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Drama Fantasy Fiction

TWO MOONS

The girl awoke, from what she wasn't certain, it surely was not a natural sleep, but nonetheless she awoke - face down in a drainage ditch. Her hair was caked with mud and twigs and she could feel a soreness at the back of her head. She was wearing a New York Yankees tee shirt and jeans, and her feet were adorned with a pair of mud colored socks. She sat up slowly and felt the back of her head with a scratched and filthy hand. She discovered a soreness there and a slight lump which protruded from her scalp. 

There wasn't much water in the ditch, just enough to make her look as though her chosen pastime for the beginning of the day had been making mud pies. She looked at her surroundings and found nothing familiar with which to orient herself. Carefully she climbed out of the ditch and glanced both ways along the dirt road she now found herself standing upon. Where was she and how did she get there? She searched her pockets for something that would help her discern the answers to her questions. 

In her back jeans pocket she found an empty wallet with a name etched into the leather.  E M I L Y It had a familiar sound to it, but she couldn't connect a face with the name. It was several minutes before she realized with horror that she couldn't remember who she was. The wallet must be hers and Emily must be her name, but she knew nothing more. When a thorough search of her surroundings failed to shed any light on the mystery of who she might be and where she was, she sat by the side of the road and cried the tears of the desperate. She didn't hear the bicycles until they were right in front of her.

“Begging your pardon Miss but are you OK?” A freckled faced youth of about thirteen stood in front of her holding his bike upright. “You look a mighty mess” he said looking her over carefully. “I don't mean no disrespect Miss” he added hastily. “But you sure are looking like you could use some soap and water.”

“I must look terrible,” she answered “Do you know where I am?” The freckled boy's companion answered. He was about the same age as his friend and wore a straw hat over too long sandy colored hair.

“You're in Gulch's Hollow, Miss. Population about two hundred or so when the tourists are here. Taint tourist season now, so I'm guessing you ain't here to sight see.” He slightly tipped his hat on the word miss and then let go of his bike and eased it to the ground. His friend did the same. They came and sat on either side of her.

“We can take you to Grandma Preacher's place if you'd like,” Freckles smiled at her. “She ain't no preacher really, but God's honest truth, that's her name. She's always takin' in strays.”

Straw hat leaned over and whacked him on the arm. “Gotta forgive his language, Miss, but we don't get many strangers these ways and he's plum forgot his manners.”

“I didn't mean..”

“Its okay.” she smiled My name is Emily and I'd love to go somewhere where I could get some soap and water.” She wanted to add that she was famished but that wouldn't have been polite and these two boys seemed to value good manners.

Grandma Preacher was the very essence of grandmotherly love and charm. She thanked the two boys, gave each a bag of cookies, and shooed them off so she could tend to Emily. To Emily's relief she put a steaming bowl of stew and what looked like some fresh baked bread in front of her.

“Eat, Child. Everything else can wait.” she patted Emily's arm as though she were a grade schooler and this action got Emily wondering just how old she really was. She hadn't had a look in a mirror since she awoke in the ditch and had no idea what her age might be. She must be a grownup as the boys addressed her as Miss. But was she merely a teenager or a woman of forty. How was she to know.

The stew was delicious and Emily had two bowls. Then she noticed that Grandma Preacher had put a large metal tub in the middle of the floor and was boiling two huge pots of water on the stove. 

“After a bath, you'll be feeling loads better, Child. Here's the soap and some towels. I'll be out on the porch while you get yourself back to normal.” She smiled a Grandmotherly smile and walked out the front door. 

Emily barely got out a quick “thank you” before she was gone. For an old woman she certainly moved quickly.

It felt good to scrub herself clean, especially her hair. There was a bottle of shampoo on the table but nothing that looked like cream rinse or conditioner. Her hair would be a tangled mess she was sure but just getting it clean was an improvement. The bump on the back of her head was sore, but she was able to wash over it without a problem. When she was done she noticed that a fluffy robe was hanging on the chair next to the tub so she dried off and put on the comfortable robe. With her hair still in a towel she set about emptying the tub, pot by pot, so that Grandma wouldn't have to do it. Then she call her in from the porch.

