Beach And Memories
While Edna and Tina were stuck in a traffic jam, a few acquaintances of the former were huddled in a corner of the recreation room. Late the previous night, Petra had snuck down to the kitchen to get some snacks. On her way, she nearly ran into Bladder and Hulgor holding a conversation. She only managed to avoid them by hiding behind a potted plant.
“They say Doctor Marcel is obsessed with finding Edna. All he is ever doing is to think of a plan to get her back here”, she told King Adrian, Drogglejug and the Beeman who was brought back to the asylum after he was found running around in a flower field while still wearing his bee costume. Even the sourpuss Peter, who sat near them, was listening attentively.
“But why her? What is it about her that has him so obsessed?“, the Beeman wondered, voicing what everyone else was probably thinking too.
Drogglejug shrugged and lifted his green pillow to scratch his head.
“Yes, she wasn’t the only one who escaped that day”, Petra said. “There were also Aluman, Hoti and Moti... Oh, and the Key Master.”
“Speaking of the Key Master, Babbitt thinks he might have seen him the other day”, Peter contributed to the conversation, speaking for the first time since the small group had gathered together. Everybody’s eyes were drawn on him.
“Speak, what do you know?“, King Adrian demanded to know in his loud and booming voice, causing Professor Nock to look over to them.
“Well, do you remember the other day when Babbitt had his day off to take part in a mini golf tournament?“, Peter asked, continuing after everybody else nodded: “Well, when he brought me here to the recreation the day after the tournament, he kept asking himself whether he saw the Key Master or not. Apparently, he was gone before he could get a good look at him.”
An uneasy stillness fell over them as they all looked at each other. Would that mean the employees of the asylum would go look for the Key Master and bring him back, if Babbitt told them about this at all? As far as they knew, the tournament was not far from this village. However, none of them actually wanted him back, even if he was in solitary confinement. There were times when each of them had a glance at him and it was never pleasant. They felt he was quite creepy with his large, bulgy eyes, his haunting stare, and his pale green complexion. No, they would prefer if the Key Master would end up somewhere else...
Petra coughed to get everyone’s attention:
“So... did Babbitt won the tournament?”
Edna and Tina were still stuck in the traffic jam, though it was slowly moving forward. The former had taken out a banana and she munched on it while watching some cattle in the distance. Tina, meanwhile, supported her head on her left arm and drummed with the fingers of her right hand on the steering wheel. Maybe they should have driven in the middle of the night...
“Sheesh, how come there are always traffic jams on highways?“, Tina grumbled to herself, glaring at the car in front of hers as if this was its fault. Edna simply shrugged, paying little to no attention to Tina’s bad mood. It was better than to get into a heated discussion with her. She stowed the banana peel away in a plastic bag and shifted a little in her seat to get more comfortable. Then, closing her eyes, she drifted off to sleep.
Edna was woken up by Tina a few hours later.
“Wake up, we’re there.”
Edna slowly opened her eyes, blinking a few times in the bright light. She rubbed her eyes and then yawned while stretching. After she had properly woken up, she unbuckled her seatbelt and got out of the car. Her stomach grumbled like a distant thunder.
“I suggest we eat lunch first”, Tina said with a smirk. Edna thought this was a good idea, so she agreed, and they both headed to a diner close to the beach. There was a line at the counter, fortunately it was not as long as the line of cars earlier. Still, it involved waiting for some time, so both used the time to look at the menu and to decide on what they want. By the time it was their turn, Tina ordered a hamburger and a salad, while Edna had decided on fish sticks and fries. Their beverages consisted of a Sprite and a Cola, respectively. The kind-looking, portly woman at the counter handed them their drinks and told them to wait for their orders for a moment.
“I go look for a table for us”, Tina told her Edna and left her alone. Edna watched her friend going outside with their beverages. Perhaps she was going to sit at one of the tables out there, Edna reckoned. The young woman looked around as she waited. This place looked familiar to her, though everything seemed to be much smaller. At the moment, she wished she had taken Harvey with, maybe he could tempomorph her into her past. It was frustrating; bits and pieces of her memory had returned ever since she stopped being exposed to a continuous erasure of her memory but there was still a lot she could not recall. She sighed and decided to look out of the window, watching people passing by. They looked all so happy and carefree, no worries about a continuous memory loss for ten years. At least, that was how Edna thought about them.
“Sweetie, your orders are ready”, the portly woman called her. Edna walked over and took the orders, whereby she noticed there was something familiar about this woman, too. However, she did not want to think too much about this – it would certainly come to her, sooner or later. She instead thanked her and went outside to join Tina. She spotted her sitting at a table beneath a parasol with a clear view to the sea.
“Ah thank you”, Tina said after she received her burger and salad. Edna, however, was staring at the glasses, for Tina had put drip mats on them.
“Oh, just a precaution to prevent flies and such from using our drinks as a swimming pool”, she replied to Edna’s quizzical look.
