I watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks over Lake Superior and scoff at their incomparability to the Northern Lights. I’ve managed to keep seeing Ruby on a platonic level and the longer I’m around her the harder it is to stay platonic towards her. It’s like trying to ween a heroin addict off it by using aspirin, it’s just not enough of what I’m desperately craving. A few weeks into the New Year and the town of is a buzz with the excitement of the upcoming race.
I have my routine of seeing Ruby at the diner, and I even went to her place to do a few handy man jobs that she needed done. Yesterday I chopped more firewood for her and our friendship is sailing smoothly along right up until this point.
“I have a date tonight.” She announces to me nervously as she pours my coffee.
“What?” I ask trying to dull down the alarm in my voice.
“Well Doctor Connors said it would be a good idea for me to open myself up to human connection and possibly a romantic one.” She spits out the words like they taste badly in her mouth. I’m sure the doc was only trying to be helpful but right now I want to ring his neck. She looks at me warily awaiting any further reaction from me, so I try my best encouraging smile.
“I know what you’re thinking,” she tells me.
“Oh I doubt it.” I challenge with a laugh.
“What would a first date be like with a pregnant amnesiac? So what do you like doing? I don’t know. Favourite colour? No idea. Well what kind of movies do you like? How should I know?” She rants nervously and I smile at her.
“Horror movies,” I laugh. She looks at me stunned.
“How would you know what movies I like?” She questions me.
“I don’t,” I shrug innocently trying to cover, “but you have to start somewhere, maybe you can rule out each genre with a process of elimination. Start with horror movies and work your way down to cheesy romance.”
“What if I want to start with a cheesy romance?” She pouts.
“On a first date?” I ask, “the poor guy is out with a pregnant amnesiac, don’t make him suffer through a Matthew McConaughey film as well.” I tease and she throws a scrunched up napkin at my head and glares at me. I hold my hands up in surrender, “I’m sorry,” I apologise. “You know I’m only teasing, any guy would be lucky to go on a date with you.”
“Any guy?” She asks wryly as she walks away to continue her work. I let her walk away as I pull out my phone and leave then diner.
“You suggested she start dating!” I yell incredulously into the phone.
“Ah, Mason? Yes well that backfired, I naturally assumed she’d want to date you.” Doctor Connors explains himself.
“Well thank you for that.” I say sarcastically then I hang up on him. I go back into the diner to pay my cheque then I leave. I can barely contain the jealousy and rage over flowing from my body right now, even though I have no right to feel this way. She’s an amazing and attractive woman who draws men to her like moths to a flame. What if she gets hurt? Stop it Mason I scold myself she’s just going on a date.
I make my way back to the diner for dinner and find Ruby still working.
“What happened to your date?” I ask wondering if our earlier conversation was just my own worst nightmare coming to life.
“He’ll be here in a few minutes, I just have to get changed.” She says with a forced smile as she takes her apron off. They should really get her a new uniform, this one is stretched to the max across her belly now. Not that I mind, I can stare at that beautiful bump all day. Ruby disappears into the ladies room and I take a seat in an empty booth ready to order dinner, as much as I don’t like eating here when Ruby isn’t on I can’t very well leave now she’s seen me. I’ll duck out after she leaves, and I’m more than a little curios about this date of hers.
What kind of a guy picks up a woman for a date straight from work? I mean give the poor woman a chance to go home and get ready. I order a drink from one of the other waitresses and sit quietly awaiting Ruby’s reappearance. I am not disappointed as a goddess wearing Ruby’s face emerges from the bathroom. To think I thought she needed any more time than that to be able to take my breath away. I try to pretend not to look at the cerulean sweater hugs her the way I wish my body could, or the tight grip the jeans have on her ass and thighs that makes my hands itch with jealousy.
Her hair is whipped up into a carefree pony tail and her scarf hangs open exposing her long neck. Her face is fresh and she isn’t wearing any make-up other than lip gloss, which on her is perfection. Her big brown eyes draw me in and I have to use every bit of mental and physical strength to tear my eyes from hers. She smiles at my reaction to her and that smile of hers performs its familiar spell of turning my bones to liquid form. She looks up to see the door open at the sound of the bell and says,
“Hi Peter.” A man I’ve never really noticed before smiles appreciatively at her.
