The feel of sunlight on my eyelids slowly started to wake me from my slumber. But my eyelids refused to open, wanting me to stay cocooned in darkness for longer. I groaned softly to myself, my body not wanting to get up and start the day ahead of me. But something didn’t feel right to me and I didn’t understand why.
This feeling of dread and unease lay in the pit of my stomach. I almost didn’t wish to open my eyes as I felt that when I opened them, something would have changed for me. Something incredibly important and dear to me, even though I had no idea what that may be, had changed. But a part of me felt that what I was currently feeling was just a figment of my subconscious, nothing that I needed to be too concerned about really. Yet, the sense of unease continued to stay even though I kept telling myself nothing was wrong.
A sudden chill was sent down my spine causing me to shiver momentarily. I wrapped my arms around myself, trying to keep warm but I suddenly noticed something odd. I was laying down naked yet I distinctly remember wearing clothes in my last memories before I had fallen asleep. My last memories clearly show me out celebrating my upcoming twenty-fourth birthday with my friends. So, I don’t understand why I was currently laying down in a bed naked and not with my friends.
I was starting to worry now, especially about what I would see when I open my eyes. I knew I needed to take in my surroundings though, to make sure I was actually safe. I take a slow deep breath before forcing my eyes open at last. All I could see right now was a white ceiling but it was familiar to me. It was the ceiling belonging to my apartment and I instantly felt relieved. The bed I was laying in was mine and I clutched the sheets to my chest feeling so safe and snug. But the thought of my nakedness crept back into my mind and I quickly sat up.
I wasn’t one for sleeping naked and I didn’t bring random strangers back to my place that often either. My friends weren’t going to strip me either if they had brought me back home after going out last night. The thought of an accident on my clothes crosses my mind but I was usually a cautious person, especially when it came to food and drink. My head was beginning to ache now as these unknown problems and questions started swirling around in my mind.
It might be the aftereffects of a hangover coming since I remember drinking quite a lot in my memories. I remember drinking and dancing but the memory of passing out doesn’t come to mind. The last thing I clearly remember was dancing in a crowd of writhing bodies. I had always loved dancing so that last memory isn’t so surprising to me. But it still doesn’t explain to me how I got home or why I was naked. These unanswered questions were beginning to bug me but I’m sure it must have been one of my friends who brought me home.
I try to put all these issues to the back of my mind and begin to get out of bed. Pulling the sheets off my naked body left me exposed to the cold morning air. I shiver slightly before looking around for something to throw on my exposed body. I spot one of my old oversized t-shirts laying on the floor so I quickly snatch it up and throw it on. I was still cold but felt a bit warmer now that I was actually clothed. As I had moved over to pick up my t-shirt, I had a passing glimpse of myself in my full-length mirror that stood in the corner of my room. I dreaded to look in the mirror and see how bad I looked after the events of last night. But I knew I would have to do it at some point so I slowly moved until I stood directly in front of the mirror.
When I began to take in my appearance in the mirror, I was slightly shocked by what I saw. Well, shocked was an understatement, as I looked different from what I remember in my memories of last night. My usually dyed red medium-length hair was now naturally light brown and longer than I usually liked. My skin was slightly sun-kissed which was strange since I live in a city which rarely sees sunshine. But the biggest change of all was what I saw on my neck and it frightened me. I pulled down the collar of my oversized tee to get a closer look at the mark.
I looked in the mirror to see a large bite-mark on the right side of my neck. It looked as if I had been bitten by a wild animal. I slowly placed a finger on it and felt a slight tingle when I touched it. The mark looked old yet new at the same time, like it would never fade no matter how old I get. But even so, this bite-mark had me worried, even more than I was before. How could I not remember being bitten on the neck. It would’ve been a frightening but definitely memorable moment yet nothing came to mind. I had no recollection of it and it was beginning to freak me out.
I was missing memories from last night and that was even more concerning now that I seem to have been bitten by an animal. I knew I needed to remain calm though so I can try to figure out what exactly to do next. I sit down on my bed to try and calm myself more but it wasn’t really helping much. My mind was coming up blank on how I got this bite and why my appearance looked different as well. My headache was getting worse and I sighed to myself, feeling like today was going to be a long day now.