The large fiery ball known as the sun shone at its highest point by the time to young women decided to take a walk to digest their lunch. Tina had her camera with her and kept taking pictures. Sometimes, Edna would take a photo of her or Tina would ask a person if they could take photo of her and Edna. By the time they returned to the car to get their stuff, she had taken countless pictures of them, the landscape, seagulls and one of two seagulls fighting over a fish sandwich. She put her camera away in her pocket before taking a large bag and a beach umbrella out of the trunk. Edna took out her bag and closed the trunk and followed her friend to the beach. They spread out a giant beach towel approximately ten meters away from the water. While Tina was putting up the umbrella, Edna took her bikini and sandals out of her bag. She did not want to get changed out in the open where everyone could see her, so she looked around for some changing stalls. She found some to the north-west of where they were and hurried over there. She took off her clothes and sneakers and quickly put on her bikini and sandals. Afterwards, she returned to Tina, who then walked over to the changing stalls. Edna stored her clothes into her bag and put her sneakers next to it and then applied sunscreen on her body. It was kind of weird for her to run around like this in public; she felt much more exposed than she did when she broke out. The white gown at least covered up her front and only exposed her back and lilac panties. But now, she only barely covered up her female body parts... Oh well, she was going to live with this. She wanted to go to the beach, no point in backing down now. Furthermore, if other women can walk around like that in public bathing areas, then there was no reason why she could not either. She just had to get used to it.
“I’m back”, Tina announced, sitting next to Edna. She noticed the blond had her camera in her hands again. “Do you want me to apply sunscreen on your back?”
“Yes, please”, Edna replied and turned her back to Tina, moving her hair out of the way while her friend applied the sunscreen. She then did the same to Tina once she was done.
“By the way, why have you taken out your camera again? Have you seen something picturesque that I haven’t noticed?”
“Oh, I just took a photo of you while you weren’t looking”, Tina replied nonchalantly. Edna gaped at her, at a lost for words. Could she not at least have asked? Tina, however, did not seem to notice the other woman’s shock but instead showed Edna the picture she had taken of her. The dark haired woman peeked at the camera display. It showed her sitting in tailor-fashion and her head turned to her left arm where she was applying sunscreen on.
“What do you think?“, Tina asked while taking her camera back. She once again pushed a few buttons and then stored it in her bag.
“Lookin’ good”, Edna admitted. Even though she was not happy of having her picture taken without her permission, she nonetheless thought it would be immature to declare it as terrible. “But next time, ask for permission, okay?”
“Okay, I promise.”
It suddenly occurred to Edna that it was the first time she saw a picture of her adult self and not of herself as a child. It felt kind of unreal... Her eyes were not as bulgy as they were when she looked in the mirror at the time of her breakout. Still, she was not going to burden Tina with that rather useless bit of information. Instead she sped to the direction of the sea:
“Come on, last one in the water is a fire breathing, water-dwelling, giant carnivore from outer space!”
“Hey! Wait for me!“, Tina shouted after her, running after Edna. People had to jump out of the way as to not get run over by these two. A couple of elderly shook their heads at this display of childish behavior. Younger folk, however, looked behind them as if they had not comprehended who or what almost ran them over. Edna reached the water and jumped in with a big splash, Tina jumped in a moment later.
“Looks like you’re the fire breathing, water-dwelling, giant carnivore from outer space”, Edna grinned.
“Does my diet contain humanoid flesh? If so, then I’m gonna eat ya!“, Tina hissed the last part like a cat and jumped at Edna with outstretched arms while saying this. Edna swam away from her, silently thanking whatever deity she could think of that she had not forgotten how to swim. She looked behind her to see Tina giving chase with a fierce look on her face. Well, two can play the game and Edna had a plan how she would play. She took a deep breath and took a dive. It was hard to see anything below the surface, like she had suddenly become myopic. In hopes it was the right one, she swam in one direction, one arm stretched out. Like a blind person, she tried to feel for an obstacle or Tina’s leg. Her hand bumped into something and, a second later, she saw it was something that looked like a leg. She had no idea if this was her friend or a stranger, still she pulled whoever it was down and then swam away before resurfacing. She took her time to inhale oxygen before turning around to see who she just pulled under water. To her delight, she realized it was Tina who resurfaced with a startled expression on her face. Edna giggled, drawing Tina’s eyes on her.
“You!“, she growled and swam after Edna, who once again swam away. “I’m gonna get ya!”
Tina actually managed to catch up to Edna. Then again, she was getting exhausted from swimming as fast as she could. Eventually, she stopped and just floated on the spot, waiting for Tina to catch up to her.
“Ha! Gotcha!“, she triumphantly exclaimed as she grabbed Edna’s shoulder. The dark haired woman just smiled at her.
“Yeah, you got me. How about we take a break?“, Edna suggested, already swimming to the shore. Tina shrugged as if to say why not and followed her.
