner with a glass of tap water, I heard my phone chiming again. I eagerly ran to see what was happening in the little device. I was severely disappointed when I saw that it was just another reminder for me to take my Anafranil. I did so but I was curious to what it was. I figured that since I wasn't tired and nothing exciting was going on in my room that I'd go down to the business center and look up Anafranil on one of the computers. Access came free with the room so it was no hassle and it didn't close until eleven and it was only nine.
I didn't mind being in my pajamas as I walked through the hotel because there weren't many people around but I was a little self-conscious about being in heels with my humble outfit. Some people were in bikinis and flips-flops because they had been in the pool, but I was in heels and Hanes five dollar sweat-shorts and five hundred dollar Michael Kors. It just didn't look right at all but not many people noticed my shoes. A bikini-clad co-ed and her fifty year old boyfriend did eye them curiously but they were in no position to judge when they were both involved in some very scandalous activities of their own. So by the time I got into the the business center I wasn't feeling so insecure. My thoughts had almost been completely taken back over by my curiosity about the Anafranil. Was it for a heart condition or high blood-pressure? What was wrong with me medically?
Once in the business center I found the first computer and logged on wit the username and password provided on the back of my room key. I typed in the name of a search engine and was just about to put in Anafranil when I heard a lot of deep voices and footsteps. I didn't know why I didn't want to be caught looking up Anafranil but a fierce feeling of fear shot through me at the prospect of somebody knowing I took Anafranil...whatever it was. I quickly backspaced what little letters I had put in the search bar and typed the first thing that came to my head: the name of Adam Mack's modeling agency.
I only skimmed the page and briefly glanced at the models on the homepage; most of my attention was on the group of businessmen leaving what appeared to be a meeting. It was only several of them but they were all so confident and powerful-looking in their Giorgio Armani suits that they seemed to fill up the entire hall. I knew that they could see me because the walls were glass but I hoped that none of them would notice me. I only got a peek of them from the corner of my eye but that was enough to see that one of them did notice me and he made a point to ditch his colleagues and come inside the computer lab. I stiffened but pretended to be heavily engrossed in the webpage. I played my part so authentically that I reread the mission statement twice before I clicked on a different tab that showed me all the gorgeous models.
"Who are those women?" the businessman asked me bluntly, pulling up the chair beside me to sit in.
What hit me after the fact he was so forward was his smell. He smelled like Heaven and that was not an exaggeration. He was wearing the men's cologne Heaven by Estefania the Colombian fashion designer. Once the stench hit my nose the image of a gray bottle on a shelf somewhere I had once been popped into my head. But the next thing that hit me was how big he was. I had been a lot of places that day and had come to the conclusion that I was the equivalent of a skyscraper to people even when I was sitting on the subway and on the bus, so the fact that I had to tilt my head to peek up at this man was stifling. He had to be at least six-foot-four and possibly more. Someone could fit a Pixie Stick candy in the space that he occupied above me.
And then—after I got over the strange jealousy that I felt towards his stature—I noticed how beautiful he was. He was not from this country not by his speech that was eloquent English but by his complexion and features. He was darker than me but not by much. He was the golden brown shade of cinnamon sticks that left me wondering if his skin did in fact taste as sweet as cinnamon before I was able to reign myself in.
The man's face was so gorgeous he looked like he belonged on Visage's website only beneath the tab featuring their male models. His cheekbones were just as striking as mine if not better and his jaw was chiseled and structured nicely to go with the structure of his perfect, perfect chin. As if he could get anymore delectable my eyes found his lips which were very feminine for such a large, muscular man. They were pink and full and so damn kissable. I couldn't ever remember feeling attracted to a man so it was like being a little girl with her first real crush again. The only exception was there would be no schoolyard innocence with this crush by the aura of raging power and dominance he gave off even when he was giving me a nice smile. I knew he only wanted one thing no matter how warm and sincere his almond-shaped hazel eyes were.
"Um," I said a little disoriented by the God sitting beside me. "They—they're models."
He looked at the computer screen, inspecting all the world class supermodels appreciatively. "They are exceptionally beautiful women."
I lowered my eyelids in annoyance. If he was trying to come on to me he was doing a real sucky job of it. "Yeah, hence the reason they are supermodels."
He looked back at me, chuckling. "Well, you're extraordinarily beautiful too, cariño, so don't get offended."
I gasped. Cariño was sweetheart in Spanish but his Spanish accent was just a tad different than mine. "I don't think that term of address is really appropriate, considering I don't even know you."
His smile never left his face as he apologized. "I am sorry. Would you like to tell me your name so I can call you that...cariño?"
I frowned but replied anyway. "My name is Andraste Oseguera."
His eyes widened. "That's quite unique. Care to tell me the origins?"
The truth was that I would have if I knew but I could not remember, so I lied to the handsome businessman. "There is none. My mother just came across the name while reading and decided it would be mine."
He nodded. "Sometimes it is just as simple as that," he said wisely. "Oseguera...is that Spanish or are you Latin?"
"Español," I said, refusing to let myself smile. "Are you Latin?"
He nodded. "From Colombia," he said in his native dialect. "Aristophanes Arenas. Nice to meet you, Andraste."
"Call me, Andi." I had no idea where that came from at all.
Aristophanes Arenas looked offended as he shook his head. "A nice name like Andraste cannot be condensed. It doesn't do you justice."
This time I couldn't contain my smile. "But it's kind of mouthful, don't you think, Aristophanes?"
