"You take people, you put them on a journey, you give them peril, you find out who they really are."
― Joss Whedon
Friday, May 24th
The first thing I am aware of is the sound of birds and the sweet smell of apples. The second is that I am on the ground. I feel the warmth of the sun on my face and I blink my eyes open in a daze. I feel disoriented, and almost nauseous, as I squint and blink up at the glaring sun. My head is throbbing and I groan reaching my hand to probe the painful spot. My hand comes away sticky with bright red blood. For some reason this doesn't bother me, or at least the sight of the blood doesn't. I am vaguely aware that head wounds can often look more serious than they really are, however, the large goose egg on the back of my head might signify a concussion.
A face enters my vision and blocks the sun. I blink at them in confusion. It is a boy.
"Hey? Are you all right there? What's your name?" His voice has a distinct twang and I blink at him in confusion after realizing that he has been trying to get my attention for some time.
I groan and try to sit up and smile at him when he tries to help me. I think it translates into more of a wince though. I grasp the back of my head and try to stop the dizziness that gets worse as I sit up. I press my forehead between my knees and take a few steadying breathes. The dizziness improves but is still present.
"You're fine." The voice is reassuring, pleasant even. His hands have been stroking my back in calming circles as I collect myself. I tense realizing that someone I don't know is touching me in a rather intimate manner. But the movement is not offensive, nor does it go beyond a comforting touch. My muscles relax into his hand and I am surprised how easily it comes to me. It seems familiar. Not him, but the mannerism. The act of being touched.
"Hey, you two alright over there?" Another voice, this time female.
I lift my head wearily and stare up at the woman. She is wearing a loose yellow shirt and red slacks. I notice that I am wearing similar clothing. Or at least the same coloring.
"Ya, I think she's fine. I saw her fall from one of the trees. She's a little dazed is all."
I look to the boy only he isn't really a boy, but a young man with sun kissed skin and dirty blond hair. The woman is black with wild hair and dark brown eyes.
She frowns at me looking puzzled. "You aren't supposed to be out here. What have you been doing?"
"I-I'm not really sure," I say.
"What's your name?"
I look at the young man and am at a loss. I open my mouth but nothing comes out.
What is my name?
He and the woman exchange looks and I try again to form the words. Panic sets in and the pressure in my heads increases. My eyes start to water but I don't know why. I am on the verge of sobbing because I don't know my name and I realize that I don't remember anything.
I take deep gulping breaths and try to calm down. The woman is at my side and gently puts her arm around my shoulder. I automatically tense reflexively and then relax. I am showing signs and symptoms of a concussion, especially if I have memory loss. In the back of my mind I know I should get medical attention as soon as possible.
"It's okay, calm down" she says. Her voice is kind and she smells like the sun. I'm not sure that's possible, but that is the only way I can describe her scent. "What do you remember?" Her eyes are warm and compassionate.
"Nothing," I shake my head. "But," I lick my lips, "I think I need a physician."
"I think I recognize her," she says to the young man. "She's one of the Johnson kids." Oh that's nice. At least she knows who I am. One puzzle solved, only a million more to go.
Together, they help me stand. My stomach rolls and threatens to expel its contents. Funny, I don't even know what my regular diet consists of but I might get the chance to revisit it. Upon standing I see that we are in a beautiful orchard. No wonder I smelt apples.
I hear the rumbling of an engine and turn to see a truck filled with people sitting in the carriage. There is a girl playing an instrument that calls over to us and asks if we need any help. They offer to give us a lift and the woman decides to go with me while the boy stays behind.
She starts to help me in the truck but suddenly I am lifted into the air by one of the biggest men I have ever seen. Or I think he is. As I can't seem to recall much of anything I could very well know someone even burlier. The thought bemuses me and I realize I should be more afraid but these people are comforting and smile in a way that makes me feel safe
The man's name is Josh. He has brown eyes with similarly colored hair and is olive skinned. He sets me down in the back of the trunk and gently takes my chin in his hand. His mouth lifts and the skin around his eyes wrinkle in a smile. He is fit and strong and could be as young as thirty, but his eyes looks older, like he's seen many years.
"Always getting into mischief you are." He laughs and the dark skinned woman, whose name is Sandra, raises a brow. His voice sounds exasperated but warm at the same time.
"You know her then? I know she lives with the Johnsons but I couldn't recall her name." She seems a little contrite that she does not know my name.
Josh releases my chin and takes a look at my head. "Yes, one of the sweetest and most loving girls I know, and also one of the most audacious. I'm not surprised she was out here. It's not the first time she climbed the orchards, or fallen from them for that matter."
I grin at him and Sandra looks at me reproachfully. I smother my expression and turn my eyes downward. I have a feeling a few of those traits aren't something I should be proud of. For some reason I feel that climbing the orchards is worth it. I do not remember the event but I can imagine swinging on the tree branches.
He tucks a strand of hair behind my right ear and winks at me. I smile at him demurely. The motion makes me aware of my own attributes and I notice that my hair is somewhat long and a deep auburn. It's pretty. It makes me realize that I do not know what color my eyes are. Or what the rest of me looks like. I sigh and look at my hands. I have a few calluses on my palms but otherwise the nails are neatly trimmed with a little dirt around the edges. They do not look like idle hands. My legs are strong and able.