It was around afternoon when the Key Master awoke at last. Of course, he had no watch, so he was unaware of this; all he knew was that it was bright outside, judging from the light coming in from the cave entrance. It was now easier to see the inside of the cave, though it was not as bright in this cave as it was outside. He looked around to take in those things he could not see the previous night. Countless burned down candles were melted on the walls, three or four sheets of paper were taped on the wall, and inside the jars were dead fireflies. He spotted two crates, one to his left and the other one to his right, and he also noticed that one thing he could barely recognize when he first entered the cave was indeed a telescope. He stood up and looked through it and saw it was directed to a bridge not very far from here. On the horizon, he could see the mental institution. Well, if an escapee from this place were to hide in this cave, it sure would be a good idea to keep an eye on the asylum, he reckoned. The Key Master sat back down on the thing he spent the night on, which was revealed to be a big, green bean bag chair that looked like it came from the bulk garbage. Across from it, on the ground, he saw an old, blue sleeping bag and, next to it, a note. He picked it up, wondering if this could give him a clue who used this place as a hideout:
I’m being devoured alive by a giant tentacled creature!
*dum dum dum duuuuum*
Just kidding. I’m fine.
I was just watching the bridge down by the river through my telescope.
Doctor Marcel’s minions seem to be planning something.
I’ll check it out up close. If I don’t return, you have to get help!
But don’t worry, I’ll be careful.
Where are my kettledrum and my strobe flashlight? Damn...
Well... see you soon.
Well, so much for this. For all the Key Master knew, the person who wrote this was captured by Doctor Marcel’s minions and brought to the asylum or just had no need for this hideout anymore. All he could decipher from the note was that the writer was a little crazy and friends with a person called Lilli. But judging from the condition of the note, this happened a few years ago. So, who knew where this Lilli and the writer were now. No, this note gave him no idea who previously occupied the hideout, though he had an inkling....
Around late afternoon, Edna and Tina changed and packed their stuff and went back to the car. After their rest, they swam some more, ate ice cream and took a walk until they had decided to return home. It was a fun day for Edna; she had forgotten about her stress with school work and not thought about her father and Alfred. It felt good to not think about this, at least for a few hours. But now it was time to return to reality, as she sadly noted while getting into the car. She could not understand it at all. She was free as she noted in the morning, so why did she suddenly feel so empty inside? She kind of wished the day would never end, just so she would not have to think about all this.
“Edna? Hey, Edna!”
“Huh? What?“, Edna looked around in confusion, not having noticed Tina talking to her. The older woman looked at her in concern and repeated her question:
“I was asking if you have to work tonight.”
“Oh... uh, yes. Yes, I have to work.”
“If you want me to, I could drive you to work. How about it?“, Tina offered while starting the car.
“I would like you to”, Edna replied with a tiny smile. Then she shifted into a more comfortable position and slept all the way home.
Edna was seven years old again. Her hair was lighter and reached all the way down to her waist, and it was adorned with a lavender hair band. She wore a lilac shirt and a black skirt, with black and yellow stockings and black shoes. A gray sweater was tied around her waist. It was a warm sunny day in July. Birds were merrily singing in the trees, the sun shone high in the beautiful azure sky. It had rained the day before, so there was still mud here and there, though Edna did not mind. She liked playing in the mud, she liked the cool feeling on her skin on a hot Summer day and she liked it because it was dirty. She did not get along with other girls in this village; they all thought of her as crazy and were disgusted by her fondness of everything dirty. Oh well, Edna had at least Harvey and he liked her just the way she was, no ifs and buts.
“WOOOO-HOOOO!“, Edna cheered as she jumped into a puddle of mud. Mud splashed everywhere upon impact and she was covered from head to toe with it.
“MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD!!! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!“, Harvey exclaimed, making Edna laugh. She threw one clump into the air, watching it as it rejoined the puddle once again.
“EDNA! Oh Edna!“, an obnoxious voice called. Edna groaned.
“What does that toad want now?“, Harvey asked in annoyance, voicing exactly what Edna was thinking. She looked up to see a boy around her age walking towards her. He had a face that reminded her of a frog or a toad and his hair was brown. His clothes consisted of a light blue polo shirt and a dark blue pair of shorts, and black and white sneakers. The boy carried a ball in his arm. His name was Alfred Marcel and he was probably the only person she ever played with, aside from Harvey. Then again, her father made her play with him.
“Look, Edna! Look! Edna! I got a new ball!“, the boy exclaimed, almost shoving his new toy into Edna’s face. She backed away a little and looked at the ball before her eyes wandered to Alfred.
“That’s nice”, she said through gritted teeth.
“Play with me”, this was more of a demand than a request. Edna glared at the boy, knowing he would keep annoying her if she refused. It was not like she hated playing with him; it was just that his idea of fun was rather boring. After all, what kid thought an ant farm or playing hit the pot was fun? At least he helped her out if she did not understand something in school, so he was not that bad.
“Alright”, Edna sighed and got out of the mud puddle. She took Harvey with her and leaned her stuffed rabbit against the exterior wall.
“Alright, we can begin”, she told Alfred once she was in position.
