I wake up to a splitting headache. So when Kat invites me to join her and Heath for training, I turn her down. I don’t understand why, but my headache only seems to be getting worse, pounding in my head like a clanging grandfather clock on the outs.
Soon after she leaves I find myself cradling my head in the bed, begging for it to stop pounding so I can get things done. I’m starting to think Ceph was wrong, that the headaches aren’t from an overuse of magic, but from the letters themselves, like Kat and I had originally thought when I was trying to figure out why I had missing pages, to begin with. Now that I have the missing pages and some, the headaches have worsened, but I can’t not finish them. I need to know what really happened. I need to know what I don’t remember.
Would remembering everything about France make the pain go away?
After a half hour in bed, I manage to crawl out and take a quick shower before sitting myself at the desk and unlocking the drawer. I really don’t want Kat to worry. This is something I need to solve on my own. She’s busy enough training Heath and dealing with Markus and Mortecai. If I can fix my memory on my own, then everything will be fine and we can just forget it ever happened.
I sift through the letters, reading about Rose and how we met frequently. It’s strange, but the original notes I have don’t have any of these points. In fact, they didn’t mention Rose at all. It’s almost as if… I rewrote them, leaving out the details of her. It seems some things remain, such as an unnamed aristocrat teaching me how to woo a Lady, which in these original looking notes say Rose taught me this, and more. I blush at the mentions and wonder which version is real.
Then there are the strange diary entries which seem to be from Rose’s own hand, describing the things we did from her perspective. She claims in these entries to be interested in my magic ability and about her want to join me in the present. She says she loves me but is scared to confess her feelings, at first.
As I sit there reading, a strange sensation comes over me and suddenly, an image of a girl with raven black hair hanging in loose waves, a rose, pinned at the temple, just bloomed. She’s the picture of divine beauty and her smile is sweet and curious. I feel a twinge in my heart as her fleeting image comes to me then goes as quickly as it came.
I grip the edge of the desk, my breathing shaky. What was that? Who was… It was her. Rose I remember. I remembered for a moment. I bring a hand to my temple and feel wet on my cheeks.
What’s happening? I don’t understand! I stand up, walking to the window and cracking it open. Maybe I need air. I look out at the vast ocean that spreads out from the cliff below. My vision blurs and I suddenly feel nauseous. I step away from the window as an image of the mansion comes back; a garden is filled with roses and we’re sitting beneath a gazebo. Beside me sits a young woman; Rose.
I need to know more.
I dizzily return to the desk to read. I’ve only read from when I first arrived, in May, till about the end of July. There’s still three months of entries to get through. My heart pounds as I read. I find a strange feeling, a familiar feeling, of interest and fondness as I read about my interactions with Rose.
This person, it seems I really liked them. Why is this feeling so strong? How could I have forgotten them? It’s almost as if…
I freeze, thinking about it. It’s just like when Sam used that potion on me to forget Kaitlyn. Could she have also erased my memories of Rose? But why? How could she have known about Rose? Rose is from the seventeen hundreds, whereas Sam is from the present day. They couldn’t have met.
I gasp as I feel a sharp pang in my head, causing my eyes to sting. I sway in the chair, unsteadily as I drop my arms to the table to keep from falling out of the chair. I feel the sudden urge to lay down. I try to push myself upright but my hands slide on the papers, knocking some to the floor.
“Damn it!” I groan, stumbling onto my knees and grabbing the papers. I slam them on the desk and stumble to the bed. The world spins as I fall onto the sheets. I close my eyes, waiting for the dizziness to pass. I feel, confused. Like I’m in two places at once. I look around and nothing seems familiar, and when I look again, I know where I am. I am no longer in tune with my sense of time as my mind reels between the two.
I need to breathe. I need to stop thinking.
I drift off to the pounding of my head. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I let my mind go blank, trying not to think. Thinking just makes it worse. It makes it hurt more.
I hear the faint click of a doorknob and I cringe with the sound. There’s a tapping of shoes on the wood floor and the sound of something dragging across the wall as it stumbles. I squeeze my eyes in annoyance as I propping myself up on my elbows, cracking my eyes open.
“Rose? Is that-” I stop myself. Why am I saying that name? Rose doesn’t have red hair. The girl in the doorway has a hand on her boot, eyes staring at me with alarm.
“Kat? Is that you?” I call, remembering where I am again. I sway on the bed, suddenly remembering I haven’t put the papers away. I have to put them away. She can’t see them yet.
She pulls her boot off and drops it by the closet. “Yea… Sorry, did I wake you?” she leans heavily against the dresser as she lifts her other foot. Her gaze falls on the desk, curiously.
I jump up, half falling towards the desk. I swipe the pages and journal up into my arms and dump them haphazardly into the drawer, slamming it shut as I sink to my knees with dizziness. “No, not sleeping,” I lean my brow against the drawer and close my eyes to make the world stop swaying. I feel sick.
