It had been exactly one year one month and one day since the accident.
She exhaled deeply and felt what she had been feeling all along. She looked out at the beach’s vast horizon and the setting sun. She looked up at the dark skies and saw a reflection of herself. She stared at the waves, which seemed to take every part of her with each wave. She let out a sigh.
This was the place where she felt she could be herself. And certainly not what was expected of her. Her thoughts wandered, from the canopy of trees to the California weather, and finally to the one thought she had been avoiding.
Her thoughts returned to the first day she awoke in the hospital. The white curtains, the numerous bouquets, and the expressions on the faces of dozens of people horrified her. She could tell by their actions that they were concerned about her. They tried to hold her hands, kiss her cheek, tuck her hair, and other things, but she resisted. She disliked being touched by others. She had stood there silently watching people come and go. She had no idea why she was in the hospital in the first place, and she had no idea she had so many friends and family.
Allesia inquired, “How are you feeling now?” “We have so much to catch up on,” Celyn said. “I am so relieved you are okay, Gems, you have no idea how much I have cried,” Lia said.
Gems, as they called her, fought hard. She couldn’t remember anything and she couldn’t understand what was wrong with her. None of her body parts were damaged and none was stitched. There were just simple cuts and bruises which she remembered getting while she fell. But those were normal. She had always been the kind to get herself wounded. And scratches were a part of her living.
“What happened to me?” she wondered. Her gaze darted around the room, scanning each face in the hopes of spotting someone familiar, but to no avail. She had just discovered millions of shocked eyes staring at her. She couldn’t place them. She had no recollection of the sleepovers at Lia’s house or the “girls day out” with Celyn and Allesia. The girls were now more concerned with what their Gems could remember than with her physical condition.
Gems was considered fortunate to be alive, according to the doctors. A lot of her was fixed after a lot of intensive care, which is why she couldn’t notice anything on her body. They were able to repair her body but not her brain or soul. Forgetfulness, loss of memory- Amnesia, as the doctors called it- was probably something she would have to live with for the rest of her life, if not forever. That sounded like thunder on a rainy day to the girls. They attempted to show her photographs taken with her and the gifts she gave them, but all in vain. The difficult work of remembering the past only exacerbated the situation. She used to sit all day with her head in her hands, which only made her feel sad.
A voice from behind her startled her. She returned her gaze only to see Leah. Several months after the incident, Leah was the only person she kept in touch with. Leah was invited to meet her every day after she left the hospital to talk about everything she could remember.
Her friends, family, anybody. Or about a particular object, place, or something. But Jennifer, on the other hand, couldn’t. She stopped meeting people as time passed because she had to pretend to smile at memories she didn’t even remember. It irritated her more than it hurt her because she had to smile at things that did not make her smile.
All this was taking a toll on her, and so she started to distance herself from everyone. Everyone except the person seated next to her.
“How are you feeling today?” Leah inquired.
“Not exactly the right question to ask right now,” Jennifer replied. She paused for a moment before continuing, “I keep feeling like something is missing. I know a lot of things are, but there is one major thing I am missing that I am not even aware of.” Leah gave her a faint smile and asked, “You still think there’s a Mr. X, right?”
Mr. X. She had told Leah about him a few weeks before her accident, and how he made her heart race like no one else ever did. Leah, on the other hand, had never seen him.
Strangely, Jennifer had awoken with a void in her heart, as if someone had gone missing and she didn’t know who. That void now had a name!
Slowly, her memories of him began to flood back into her mind. She couldn’t tell if he had saved her or if it was just her luck, but she vaguely remembered being pushed out of a car and having her head hit a tree trunk.
Nonetheless, she did not respond to Leah’s question. As a result, they sat side by side, watching the last rays of the sun fade beyond the horizon in silence.
“Perhaps it was just an illusion, and so you should let it go,” Leah suggested.
“Perhaps,” Jennifer said, looking up at the star-studded sky in a way she had never done before.
“But even the stars don’t shine as bright as your smile, Mr. X,” thought Jennifer, and she never let the memory of him fade away.
After all, those in love with an illusion often refuse to accept the reality (: