Chapter 5: Whirlwind
“I can’t do this anymore,” Nathan whispers from his position on the floor. I look over and see he is lying on his back, his hands straight out to the side and his legs spread out.
“You can’t do what anymore? I don’t think it’s hard to just lie down on a floor.” I felt a prickly twinge, a want to lash out at him with my hand. He’d been so… so despondent lately. And what did despondent even mean? All these words I somehow know but don’t even really understand… And there he is, lying on the floor with his perfect memory complaining.
“I can’t keep trying to pretend like she doesn’t exist!” You get angry every time I say anything, so I tried to stop talking about her and missing her, but I can’t keep pretending! Lizzie was here! SHE was our motivation, our Hope. Not you! No, all you do is survive by forgetting you are even a person. All you do…” He bursts into tears and scuttles into a corner, curling up into a ball.
My test tightens, and my fingers close tightly against each other. I grind my teeth together, “We never lived with anyone named Lizzie, ok! I tried to be nice to you when you first started talking about this fantasy person they dragged away, but now I’m done. This Lizzie, this person you created, she’s a figment of your imagination. She was never here. People who are locked up go crazy. You created a fake person to deal, ok, I understand that, but now get over it!” I realize I raised my voice, and I force myself to take a deep breath.
He’s making me unstable. All his wailing is making me struggle for self-control.
This Lizzie must have been to him what you are to me. Maybe she even talked to him. Sometimes I wish… No, if you talked and were more like his Lizzie you might leave me. But I know you. You have no plans to leave me, do you?
He is staring at me with wet streaks running down his face and his eyes glassy with squiggles of red running through the white in his eyes. “You… you cried over her! My little sister is real! It’s my job to protect her! Mine! And I failed. I didn’t imagine her!”
I look over at you for help, but all I can see is the accusation in your eyes. You are angry at me aren’t you? Are you angry because I denied his phantom? I guess…
I glance back and see he’s hidden behind his knees.
I crawl over to him and gently touch his leg. “I…” What to say? How to pretend? You are still glaring at me. “I’m sorry, I haven’t wanted to say anything…” What to say to make you happy? What do you want me to tell him? That I remember this Lizzie person? That my memories aren’t exactly clear?
He’s looking at me, waiting for me to say something. I can’t tell him that I remember his supposed little sister. “I… I can’t remember things that well. In fact,” I can’t share this. I can’t tell him. I have to now that I’ve started. You’re smiling at me. This is what you wanted.
“In fact, I can’t…” I can’t say it. “…remember anything from before you arrived in my cell.” There I said it. “After that, my memory is a little hazy.”
You nod, urging me to continue. “I, well, it might be my fault I can’t remember her.”
He’s staring at me, shock plainly written on his face. I shouldn’t have said anything. I should have worked harder to convince him that she was just a phantom of his imagination.
“You can’t remember… but how do you remember so much about the Xatron, that machine you keep talking about?” His eyes are puffy and the blue doesn’t look as brilliant as it normally looks.
The Xatron? The name sounds vaguely familiar, but in that sense that I should know what it means but don’t. “I don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t remember anything about this Xatron.
You nod. Now you want me to lie? To say I have never heard of this Xatron? But I know I have, it sounds so familiar. I can see you are glaring at me. Warning me not to say anything. You know my mind even before I speak it. I will pretend ignorance to this word.
He reaches out and clasps my hands with his cold rough hands, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize they injured your head. It must be why they have left you alive so long. With a head injury and amnesia, it all makes sense now. Why you refuse to be called Lily. You should get used to your own name. Lily-“
“What?” He sits back, surprised by the fierceness of my own response I guess, but I will not be called Lily. Whoever I am, I am not Lily.
“I am not Lily. I am Hope now. That is what you called me, that is who I shall become.”
He springs forward and touches his lips to my forehead and then leans back again staring at me with his red lined eyes. “Ok, Hope it is. Hope that one day you will remember everything. Lizzie gave you your new name, so I guess I should honor that.” His stare is making me feel strange and I can’t help but shift around and look at the smooth cold gray floor, unable to meet his eyes.
He lifts my face with his hand, but I keep trying to look everywhere else. I don’t know why I can’t meet his eyes, why it makes me so uncomfortable. I just can’t.
“Until you can remember,” he continues, “I will try not to remember”.
He releases me from his grip and walks to the door. He stands there, staring at it, before suddenly collapsing against it. “I will try to forget. To live only in this moment, this now, for you Lizzie” he whispers to the door.
I feel something tugging at my insides, but I ignore it and turn back to face the now empty corner. I must let go of time to survive. I cross my legs, and drift off into the nothing that lies between time.