I don't know anything. I'm so lost. To some people, it would be a blessing to forget a year of their life. Maybe freshman year. Or that awkward thirteenth year, where all they can remember is braces, thick glasses, and a squeaky voice.
But I know what it's really like.
That year. Being sixteen. I lost it. I lost having Becca, who everyone is telling me, in more or less words, was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, my best friend Lance, he fills me in on small things, but it's not like I can ask much, my Junior Year of high school. Everything.
Well, not my whole sixteenth year. I still have about a month left. Aren't I lucky?
The last thing I can remember from before the surgery (which was three days ago) was playing football in my backyard with Lance, before he moved. (I would end up following him shortly, where I would go to that school and meet her, but, of course, I have no recollection of it.) It was Springtime, so it must have been, like, late March or early April. I was fifteen.
What did I even do it for, anyway? So that I can talk right?
I let out a long sigh. As soon as I think it, I know it's not true. Now, because of the surgery, I'll be able to communicate with others effectively, meaning they won't gawk at me after I get a sentence out. I can grasp everything better, resulting in going to college and getting a good job. Maybe it's just in my head, but I swear when the doctor was talking to me about what the surgery did, I felt smarter.
I just can't stop thinking about Becca. I've never met her – dammit – I mean I don't remember anything about her, but it's like I feel this . . . connection. Like I need her still.
Or maybe it's just that I feel bad. I mean, I left her back in Ohio, in love with me.
Mom and Ali come by the hospital everyday to check on me, and bring me pictures, videos, and such. The doctors say that there's a chance that little things will come back to me, so they bring in stuff that might jog my memory. I'm the only one that knows that's never going to happen, I just don't have the guts to tell them.
It's not like I don't notice that almost every picture and video they bring me have her in them, too. At the mall I took her to with a skating rink built into it, which, I'm not gonna lie, is pretty damn cool. Ali says she knows I snuck out, she was just too cool to rat me out. A Halloween party. Becca and I almost kissed there. Apparently, I was so whipped and so wrapped around her finger already, that I came home and gushed to them about it. I'm still embarrassed about the things I supposedly said.
And at Christmas. That box came with a video along with pictures. I got her a plastic flower. A plastic flower. What kind of idiot gets their girlfriend a plastic flower for Christmas? Thank God I'm smarter now.
I cringe while watching the video when I hear that “accent” in my voice.
“Seth?” Ali walks in, a box in hand. “Good, you're awake. I was in the cafeteria all fricken day.” She plants the box on the foot of my
She sees me looking at the pictures, so I know she's asking if I picked anything up. I just shake my head.
“The pictures aren't working are they?” she says it so nonchalantly, like it's really not a big deal.
But it is a big deal. I'd give anything to remember a tiny piece of that year I lost. I slam the picture in my hands down. “No.” I snap. “Nothing works.”
I'm acting like a baby, I know, but I tell myself I have a good excuse.
“I figured, but Mom's always like 'what about this one' or 'maybe this picture will help.' I don't have the lady-balls to tell her it'll never work.”
My sister and I are more alike than I'd like to think.
“Yea,” I say.
“She'll probably be here later, so-”
“Your hair is longer.” I'll admit I haven't really paid much attention to what she's said. I just remember Ali's hair was so much shorter. I used to tease her about it when I got mad at her because I knew she didn't like it.
She plays with the end of it. “Ugh. It took forever to grow out. Anyway, beware of Mom. She'll drop by later.” With that, she heads out.
I take the warning seriously. When I woke up from surgery, and asked for a cup of water, she cried, and still hasn't stopped. I mean, I love my mother, but I kind of feel bad that Ali had to take of her. She may not live at home anymore, but that doesn't mean she abandoned us.
I pick up the picture I had slammed down two minutes before. I'm smiling into the camera, and Becca's whole body is facing me, eyes closed, kissing me on the cheek. My arms are wrapped around her waist.
And at that moment, I know what I have to do. Some would call it “closure.” I just call it being nice.
