***Trigger warning for drowning***
“We put down in writing what is happening in our minds. Once it’s on the paper we feel better, we feel better. It’s like some kind of clarity when the letter’s done and signed.”
The roofs were high and mighty, like the cliffs of a mountain. Below them sat many multicolored houses with their own respective roofs to sit on and watch the glory of the sunrise from outside, but alas, it was late, and no one was out.
No one, that is, except for two young girls sitting on the roof of a house, the one to the left a good two feet shorter than the one to the right. In the light, the house would have looked like a faint pale lemon, but from the outside was a darker shade, a burgundy among the greens. The majority of the lights were dimmed, but one candle stayed alight, held in the hands of a girl with matching green eyes.
“You really don’t remember?” the first girl asked, her darkish blond hair waving to the other side of her head. “Are you positive?”
The second girl sighed, her own eyes two colors - one a dark brown, and the other a darker green. She had choppy, short hair to contrast the brightness of the first’s. Her expression was one of fear and cowardness, though cowardness isn’t always what it seems. She gently closed her chocolate and sea green eyes and took a deep breath inwards. “I remember nothing. Nothing, Avila. Nothing but the cold air around me, surrounded by my own sweat and tears dripping down my face as I was dragged out of the icy waters of the bay.”
Avila sighed. “Must you be so melodramatic?” The taller girl turned her head towards her, a look of curiosity dripping across her face. “Maybe this was better when you weren’t speaking at all,” Avila said finally, the wind ruffling up her hair once again as she quickly turned around to the small door leading down into the house. “Whatever. Come back when you feel like it.”
The girl sharply brought her attention back to the sunrise, watching the hot orb float above the rooftops. She had hoped that in coming outside she could spend more time alone to think about her current condition, but that was all ruined when the young girl who was supposedly her sister had come out to check up on her.
The family she had come to was nice, but she still felt detached to them, like they just weren’t something truly from her past.
Perhaps that was why she had lied to them.
Now, the girl did not know lots of things, of course. She had indeed lost her memory, but she had not lost it like she had led them on to believe. Instead, the memories erased from her mind had left her at a much earlier point, from back when she first found herself in that field in the middle of nowhere.
Her family told her that she was known to the world as Marisol, but she had known one thing from the start of her memories. She already had a name, and a very different one at that. It was hard to explain how this young girl knew her name, but on that fateful, bright day among the overgrown flowers, she remembered something. In a mind so blank one could paint an entire mural, or write an entire manuscript, one word came to her mind, a word which she knew to mean her and her alone.
Remei. She was Remei.
At the time, she didn’t know any history of the name or its meaning. All she knew was Remei, and nothing else. But as time went on, her survival instincts kicked in, and out of the strange abandoned wildflowers she went, and into the world she came.
The first few days were strange, as she knew very little of her surroundings. However, enough came through for her to get by, especially as next to her in that field she had conveniently found a small bag of money. Not much, but enough to get by with. Had Remei had any true memories that she could recall, she may not have taken the bag, but in her state, she thought it was the best possible option.
As she walked through the streets of the crowded street corners with her satchel, she noticed people glancing her way, then quickly turning away. It made it easier to get around when you went unnoticed, of course, so the first thing Remei bought with her newfound cash was a mirror, which she gazed into as it reflected her eyes - one almond shaped and dark brown, the other a similarly shaped olive green. She didn’t quite know how noticeable this was, but it clearly had an effect on the people around her. Slowly, she thanked the saleswoman and went on her way.
After a couple of hours, Remei would run into the sale’s woman again, who would invite her into her small hostel for the night. Her name was Lucia, and she was very kind. Perhaps it was just pity, but it was still the first act of kindness Remei had been shown since that fateful day in the fields where she awoke with no one and nothing.
Lucia fed her plenty of food, though she did eventually ask for money in return. She would ask Remei all sorts of questions to try to jog her memory, but nothing was foolproof. All she knew was a few words and phrases, and even then she didn’t usually want to talk.
No one really thinks about talking very much, but for Remei, talking meant remembering. And remembering meant trying too hard to do something easier said than done.
After about a week in Lucia’s care, Remei sat down to eat with her newfound friend as she did every day. Typically, meal times were silent, and then followed up with a few questions regarding Remei’s memory, but today, Remei had something different planned.
“Lucia,” she said, slowly but surely. “Lucia, why do you think I can’t remember?”
The woman smiled, then shook her head. She was only a year or two older than Remei, but felt much wiser and more experienced in the world. “I don’t know,” she said calmly, taking another bite of her food. “But I do know that you always have a place here if you want it.”
She was kind. Too kind. And so, that night, Remei wrote her first letter.
Dear Lucia, she started, I am sorry, but I cannot stay any longer. Please forgive me. Sincerely, Remei.
It was a short letter, but Remei was barely able to hold the pen in her hands as she shook while writing, waiting until everyone was asleep until she snuck out of the front door, leaving the letter on the kitchen table. As far as she knew, this was the first letter she had ever written. Sighing, she quickly opened the door and ran out of Lucia’s quaint hostel, trying to find her next destination.
She could have gone back to the fields with the flowers, but it felt wrong, and she knew she couldn’t survive there. She could have gone back to the marketplace and gotten more supplies, but she was already quite well stocked. Instead, Remei found herself at a small train station near the center of town, where she hopped onto a train headed a few towns over.
She must have taken a nap, because by the time she had once again opened her interestingly colored eyes, the train had already stopped farther than she had planned to go. But there was no going back, so Remei left the train full of confusion about the world.