The truck lurches and starts up again. I stare fondly at the orchards as we pass them. The woman across from me starts strumming her instrument and a few people start singing. I am compelled to sing as well. The music and the song are familiar. I watch her fingers and I think I might even know how to play her instrument as well. My chest constricts and I look again out at the disappearing trees wishing I could stay back and hide behind their numerous leaves and branches.
The song is familiar as are the people, but it does not feel right. Not completely wrong, but not right. For some reason I feel far from home. The first inkling of apprehension settles in my chest.
My name is Gertrude Williams and I am sixteen years old.
The nurse explains that I have experienced a moderate concussion. Which makes sense considering I am having trouble with my memories. It worries me, but she explains that it can happen and most likely my memories will come back with time. She tells me to try and take things slowly when she sees my horrified expression. I nod, but do not admit to her that losing my memories has just come in second place to finding out that my name is Gertrude. What the hell were my parents thinking? I am so not a Gertrude. I may have lost my memories but I am most definitely not a Gertrude.
I feel compelled to look at her notes and ask questions as she examines me. She looks at me oddly when I ask about my pupillary reflex. I have a feeling that I do not have previous medical experience and look every inch of my sixteen years. This is peculiar because I do not feel like a child. Instead, I feel experienced and knowledgeable. The nurse looks at me reproachfully, but not unkindly, the more questions I ask. Eventually, I cease challenging her medical documentation.
She asks me a series of questions that accelerate my heart rate and cause me to sweat in anxiety. It is the worse part of the examination thus far. I sigh, growing more frustrated with every question I am unable to answer.
No, I do not know what happened.
No, I do not know where I live, or what the day is or exactly where I am for that matter. All I know is that I fell and now I'm in a hospital, getting asked a bunch of annoying questions. And can I please ask my own freaking questions now?
She looks at me again and I cannot decipher her facial expression other than the appeasing smile plastered on her face. It looks strained. She just pats my knee stiffly and tells me to be patient. I think she has just scolded me in some way. There seem to be rules in this place, rules that I do not remember and somehow I am breaking them with out knowing how.
"I've called your guardians, and they will be here to retrieve you shortly." She is cordial and her voice betrays none of her prior annoyance at my behavior. If she is annoyed, it is hard to tell. She is a professional and compassionate caregiver. She is more than tolerating my idiosyncrasies.
I nod and she steps out of the room and I take the opportunity to use the restroom. As I wash my hands I stare at the posting on the wall.
REMEMBER TO CONSERVE WATER.
I dry my hands and catch my reflection in the mirror. There is a young girl staring back at me. She has fair but sun kissed skin and wild dark auburn hair. Her eyes are such a light blue that they could be mistaken for gray. Or perhaps they are gray with blue specs. She is not beautiful but her face is pretty enough with a small number of freckles across her nose and cheeks. Her face has character I decide. It is a friendly face that looks accustomed to smiles and laughter. My hand traces my lips and I watch the girl in the mirror follow my movements. Her face is familiar but it is wrong somehow; it is too young and round. I suddenly feel unnerved and exit the restroom and sit in a chair. I start getting restless and knock on the nurse's door. She opens it with a smile.
I rub my arms and ask, "Can I…um do you have anything I can do while I wait?" I feel useless not doing anything and sitting idly waiting for parents I do not remember. If my hands are occupied maybe I can contain my fear. She smiles warmly and seems to understand my need. Her kindness is genuine and comforting.
She leads me to an area of freshly cleaned but unfolded linens. For the next hour I fold sheets, pillowcases, and towels and store them in a closet. Meanwhile, I rack my brain and try to retrieve memories of life before the orchard, but it exasperates me so I stop. I keep telling myself that it will just take time and everything will be fine. When my parents get here, everything will be fine.
For some reason it does not comfort me.
A woman with laugh lines comes to pick me up. She is young with a willowy build. We look nothing alike and I do not remember her. I scan her face trying to recall something about her, but I draw a blank. She embraces me and I smile enjoying her touch because it is familiar. I relax in her arms.
This is Mrs. Johnson, my mother.
"How many times must I come and retrieve you, you silly girl?" She says it with fondness and with a hint of exasperation.
I smile and shrug at her after she releases me. I feel a little better because it sounds like something a mother would say to her child. Her hand reaches to comb through my hair.
"Sorry Mom," I apologize.
She stops mid stroke with a hand in my hair. She looks puzzled but smiles at me nonetheless and drops her hands. My smile disappears and I wonder if I have done something else out of context.
The nurse clears her throat and addresses my mother. "Before you take Gertrude home let's go in my office for a minute."
They both smile and I stare at the closed door. I am irritated that they leave me standing here. Aren't I an active participant in my health and wellbeing? Oh wait; I'm 16 so I suppose they think I'm an idiot as well. It is not fair.
I cross my arms and wait impatiently.
AN: Please read and Review. I have this written up to 180 pages so far. I will try and update a few times a month. Depends on the response I get. This will be a retelling of the first novel with obvious changes. If you have any insight into the lives of those in Amity or other factions feel free to drop me a line. Hopefully, you find it entertaining. I would be very interested in your thoughts and suggestions. I will be taking some liberties with the fandom and its characters.