“You sure look good now that the tub has had it's way with you,” Grandma joked. “Just one more step before you're done.” She got a bottle of vinegar from the pantry and mixed it with a few other things that Emily didn't recognize. Then she went over to the kitchen sink. “Take that towel off your hair and we'll give it some softening up.” She motioned towards the sink.

Emily did as she was told and Grandma poured the mixture over hair. Then she ran a comb through it and Emily was surprised when the comb went right through – no tangles whatsoever.

“You must give me that recipe!” Emily towel dried her hair and combed it again.

“Now, girl, we'll get you some clean clothes.Wait here” A few minutes later she came out of the bedroom. “There's some stuff on the bed looks like would fit you. Even found an old pair of shoes that used to belong to my daughter Addie. Go, now, try everything on and let's take a look at you.”

On the bed Emily found a complete outfit, underwear and all. The skirt came down to her ankles but fit perfectly at the waist. The blouse was white with long sleeves. Even the slip-on sandals were a perfect fit. It seemed odd to Emily but she was so grateful that she didn't give it a second thought.

“I really appreciate all you've done for me,” she said as she came back to the kitchen. “But there's something I must tell you about myself.” She sat down on one of the straight backed chairs and leaned on the table. “I don't know who I am or how I got here. In fact the only way I know my name is that it is written on my wallet. Which, by the way is empty. I need to report this to the police or someone who can help me get my memory back. You've been so kind that I felt I had to let you know this. And I have no idea how I ended up in that ditch or where I got this lump on my head. Or...or...anything” She took a deep breath and rested her chin on her folded hands, elbows on the table. 

“Must be scary not knowing who you are. Don't fret none though, I'll have Lester take you to the police station in town when he gets here. And maybe to the doctor. I noticed that lump when I was rinsing your hair. Nasty one, all right.” 

“Lester?”

“My closest neighbor. He's got a truck that runs real well, and I know he'll be glad to take you. He stops in every day about this time to check up on old Grandma Preacher.”

As if on cue, at that moment a rickety blue truck pulled up in front of Grandma's house. A young man of about thirty got out and headed for the door. He wore green slacks and a plaid shirt. His hair was so dark it glistened in the sunlight, and Emily thought that his eyes, for want of a better word were interesting. She might not know who she was, but she did know what, or in this case who, she liked. She shook such ideas from her head. She might be married for all she knew or entangled in some other way. Certainly not in a position to be admiring men.

He walked right in and stopped short when he saw Emily.

“Sorry Grandma, I didn't know you were having company.” He blushed and then introduced himself to Emily. “I'm Lester,” he said “didn't mean to interrupt your conversation.

Grandma laughed. “We was just talking about you Lester. Sit down and I'll let Emily tell you her story” He grabbed a chair and turned it around so that he could sit backwards. And then Emily recounted all she remembered of her day. He was worried about her, he said, and wanted to take her into town right away. She couldn't help but agree.

On the trip into town they talked easily about everything but Emily's past. Lester said she looked to be about twenty something and admitted that he wanted to get to know her better, whoever she turned out to be. Emily was completely charmed by this stranger that she had just met. But then, she liked everybody she had met today. The two young bicyclists were so polite, and Grandma Preacher was so very good to her. And Lester...

They pulled up in front of the police station and an officer came out to meet them. Lester introduced him as Sheriff Jackson.

“Oh, you can call me Jack, everybody does.” He smiled and led them inside. When Emily had finished her story Sheriff Jackson sat at his desk and leafed through a stack of papers. Nobody who fit her description had been reported missing but he would alert all stations of her whereabouts just in case someone out there was looking for her. Which he was sure they were.

Next stop was at Dr. Edwards where her bump was treated. He gave her some pain medication in case it bothered her overnight but assured her that it would heal on its own in a few days. 

Lester said he would take her back to Grandma Preacher's for the night and, since he had the day off tomorrow, he would stop by early if it were okay with her. She tried not to let her smile show as she agreed that it was, indeed okay.