“What was that?” she asks slowly, nervously.
“N-nothing. Just paper… and stuff,” I groan. I can’t explain. I don’t want to. “What are you doing here?” I almost snap and I know I shouldn’t be angry. It’s her room more than mine. Why do I feel irritated? Rose shouldn’t have invited me to share her room. It isn’t proper. What if the general finds out? Wait… Rose… Why am I thinking of her again?
Kat hesitates. “Should I not be here? Do you… want me to go?”
“What? No! Please don’t go. I feel – I’m sick. I…” I stumble to form words to express how confused I feel. It all comes out as a jumbled mess of sounds. I tilt my head sideways to glance up at her. Her eyes, they look wide and hurt. Oh God, I’ve said something, haven’t I?
She slowly kneels, crawling a little closer. “What can I do?”
It seems like she slides into my face, growing larger very quickly. What’s wrong with my eyes? Is that a… black thing on her shoulder? It’s got a long skinny neck and strange looking eyes. “What’s on your shoulder?” I ask, leaning back so I’m not so close to it. I lose balance on my heels and fall onto my butt, shoulder clipping the corner of the desk.
“It’s a newborn dragon. It just hatched,” she lowers her voice to a whisper. “Do you want to lay down? I can help,” she offers her hands.
“How is laying down going to help?!” I snap, pushing away her hand. I immediately regret my tone. I don’t know what’s gotten into me.
She flinches back. “I’m sorry.”
“No! It’s… it’s not you. My head- it just hurts. I’m sorry,” I complain, leaning against the drawer, keeping it closed. I close my eyes, swallowing the headache. I need to focus. I need something to focus on, to keep me in this time. My mind, it hurts, jumping back and forth like this.
“Is it the memories? I can get Selene. Maybe she can fix it?” she suggests nervously.
“Memories?” I open my eyes, surprised. “Why would you say that? How could she fix this? She doesn’t know anything! She doesn’t understand… Where is Rose? Have you seen her? I really shouldn’t be in here without her, but, she asked me to come…” I ask, surprised at the sudden thought that passes through my mind.
Rose, she’s been sick. She called for me, leaving a note to meet her in the room but the door was unlocked. Why am I sitting around doing nothing? I have to go see if she’s ok.
I push against the desk, trying to stand. My legs feel shaky but I manage to get to my feet without falling. Kaitlyn rises with me, her eyes watching, unblinking.
“Andrei? What’s going on?” Kat asks. “You’re scaring me.”
“I’m scaring myself,” I mutter, eyes glancing to the crack in the door. I see a shade of shining blue down the hall. “Where’d you go this morning? Why’d you have to go?” I speak the words without thinking. I don’t know what’s coming out of my mouth.
“I went to training with Heath and Nik. It’s around noon now. I came back to check on you. You said you weren’t feeling well,” she explains with a shaky voice, trying to stay calm.
I feel a flare of jealousy bloom in my chest as she speaks. “Always training. Always with Heath and Nik. What, would you rather be with them than me? Am I that pathetic? I know I can’t handle a little burn but… Rose, I think she loves me. I…” my head pounds. I hear the clang again, the breaking of a spring.
“What are you talking about? Who is Rose?” Kaitlyn whispers. “I want to be with you, Andrei. You know I do.”
“I do, I don’t get it. Why am I thinking like this? At this rate, I won’t be able to make it to training. Could you let the General know? Please, let him know I’m not well. I’m sure he’ll understand. I never miss training,” I tell her, glancing back toward the bed. “I should… lay down.”
“O-okay. I’ll go… tell him,” Kaitlyn stutters, stumbling back to the door. She reaches blindly for the knob without taking her wide eyes off me.
“Where are you going?” I ask, concerned as I lean against the desk. “You just got here,” I frown. She stares at me, shaking, hand on the door. She looks utterly petrified.
“Don’t go. Don’t leave me,” I beg. “I can’t remember…” I feel heat in my eyes. I don’t want to think. “Make it stop, please.”
She gulps. “It’ll be okay. We’ll figure it out,” she tries to assure me but stays by the door.
“How?” I squeak. I feel the sobs come, I can’t contain my confusion anymore. Am I in France or am I here? I don’t know why I feel like this. I need help, but who?
Her lips tremble. “Help is coming. It’s okay,” she tries to smile, but it doesn’t hide the fear in her eyes.
I become annoyed. Why does she look like she’s afraid of me? I haven’t hurt her. I’d never hurt her! I take a step away from the desk, aiming to cross the distance between us. I accidentally invoke time and suddenly I’m in front of her, hand on the door, pushing it closed as I fall forward. “You’re lying. Help isn’t coming. You’re leaving me, aren’t you?” I ask.
“What?” she gasps. “Of course not. Why would you say that?”