I take out a piece of paper and pen, and write:
I don't want this letter to be awkward, or too long, or a letter that might make you cry. Actually, I'm not supposed to be writing you a letter at all. Tammi and Ali said it would bring back “unwanted memories.” But I don't think they're unwanted, because I don't know what I wouldn't do to have them.
They showed me pictures of us. You're beautiful. My favorites were the ones we took at the mall in the photo booth. (Do people still say “lol”?)
I swear I don't want to sound like a stalker, but I dream about you almost every night. I didn't even know it was you until my mother and sister felt they had to tell me.
They also told me about how much you loved me, and how much I loved you. I believe it. In my dreams, and this will sound really corny so brace yourself, I don't know if it's my imagination or something, but I've never been more in love. And judging by the pictures, it's obvious to anyone just how in love we were.
And I can't explain this feeling, but it's like, I miss you. Ever since I woke up in this hospital, I've felt that something was missing. Half of that year I lost was you. You were a huge part of my life and I'm so sorry I don't remember it. Hell, I don't even remember my iPod password.
I guess I wrote to tell you that I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the hugs and kisses that I forgot, for the little secrets we shared that are lost somewhere deep in my brain, and for not remembering that night.
I hope you make some guy really happy.
Anyway, I guess I understand if you don't, but please write back. I want to get to know you. Again.
And what's the response I get from her a few days later?
“1019.” My iPod password.
*9 Years Later*
I met Heather at the hospital. She had the same procedure done to her as I did. The only difference was, was that she still remembered everything. Naturally, I thought I would have this bitterness towards her, but turns out, I don't know myself very well. She was just so nice to me when she woke up, that I couldn't.
She told me her story, so I told her mine. She said she could've afforded to miss a year. The only thing exciting that happened to her was getting her braces taken off a month ago.
We became really good friends. I even had a crush on her for a while, but she met her now-boyfriend Jackson a couple years ago, and we've all been hanging out ever since.
I got over her with a couple girlfriends myself. And I'm not sounding like a huge jerk who has women in his bed every night. No, I've had a couple girlfriends in nine years. I hardly call that “being a player.”
But Heather liked to party. And while she was able to hook Jackson to it too, I was never really up for it, which is why I have no idea how I ended up here.
“What can I get you?” a bartender asks.
I look up at where a menu should be, but all I see are shot glasses. “Uh, just give me the strongest thing you have.” I've heard that line in so many movies, it's not even funny. Only, when those guys say it, they sound cool, but I just sound stupid – like I've never ordered a drink before in my life.
“He'll just have a beer.” Heather comes up behind me, already breathing heavily. She turns to me after the bartender guy turns around. “Trust me, you do not want the strongest thing they have here.”
I nod. “Thanks. So, where's Jack?”
She shrugs. “Had to pee.” She leans in to whisper in my ear. “You should come dance with me.” She says it seductively, like she wants to do more than just dance, but then I remember that's just Heather.
I take a couple drinks of the beer that sits on the counter, pay for it (five bucks is ridiculous), and let her drag me out to the dance floor.
I'm not one for dancing, so I let her do most of the work.
Jackson doesn't come back. He probably got bored or tired, saw me dancing with Heather, and made a run for it back home.
And that's exactly what I'm thinking about doing. “Heather!” I yell. “Tattoo guy over there is looking at you, I think he wants to dance!”
I point in his direction, and tell her to call me or her boyfriend when she feels like coming home.
Originally, on the car ride, I planned on getting more of my painting done, but instead, when I get home, I set my keys on the counter and dive into my couch. I turn the TV onto some new comedy show and make sure my phone is up loud enough to hear it in case Heather calls.
I'm almost asleep when Ali comes busting in through the door.
She stands right in front of me, holding my niece on her hip, blocking the TV so that I have no choice but to pay attention to her.
I cringe. That's her mad voice. “What?”
“I just got off the phone with Lance.” She still has her phone clutched in her hand. “You will never believe what he told me.”
And I can't believe it. Not even when she tells me again and again. I grab my keys and run out the door.
I need to get to Becca.
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