Awake, p.5

Awake, page 5

 

Awake


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  He was right. Even if they were memories of before the fire they were still silly little memories that didn't mean much. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, not really. Not that I could remember properly now anyway.

  "Yeah, sorry. I thought it might be the start of getting those years back."

  He groaned. "No, I'm sorry. I don't mean to be insensitive. I just need you to be alright."

  "I'm okay." I zipped my mouth. "No more dream talk. What have you been up to while I was out of it?"

  "Waiting for you to wake up. Worrying that you wouldn't. Snapping at everyone. Then there was more waiting and more worrying."

  "Sorry."

  "Don't apologise for being in an accident."

  "Right, sorry."

  We both laughed at the same time and he leant back against my pillows. "My dad was released."

  "Yes, I've seen them. That's good news. You were the one who came off worse."

  "I know. Jeremy barely has a scratch on him, thankfully. Guess I'm a good pillow, huh!"

  Noah frowned.

  "Too soon?" I asked and he nodded.

  I was glad that I was able to save my brother from the impact. I didn't want him to be hurt.

  "What're we doing for the rest of break then?"

  He shrugged. "What do you want to do?"

  "Movies? Hanging out with the guys. The usual."

  "Sounds good. When you are better, though."

  I saluted and he smiled so wide it made me laugh.

  Noah held his hand up and shook his head. "Alright, that's it, you need to sleep."

  "You think I'll dream more if I do?"

  He leant forward and placed a kiss on my lips. "Sleep, Scarlett."

  Once Noah left, I drifted in and out of a very light sleep. Just when I would nod off I'd see the flicker of the flames, feel the heat, hear a woman's voice that wasn't my mum's, and I would see Evelyn. She was so young and so pretty. I felt her eyes on me, as she ran past with Jeremy she watched me, it was only for the briefest second but that one small glance stirred familiarity and it wasn't something I could forget.

  Noah

  "HOW IS SHE?" Jeremy asked the second I closed the door to her room. Scarlett had fallen sleep soon after I told her to rest. Her recovery was far more important than anything else. She was starting to remember pieces, which scared and excited me. But I was concerned that she would remember suddenly. We didn't want that. There was too much time left. If she found out the truth now, she would never come with me.

  "Acting strange," I replied.

  "She's always weird."

  I sat down next to him on the seats opposite Scarlett's room. "Alright then, more strange. She kept talking about some dreams she had. In Scarlett's head, you chase girls." I smirked at him. "I won't tell Amie." He rolled his eyes. "Do you know someone called Evelyn?"

  Jeremy froze. "Evelyn?"

  He knew her.

  "Yes, that's the name Scarlett gave. Do you know her?"

  After a pause, he replied, "Not really. Scarlett had a doll called Evelyn when she was really little. I think that was its name anyway. It was lost in the fire."

  I laughed on cue. "So you chase girl dolls in her dreams."

  "Yeah, I guess."

  "She was talking about her like she was a person, though."

  "You said yourself that she's strange."

  "Right," I replied, nodding. "She just seemed upset over it so I thought I should ask. She must remember the doll and her mind created a person."

  "Yep," he replied, his posture visibly stiffening in front of me. He was worried.

  "She okay in there alone?"

  "Yes. She's sleeping."

  "Good. Look, I'm going back down to meet the folks, they're getting even more magazines for her."

  I stood up. "Sure. I need to get home anyway. I'll see you tomorrow morning. Tell her I'll call later?"

  "Will do. Later, Noah."

  "Bye, Jeremy."

  I walked out of the hospital feeling about twenty pounds lighter now I knew she was alright. But I was left with an uneasy sense of relief that she was remembering.

  My dad was waiting for me in the car park. "Hi," I said as I got in.

  "Is she alright?"

  "Yes, she's fine. She's awake and her usual self."

  I should tell him about her memories. It was a big deal and something Eternal Light would need to know, but the image of her eyes fluttering up at me and her face breaking into a smile stopped me. I told myself that it didn't really matter because she was confused and remembered very little. They could be passed off as dreams for now.