“You look great Sarah, are you ready to go?” He asks and she nods and smiles as she tries to reorganize the contents of her hand bag into another bag at the counter. She practically runs towards him once she’s done and they leave together and make their way to his Ford Taurus in the car park. As I look away from the glare of the headlights leaving the car park my attention finds the countertop where Ruby hurriedly reorganized her bag contents. She appears to have left some things.
I smoothly make my way to the counter on the pretence of seeing the pie case specials and I smoothly swipe the journal off the countertop as well as the mints and lip gloss. I slide back into my booth after grabbing a magazine from a nearby table. I open the magazine and place the journal in the middle of it. This is a complete invasion of privacy, if she comes back and catches me reading it she will never forgive me. I decide to take the chance, there are things I need to know that she doesn’t trust me enough yet to tell me.
I order a meal and make sure no one can see what I’m about to read. I’ll just skim through a bit of it then I’ll hand it back before she even knows it’s missing. I open to a page that look like a letter and I flick through a few more pages and realize there is one letter a week written since she arrived here, judging by the dates. It’s strange the letters have no addressee and they’re written in between notes from dreams and pages of observations. I decide to start with the letters and read as many as I can before she returns.
Where are you? Are you even looking for me? I’m waiting for you like a lost child. That’s what I feel like, a lost child. I can’t remember you or even me really but a part of me aches for you. My skin misses your touch, my lips miss your kiss.
I refuse to believe that you were the one who hurt me. How could I ever love a man who would try to kill me? But that Marshall lady is a bitch, she won’t tell me anything about you. It may be because she doesn’t know you but I don’t understand why she wouldn’t just tell me that they don’t know who you are.
That of course is just one of the many things I don’t understand right now, but not knowing where you are is probably the most disturbing to me. The memory of your touch is still so fresh under the surface of my skin, even while my memory locks your face away from me.
The doctors tell me that the trauma of being shot has caused some kind of amnesia so I can’t remember a lot of things. I can’t remember my own name but I have a theory about that; if I can’t remember you then there is no way I will ever remember my name. I feel like I never would’ve really been alive until I heard you say my name out loud. So not remembering you is pretty much the same thing as not remembering myself.
I’m not making any sense anymore, the pain medication they have me on in here is making me fuzzy.
Love always and forever
I look up from the journal and fight back the tears forming behind my eyes. These letters are to me. My heart breaks as I keep reading.
Today the doctors decided I was strong enough to hear everything about my current medical condition. Apparently I’m pregnant. You have a lot of explaining to do mister. Well if anything this news confirms that you are at least a man so I’m narrowing down the population of the earth gradually.
So here I am in a strange new town, with a new identity from the Marshalls and a baby on the way. I laughed at that Marshall lady when she gave me my new identity and went through her spiel about avoiding contacts from my old life for my safety and theirs. I told her she could’ve kept my name the same and I would’ve had no idea.
Doctor Connors has asked her not to disclose any information about my real identity in an effort to force me to remember it myself. He may be a great doctor but I don’t like that decision. I worry that I won’t recognise you when you find me and you’ll be so hurt you’ll walk away from me forever.
I’m so scared about being pregnant. How can I raise a baby alone, please don’t make me do that. Find us.
Love always and forever
I found you my love, you’re going to be okay I swear it on everything I am. I will not be separated from you again. How I wish I had more time to study this journal, she has notes about nightmares from when she was shot. Her notes are unclear as to whether she remembers the actual event or not. My food arrives and I close my book and thank the waitress and wait until she walks away to resume my reading.
I let the food sit aside so I don’t risk marking the journal in anyway. I try to memorize as many of her written fears as I can so I can start banishing them from her life.
I want to tell you everything you’ve missed so you won’t feel like our separation was that painful for me, but I can’t do that. I have to bury the grief of missing someone I don’t remember deep down so it won’t affect our baby. The people of this town are trying so hard to help me settle in and all I want to do is run and hide from the world in a hole somewhere.
But of course I can’t even leave the state without informing the damn Marshall’s service first. It’s been almost two and a half months since I arrived here, and my heartbeat has measured every despair filled second of it. I’m trying so hard not to lose faith that you’re looking for me, but it’s getting harder by the day.