He smirked at me. "Definitely, Andraste," he replied. "So tell me, why are you looking up models?"
"I was scouted today and wanted to check out the agency," I lied smoothly, marveling at how convincing I could be. I most definitely did not want the sexy Aristophanes Arenas knowing I had to take some kind of medication three times a day. I didn't want his pity or his judgement.
He looked at me knowingly. "I bet you were scouted. How old are you? Fresh out of high school and you're already a model?"
I laughed and felt my cheeks heating up. "No, I'm twenty."
He looked at me in shook. "Really? You look like an innocent little seventeen year old."
"How old are you?"
He winked. "How ever old you want me to be, baby."
I shivered at the word baby and blushed some more. "Um...I don't know...twenty-seven?" He didn't look a day over twenty-five but he seemed so rich he couldn't possibly be young as well, could he?
He shrugged. "Why not?" he said laxly. "What are you doing at the Four Seasons?"
"I'm sorry, are you a detective ?" I said sarcastically because I did not have a quick enough lie.
Aristophanes laughed at me, a delicious sound. "No, I'm a pilot, cariño. And sorry if I'm being a little too invading. I just trying to know a little bit about you."
I was surprised to hear this. I figured he was just looking for an easy lay between business trips, but even so I was in no position to start a relationship. Eventually he'd want to know about my past and my family and who exactly I was but I didn't even know who I was. There was no way this could work out. And yet I found myself unable to stop talking to him.
"Well, that's okay," I said quietly. "You're a pilot?"
"Yes," he replied. "Would you like me to show you?"
I chuckled. "No, thank you. You must do well," I said, eyeing his Rolex.
He followed my gaze and seemed surprised as if he forgot he was wearing a thirty thousand dollar watch. "Yeah, well there is always work. People are always going places," he said distantly.
I wondered what about that question made his mood change. "Did I say something wrong?"
He shook his head and beamed at me, blinding me momentarily with his white teeth. "No, I just don't like talking about work too much. It's a little boring and I just left a meeting."
"It's a little late for a business meeting," I noted.
"It was an emergency," he said darkly. "I was quite sure my night had gone to shit until I saw a beautiful woman all alone." He wiggled his thin eyebrows at me.
I blushed again. "Thank you."
He was about to say something else when his phone rang. He sighed at first in irritation but when he saw the caller he became excited. "It's Audata my little sister," he said to me. "I'll just be one minute. Promise me you won't go anywhere?" He was actually begging me to stay
I nodded my head involuntarily. I told myself it was because I still needed to look up Anafranil but I really knew it was because I already had a crush on Aristophanes. He seemed nice and not like he just wanted to sleep with me and then move on to the next willing girl he could find, and a man like him seemed to be the kind that couldn't be tied down. It didn't make sense that a guy like him had not already been snatched up by some movie star.
But I stopped thinking about the hot Colombian pilot and quickly went back to my searching while he went into the hall to talk with his sister. A tiny little menace in the back of my head challenged that he could have been lying about being his sister, but it didn't matter if he was or not because I had lied to him twice of already and twisted the truth almost our entire conversation.
When I searched Anafranil in the computer a little box of information came up along with a lists of websites that also had details on the drug. I read the box first and it told me Anafranil is an antidepressant that treats obsessive-compulsive disorder. I felt like a cross bow launched an arrow through my chest the moment I realized I had OCD. It made perfect sense, though. The reason I was flipping out so hard about taking my medicine even when I knew everything was okay that I almost gave myself I heart attack, and how I was terrified of the idea of someone seeing that I took Anafranil, that someone would know that there was something wrong with my mind. It was safe to say that I was ashamed of it and that I had always been. The shame of having OCD was so strong that it had trickled down through my amnesia and made remember to keep the secret by all means necessary—even to strangers like Aristophanes and the other businessmen.
I looked over at him on the phone. He was very enveloped in his conversation and looked to be in some kind of conflict. I hoped that it would mean he would leave. If I knew before that a relationship or even the thought of a relationship with someone was out of the question I definitely knew so now. What kind of life would I be forcing him into if he had to deal with my obsessive-compulsive thoughts turning me into a paranoid freak every time I didn't get to my Anafranil quickly enough? He would find me to be burden. That's all I was. There nothing remotely appealing about me other than my appearance. I barely had money, a job, a place to stay, and I could remember nothing of my past or personality. I was completely devoid of an identity and on top of that I had OCD. What kind of sophisticated, wealthy, handsome man wanted to deal with a twenty year old basket case?
I decided that I wouldn't put either of us through the hassle anymore and logged off of the computer. The business center had two exits, so I snuck a peak at Aristophanes to make sure he was still well-invested in his phone call and then left. I felt a sense of a sadness fill up inside me like a cup filling with water but it was okay. We were much too different anyway.
When I got back up in my hotel room I finally felt tired. I plopped on my bed and just as I was about to doze off I heard something roll of my bed and hit the ground. I reached over and picked it up. It was the other bottle of pills without any labeling. I turned the bottle around and noticed something written on the bottom in magic marker. It read for sad times. The handwriting seemed very familiar and I realized that it was my own from the hospital documents. I assumed it was some kind of mood elevator or some other recreational drug but if it was my own and it would wash away some of this shame and guilt I was definitely for it. Without any water I took one of the tablets and instantly felt better. It didn't give me a rush of excitement but it did give me a nice feeling of calm and happiness. I sunk my head down into the fluffy white pillow lolled on a placid sea on the land of dreams.