  "Thank goodness," he said and breathed a sigh of relief. "We wanted to stay all day with you but thought that might look strange."

  "Yes, that's fine. I was alright and it gave me plenty of opportunity to watch Jonathan and Marissa." They played the concerned parents so well. Of course, I understood that they'd brought her up since she was four and as far as they were concerned they were her parents but they knew better. They were lying to hospital staff, giving false information and had fake identification for Scarlett, yet they were still so calm.

  "And?"

  I shrugged. "Nothing out of the ordinary. You would never know they weren't her parents. They seem to love her the same as Jeremy."

  "They are not her parents," Dad said.

  "I know."

  He shook his head, frowning. "I'm sorry, Noah. Being out here puts me on edge. I don't like it."

  "Neither do I. It's hard to keep up with the pretence every single day, but it will be worth it."

  "It will, son. I'm proud of you, you know? I was unsure to begin with. Not that I didn't think you could do this but it is a big ask, and I know you are a good person. You hate dishonesty and Jonathan, Marissa and Jeremy are lying to Scarlett every day. But you have really come through, and it won't be long until we are home with her and can get back to normal. Nothing about the way people live out here is normal. Absolutely nothing."

  I'd started to doubt that. But I couldn't say that to my father. "You're right," I replied, only half lying.

  There were certain things, sure. People called themselves free when they were governed and bound by so many laws. They worked forty hours a week plus and most still struggled, gave up a portion of their money, and followed what society expected. That was the furthest thing from being free but they still went on fooling themselves. They believed they had a voice but they didn't use it past voting for someone they knew was lying to them anyway. It made absolutely no sense. Democracy. Freedom. Bullshit.

  It was beyond stupid the amount of rubbish people fed themselves, but they valued human life in a way that Eternal Life did not. Scarlett would be protected out here. I couldn't help question my own attitude to human life. If I were successful, Scarlett wouldn't be safe. I would be hurting her, allowing Eternal Light to hurt her.

  How was I going to watch Donald drive a knife through her chest?

  Scarlett

  AFTER JUST TWO days in hospital, I was allowed home. Besides being tired and having a lingering headache, I felt fine. Dad and I had been on the sofa since, lying under fluffy blankets and under strict orders not to move. Throughout the morning, I'd been drifting in and out of short naps, resting my tired body.

  Startled, I woke abruptly, the explosion thundered through my unconscious mind. My heart raced. I was hot all over, sweat beaded at the back of my neck. The dream was so real I expected the house to be in flames.

  Mum and Dad were talking to each other, unaware that I'd woke. I gulped and pushed myself up. They looked up as I forced myself to calm down.

  "Hey, are you okay?"

  I nodded.

  "Missa," Dad said, using his pet name for Mum.

  "Yes, honey," she replied, smirking.

  "Can you pass the remote, please? I'd get it myself but..."

  "Of course."

  I shook my head. He was loving being the patient. I was climbing the walls. Dad was completely fine now, and
I gave it a day before Mum refused to do anything for him anymore. Lying around and sleeping would have suited me fine before the nightmares started.

  "Do you need anything, Scarlett?" Mum asked once she'd given Dad the remote.

  All I needed was my heart to return to its normal rate. "I'm good. Think I can go out tomorrow? Just to Noah's."

  She tilted her head to the side, and I knew the answer was no. "Sweetheart, you've just got home from the hospital. You were in and out of unconsciousness for a whole day."

  "So, that's a no, huh?"

  "It's a no," she confirmed. "Noah's welcome here. You know that."

  It wasn't just seeing Noah; it was getting out for a bit. I'd been cooped up inside a hospital room and now my house. I missed the outside. I wanted to sit in the new hammock in Noah's garden and get some fresh air. They were outdoors people and I wanted that for a while.

  My eyes slid over a photo of Jeremy when he was about seven or eight. He had a big, front toothless smile. My mind instantly conjured the image of Evelyn. I saw them in my head, running around together. I blinked and looked away but her eyes followed me, looking directly into mine as she whizzed past me with Jer.