I still have no memory and today someone said I was a dream come true ‘out’ for a man in a bad situation. Is that what happened? Were we in a bad place, did you accidently get me pregnant and ride off into freedom when you realized I couldn’t remember or blame you for it? I suppose if someone gave me clean break like that it would be hard to turn down.
I started working as a waitress because the doctor suggested I start making human connections again to help recover my memory. I’m scared to find I can actually fake these connections better than I can trust enough to form them. I wonder what I did before I came here, maybe I was an actress.
The people around me keep telling me to have faith that my memory will return, I’m starting to wonder if maybe my mind did me a favour. I hurt so much and I don’t even remember you, how much more will it hurt when I do?
Love always and forever
Goddamn that fucking Marshall not telling her anything. Fair enough they don’t know who the father of her baby is but they could’ve told her; where she came from and her real name at least. I choke back my tears reading her painful words as they scrape like rusted blades through my mind.
I’m sorry about my last letter, I was having an emotional roller coaster of a week. My morning sickness seems to have subsided now so I’m grateful for that small mercy. A big part of my better mood is the new love in my life. Her name is Kida and she never leaves my side, and she doesn’t keep looking at me expecting me to remember things that I don’t.
This dog just loves me and wants to take care of me and I thought I was saving her, in truth she’s saving me. The razor wire edged hole in my heart doesn’t seem to hurt as much since I found her and my faith is restored that the hole will disappear completely when I find you.
The peace of mind Kida has brought me has opened my mind to some of my memories. I now remember where I grew up in South Africa with my mother, and I remember she died. I know I have no other family apart from you and soon our baby. I still can’t remember how or why I returned to the States but I find myself a bit more hopeful about the return of my memories now.
I hope you find me before our baby arrives, I’m still terrified about becoming a mama. I realize that it will be hard for you to convince me of who you are but I have to believe that my heart will know yours when they meet again.
Love always and forever
So much for the idea her heart would recognise mine. I am finding her journal useful to explain different things she has been experiencing, well mostly useful. The list of food she’s been craving lately made my stomach churn just seeing the ingredients listed side by side let alone thinking of her consuming them all together. What I wouldn’t give for access to a photocopy machine right about now.
Now don’t get jealous but I think I made a new friend. An actual friend someone new to town who doesn’t know me or my story. I’m curious about his story though, his eyes seem to reflect my own sadness and I feel very empathetic towards him. The arrival of this nice stranger only makes me miss you more.
I want to hear your laugh again. The doctor tells me that the smallest trigger could open the flood gates to my memories and hope it’s a sound as sweet as your laugh. More than anything I want to feel your arms around me as I sleep. My house is so cold at night and I’m sure it feels colder because I don’t have your body to warm me. Sometimes I lay awake in my bed and I can almost remember your body exploring mine.
The memory is right there, I can feel it then like a rubber band snapping back it disappears. The doctor tells me I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to my memory. He says that when I am truly ready to remember deep down then I will. This is all well and good in theory but I am actually starting to think this is a punishment.
God looked down and I was too blissfully happy and in love and he got jealous so he took my memory as a punishment. Yes I said it, our love was so great it made God spiteful, because that’s the least crazy theory I have in my head to explain this whole situation.
Love always and forever
I should write her a list of all the crazy theories I had running through my mind to explain her continual disappearance then she’d feel better. I’m glad to find that even as a stranger I had a positive influence on her. I glance over at my cold dinner before I take a sip of water and read the next letter.
If this carries on much longer I’m going to have to make up a name for you. Less than two weeks until I find out the sex of our baby. I would be happy with either but I really hope it’s a boy. That way if we never find each other one day I may see your face in his and remember what you looked like once upon a time.
I would hate to have a daughter who I had to watch go through the pain and heartache of being parted from the one she loves. I envy our child one thing, if you never find us they will never know the pain of knowing they should remember you. The local church ladies have organized to have a drive to collect any used or unwanted baby things from the townspeople to give to me early in the New Year.
I am grateful for everyone’s kindness but I can’t help feel like a hypocrite accepting donations from the church, all the while cursing the God who keeps you from me. Doctor Connors has been even more persistent with my attempts to remember anything but more specifically you lately. He’s abandoned all other memories, where I was living, my job, the names of friends, all of it. Now my only homework assignment is trying to remember you.