Her first night, she spent in the streets. This town was quite a bit larger than the last one. In fact, it was more of a city, with it’s spread out landscape full of people walking by the harbor. Something about it felt strangely familiar, but Remei didn’t want to try and remember anything else. Remembering was hard, and all it did was make her frustrated. Instead, she decided to write another letter, wondering if it would ever find its way back to the starting place.
To my real family, she started, her hands shaking once again. I’m sorry for disappearing, but I’m no longer who you think I am. I do not know how I got here, but I know that I was lost. Please don’t try to find me. I may be lying to myself, but I’m still living my own life.
She paused here, thinking about what to add. Sighing, she skipped a line, starting again from the middle of the page. Sincerely, Remei.
Remei’s eyes grew wider as she dropped the unaddressed piece of paper into the nearest mailbox. Of course, she knew that this letter wouldn’t get anywhere, but she also knew that it brought her a strange sense of comfort and clarity. The letter was now off into the world, and at least someone would read it. With a large smile stretched across her face, Remei reached into her satchel and brought out another piece of paper, ready to start another letter.
Dear Lucia, she began, thinking again of the kind woman who had helped her before. I’m so sorry I left. But I have to make my own memories. I have to fix whatever mistakes I have caused you, but right now, it’s more important that I find myself. I’m sorry I had to leave, but it’s for the best.
Your friend, Remei.
Satisfied, Remei wrote out Lucia’s full address on the back of the folded paper, disappointed as she remembered that she didn’t have any stamps to send the letter. Sighing, she dropped it into the same mailbox, hoping it would get to her eventually.
With that, Remei went to sleep by the side of a large dark colored warehouse type building, watchfully snuggling against her beige satchel. By the time she awoke, the city's streets were buzzing with action, people walking to and fro. A youngish man in a postal uniform picked up her letters from the mailbox, which calmed Remei with a sense of finality. The letters were off, to whomever it may concern.
Days passed, as Remei found herself sleeping by the same dark warehouse, paying for the essentials with the little money she had left. She didn’t like speaking in general, so she kept conversations to a minimum, usually just handing over the money without a word in between. Talking meant remembering, and remembering was just too hard.
Memories did come to her, occasionally. Memories of a girl with dark blond hair and sea green eyes, just like her own right pupil. Another name came to her, a name she knew to be the girl’s.
She didn’t quite know who Avila was to her, but she knew that she was someone important. Days later, she would find her once again and know her to be her sister, but she did not know that yet, and so, Remei decided once again to write a letter.
Dear Avila. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I don’t know you anymore.
The pen started to shake in Remei’s hand once again. She thought hard about what she was writing, a letter to someone of her past, a past she had no interest in reliving. But the memories haunted her, every second of her life. When she would stare into the mirror she bought from the first market, she saw Avila in her right eye. When she would buy food, she heard her laugh in the joyous cries of a little girl with her family.
Family. Something she could have had, had she not done whatever she did to lose her memory. Something she could have remade with Lucia, but wasn’t brave enough to do so. Something she may never have again.
Tearfully, Remei went down to the waterfront of the city she was staying in, murmuring something under her breath to a man at the dock. Eventually she emerged with a small rowboat and twenty four hours to use it. Remei quietly thanked the man with a silent handshake and head nod, as she got herself situated to cross the harbor.
That’s when the storm hit.
Waves crashed against the docks on either side, sticks and stones previously floating at the surface flinging through the air and down into the sea. Remei’s boat wobbled to and fro with the wind for hours, before eventually capsizing.
As she went down, another letter came to Remei.
Dear Remei, she started in her mind, the words slipping through her fingers as she was pushed farther and farther down into the ocean. Please forgive me. I’m sorry you had to go like this.
I’m sorry I cannot save you.
I’m sorry you can’t remember.
More words came through her head, but they were silenced by the wind and the roaring waters.
Later, she awoke. By her side was the same girl from her memories, her eyes as green as the seaweed she saw before she passed out. The surface she lay on was soft, a bed, less comfortable than the ones at Lucia’s, but certainly more comfortable than the dirty sidewalks.
“Hello, Marisol,” Avila said, her eyes wide with excitement. “I can’t believe you’re finally home!”
Remei blinked. This was Avila, yes, but who was Marisol? Certainly not her, she was Remei. Carefully, she tried to express this, but nothing came out. Words failed her once again, as she murmured what she thought to be her name out loud. Water was still clogged in her throat, and talking wasn’t something she wanted to do anyway.
Days passed of little speaking, even after the water was gone. Remei knew Avila was someone important to her, but she didn’t want to be a part of her life again. She wanted her own life, not dictated by who she was supposed to be.
She wanted to be Remei, not Marisol.
Remei stared out at the sky, the sun now brightening the rest of the world. The previously dimmed and darkened lights were all awake, as people began to move around in their houses and start their days. Sighing, Remei reached towards the satchel she still kept around her shoulders, taking out a piece of paper and a pen. One last letter, she thought. One last letter before the night is gone.
I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I can’t be you. I’m sorry I can’t live your life. I’m sorry I still don’t remember who you are.
Not sure how to send the letter, Remei read it over again a few times, before dropping it down the roof, letting it be carried by the wind. Just like her letters in the familiar, harborfront city, this one would reach someone, just not who it was supposed to.
Tearfully, Remei walked back inside, wondering who would read her brokenhearted letters.