“Your eyes. You’re scared of me. I can see it. Why?” I cringe.
I see her swallow hard, breathing shallow. “You’re talking gibberish, going back and forth. Anyone would be freaked out. You said you were scaring yourself,” she tries to keep her voice steady, tries to fool me.
“I did?” I ask. Suddenly, I slam my fist into the door, my frustration bubbling over. She lets out a short scream in surprise. “I’m not talking gibberish! Don’t lie to me, Rose. I mean…” my voice falters and I step back. A wave of shock hits me. “No, she’s not here. I-” I grip my head, stumbling back. My heel hits the chair and my step suddenly takes me somewhere else. I’m at the other end of the room, falling against the wall. I sink to the floor, shaken, terrified. I thought I had more control than this.
I peek at her through my fingers, standing by the door like a statue. A knock comes at the door, a deep sounding voice calls through it. “Kaitlyn? Is everything ok? Let me in,” I recognize it now. That’s Heath. “What’s he doing here?” She doesn’t move.
“Kat?” he calls again, pounding on the door.
I stand up shakily, taking a step toward the door, toward her. I glare at it as if I could see through it. I move quickly, appearing at the door and holding the knob tight in my hand. “We’re fine thanks. We don’t need any help. Bye!” I sneer through the wood.
I turn to watch Kat, her eyes on me like an owl. She flinches slightly when I look down at her. Why does she flinch like that? I don’t understand.
“Shh, it’s fine,” I whisper, reaching a hand to her cheek. “It’s going to be ok. They won’t hurt you. I won’t let the authorities take you, Rose. Trust me,” her eyes flicker from my hand back to my face, her breath quickening.
“Kat! Open up!” Heath shakes the knob, my hand still on it. My eyes flick to the door and back with annoyance.
“Why’s he calling you that?” I scowl.
“T-that’s my name,” she responds through chattering teeth.
“He’s never called you Kat before. It’s always Kaitlyn,” I look at her flatly.
Suddenly the door shakes. Heath must be trying to shoulder it. I push against the door with both hands, freezing as I do it. Why would I want to prevent him from getting in? He’s just our friend. Right? I frown, stepping away from the door as I feel another spell of dizziness.
I move just in time as he slams into the door and it swings open, throwing Kat forward, into me. I hold my arms out to catch her as she yelps, eyes wide.
“I’ve got you, it’s ok,” I say as I stumble another step back, hugging her to me. I breathe in the scent of campfire and I feel a sense of calm come over me, catching my feet before I fall.
Heath barrels into the room, face twisted with concern “What the hell, man?! What’s your deal? I heard a scream. What happened?” he demands, Blue’s dragon face hovers in the doorway behind him.
I spin Kat to the side with one arm and go to my belt, unclipping the keychain blade, allowing it to grow to full length. “Nothing’s wrong!” I shout, holding the blade up. “You stay away from Rose, you hear?!” I catch Kat glancing at him from the corner of my eyes, fear painted on her face. A look I never imagined she’d have except when Logan was around. Why does she look like that? I’m only protecting her.
“Who the hell is Rose? Kaitlyn, what’s wrong? Did he hurt you?” he turns to Kat, brows pulled down.
Her head shakes almost as much as her voice. “I don’t know. I don’t know what’s happening.”
Heath stands in front of me, arms out like he wants a fight. I hold my blade firmly, the sense of familiarity growing in me as I feel the shape of the hilt. Yes, my training. I can defend her. He won’t have her, not this time.
I step forward, jabbing the blade toward him. “Get out!” I shout at him.
“You’re insane if you think I’m leaving her here with you and that sword. You’re going to get someone killed!” he growls.
I feel annoyed at his persistence. “Rose isn’t coming with you. She didn’t do anything. If you intend to hurt her, I won’t hesitate to put an end to you,” I persist.
Heath’s head shakes, confused. “I don’t know what-” I don’t give him the chance to talk his way out. I zip up to him, faster than his eyes can follow. I hear Kaitlyn scream behind me as I swing my sword, pushing him back.
Heath skips backward, narrowly avoiding the blade, arms growing black. I advance, pushing him out the door. He backs up into the dragon, stumbling. I sneer, holding the sword point to his face. “You can’t have her. Rose is innocent!”
“Who the hell is Rose!?” he shouts back. He throws his glowing hands up, a heat emanates from them toward me as he grabs the point of my blade, pushing it back.
“I – I don’t… Kat?” I feel shaken. Why am I holding my sword? I turn, running back into the room. Heath follows closely at my heels, glowing hands at the ready in fists.
I stumble into Kat, sword arm to the side. “Kat. What’s going on?” I ask her shakily.
“I don’t know,” she whispers, her arms held open, unsure what to do with herself.
“Stay away from her!” Heath shouts.
