Part 1: Chapter 8
“No, you’re not dating anyone, unless it’s a secret,” Isla stated over a plate full of fries. She had already devoured her hamburger. She put one of the fries into her mouth and munched.
I glanced around the room staring at each of the guys in turn, seeing if any of them triggered my memory. “I had to ask.”
“What made you think you had a lover?”
I flicked my eyes back to her. “There’s a lingering scent in my bathroom. When I smelled it, a memory triggered. However, I can’t remember who’s involved in it.”
She frowned while she chewed. “That’s not good.”
“Tell me about it. What if I don’t like them?” I frowned, trying not to bite my lip.
“Well Mallie, all the guys in either class are drop dead gorgeous; though why you’d even glance at the Shapers I wouldn’t know. Day class guys are skinny scamps. I guess all that running has thinned them out. But Night guys are muscular,” she added dreamily.
“They are all cute. And muscular,” I added, not really paying attention to the guys in the room.
“You don’t suppose it’s a girl, do you?”
Her question caught me off guard. The dating chapter hadn’t explained that avenue. I wondered why my former self would leave out that detail. I really hoped it wasn’t a girl. I didn’t like them like that. I felt sick just thinking about it.
Isla read my face easily for she giggled. “Don’t worry; I’m sure it’s not a girl. That’s frowned upon although it’s common, especially in younger circles. They sneak their relationships around with each other thinking that no one knows, but we do. Some guys do it too. You also should know it’s discouraged to date Day class students as well. That’s mostly in place to prepare us for when we become Guardians, because then it’s forbidden.”
“So basically stick to your own class,” I summarized.
“Yeah. Although, we occasionally have formals where both classes are involved, and you might see the two classes dancing or communicating with each other, but it never goes beyond that. In fact, no one has ever taken the opposite faction as a date to those formals. That’s definitely a taboo. Day class sticks to their skinny butts as our guys stay with the muscular strong women.”
I sighed and went back to the salad on my plate. “I just wanted to know who it was. It’s probably nothing. I was dreaming heavily last night. That’s mostly the root of my problems at the moment.”
“What were you dreaming about?”
“I don’t remember.” I paused in eating. “Isla, how big is your room?”
“Not big. I have a small room with two couches and a mini-fridge, a bedroom with a full size bed and a meager bathroom with a sunken tub and a closet. Why do you ask? Is your room big?”
Isla’s eyes widened. “Oh. I knew you came from well-known parents. Only people living on the 5th floor are from wealthy and prestigious families; usually tribe leaders, though that’s not always true. I wonder who you belong to.”
“Me too.” I sighed, not realizing until that moment that I couldn’t remember my family, if I had one.
“I’m sure you’ll remember before they visit on Family day. It’s toward the end of the semester, before the competition.”
“Me too,” I repeated. I wanted to know who I belonged to. Bits and pieces of my past revealed themselves slowly, but it wasn’t enough to remember who I was. I really wondered how I lived my life until yesterday. Waking up in class, feeling fine and not knowing where I was, much less who I was, bewildered me. It was hard to imagine anything other than how I felt now.
“Don’t worry, Mallie; you’ll remember who you are.” Isla’s voice pulled me from my thoughts.
I nodded, as my eyes strayed to the entrance of the Dining Hall. Several guys had entered while we conversed. They stood at the entrance, conversing amongst themselves. Everyone present in the hall slowly stopped their talking, and turned to stare at the men. Isla, sensing the change in the atmosphere, turned around in her seat to stare at the cause. “What are they doing here?” she murmured to herself.
I leaned across the table and tapped her shoulder.
Her head swiveled around.
“Who are they?” I asked, not taking my eyes from the men. I felt like I should know them, but I didn’t.
“They’re Shapers; already graduated.”
I stared at them. “How can you tell?” I didn’t see a crest on their attire marking them as such.
“They’ve been Marked.”
I couldn’t see what she was talking about, until one of the Shapers turned his body in my direction. I gasped in awe. Dark brown markings were tattooed down his arms, making it look like he was scratched by an animal with claws. But the lines that should be thin were thicker and more profound. His amber eyes burned, as he gazed around the room. He turned back around whispering to his comrades.
Chatter returned to normal, but everyone casted glances in their direction, as they became the central topic of conversation.
Isla sighed. “They must be lost. Shapers eat on the east side of the building.”
I continued to stare at the pack, eager to know why they were present. One of them looked familiar, but I couldn’t place where I’d seen him or where I remembered him from. The guy turned around again and stared straight at me.
Isla followed my gaze and studied the guy a while, before she turned back around. “Why’s he looking at you?” she asked.
“You remember him from somewhere?”
“No. Although, I feel like I should.”
She turned back to get a second look. “I don’t know him. How’s your memory today?”
“I still can’t remember anything.”