“Okay”, he responded and threw the ball at her. Edna caught it and threw it back, though Alfred failed to catch it. It went on like this for at least half an hour until the ball, which Alfred once again did not catch, rolled out to the sidewalk, where a couple of boys just walked past. Alfred ran after his ball, which was picked up by those boys.
“Well, look who it is”, the boy holding the ball jeered while his friend grinned stupidly. “The Marcel wuss!”
“Give me back my ball”, Alfred demanded, or rather whined.
“Give me back my ball”, the boy without the toy mocked. Alfred tried to grab his ball but the bully jumped out of the way and threw it to his friend. He threw it back to the other when Alfred ran to him, laughing at him.
“Hey! Leave him alone!”
Edna had appeared to see what was Alfred taking so long and saw him being bullied by two bullies.
“Ooooh, a little girl! How scary!“, one of them said in mock scare.
“What can a little girl like you do?“, the other sneered, holding the ball high above his head. Edna’s response was a swift kick in his groin, making him double over in pain and drop the ball. Alfred grabbed it and ran back to her yard. The bully’s friend tried to attack her but she was quicker and ended up blackening his eye. The first one hit her on the back of her head with his fist, causing her to fall forward. She recovered quickly and retaliated, knocking a tooth out. She kept hitting the two boys, receiving a few blows in return until...
“Edna! What in the name of heaven are you doing?”
It was Mattis, who had returned from his errands in the village. He looked aghast at his daughter, who held a boy by his collar and was just about to hit him on the nose.
“Let the boy go, young lady!“, he said sternly. “And go to your room.”
Edna sighed and did what she was told while the two boys tried to get away from this place as fast as they could.
Once they were gone, Alfred, who held Harvey and his ball in his arms, approached Mattis.
“Mister Konrad?“, he said, startling the older man.
“Oh it’s you, Alfred. I’m sorry but I have no time. I need to punish Edna for her undisciplined behavior”, he told the boy while entering his house.
“But Mister Konrad, it’s not like you think it was”, Alfred, who had followed him, argued. Mattis stared at him curiously:
“So? What happened then?”
“These two were bullying me, Edna was just standing up to me.”
“Hm, well that changes the situation...“, Mattis mumbled, more to himself. Then he addressed Alfred directly: “Thank you for telling me this, but you should better go home. Your father is going to be worried.”
“Okay, but could you please give her her rabbit back?“, Alfred handed Harvey over. “And tell her thanks?”
“Will do, Alfred. See you.”
“See you, Mister Konrad”, said Alfred and left.
And adult Edna awoke from her nap, just a few minutes before she and Tina reached their apartment.
Edna was puzzled about her dream. It seemed so real, like it actually happened in her childhood. But then, how come she saw two scenarios she could not have seen in the first place? She was not present until late when those bullies picked on Alfred and there was no trace of her either during his conversation with her father. Was this dream a memory or just that – a dream? Edna just did not know what to think. For now, she had to push it to the back of her mind, she had to get ready for work.
She and Tina reached their apartment and Edna went straight to her room, where she was greeted by Harvey:
“Hey Edna, how was your day at the beach?”
“It was fun!“, Edna replied in joy before her face became serious. “But there’s something I have to talk to you about, after work.”
She said the last part as if she only just remembered it. She did not wait for Harvey to reply, instead she looked for her work clothes and went to the bathroom for a quick shower and to change her clothes. A few minutes later, Tina, who had packed her a sandwich and something to drink, drove her to work.
“Your bikini and towel are still in your bag, right?“, the slightly chubby girl asked, to which Edna nodded in confirmation. “Alright, I will take them out and hang them up for drying, okay?”
“Okay... see you later, Tina.”
“Yeah, see you later.”
And so, Tina drove home while Edna entered the little restaurant.
There was only one other person in the employees only area – Anika, a black girl with black curly hair, though it was tied together in a ponytail. Her mother was African and her father was German, but she came more after her mother, who worked as a doctor in the local hospital and taught her daughter a lot about medicine. Anika was going to start her medical studies in August or September, Edna was not really sure when. Until then, she worked as a waitress to have something to do and to earn some money. Anika smiled and waved at Edna once her brown eyes spotted her.
“Hi Edna, how was your day?”
“It was fun, me and Tina were at the beach. What about you?”
“Oh it was nice, hung out with some friends”, Anika told her while they both walked to the main area of the Mare de Sol. There was no time for small talk anymore, for they had to start working right away. Edna went to wait on an elderly couple while Anika headed for a group of middle-aged women.
“Oh I have the spaghetti Carbonara and water, Miss”, said the gray-haired, bearded man the moment Edna gave him and his wife the menu.
“And I’ll have Zigeunerschnitzel, with potatoes and a salad, please. Oh, and apple juice”, his wife, a short-haired, bespectacled woman, ordered. Edna made a note of all this:
“I’ll be right back with your beverages.”
She went to the kitchen to give the cooks the elderly couple’s order before getting the ordered drinks from the bar. A colleague, who was doing the same thing, unsmilingly nodded at her in acknowledgement and then went to serve his guests orange juice and Fanta. Edna was aware that she was not well-liked but she did not mind; she never had many friends. Besides, she preferred the company of people who liked the way she was, and not who would like her if she would change. Tina and Anika were good friends, in her opinion; they readily accepted her, even if she was a little loony. Edna smiled to herself as she thought about what Tina told her mere days after she moved into the older girl’s apartment.
“So what if you’re a little crazy? There’s nothing wrong with it, and I like crazy. Life’s more fun when you’re a little loony”, she had said back then.
With her mood now uplifted, she filled two glasses and served the elderly couple their drinks.
A few hours passed and soon, Edna was back home. The first thing she did was to change into her pajamas and to see Harvey. She had told him she had something to talk about but before she could address this, Tina knocked on her door:
“Hey, I’m going to watch a Star Trek TNG episode or two. Do you and Harvey want to join me?”
“Hm what do you think, Harv?“, Edna asked her blue friend.
“Sure, why not?“, he responded. The former patient of a mental institution turned to her friend to reply:
“Yes, we’ll watch Star Trek with you.”
Tina smirked and disappeared, likely to prepare everything. Edna took Harvey in her arms and followed her friend, who was setting up snacks. The DVD was already in the player and the episode Darmok was selected. Edna sat down on the couch, setting Harvey next to her, and grabbed for the remote.
“Is this the episode you want to watch?“, she questioned, her thumb on the “OK” button just in case.
“Yup”, Tina confirmed, carrying two glasses and a bottle of soda. She placed the former on the table and the latter under it. Then she sat next to Harvey, pointed at the screen and said: “Engage!”
Edna pressed on the “OK” button and the episode started. It was an interesting episode, about a species that only communicated by using metaphors, which the crew of the Enterprise could not understand. Likewise, this particular species was unable to understand the Enterprise crew’s straightforward usage of words. Both Captain Picard and the captain of the other ship were transported to the nearby planet and, after much difficulty, were able to understand each other.
“You know, the name of that character from that epic Picard recounted – Gilgamesh, I think it was – sounded familiar”, Edna mentioned after the episode was over and Tina was changing the DVDs.
“There’s a character named Gilgamesh in some of my games”, Tina explained while sitting back down. “But you have to admit, it’s kinda cool to communicate with only metaphors. It’s almost like a secret language not everyone would get, if you just know what expressions to use. Like Crusher’s example with Juliet on the balcony. Or how about ‘Rapunzel in her tower’? Um, for either ‘living in isolation’ or ‘little to no contact with other people for most of one’s life’“, she added at Edna’s perplexed look.
“Um, I guess you’re right”, Edna agreed, speaking slowly. “But aren’t you starting the next episode?”
Tina answered by selecting the episode Ménage à Troi and started it, once again saying “Engage!”
After this particularly funny episode, both women retired back to their respective rooms. Edna sat on her bed, leaning against the pillow, with Harvey on her lap.
“You wanted to tell me something”, the blue lagomorph pointed out. “What was it?”
“Well, I think I dreamed about something from my past but I don’t know if this really happened...“, Edna started, gazing out of the window to the night sky before her eyes found their way back to Harvey. “I was playing ball with Alfred and it rolled to the sidewalk. He went to retrieve it and was picked on by bullies... And then I joined in and defended Alfred...”
“Edna, you really defended him when other kids picked on him”, Harvey told her. “You didn’t like it when somebody other than you teased him. I think it was an actual memory.”
“But if this was real, then why did I see two instances I couldn’t possibly know of because I wasn’t there?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I saw the beginning of when those two boys started bullying Alfred and I saw him talking to Mattis after he sent me up to my room.”
“Hm... maybe this is the way your brain imagined how it happened? Or it really happened and some greater power enabled for you to see it?”
Edna stared at Harvey:
“Since when do you believe in a greater power?”
Her lagomorph friend just shrugged:
“Guess you’re right, buddy...”
Edna spent the following days going to school, coming home and doing her homework, including her presentation on Goethe. Of course, she managed to use her free time for more enjoyable things, like enjoying the nice warm weather with Harvey or doing some creative things. One evening, she came home with a picture of the park; it showed trees, a flower bed and a pond but also a werewolf, a demon and a dragon. Also, she depicted night time in her picture, despite it being day time when she drew it. She had yet to color it but had not found the time to. Maybe on the weekend or the summer holidays, which were to start in a few weeks. Most of her tests and examination papers were already written, with just a handful remaining. She was glad it was almost over, no school stress and no Heike for six weeks.
