Chapter 15- Memories: Part 1
Everything shone brightly as soon as she touched the box. Her surroundings fell away, and she was left standing in amongst a colonial settlement. Knowing it was a memory, she knew she could not be seen or heard. Not that that was anything new for her.
She gazed around. The settlement looked similar to the one she had stumbled upon when she awoke as Jaz Flame but there one difference. Snow!
She watched as a young boy with messy brown hair ran past, followed closely by a girl of a similar age. She had dark blonde hair and was wearing a tawny dress that went past her knee.
“Come on, Jaz!” the boy yelled back to her as he ran up a large hill. Young Jaz caught up to him. Grabbing his hand, they tumbled down the hill together. They landed in snow at the bottom, laughing.
The memory changed.
Jaz, looking back over her shoulder, was being chased by the same brown-haired boy. As soon as he’d gotten close enough, he took hold of her around the waist and hoisted her up into the air. Jaz screamed playfully.
“Put me down!” she laughed. The boy echoed her laughter.
He smiled up at her, shaking his head, “No way. You’re light. I think I’ll keep you.” He ran around, carrying her.
The memory faded as another took its place.
Jaz was seated down by a roaring fire, watching as the same boy played around with a pair of antlers. He danced around as he held them to his head. She laughed, clapping at his humour. Several other younger children were around the fire as well, all amused by his performance. Jaz sat closer to the fire than any of the other children.
“Again!” they cheered to the boy once he’d finished. After taking a quick bow, the brown-haired entertainer smirked and started again.
“You’re funny, Jack” one of the other children laughed.
More memories flashed by, demonstrating the closeness shown by the boy known as Jack towards her mortal self.
The full moon shone brightly in the night sky. The two of them lay on the hill from before, beneath the stars. Their hands were clasped together, their fingers entwined. Jaz pointed up to the moon with her free hand.
“It’s so pretty” she commented. Jack nodded beside her.
“Mystical” he agreed.
“The moon’s so bright and powerful” she murmured. “Makes you feel small.”
“Sometimes I wish we could just stay here forever” Jack sighed.
They turned their heads to look at each other. Smiles spread across both their faces. It only lasted for a moment but something sparked between them.
The next memory included two other children: a boy several years younger than Jaz and about half her height. He was the splitting image of her, with unkempt dirty blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He held Jaz’s hand as they walked towards a house. Jack stood outside, a similarly aged girl standing behind him. Like him, she had rich brown hair and identical eyes. This memory must have been at least two years following the previous ones, as both Jaz and Jack were taller. While the same couldn’t really be said for him, Jaz was looking much more mature.
When Jack’s sister caught sight of her, she ran over to her. Her brother did the same when he saw Jack. Jaz knelt down to her level, hugging and picking her up.
“Look how much you’ve grown!” Jaz exclaimed. Jack’s sister giggled. Jaz looked over to Jack, who was piggybacking her brother. They strolled over to each other, walking side by side into the woods.
The next one was back to just Jaz and Jack. The two teenagers were hiding in the treetops of the same woods from the last memory. They watched as children and adults ran beneath in search for them.
“Where’d they go?” The children asked each other. The looked around but couldn’t find either of them.
“We know you’re here” one of the adults called out. “Give us back our bread you little thieves!” The two of them stayed silent, waiting for them to pass by. Once they were certain they were gone, they climbed down to the lower, sturdier branches.
“This sure is a lot of trouble for a small bit of bread” Jaz commented, dusting the leaves off her dress. Jack leant up against a tree limb, holding the bread they had taken in his hand. He snapped it in half.
“But it’s worth it” he assured her, handing her one half of it. She bit down into its soft and warm texture.
“Mm!” She nodded vigorously.
It was delicious, she couldn’t deny that. Jack was right. It was worth whatever trouble they’d get in with the rest of the settlement. Well, only if they could prove it was them who actually stole it. They were eating the evidence right now. Most of the settlers knew Jack as the roguish troublemaker and knew her as the troublemaker’s friend. She wasn’t exactly proud of the title she had earned herself. Jack on the other hand, couldn’t care less. Jaz knew it was wrong to steal, especially for her. She had been raised to act like a lady. She wasn’t supposed to climb trees, hang around with boys or steal food, but whenever she was with Jack it was as if she didn’t have a care in the world what she was and wasn’t meant to do. With him, she was free to be her normal self.