  "Yeah. Thanks," I said, trying to shove thoughts of Evelyn out of my mind. "I'll text him now." I fired off a message asking if Noah wanted to come over and turned back to Mum. My skin still felt itchy hot like it had when the explosion in my dream went off. "Can I talk to you about my dreams?"

  Mum pursed her lips the way she always did when she was tired of a subject. It was the look she gave Jeremy when he was ten and absolutely needed a mobile phone. It was the look that she gave me when I absolutely needed to go to Disney Land. Both times.

  "Okay."

  Her hesitance gave me second thoughts. I hated that talking about it was so hard for both of them. I opened my mouth but quickly closed it again and shook my head. "Never mind. They're just stupid dreams."

  "They are just dreams, but if they're bothering you they're not stupid," Mum said. She may have said the words but the stiffness in her posture and moisture in her eyes told me she didn't want to have this conversation at all. I watched her lick her lips twice and clench her hands around over her knees so hard her tendons popped up.

  Her fear frightened me. How could I make her relive that when it hurt her so much? "Thanks, but I'm okay actually. It just freaked me out, especially since I have a four-year gap in my memory; that's all."

  "Are you sure you don't want to talk about it?"

  "Yeah, I'm sure. I made a decision to leave my memory thing in the past so that's what I'm going to do. I just want to be better and get on with my life." I said the words but I didn't believe them, not completely. After remembering - or thinking I remembered - snippets from my childhood, I really wanted to know it all. But my parents weren't the most approachable on the subject and I didn't know how to talk to them.

  "We're glad to hear you say that, sweetheart, we just want you to be happy," Dad said. They both looked relieved.

  "Thanks. I'm going to lie down in bed for a while. Send Noah up when he gets here, please," I said.

  "Of course," Mum replied faintly.

  I smiled and walked out, going to my bedroom. They only made me feel guilty for wanting answers and it was exhausting. Plus Noah replied saying he was on his way and I'd much rather focus on that.

  I'd just changed into an oversized knitted top and leggings when he walked in. He wouldn't care about seeing me in my pyjamas but I felt more human in clothes.

  He sat down beside me on my bed and gave me a chaste kiss. "Hey," he said, flashing me his cute smile I loved so much.

  "Hi." I instantly relaxed. Being around him was the best.

  "How're you feeling?"

  "Cramped. Want to get out but..."

  "Where do you want to go?"

  "I'd settle for anywhere outside right now."

  He stood and held his hand out. "Your wish is my command."

  Noah helped me up, still worried about my lightly bruised ribs. Honestly, they were fine as long as I didn't start doing somersaults. "Thanks. I need to tell Mum where we go." Where were we going?

  "Already done. She said you were plotting your escape when she let me in. I'm allowed to take you into the garden."

  I wanted to pout and whine. We don't have a hammock. But I really wanted light that didn't come from a bulb.

  We went out and sat on the bench. I curled my legs, leaning against his side as he wrapped his arm around my back. "Oh God, I'll never take fresh air for granted again."

  "You really have been going crazy in bed, haven't you?"

  "Yeah. Normally I'd love to lay in bed all day but when I have to, it stops being fun."

  "You are a child," he teased.

  "A child? You looking for an argument there?" I teased.

  He frowned and tapped the side of his leg. "No, I don't enjoy arguing with you."

  "Oh, come on, it was once and you could barely call that and argument. People do fight, though, Noah." His frown deepened and I realised he was so not used to people arguing. "Come on, your parents never fight?"

  "No, actually. They sit down and discuss things a lot but they have never shouted."

  My parents didn't scream at each other but I'd heard them bicker. Everyone did it, or so I thought. "Wow, we really did have a different upbringing." Noah's family were organic vegetarians and although we didn't eat a whole lot of unhealthy things in my house, I definitely liked junk food and fast food.

  "Opposites attract, though, right?" He smiled but I could tell his mind was off somewhere else.

  "Definitely, look at Penny and Leonard."

  He frowned. "Who?"