Friday came and admittedly, not much happened that day. One lesson was cancelled because the teacher had family matters to attend to and the others who taught the same subject were either sick, or had classes, or were on a class trip with another class. Edna was alone during the free period and looked over her notes; almost everyone else was gone, except Sebastian, who was playing games on his phone. He did not bother or distract her in any way and she was able to block out the sounds of his phone. One by one, her other classmates came back for the next lesson towards the end of the free period. The noise became too much for Edna to concentrate, so she put her notes away. She did not like the next lesson, which was Mathematics. Her teacher, Mister Drill, always spoke in a slow and monotone voice, it was hard to stay awake and pay attention. Mister Drill was a man in his fifties, tall, neither too fat nor too skinny with graying brown hair. His brown eyes were enlarged by his horn-rimmed glasses. But at least Mister Drill did not lock her in the closet when she disturbed the lesson, unlike Mister Hornbush. He was the reason why Edna added a barrier to her wardrobe to prevent it from closing properly. Still, she hated Mathematics and spent the majority of the lesson doodling.
Mister Drill’s lesson ended with no incidents, as did the following two. Then German class was about to start; Edna went over her notes one last time during break while consuming a sandwich and an apple. She was confident she prepared her presentation well but could not help but to feel nervous. Any minute now, the bell would ring and then it was just a matter of time until she had to hold her presentation. Anxiously, she waited for the lesson to start; she just wanted it behind her. It was agony to wait...
The bell rang at last and their teacher, Missus Rosefield, arrived a minute later. Missus Rosefield was an elderly teacher, usually wearing a pink cardigan and a dress with a horrible flower pattern. Her gray hair was usually in a bun and she wore rectangular spectacles. She spent five minutes for attendance check before she called Edna to the front of her class. Edna took a deep breath to calm her nerves and went, with her notes in her hands, to the front of the class. She cleared her throat and spoke in a loud, clear voice:
“Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.”
She paused for everyone to let it sink in. Most eyes were on her, even those who would never look at her twice, though she noticed Heike and her best friend, Gabrielle, were too busy with their phones to pay attention, although the latter glanced at her every so often. A few others were also not paying attention, but that was their own fault if they thought they did not need this.
“Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born on August twenty-eighth, 1749 in Frankfurt am Main. His father was a jurist and he was the one who educated him for the most part. Goethe traveled to Leipzig in October 1765 to study Law. There he met and fell in love with Anna Katharina Schönkopf...”
Babbitt grumbled to himself as he walked through the asylum in search for a patient. It was lunch time and almost every patient was down in the cafeteria, except one. Professor Nock was missing, though Babbitt suspected at first he was in the television room to work on his dinosaur project – something about cloning dinosaurs by using their DNA. One time he thought he had a mosquito embedded in amber, which was found by René, but it had turned out to be a fly in ear wax. René ended up puking in the plant pot when he figured out what he was holding. Babbitt groaned and went through his black hair with his hand. Where could that nutty professor be? He was not in the television room, nor in any of the other rooms Babbitt checked. Bladder was no help at all, for he had to use the toilet once again. Honestly, that guy should stop drinking all the water. It usually ended with him going to the lavatory and once he sat on the toilet, he would not be coming out so soon. How big was his bladder capacity anyway?
Babbitt was now back on the ground floor and wondered where to look next when he heard someone call:
It was Anes, a guy who had started working here two years ago. He had previously worked in an asylum but had to quit his job because his wife got a job as History and Physical Education teacher at the local school.
“Lookin’ for this guy?”
He pulled Professor Nock from behind him, a firm grip in the loony’s upper arm. Nock babbled something about looking for footprints of a Tyrannosaurus Rex but Babbitt paid him no mind.
“Yes, I did, thanks. Where was he anyway?”
“He was outside”, Anes replied curtly, pushing Professor Nock toward Babbitt, knocking both on the floor, with the former lying on top of the mini golf player. By the time the two were back on their feet, Anes was gone. Babbitt huffed; that guy could be a little nicer to his colleagues.
“Come on”, he said to the professor, taking him by his upper arm. “Time for lunch and next time, don’t wander off.”
“Miss Hinterwaldt, Miss Wilcke, put your phones away and pay attention!”
Heike and Gabrielle started at Missus Rosefield’s admonition. Everybody else’s eyes were on them; Edna looked displeased at the interruption caused by them. Grumbling, the two girls put their phones away and rested their heads on their arms, staring into Edna’s direction with obvious boredom in Heike’s case.
“Sorry, please continue, Edna”, Missus Rosefield instructed. Edna nodded, cleared her throat and continued:
“In May 1775, Goethe started his first traveling to Switzerland, shortly after he got engaged to Anna Elisabeth Schönemann. However, he broke off the relationship when he returned in July of the same year. Two months later, Goethe was invited to come to Weimar by Carl August, the Duke of Saxe-Weimar. After another two months, Goethe accepted the invitation and moved in a summerhouse on the Ilm, conveyed by the aforementioned Duke.”
Edna kept eye contact with her teacher and classmates, only looking down on her notes once or twice. She noticed Heike and Gabrielle at their cell phones out again, though she did not particularly care. It was their own fault if they did not learn anything and Edna felt some satisfaction to know these two would graduate with eventually worse grades than her... That was creepy. Since when did Edna care for her grades? Maybe Alfred had more influence on her than she thought. But then again, she had to get good grades for decent job. Perhaps this was the reason she behaved similar to Alfred when it was about schoolwork. Well, at least she was more laidback than he was.