As they were driving along Emily noticed the moon on the horizon.

“Such a beautiful full moon,” she commented. He smiled.

Just wait till the second one rises. It will be almost as bright as day. 

“Pardon?” Emily wasn't sure that she had heard him correctly. 

“You know,” he answered “It's so much bigger and brighter. If we hurry we can catch its rising from Grandma Preacher's front porch.”

“You're kidding me, right? To test my memory. We both know there is only one moon.” He looked puzzled.

“I'd never test you like that. Maybe the second moon is part of your memory loss. Please don't get concerned. It's not that big a deal. You'll remember things eventually. Please...” he gave her a very 

worried look as they pulled up in front of Grandma's house. “Emily I'm sorry I didn't mean to upset you.”

“You didn't upset me, I upset myself. This is not something I would have forgotten. Is it? A whole extra moon and I don't remember.” Suddenly he pointed out the window.

“See there it is the big moon.” He reached out and took her hand and squeezed it as they both watched the giant orb rising. She had to admit it was an impressive sight but there weren't two moons, of that she was sure. She decided not to mention anything more about it before Lester started to think she was crazy. She would have to figure it out for herself. Grandma came out and the three of them sat there in silence. Grandma sensed something wasn't right. 

“Someone have something on their mind tonight?” she asked. Both Lester and Emily answered in the negative, though it was obvious that something was bothering them. Emily was worried about her memory and Lester, for his part, was concerned about her reaction to the big moon. 

Both on their own made the same decision. Not to mention it again. And Grandma knew better than to pry into what someone wanted to ignore. Weeks went by. Emily stayed in Grandma Preacher's extra bedroom and even got herself a job at the town pharmacy. Lester and Emily grew closer. But always it was there, in the back of their minds. What Lester referred to as that moon thing when he gave in one day and told Grandma about the situation.

Emily was getting ready for work one morning when there came a knock on the front door and soon after Grandma called her. When she walked into the kitchen she saw two men there in suits and ties and some official looking papers. A spark of memory flashed through Emily's mind. 

“No!” she screamed “I'm not going back”. One of the men came over to her. 

“Emily, there was an accident. You fell and hit your head and stumbled into the machine. Somehow you got sent to this planet. It was a mistake. It took us months to find you. You must come back with me now to finish the experiment.” He held on to her arm and pulled. “Come on now. You were doing so good. We were almost finished. Just two more trips and your sentence will be over. You'll be free Emily, free for all time.”

“I'm free here, really free. And I'm not somebody's guinea pig. I lost my memory for a while, but it's back now and you can't make me go back because I remember the experiments and the pain and the times I begged to be free. No!”

There was a clicking sound and they turned to see Grandma in the corner with her shotgun. 

“She's staying gentlemen. But you are leaving. Now! Our civilization doesn't look advanced to you, but trust me. We've been to your world many times and we don't like it at all. And neither does Emily. This ain't no ordinary gun, nope it can send out rays that will prevent you from ever going back to your world again. You choose gentlemen.”

Just then Lester walked in. He had come to give Emily a ride to work. 

“Grandma, no! They don't have the technology to return if we blast their portal after they leave. Otherwise we'll be stuck with them here in our world.” Emily ran over to him, and Grandma lowered her gun. 

“I'll listen this time, but I'm going to fix it so that you can't return. Now go before I change my mind!”

The men looked to Emily. 

“Won't you reconsider. The experiments are very important. We really need you.”

Lester had his arm around Emily's shoulders. She sank as deep as she could into his embrace.

“I have a good life here. I'm not going back.” Emily walked over to Grandma. “You can put the gun down now, Grandma. I believe these men were just leaving.”

The men in suits ran for the door and left in the direction where Emily had awakened that day which now seemed so long ago. 

That night they had a party in the moonlight and as an added treat, Lester proposed to Emily. 

“We'll be so happy” she said. “Let's get married in the moonlight. Of both moons”

May 31, 2021 22:20

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