It was snowing in the next memory. Jack stood outside Jaz’s house, waiting for her. His sister, Faith, stood beside him. A cold chill blew past them; a sign of winter coming early. Glancing up at him, Faith asked, “Where’s Jaz and Ryan?” Jack looked down at his sister.
“I don’t know. They should have been out by now.” As if his words were a trigger, the door of their house opened. Ryan, Jaz’s little brother rushed out. He ran over to where the two Overland children were waiting.
“Where’s your sister?” Jack asked him. His eyes were bloodshot as though he’d been crying recently.
“She’s ill” he told them. Jack, instantly worried, ran into the house. Faith and Ryan followed him. They hurried in through several rooms and into the room he knew Jaz slept in. Her mother was looking onto her sleeping body. Jack stood beside her, Faith and Ryan taking their place next to him. All of them watched Jaz. Her skin was pale, her eyes closed. A woollen blanket covered her completely, except her head. Droplets of sweat scattered her forehead. Her breathing was very shallow.
Her mother struggled to hold back tears of seeing her daughter this sick. Jack supported Faith as she cried into the side of his arm. She had a close bond with his sister. Jack struggled to believe she was actually like this. What could have caused her to become so ill so quickly?
He had to force himself to leave. Being there wasn’t helping her heal and as much as he wanted to stay by her side, he knew it would only bring him and his sister grief. He took hold of her and led her outside.
“Is she going to be alright?” Faith asked him. When Jack looked into his sister’s eyes, so full of innocence and hope, he couldn’t bring himself to tell her otherwise.
“Of course she will” he replied, forcing a smile. “You’ll see; she’ll be back to usual self in no time.” Faith smiled when he heard that. She started skipping back to their house. Jack’s fake grin vanished the second her back was turned. Truthfully, he wasn’t sure if she would recover. Illness wasn’t an uncommon thing but it was deadly. Most who became too infected by whatever sickness they had didn’t survive. The thought of Jaz dying brought the taste of bile to his mouth. He was forced to shake the hideous thoughts away. He convinced himself that she would survive. She was a kind-hearted girl, one who would never intentionally hurt anything or anyone. She was young too. Why would her life be taken away from her so soon? He knew he parents loved her greatly and would do anything to ensure their daughter’s health.
He nodded briskly to himself. She would pull through. He’d just have to wait.
Many days passed but there was still no sign of Jaz’s recovery. Ryan had come to him everyday, bringing news of her improvement. He told him that she had woken up but now struggled to return to sleep. Jack had seen her a few times but each time was chased out by Jaz’s fretful mother. He thought about sneaking in again, though he knew he’d only get into more trouble. That’s not what he or Jaz’s parents needed right now.
He waited it out another week.
Snow was falling much faster and the atmosphere was growing colder. Winter was in a few weeks. Jack gazed up at the moon. He spun around when he heard something trudging through the snow behind him. He stood stunned when he saw who it was. He ran forward, hugging her close.
“Jaz!” he startled. “You’ve recovered!” Jaz took a step back from him, coughing severely and shaking her head. Jack saw she was wearing many layers of material, with a blanket wrapped around her upper body. She looked very weak; exhausted from coughing.
“Then what are you doing out here?” he asked. He removed his cloak, draping it around her shoulders to keep her warm.
“I had to talk to you” she rasped. Her voice was scratchy and quiet. Jack knew it must have been serious. He leant in, listening intently. Jaz looked away.
“Last night” she began. “I overheard my parents talking. They thought I was asleep but I wasn’t.” She paused, taking in a deep breath. “They think they know the reason I’m sick.” Jack’s curiosity increased.
“They do? What is it?” Jaz looked at him.
“They think I got sick because of the snow” Her sentence was cut short when she started coughing and wheezing. Jack held her steady, noticing her legs trembling.
“The snow? That’s ridiculous!” Jaz didn’t respond. Jack pulled back in consciousness.
“You think so too” he said, softer. Jaz struggled to find the words.
“I think it’s the exposure to the cold” she explained. Jack held her close to his body. She cried into his chest. “They said I wouldn’t make it to winter.”
