Dandelion Crowns and Paper Butterflies

Ink

"Hey. Girl. Wake up."

A soft voice pulls her back into consciousness.

Immediately, it feels like ink is streaming into her mind, colouring everything black. Her head feels empty, and it takes her a couple of seconds before she realizes why.

Her memories are gone.

Who her parents are, where she lived, even her name is gone, fading in the blackness.

A shock goes through her body, and a mental arm quickly grasps something before it can disappear.

Flore.

That must be my name! Quick, grab something else.

The mental arm draws out once again, but it can't reach another memory before it turns black and disappears.

The boy's voice – yes, it is definitely a boy – sounds again, and this time, a strong hand grabs her shoulder. She knows that he is going to shake her, and she pulls away before he can do it.

Her eyes fly open, looking right into a boy's face.

Half of his face is hidden behind black hair. The visible half is covered in acne; the forces of puberty have surely taken their toll on him. A pair of dark eyes, nearly black, is looking at her, startled but curious.

Flore sits upright, wincing at the pain of her stiff muscles. She opens her mouth to say something, but the boy speaks earlier.

"What... What are you doing here?" he asks, making anger boil up inside her.

"Well, I was wondering that, too," she snaps at him. "How am I supposed to know what I'm doing here when I can't even remember my last name?"

The boy curses under his breath.

"Okay, I-I'm sorry," he says, sounding a little less rude. "I thought... I just thought..."

"What did you think?" Flore snaps impatiently. She knows that she isn't acting very nice, but who wouldn't be in a bad mood if she woke up without memories of who she was?

The boy facing her flinches.

"There was another girl," he says quietly. "Her memory wasn't wiped."

Flore feels something of jealousy. Why did that other girl get to keep her memories, but Flore didn't get to?

"But... what do you mean, 'another girl'?" she asks. It sounds so weird, like they've never seen a girl before.

The boy's voice becomes even smaller, as if he is scared.

"I mean that there are only boys here," he whispers. "There weren't any girls before about two weeks ago. And... you're the second one to ever get here."

Flore swallows difficultly.

A place with only boys? That sounds weird in so many ways.

"What is this place?" she asks, but her voice is only a hoarse whisper.

The boy suddenly seems to wake up from a trance. He stands up.

"I'll ask Alby to show you, tomorrow," he says. "It's a little hard when it's the middle of the night."

Flore wants to ask who Alby is, but she puts the question away when the boy holds out a hand to help her stand up. She grips hold of it, surprised at how he has changed in less than two seconds.

When she is on her feet, she sees that the boy is only a little longer than she is. They are both kinda short.

"I'm Winston, by the way," the boy says, and Flore involuntarily notices that they had been talking for at least five minutes without knowing each other's names.

"Flore," she introduces herself curtly.

One corner of Winston's mouth curls up a little, as if he likes her name or something, but the half-smile disappears quickly.

"Let's get you a place to sleep," he says, looking at her. "You must be freezing."

Flore looks down at her clothes. She is wearing only a simple, black tank top and denim shorts. Her feet are bare. It is only then that she realizes how cold it is.

"You're right," she says, nodding.

Winston's mouth curls into that half-smile again, and he starts to help her out of the metal elevator where she has woken up.

When she has climbed onto the grass, she catches glimpses of high walls, but it is hard to see in the darkness. Winston pulls himself out of the elevator, next to her. He stands up, brushing the grass off his clothes.

"Come on," he says, gesturing that she has to follow him.

They walk through an empty field, towards a small farm. Winston points at a ladder, which is standing against the wall beneath a window.

"You can sleep at the attic, for now," he says. "It's too late to get you a sleeping bag."

Flore nods.

"Okay," she says, stepping on the ladder. "Goodnight."

"Night," Winston responds before walking away.

Flore climbs towards the window. She notices that she isn't having much trouble keeping her balance; before she even realizes it, she has scrambled into the attic.

The room behind the window is small and cosy. It is just high enough for Flore to not hit her head on the ceiling. A mattress, a blanket and a pillow on top of it, is lying in the corner of the attic, facing the window.

Flore yawns, only then noticing how tired she is feeling.

She nestles herself on the mattress, the blanket warmly pulled over her. After a last glance through the window, she falls asleep.

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