Day 2: Forest Adventure
Once outside, I looked around for Karen. I knew now why I needed to chase her. She definitely knew something and wasn’t telling me. I was an idiot to let her beautiful looks or her alcoholism distract me. Once she had gone, my mind became clear and focused again.
Sure, I was here to restore my grandpa’s farm. But since coming here, I’ve been getting the strangest feeling that everyone knows me, but I can’t recall ever coming here before. Not to mention whatever happened yesterday, which I barely remember. The only thing I can recall was a terrible storm happening. Now, this Karen girl is all up on me and I haven’t done jack to instigate it?
Back home, I couldn’t get a girl to like me if I was wearing a suit made out of money. Now, this girl is about a hairs breath away from raping me right in front of that Jeff guy and it doesn’t don on me that this could be more than just a case of intoxication or mistaken identity? Something was going on here and I intended to find out just what the heck it was. If it came down to it, I’ll interrogate Karen. A huge chunk of my life was missing. I needed to get it back.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement to my left and turned just in time to see Karen running off in the distance. I quickly followed her, passing the Clinic along the way until I arrived at a church. Karen rounded the corner and took refuge behind the building. I slowed down, not wanting to let her know I had chased her.
When I reached the corner of the building, I stopped and pulled back when I heard another voice back there. This one was male. “Karen?! What’s wrong? Why were you running? Was someone chasing you?”
“Oh, Rick!” Karen cried. “I screwed up.”
“What do you mean?” Rick said, suddenly growing worried. “You’ve been drinking again. What happened?”
“It’s Jack!” Karen sobbed. “He’s back. When I saw him, I… I lost my head and acted like I knew him, but he had no clue who I was. This is all my fault. I ruined everything.”
Rick was silent for a moment. “Was Jeff there?”
“Yeah,” Karen sniffed. “He saw the whole thing.”
“Oh, okay. I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about then. Everything’s going to be okay,” Rick finally consoled her.
“How can you say that, Rick?” I heard an oomph! Like she shoved him back.
“Jeff probably played off the fact that you were drunk! When people drink, they do stupid stuff.”
Karen sniffed again. “Really?”
“Of course! Just… Just try and keep your distance from now on. And you should probably stop drinking. Or at least not be around Jack when you’re drunk. As long as that happens, everything will be fine. Things will work out in the end, you’ll see.”
Karen continued to sniff as she thought this over.
I sat down with my back against the church. I needed to figure out what to do. I needed to figure out what was going on. Something happened to me and it must’ve happened here. There was no doubt now that these people knew me and for some reason or another they were covering that up.
I had to get to the bottom of this. I had to find out what happened to me.
Back when I was twelve, I woke up in a hospital covered in bandages. I didn’t know who I was, where I came from, or what happened to me. I was completely empty. Strangers claiming to be my parents abandoned me to the hospital staff for two years.
During that time, I watched as the woman who claimed to be my mother walked out of my life and my so called father pretend I didn’t exist. His work became his life. Sure, I was told sob stories about how he was so busy trying to pay off my hospital fees that he didn’t have time to see me, but I knew better. No one worked twenty-four/seven. When he was done with work, he could’ve stayed with me in the hospital. But he didn’t and I knew the truth. He was never able to recover from the loss of his wife, and I was to blame.
While he was busy avoiding me, I had to learn how to move and talk and think again from strangers. Sure, they were a bunch of nurses. Yeah, they took oaths to care for me until I was healthy enough to leave. Still, it wasn’t their responsibility. It shouldn’t have been their responsibility. If I was older, I probably would’ve been in heaven. Who in their right mind wouldn’t have been in ecstasy, surrounded by beautiful women who bathed you, changed you, fed you, and did everything else to keep you going?
But I wasn’t an adult. I was a kid, a kid who had no idea of who he was or what happened to him. I was scared and confused and abandoned. I spent so many nights trying to figure out what I did to drive my parents away. I was devastated. My dad never talked about it, and even if he did I wouldn’t have understood what he said anyways. Other than the nurses and the occasional doctor here and there, no one came to visit me. I had no friends. I had no other family that I knew of. I was all alone.
Once I had progressed to the point where I could function normally, I basically became a stay at home child. When it came to school, I had to teach myself. I just barely passed High School with my limited understanding of what I was trying to teach myself. My sucky grades just barely allowed me to get a dead end job. There was no way my dad would let me work for him since he became CEO of his company. I was too much of an embarrassment to constantly keep me right under his nose.
Even if he did hire me on as a stock boy or in the mail room, I wouldn’t take it. If there’s one thing I learned from him, it was that I didn’t need him. However far I’d gotten, I’d gotten there by myself. I’d failed by myself. I succeeded by myself.
That was how my life went up until New Year’s Eve when I received a call out of the blue from Mayor Thomas telling me about a dead grandpa that I’d never heard of leaving everything in his will to me specifically. Thinking it a hoax, I called up the man I called dad to ask about it. He flew off the hinge (it was the only time I’d heard any emotion from him), commanding me to never go to Mineral Village. That was all the proof I needed to disobey him. I was seventeen and living on my own. I didn’t live under his roof, so I didn’t need to follow his rules.
Little did I know that “everything” according to my dead grandpa would mean less than nothing. The only thing worthwhile about this trip so far would be the fact that over the last seven years of my life, every crazy thing that’s happened to me so far has been the only things to truly make sense since my accident. The call out of the blue, the villagers weird reactions when they see me, Karen… all subtle hints of anarchy that explained more about my life than my “parents” ever did.
Now, it seemed like the only way to move forward may just come at the cost of a girl’s happiness. This was my dilemma. Continue to push for answers, taking Karen on an emotional roller coaster ride that will most likely end up in tragedy, or give up trying to understand who I am and just move on with my life? I didn’t know Karen, but I wasn’t the kind of guy to do that. The nurses raised me right.
When I returned to reality, Karen had stopped crying. “Do you remember when Pastor Carter came to this village?” she chuckled, reminiscing.
“Yes, we were celebrating that sparkling new building,” Rick mused.
“What memories… And it was built right in front of the forest as well. After mass, we would always go off exploring. Hey! I have an idea! Let’s go to the forest… we haven’t been there in so long! It’ll be just like old times,” Karen said, excitement returning to her voice.
“Yes, we used to explore there all the time. Back before –“
“Rick! I’m trying my hardest to not dwell on that. So let’s not bring up painful memories, please? Let’s just go and have fun now. I don’t want to live in the past.”
“Okay… let’s go!”
I strained myself trying to hear anything else, but they were gone. Finding no reason to stay, I decided to walk back to the Supermarket. Before I did though, I stumbled across a graveyard. Realizing that my grandpa was buried here, I started searching frantically for his tombstone.
In no time at all, I found it. It should’ve been obvious. It was the newest. ‘Here lies Grandpa Jack. Friend and Family to us all,’ read the headstone, ‘He will be missed.’
I sat back and continued to stare at those words. I felt the love these villagers had for someone I never knew. I just couldn’t believe I was actually jealous of a dead guy.
“Maybe…’ I thought to myself. ‘Maybe I should give up on figuring out what happened to me. I mean, it seems to have brought me nothing but misery. Karen got it right, even in her drunken state. I should just have fun now. I don’t want to live in the past.’
I guess all that I needed to do was figure out how to try and fill the emptiness he left behind.