Edna continued with her presentation, talking abut how Goethe met and befriended Charlotte von Stein and that he discovered the Incisive bone. She mentioned how Goethe was ennobled by Kaiser Joseph II; she spoke about his travels to Italy where he learned to appreciate the architecture and art of the Classical Antiquity and Renaissance. She spoke about his friendship with Friedrich Schiller and his relationship with Christiane Vulpius, including that he still fell for other women, even after marrying her. And most importantly, she spoke a little about Faust.
“Towards the end of his life, he did not write anymore but dictated his works. On March the twenty-second, 1832 Goethe died in Weimar at the age of eighty-two.”
She looked at her classmates and teacher, waiting for some kind of response, critique, questions, anything. Missus Rosefield wrote something down for what felt like years until she put her pen down and looked around the class:
“Well? Any questions? Or critiques? Heike? Gabrielle?”
Both started at their names being called and stared at their teacher with wide eyes. Apparently they thought they were caught playing with their phones again.
“Uh, what?“, Gabrielle asked stupidly.
“Well, have you got anything to say about Edna’s presentation?“, Missus Rosefield barked impatiently.
“Oh yes, I have some things to say”, Heike said loftily, playing with her hair. Edna looked at her, expecting only negative things coming out of her mouth. Heike stopped playing with her hair, leaned back and started talking:
“Edna didn’t talk intelligible, it sounded like a babbling monkey. There were no useful information, just things nobody needs to know. She was talking about the wrong person. Her posture is just horrible and she kept looking at her notes. Not to mention her hair and clothes!”
“I agree with Heike on everything”, Gabrielle piped up, very briefly glancing at her friend in fear.
“You two are only saying this because you don’t like Edna”, Sebastian stated. “You were too busy with your phones to pay attention; she did talk about the right person. She didn’t keep looking at her notes and her information was useful and she spoke in a loud and clear voice. Also, what does her hair and clothes have to do with anything?”
“Heike, Gabrielle, I want you two to stay back after class”, Missus Rosefield told them. “Okay, anybody else? Ah yes, Bianca?”
A pale girl with curly black hair and large brown eyes let her arm sink, cleared her throat and spoke rapidly:
“I think Edna did a good job. It was easy to understand and follow and she included essential details, like Goethe’s friendship to Schiller or his writing on Faust. But, um, did he really fall in love that often?”
“Yes, he did”, Edna confirmed. “He wasn’t exactly the most faithful man.”
“Okay then, I got nothing more to add”, Bianca stated. Once again, Missus Rosefield asked if anyone had anything more to add. There was only a collective murmur of almost everybody else agreeing with Bianca, except Heike and Gabrielle. Edna was, admittedly, surprised so many liked her presentation. She had expected those who were on Heike’s side to belittle her. Then again, Heike did glare at them all, as if demanding they would all say something different.
“Now then, Edna... you did a really good job. You obviously worked hard and did your research. Furthermore, you spoke loud and clear for everyone to hear and you knew what you were talking about. Therefore I will give you an A”, Missus Rosefield summarized. Edna could not stop that big grin that started to form on her face. She had the urge to dance all night – she blamed Tina for this because she watched My Fair Lady last night and now one of the songs from the movie was stuck in Edna’s head. But she did not succumb to her urge, she just walked back to her seat and sat down. Missus Rosefield went to the front of the class and instructed them to open their Faust books. Thus, they spent the rest of the lesson reading.
Ever since the Key Master found the cave that used to be a hideout for somebody, he had stayed there, only coming out at night. Usually he would go to town, hidden in shadows, and steal food and listen to the citizens in hopes of hearing something about Edna’s whereabouts. So far, no luck. Sometimes, he wondered if she was even still alive and even went to the cemetery one time, only to find no grave bearing her name. He was aware that did not have to mean anything, so he basically knew as much as he did before. Anyway, he had decided to stay in the cave for a while and to think of another plan. It was not easy, though, for insects kept pestering him and of course the lack of hygiene he had to suffer. Over the years, he had secretly broken into homes and taken a shower, sometimes he even shaved, though he never left any traces, except for the occasional dead body. Then again, there was a reason he was known as ‘Key Master’ in the asylum. He was able to recognize any key by looking at it as well as to duplicate any key after seeing it at least once and he could pick any lock with no force. Technically, he could have escaped by himself but he had nothing on him that could have helped him. Edna had told him, she escaped with the help of a toenail, though she did not explicitly say how. The Key Master still had to admit, it was an impressive, if disgusting, feat. When he thought about this, the girl sure was unlike anyone else in the asylum, and not just her intelligence. Maybe he was too harsh on her in that church all those years ago? The years alone and in hiding did make him think about all this. Even the numbers of people he had murdered had decreased. The satisfaction he used to feel was all but gone; he found himself being reluctant to kill if his life was not at stake. It was strange and, try as he might, he could not come up with an explanation why he felt this way...
