A Trip to the Past
She gets comfortable in her seat as the flight attendant comes to offer her a drink. "No, thank you," says Carol. She has been feeling nervous since she left home.
She takes the letter from her purse and rereads the lines that made her heart skip a beat the first time she read them:
It's me, Ben. I'm back. I know what you must be feeling right now as you read this. But I'm fine and I will explain everything to you. I'm not able to come and see you, but I would love you to come here as soon as you can. You can meet me at the address in the back of this letter.
She still feels uneased and confused after several hours of having heard from her younger brother.
"Could it be possible?," she wonders. "Could it actually be him?". She fears she is being deceived, but wonders why someone would do such a thing.
Her heart feels heavier and heavier as she travels towards her destination. The disappearance of her brother was the worst thing that happened to her after losing her parents in a car accident.
After that had happened, she and her brother had become closer, and would rely on and take care of each other. Still, she always thinks she failed to protect him.
Ten years later, the memory remains fresh in her mind as if it was yesterday. Not a day goes by without regretting letting her brother alone that morning. She blamed herself ever since.
She moved away from home at an early age. Every corner of the house reminded her of Ben. It was hard to leave her grandparents, who took her in after she lost her parents, but it was what she needed to do.
Her life was not that much easier, though.
She finds comfort in her Art, as melancholic and dark as it was. But she couldn't have any real relationships. She was not able to open her heart to anyone, in the fear of losing them and having her heart withered again.
After landing, she goes to take a cab, gives the address her brother wrote down in the letter to the driver and asks him to drive her there directly.
Seeing that the address is actually a hospital worries her. She wonders if he is sick.
She goes to the reception and asks for Ben. As she comes out the elevator and walks to his room, she feels her heart pounding like a racing horse.
She opens the door of the room and finally sees him. She almost does not recognize him, but his eyes are still as deep and sweet as they were back then. It was him.
"Hey, sis," he says.
"Ben? It's really you? I can't believe it!"
She hugs him for almost a minute, running her fingers through his hair as she did when they were kids.
"How are you?? What happened to you?? I looked for you for years!" she exclaims.
"I'm fine. I should be discharged tomorrow. I'm sorry I put you through all of this for all this time."
"But, Ben, how can you say that? It wasn't your fault. I did not protect you as I should have. I'm your big sister. It was my job to look out for you."
"I know. And you did, Carol. But stop blaming yourself. You did what you could. Plus it was a rare situation hard to avoid."
"What do you mean?," she asks.
"That day in the park, when you went for ice cream, I stumbled and hit my head. When I stood up, I did not know where or who I was. so I left the park and wandered around for a while until I got tired of walking. I remember thinking that if I took the bus I would recognize our house. But I didn't."
"Oh my God!! It's unbelievable! And where did you go afterwards? How come the police couldn't find you?"
"I guess it's because I kept commuting to other places until I left the city," he replies.
"But why would you have done that?" she asks. "You thought you lived in another city?. It doesn't make any sense," she says.
"No. That's not what happened," he answers. "Let me explain."
As she hears his story, she gets more and more confused.
He explains he has a rare condition called Psychogenic Fugue. "It started that day in the park as a result of hitting my head. Doctors think I might have inherited it and the fall was the trigger."
He keeps explaining that his condition is a type of amnesia in which the person loses awareness of their identity and engages in a sort of unexpected travel experience.
"I had a crisis that day, and after getting lost the first time, I had relapses in which I did not remember how I got to the next place, and kept on going ahead."
"Jesus Crist, Ben! I can't believe what you are saying. And I don't recall anyone in our family with such condition."
"Well it could have been anyone. From our parents upwards" he replies.
He explains that there are cases of short duration in which people undergo memory loss and can go unnoticed, because when they get their memory back they do not realize they had lost it.
Carol hears his words with astonishment. Out of all the theories she had, including her worst fear of him being kidnapped and killed, this was definitely not one.
"Where have you been all these years? What happened back then?," she asks.
"I got to a small town, and a lady saw me wandering around. She asked me where my parents were and I told her that I had lost my family."
He explains that in some cases people just assume another identity, even if it is for brief periods.
He continues telling her that the lady took him to her house and gave him a warm meal.
"I think she never went to the police. I know she asked around if someone had recognized me, but after a little while she got fond of me and stopped asking," he says.
"She raised me as her own son. She told me how much she wanted a child but never could, and how she was blessed when she found me" he says.
A woman comes to the room holding a child by the hand.
"Carol, meet my wife, Anna, and my son Chris", he says as she shakes
Carol's hand, "It's good to meet you. I'm glad you made it".
"Me too. Glad to meet you". Carol leans towards little Chris and gives him a hug, "Hi, sweety".
"He looks just like you when you were a kid," Carol tells her brother.
"Yeah. Maybe he'll go to law school someday too and work with me in my firm," he laughs.
"I'm so relieved to know that you have been living a nice life all these years, and that you are happy", she says. "And I'm very proud of you."
"Me too, sis" he says. "I always knew you would become a famous artist. That's actually how I found you."
"I'm so happy you did", she says." But hey, why are you in the hospital? Is there something wrong? something else?" she asks.
"No. I'm ok, just a few bruises and a couple of broken ribs" he laughs.
"I actually got in a car accident. That's how I got my memory back. The crash knocked me out and when I woke up I could remember my own name again, finally! They took me here with an ambulance to fix me up. I've been here for a few days".
"Oh God!", she exclaims.
"Well, the good thing is that it brought us back together."
The doctor gets in the room and asks everyone present to leave for him to perform an evaluation.
As they leave the room, Ben asks his sister not to leave, and to stay in town with him for a while.
"Are you kidding?" she replies. "I will never lose sight of you again."
She left the room thinking that she could not be happier knowing that she not only found her brother, but realized he has been living a good life unaware of what he had lost.
She could not ask for more. Her days will start to shine as she steps out of the dark.
The above story and image series is a collaboration between 'Rosa & Rosa'.
The collaboration was able to be come to life thanks to the @freewritehouse contest in celebration of 1000 days of The Daily Freewrite Prompt!
@soyrosa created the images that illustrate the story I wrote. The prompt introduced by @mariannewest was Ten Years of Darkness
I was inspired by an article
about this illness, and I thought it would be a great topic to base my story on. It is amazing what can happen to real people.
I would like to thank @soyrosa for editing the story. I would also like to thank #TheInkWell community and @mariannewest for creating this opportunity for us to get to know and work with other Hive members. We had a lot of fun!
What a great entry!! Thank you so much for participating...
Thank you for the opportunity.
I really enjoyed participating in this contest :)
Great story - love your way of writing - you really got me interested :)
Thank you! That's nice to hear :)
Nice writing, I enjoyed it very much and @soyrosa's pictures illustrated it just perfect!
Congrats to both of you!
A, and welcome to hive :)
I'm glad you liked it. Glad to be here as well.
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This is a beautiful story, @lacrucita! I love how the story and the past unfold through Carol's dawning awareness of what has transpired with her brother. It's the sign of a talented writer that you drizzled in the details about the parents, grandparents and then just the hint about her life as an artist. Beautifully done.
Aw this means a lot! I'm really happy to have the opportunity to challenge myself into writing and to see that readers such as yourself appreciate it.
Thank you very much for your support @jayna