  "Never mind, just remind me to make you watch The Big Bang Theory sometime. All that matters is that we're fine, me and my Dad are getting better, and we have another week before school starts again."

  "Alright. What do you want to do this week?"

  "Cinema? Theme park?"

  "Yes to the first, no to the second. You can't seriously be thinking about riding rollercoasters when you've just been in a car accident."

  "Well, I wouldn't do the rollercoasters but maybe we can save that until the summer holidays."

  He did that going far away thing again. I hated that; it was obvious something was on his mind but he never said anything.

  "You okay?" I asked.

  "I'm fine."

  "You're not moving, are you?" I felt my world slow down a little. He couldn't just leave.

  "What? No, I'm not going anywhere. What made you ask that?"

  "I don't know. You went all spaced out."

  "Sorry, it's nothing. Finn is missing home, him visiting my aunt in Ireland last week didn't help, and I'm not sure what to do to make it better. Things here are a lot different."

  "Does he want to go back?"

  Finn was nineteen, plenty old enough to live by himself so he could go if he didn't like it here. But I didn't think he'd leave his family because they were all really close. Selfishly, I didn't want Noah to leave, but I also didn't want his family to be unhappy.

  "He wants to but he wouldn't. I think my parents are considering going home when I've finished school."

  There it was, the panic. That was far away enough to have my life and happiness completely linked and wound around him, even more than it already was.

  He laughed and kissed me. "Don't look so scared, although it's nice to know how you feel, I won't be going with them. I'll be old enough to live alone, and I'll stay for university here." He smiled shyly and added, "Well, I'll stay for you."

  I bit my lip and then kissed him because I wasn't sure what to say or how to express how much I loved him. I almost blurted the words out but we hadn't said that yet. He would stay with me when his family left. I should have just told him what he made me feel.

  Confiding in my parents about my memories wasn't an option but I could with Noah. I trusted him. Evelyn's big, innocent eyes seemed to watch me constantly. Every pictur
e of Jeremy I saw she was there.

  "You were right," I said when we pulled away. "I know this is a total conversation changer, but I do need to try to face whatever happened to me when I was a kid. After my dreams, I'm so ready to." I need to know who Evelyn is and why I feel like I know her.

  He winced and lowered his head. "No, I'm sorry about that. I pushed and I shouldn't have. Things like that happen and just because I thought it was strange didn't give me the right to make you question your decision to let it go. I was wrong, Scarlett. Maybe you should leave it for now?"

  "I don't want to and even if I did I couldn't. It's not a bad thing that you got me thinking about it again. I always would've liked to know, it's just now I need to. Will you help me?" He hesitated before dipping his chin in agreement. "Thank you."

  "So, what are you going to do exactly?"

  "I'm not sure yet. I'm going to write the dreams down. Every time I have one, I remember a tiny bit more, although nothing extra really happens, I don't think. Maybe the more I write them down, the more will come back to me about my past?"

  "Alright. You could also try talking to me or your parents, though."

  "I don't think I can. They're clearly uncomfortable talking about it."

  "I'm sure it's difficult for them but surely they'll do it if it's best for you?"

  "Probably, but I don't like making them feel bad. If I can remember without hurting my parents, then that's what I'll do."

  "Fair enough."

  "I can't get Evelyn off my mind. I still see her so clearly as she ran past me with Jer."

  "You're convinced she's a person and not a doll."

  There was no doubt. "One hundred per cent. But that means my parents are lying to me, and I don't like that."

  "Understandable. Perhaps there's a good reason."

  "Such as?"

  "I don't know, something horrible could have happened to her, maybe in the fire, and they don't want to upset you."

  Perhaps, but that possible reason wasn't strong enough. "I don't mean to sound like a terrible person here, but I don't remember her, I don't know if we were friends, they could tell me if a stranger died."

  "What if you two were close?"

  A cold shudder ran the length of my spine. No! She was playing with Jeremy. A sister? My pulse started thumping in my ears. What if she was a sister and she died in the fire? They wouldn't talk about the fire because it was too painful, maybe that was why.

 
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