The Key Master placed a hand on his grumbling stomach; he hated never having enough to eat. At times like these, he wished he would live a normal life with a job and a house of his own. But alas, it was not to be. He was known as a mad murderer and people like him were never given the chance to live a normal life. His only options were to be on a run for the rest of his life or be locked up again. Neither option was preferable, yet he was rather outside than locked in a padded cell.
The Key Master spotted a house in town that seemed to be empty of any humans. He crept up to the house, careful not to be seen. The owner was either home after all or incredibly stupid, for he left a window open. Nobody would see the Key Master if he climbed into the house through the window since it was out of view of the street and the only neighboring house looked run-down and abandoned. It seemed to be safe to break into the house, so he climbed through the window, ending up in a small, stuffed room. There was a desk and a computer in one corner, all the other walls were full of overflowing file cabinets. Several files and folders were scattered over the floor. The Key Master listened for any kind of sound, in case the owner as actually a home but it was as silent as a grave. Concluding no one was at home, he carefully stepped over the files and folders to the door and left the room. The first thing the Key Master noticed upon leaving the room was a staircase leading up to the upper floors and the fact that at least one person living here was bound in a wheelchair, since the interior was disabled-adapted. He walked forward to the foyer, where he noticed three more doors. One of them had to be the door to the kitchen, therefore he picked the closest one to him.
He knew at once this had to be a living room. The brown couch, the little cabinet and the television on it, various surfaces, which fragile figurines stood on, and the photo of a child in blue clothes told him what kind of room this was. He left the room and tried the next one. Luck was on his side this time, for he found the kitchen. He took some fruits and bottled water – there were so many, no one would notice one was missing. After packing them in a plastic bag, he left the kitchen and left the house the same way he came in. A folder or two were moved, though it was not by much and the Key Master doubted the owner of this house would notice in all this mess here.
School was over for the day and week and Edna had decided to start the weekend with a walk through the park, holding Harvey close to her. She had told him about her presentation, including Heike belittling her. Her blue, lagomorph friend had suggested to fill her pants with the Stinkydrink – while she was wearing them. Edna liked the idea but did not know how to make one and she was certainly not returning to the asylum just to ask the Barkeeper for one. It was not worth it and perhaps she would get a better idea to get back at Heike. Hopefully one that would not end with her death... Edna wanted no more blood on her hands...
She stopped near the pond and sat on the grass with Harvey on her lap. Ducks were swimming, waddling and quacking, like they were holding conversations. Edna would really like to know what they were quacking about. I bet it would about something thrilling, like a way to waddle down doors and destroy locks with acid poop, Edna thought with a grin.
“How about we build a stork trap?“, Harvey suggested.
“No, Harv. Storks are endangered”, Edna declined.
“Hey, I never said it’s gonna be easy!”
Edna good-naturedly shook her at head at the stuffed lagomorph. He always had the craziest ideas but he was always there for her, which was why she loved him. Without him, her memories would have never returned and she would have never escaped. Doctor Marcel had told her Harvey was the link to her past that night she found out what really happened when Alfred died. She shuddered when she what would have happened to her if she had allowed Doctor Marcel to change her personality. Nothing that defined her would be left, she would have lost her ‘Ednaness’. While she regretted having to push a person down the stairs again, she also knew she had no other choice if she wanted to keep her personality.
“Well, well, well, who do we have here?“, asked an annoying voice Edna had hoped not to hear over the weekend. She turned around to greet the newcomers dryly:
“Hello, Heike. Daniel. Gabrielle.”
“OH EM GEE!“, Gabrielle screeched like a banshee upon seeing Harvey. “You were right, Heike! She does still play with a stuffed rabbit! No wonder she has no boyfriend!”
“Did mommy buy you de wabbit?“, jeered Heike condescendingly, snatching Harvey away. Edna sprang up and chased after Heike, who ran to the edge of the pond.
“Oh, what are you gonna do? Call mommy? Or daddy?“, Daniel mocked.
“Careful if she calls her daddy!“, Gabrielle shrieked. “He’s a cold-blooded murderer!”
Rage coursed through Edna’s veins like hot lava. How did she dare to call her father a cold-blooded murderer? How could they dare to talk about her parents like this? How did Heike dare to take Harvey away from her? They had no right!
“Edna! She’s hurting me!”
“I bet your mommy was a slut and your daddy was doing drugs!“, Heike taunted. “This would be the onliest expl- exp- explana- reason you’re so weird and why you’re still single!”
That did it! Not was she only hurting her friend, she was insulting her deceased parents! Edna was so mad at her right now! No one had the right to talk about her parents that way! Breathing heavily, she marched towards Heike. Her smirk faltered at Edna’s glare. Edna took Harvey back with one hand, while she used the other to push her into the pond.
“Heike!“, Daniel yelled.
“Heike!“, Gabrielle shrieked, running to her friend. Edna, holding Harvey close, ran out of the park, towards the direction of her apartment until she suddenly stopped and mumbled to herself:
“Did I... do the right thing?”