He says I shouldn’t try to picture your face, but rather try to remember things I felt or smaller details like the curve of your mouth when you smiled. So I’m trying and hoping against all hope that soon I won’t have to try to remember your smile because I’ll see it.
Love always and forever
That was dated a month ago, she’s gone from trying to remember me to dating. How the doc got to that destination I have no idea but I’m going to have to get him a map. I look around the diner to make sure that no one is paying any attention to me and I’m satisfied that everyone who isn’t engaged in conversation is watching the small television in the caddy corner of the room to where I am.
I’m so sorry I don’t know how it happened. I think I’ve developed feelings for my friend, but I’m not sure. I can’t remember what that feels like so I can’t be certain. The past couple of days were such a strain and he was just an anchor through the storm. I decided not to find out the sex of the baby, because really at this point not knowing one more thing isn’t going to hurt me.
Also its information I have access to so I’ll find out when I desperately need to be told solid truthful information about something in my life. Also I completely wigged out at the Doctor who performed the ultrasound, I’m surprised he didn’t have me committed. Mason came with me to Leon’s Christmas party and he was just so sweet and supportive and such a good friend and…….oh my God.
This poor guy is just trying to be a nice supportive friend to a lonely pregnant woman with no memory and what do I do, go and get all hormonal on him. I’m sorry, ignore me obviously I’m having an emotional pregnant day. I’ll have to make a note to avoid him on these days, I don’t want to lose him as a friend by acting crazy around him.
Please come and find me and bring my sanity with you.
Love always and forever
I’m startled by the doorbell above the entrance and I look up in a panic. She has feelings for me, I should be annoyed that she could have feelings for someone else while begging for her long lost love to come and save her. I know technically I’m the same guy but she doesn’t know that. When she gets her memory back she can never know I read this, she’ll be mortified. The next letter is dated a week ago but it isn’t addressed to me.
Dear Little One,
I know you can feel your Mama’s broken heart barely beating in her chest but I promise to keep it beating always for you. I would give my own life to never have you feel the pain of a broken heart. I will love you through this world and the next and you will always know that.
I’m not even angry with you that I need to pee every five minutes or that I’m craving food one minute that I can’t stand the next. I finally got your picture today the doctor gave it to me, from my ultrasound that I ran out of. One day I will tell you the story of your Mama’s crazy flip out at the Doctor. As I looked at your picture I realized how much bigger and stronger you are since the last picture.
But the thing that stands out the most in the image is your heart. It draws all the focus of the picture even in the black and white print your heart seems to be glowing and beating. Beating a lot stronger than mine anyway. I’m sorry that I’m so sad all the time, but know that you’re the one thing in my life right now that I’m looking forward to. You who I know I have never met but am already in love with.
I hope with my whole heart that you’re daddy finds us, but I’m starting to realize that you and I together will be strong enough to face this world even if we don’t have him. I love you baby.
All my love always and forever, your Mama
I want to leave the diner right now and find her and scoop her up in my arms. Or I want to leave so I can read this in privacy and let my heart pour out over the pages as I read them, the same way hers did as she wrote them. The last letter is dated yesterday and it’s addressed to me.
I want you to know I don’t blame you. I needed to write it so you would know one day somehow even if I never get to tell you. I know I was loved and I can still feel the raw power of it. Soon enough I will be rocking a smaller combination of the both of us in my arms and I’m starting to realize that may be the only love left for me in this world.
I’m not saying I’m giving up, my heart will never give up waiting for you. I just need to start focussing on the life growing inside of me before my despair starts to choke it. Every bit of love and passion for life I have left needs to be channelled into our baby.
I will go through the motions of everyday life for the benefit of the Doctor but you know as well as I do it will only be for show. I want everything I have left to be reserved for the baby alone. I feel like I have a tank of love that is only half full and it has a leak in it. As crazy as it sounds that’s the best way I can explain it. Maybe we are only given so much love use in this lifetime and I already used most of mine loving you.
Know that I don’t regret anything and not just because I can’t remember but because I have to believe it was worth it to result in the phenomenal life growing inside of me. I may write again but I really want to try to make a go of this. But never stop looking for me.
Love always and forever
I let the single tear run freely down my face as I bury my head deeper into the magazine cover. The words of hopelessness from my love rip my heart from my chest. This is terrible and I need to discuss this with the doctor first thing tomorrow but for now I just drown in her sorrow as it fills me.