She frowned. “Is the book not helping?”
“I don’t know.” I remembered that Isla saw something different, than what I read. She wouldn’t understand if I answered yes to her question, but still didn’t remember anything about my life.
“Well, you need to remember soon. I can’t tell you how you Guard the Shrines you’re stationed at. By the way, when do you Guard again?”
“I…” I didn’t know what my schedule was. I pulled the journal out and flipped through it.
“I don’t think the memory book will help. It’ll probably take some time to retrieve the information buried in your head.”
“I pulled it out to see if it would help.” I flipped through the book looking for a schedule. I found it in the back of the book on the last page. “Is today Wednesday?”
“Yes. You had history yesterday.”
“Ah. I have magic after this. Then in the early morning I have study hours.”
Isla’s eyebrows went up. “Free time? Your schedule must be rough.”
“Rough?” I questioned her, half frightened of what the answer would be. I didn’t know if I could handle a rough schedule with memory loss.
“I only take about five classes and usually stand Guard twice a week, although I am an alternate. But I don’t have free time. If you have ‘study’ hours,” she made air quotations, “you usually Guard a lot. You’re given time to work on your studies because you’re always at one of the Shrines.”
I peeked at my schedule again. Yup, three whole days of Guarding, although I didn’t consider that a lot of time on the field the way Isla talked about her schedule. But on one of those days I had a class as well as Guard duty, so that’s probably why I had extra study hours. I closed the book and shoved it into my bag. Isla gathered her plate and bag as she stood up. I grabbed mine as well, following her.
We went to dispose of our trash, and place the plates onto a cart headed to the kitchens. We were heading out the door, past the Shapers, when one of them put their arms up to block my exit. A reflex of mine kicked in, and I instinctively grabbed the guy’s arm and forcefully flipped him around. I ducked when he swung at me.
Isla gasped, and used magic to put me in a shield that covered me head to toe. I saw the faint glimmer of the bubble that now encased me. The Shaper couldn’t touch me, as he tried to grab my arm. It bounced off the barrier and rebounded onto the guy next to him.
Everyone was staring at us.
The one who I thought looked familiar, smiled at me. “Well, Mallie. You obviously are up to the task of Guarding.” He came over to stand before me.
I turned in his direction, meeting his gaze. Up close he was handsome, but I still couldn’t recognize him.
He glanced at Isla. “You can drop it now.”
She questioned me with her eyes, but I didn’t take my eyes from the guy. I didn’t exactly trust him, but I knew he wasn’t there to fight. “He won’t harm me, Isla,” I stated. I don’t know how I knew that, but I did.
She dropped it, but stood by at the ready, in case she needed to cast it again. Meanwhile, the students present in the dining hall stared at us anxiously.
“Who are you?” I asked.
He narrowed his eyes at me. “You failed to show up yesterday for Guard duty. Care to explain your whereabouts?”
I wanted it explained to me where I was. I didn’t know. I couldn’t remember. “What?”
“Where were you? What was so important that you missed Guard duty?” he repeated.
I missed Guard duty? “I don’t know,” I stammered out.
“You missed Guarding, Mallie?” Isla was flabbergasted.
I whipped my head around to face her. “I don’t remember what happened yesterday, Isla.”
“I’ve heard that excuse before,” the Shaper stated. I turned my eyes back to him. “It takes a powerful memory charm to erase memories, and you don’t have talents like that.”
I rounded on him. Everyone kept saying that I didn’t have the ability or the capacity to be able to pull it off, but something had happened, because my memories were gone. “I don’t know what happened prior to 2:58 this morning. I woke up in history not remembering anything, least of all who I was. I don’t know who you are. I hardly know Isla and Trayen who are my supposed friends, not to mention I don’t know how I just reacted to…” I pointed at the Shaper who attacked me, “-his attacks. I only know it was a natural reflex that caused me to fight back. I’m sorry I can’t explain my whereabouts to you because even I don’t know where I was. I don’t remember! Why would I make this up? If you don’t believe a word I just said, go ask the Headmistress!” I yelled at them.
The room was quiet for a second or two.
“She gave her a book to help her memory return,” Isla mumbled, backing up my story.
The Shaper studied my face. “You really don’t remember me?” he asked. I thought for a brief second; he sounded hurt.
“No,” I repeated.
He nodded. “Well, you should know your enemies.”
His phrase threw me. I didn’t consider him an enemy, unless he was one. His tone didn’t imply that; it sounded instructive and friendly, not vindictive and malicious. “See you soon, Mallie.” The mob of Shapers disappeared out of the Dining Hall.
Isla watched them leave. “I wonder where you were yesterday.”
“Me too.” Those two words were becoming my most used vocabulary. I really wanted to know who I was, much less what I was doing prior to yesterday. Why had I missed my Guard duty? What was so important that I missed Guarding?