The sudden sound of my alarm buzzing snaps me out of my vortex of unanswered questions momentarily. I turn to see my phone laying on the night stand next to my bed, blaring constant noise which wasn’t helping my current headache. I pick it up and turn off the alarm before looking to check the time. But I almost drop my phone when I see the date shown clearly on my phone screen. The date shown to me was the twenty-first of February which was the day of my birthday. But the year on my phone was not one I remember it being last time I can recall in my memories. I remember the year being twenty-twenty, not twenty-twenty-one. This was starting to scare me and I pinched myself to see if I was still dreaming. Unfortunately for me, I was wide awake and everything that I had seen so far this morning was real.
I didn’t wish to panic so I checked online to see the correct date and it was indeed the twenty-first of February twenty-twenty-one. This date would mean I was now twenty-five, not turning twenty-four like I remember in my memories. I was so confused now as everything around me seemed wrong and not in accordance with my last memories. It was like I had slept a whole year of my life away or something else had happened. Nothing was making sense to me and I needed to know if something had happened to me. So I knew what I needed to do next was get in contact with someone close to me. I needed to call my family or friends and see if they can settle my current doubts and burning questions.
I settle on calling my mum since she was reliable in situations in like this, even though I had no idea what this current situation really was. I place the phone to my ear and hear the dialling tone start to ring. My mum usually took her to time to answer the phone which was an annoying habit of hers. But, when she picked up on the first ring this time, I was quite surprised.
“Hey Mum, How are you and Dad?” I ask her but I’m met with complete silence. This started to worry me now so I slowly stand up and begin to pace in my room. Just as I’m about to speak again, the sound of glass shattering is all I can hear on my mum’s side of the phone. This worries me further now and my panic is starting to set in.
“Mum...What was that noise? Are you okay?...” I asked hurriedly but still get no reply. I was about to make my way over there and see if she was alright before I finally got a response.
“OH MY GOD....ZARA???!!.....IS THAT REALLY YOU??....” My mother shouts at me and I had to remove the phone from my ear, she was that loud. She sounded so desperate to me though, like she had been waiting for my call for a long time. Once she was no longer shouting at me, I began to speak to her again.
“Yeah, it’s me Mum. Who else would it be? Why were you shouting at me anyway?” I ask her but all of a sudden I can hear my mum let out a loud broken sob and I knew she was currently crying. I didn’t understand why she was crying though, considering I remember speaking to her not too long ago. But, I had a feeling after everything that I’ve seen this morning, it all leads to a bigger picture. A bigger picture which I’m definitely not going to like.
“ZARA....WHERE ARE YOU RIGHT NOW???.....ARE YOU SAFE????....ARE YOU ALONE???...” My mother asks me in-between her sobbing. I felt bad that I had made her cry so badly like this and I wanted to reassure her of my safety instantly. She was crying and speaking as if she hadn’t seen me in a long time. This had my mind creating different scenarios but none that could explain to me what had really happened to me. So instead, I focus back on my mother and try to soothe her current situation.
“Mum, I’m fine...safe and sound. Please stop crying, I didn’t mean to make you cry like this. I’m at my apartment right now and on my own. Where else would I be if not here?” I tell her straightforwardly but she suddenly gasps as if I had told her something absurd.
This whole morning was just mystery after mystery and now this whole conversation with my own mother wasn’t helping me at all. It was just creating more problems and questions in my mind. I sigh inwardly, not wanting to worry my mother further. Her side had suddenly gone quiet though which made me relieved that she had stopped crying. But I was still worried as to why she had gasped then gone so quiet all of a sudden.
“Zara.....I don’t know if something happened to you....but you’ve been missing for over a year.....please talk to me....” My mother slowly tells me and everything finally fell into place. The changed appearance, the bite-mark, the date, the lost memories and this strange conversation with my mother. I felt myself sink down till I was sat on my bed and I dropped my phone even though I could hear my mother’s worried voice still.
My mother’s words kept replaying in my mind like a broken record. I could understand some of the uncertain things I had seen and felt this morning now. But my biggest concern now was why I don’t remember anything from this past year and why I felt like I had lost something so important to me.