I spin, raising the sword, swinging fast, using time. I hear a shocked cry from behind as I see the blade inch toward Heath’s neck before he even has time to blink. I can’t stop the motion when suddenly I hear a voice in my head.
Enough. The voice commands.
My body feels numb and my hand releases the hilt, sword clattering to the floor, the room sinking around me as I fall with it. I feel arms grab me from behind, pulling me back before I collapse in a heap on the floor. I can’t move. I can’t turn. Is that Kat? My head aches. Make it stop!
The ceiling comes into view as I feel myself and whoever’s holding me fall back onto the floor. I feel awkward, laying here like a sack, ever seeing.
“Calm yourself, quickly. I’ll need you to move him onto the bed,” a woman’s voice comes from somewhere nearby. It’s cold and sharp. A face eventually comes into view; Selene. She looks down at me, a disappointed look in her grey eyes. “You should have come to me sooner,” she scolds.
‘Come to you? Why? Do you know Rose too?’ I pause in my thoughts, my memories switching gears faster than I can process. ‘Like you’d believe me if I’d come to you. You wouldn’t understand anything. I don’t even understand. Where is Rose?’
I am literally in your head. How could I not believe you? Stubborn dumbass, she growls in my mind.
I cringe at the tone of her thought. It’s as sharp as the headache I feel now. ‘You can’t fix things that aren’t there! Rose is… gone. I can’t remember what happened. She wanted to come with me, to bring her to my time, but I can’t remember what I did! It’s all a mess. I huge muddy mess.’
Memories can’t be erased, only repressed. I can unlock them so you’ll be able to access them normally instead of whatever the hell you’re doing now. Just shut up and let me work, she scolds. Sounds almost like my mother, bossing me around.
‘No! I don’t want you digging through my mind! What if I don’t want to remember? What if it’s bad?’
You forfeited that right when you stabbed your girlfriend.
‘What?! No! I didn’t! I couldn’t! I’d never!’
The room shifts as someone lifts me and the ceiling above the bed comes into focus. I see the underside of Heath’s chin as he sets me down. “Is that good?” he asks.
“Yes. Once I get started I will need you to hold him down. I fear he won’t behave,” Selene sighs. “Kaitlyn, are you alright?”
I hear her groan and wince. “Um… M-maybe?”
‘No!!! I didn’t! I swear!’ My mind reels. ‘Please! Let me up! I need to see if she’s ok!’
Selene steps into my view. With a wave of her hand, my head lifts off the bed until I can see straight ahead. My eyes find Heath, bending down to heave Kaitlyn to her feet. She clutches her stomach where I see a faint line through her shirt and across both her arms. The grey fabric starts to turn red as I watch.
Something snaps in my mind at the sight of my blade having cut her. I hear another spring pop and the ticking grinds to a stop. It feels oddly silent until my mind screams out.
‘Don’t touch her! Stay back!’ Images flash in my mind, Authorities with swords, people running about, screaming. I see Heath supporting Kat and all the images bleed together. I feel every muscle in my body tense as I strain against Selene’s mental block. ‘Let me go!!!’
“Both of you get over here. Restrain him. I’ll work quickly,” Selene lets my head drop to the bed.
I blink back tears of both pain and anger as a blurry face comes into view above me. The bed shifts with her weight and I see her red hair fall from above, hanging in my view. Her eyes, they’re filled with something, a mix of emotions that I’ve caused and I hate myself for it. I feel firm hands on my leg and waist as Selene comes to my head, next to Kat.
“It’s gonna be okay. Just look at me, Andrei,” Kat places her hand on my chest with a soft smile.
My eyes flick back to her, fluttering from one amber orb to the next. For a fleeting moment, I wonder why they aren’t grey, or why her hair isn’t black. I hate the confusion! I feel my muscles strain again against Selene’s control.
I’m scared. I’m scared of what she might see. I’m scared of what I might remember. I’m scared of how much it might hurt more than it already does. I don’t know if I’m ready, but… but I want it to stop.
I feel hands on my head and my eyes flick to Selene, alarmed. A sense of dejavu comes over me, as if I’ve been here before, but I can’t recall when. It’s like something is in my head, hunting, moving about, it’s strange. I don’t like it. I squeeze my eyes shut in response, trying to push it out.
“Andrei, look at me. It’s okay. Don’t fight it. You’ll feel better soon,” Kat calls, gently shaking my chest.
My eyes snap open at the sound of her voice and I feel a strangled sound escape from my throat. She holds my gaze with her determined eyes. A feeling of dread comes over me as the thing in my head finds what it’s looking for. It feels like a thousand daggers in my mind, poking from every direction. My mind runs through a million images, a flood of memories like postcards in a box, falling back in chronological order.
My eyes roll back in my head as the pain increases, somehow, and I let go of the hold I have on my consciousness in an effort to escape. Everything goes black until… I blink and I see the sun.
By Kayla West