“What are you going to do?” Jack asked, fighting back tears.
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I overheard my parent’s decision.” She stopped to catch her breath. She looked into Jack’s eyes, pain filling her own.
“We’ve leaving.” Jack’s mouth opened to speak but couldn’t think of anything to say.
“Leaving? You can’t leave!” He almost shouted at her. The pain was clear in his voice.
Jaz shook her head, crying. “The boats come in three days.”
Jack froze. “Boats? Where are you going?”
“A new land” Jaz whispered. “My parents muttered the name of it. I didn’t hear.”
Jack didn’t want to believe what he was hearing. He couldn’t handle the sudden overwhelming emotions. He pushed her away, turning his back on her. Jaz felt more hurt by his actions than by the sickness.
“I don’t want to leave” she tried to persuade him, her tears flowing freely.
“Go back home, Jaz” he muttered, not wanting her to see him like this. “You need to rest.” With a pang of regret, he listened as she trekked through the thick snow back to her house. He looked over his shoulder, making sure she was gone. He gazed down to see his cloak lying in the snow.
Jaz managed to sneak back into her house without waking the rest of her family. No one was awake thankfully, meaning no one knew she had been gone. She lay down to sleep, crying into her arm. She was loosing her home, her life, and now she had lost her best friend. Jack had always been there for her. What would she do without him? She couldn’t imagine her life without his company. Their new home, she had heard her mother say, was a place where it never snowed; even in winter. It reached high enough temperatures to ensure she would be safe from illness. If it was up to her, she would stay. She loved the snow, even if it did make her weak and vulnerable. She wanted to remain here with Jack, forever. Though she knew she had no choice. The boats were on their way and when they arrived, she would never see her home or Jack ever again. If she stayed she would be dead before winter. She wasn’t going to let her family and Jack grieve because of her own selfish desires.
“Wake up” Jaz stirred when she heard her Jack’s voice. She feebly opened her eyes, seeing him looking over her.
“What are you doing here?” she tried to ask, her words coming out even more grazed than before.
Jack hugged her, drawing her breath out. “I’m sorry” he whispered into her ear. Jaz was comforted by his presence. She rested her head on his shoulder.
“Jackson Overland!” The two of them broke apart when Jaz’s mother’s voice sounded. They looked at each other, then to her. She had her arms crossed with an angered look on her face. Her father stood beside her. He however, didn’t look irritated. His expression held the slightest hint of amusement. Ryan, who was next to them, smiled when he saw Jack but said nothing.
Jack moved away from Jaz, biting down on his lip.
“Out. Now.” Jack didn’t question the command given by her father. He was followed out by him, giving him a firm slap on the back of the head as they left. Jaz’s mother glared at her.
“You are supposed to be resting” she reminded her fiercely, walking out. Jaz felt sorry for Jack. The scolding he was about to endure would be harsh.
Jack stood before Jaz’s parents, keeping his head down.
“Jazmine cannot deal with this,” her mother lectured him. “Her life is on thin ice right now, and she does not need you and your temptations playing trickery on her mind.”
“I wasn’t trying to tempt or trick her” he argued. “I just wanted to say goodbye.” Jaz’s father looked at his wife.
“The boy does have a point. The two of them have been friends since they were little. He is in fact entitled to say goodbye to her before she leaves forever.” Knowing she was outnumbered two to one, she caved in.
“Very well. The boats will be arriving in an hour. You have until then to part with her.” With that, she and her husband left Jack. He couldn’t breathe. An hour to say farewell to his best friend! He didn’t waste his time dwelling on it. He hurried back to her, figuring out what to say in his mind.
Jack watched as Jaz and her family boarded the boat. There was so much more he wanted to say to her that he hadn’t had the chance to. His eyes watered as the boats started to move through the water. Jaz stood on the end of the ship, layered in clothing. She waved to him. She may have been far away but Jack could still tell she was crying.
Jack wiped a tear from her cheek as it fell. He hated seeing her cry. “I’ll never forget you,” he said to her while gazing into her bright blue eyes. “I promise.”
“We’ll meet again some day.”
Seeing her depart made that promise feel like nothing more than empty words.