I lay on my side staring out at the room eyes half closed. As I woke up I realized that I didn’t know where I was or how I’d gotten here in the first place.
“Ok,” I said looking around and trying to stifle the sudden dread that rose in me. “I’m in a bedroom.” I paused mentally to firmly set that fact in mind before continuing. “Whose bedroom?”
“Looks like a girl’s room,” I said aloud to myself slowly working my way out from under the covers. I had no sure way of knowing if this was a girl’s room. It just felt right by looking at the posters of boy bands, the large collection of stuffed animals and the neatly arranged room. I swung one foot down and then the other, noticing that my feet came nowhere close to the carpet.
Sliding off the bed, I noticed it came a little higher than my waist. Everything in the room seemed to be fitted to this standard, which was not mine. Standing almost as an after thought in one corner of the room by the French doors was a full-length mirror. Resting lightly on the looking glass was a bathrobe.
I walked over to the mirror, curiosity gripped me. “How did I get here?” I asked myself. “Where’s here anyway?” I frowned as I realized I couldn’t recall any details about myself.
My heart hammered in my chest. I had no clue where I was or why I was here or even who I was! With a quick flick of my wrist upon the robe, my reflection stared back at me. The shocked expression did nothing to ease my feeling
The robe landed at my feet. My odd three toed foot with three claws. The inside claws of my feet were slightly larger and more pronounced matching the one that made up my heel. “What creature has need for claws like these?” I thought. My eyes crept up my body to examining my dark brown scales there were tinges of speckled green mixed in.
Behind the figure in the mirror was a tail. Moderate in size, sleek and sexy! I turned to look at it, ignoring the mirror for a moment. Should I have a tail? Was it normal to have tails? What about the feet? Is that normal?
Turning back to the mirror I leaned in closer until my snout almost touched the mirror. My brilliant blue eyes were set slightly back atop of my snout.
My nose and mouth however comprised the entirety of my snout. Opening my mouth I was greeted by a vast number of white, razor sharp looking teeth all of them angled towards the back of my mouth. Along the bottom of my mouth was a forked tongue. “These teeth aren’t for chewing,” I mumbled watching my lipless snout move as I spoke. I stuck my tongue out tasting the air around me. I giggled a nervous giggle despite myself. “Ok you know what you look like now.”
I looked around the room again. “I have to find out where and who I am.” I focused upon the note attached to the top of the mirror. “What’s this?” I pulled lightly upon the tape so I could better read the paper.
You are Sasha Ariel Jones, and if you’re reading this and don’t know who you are then you’ve lost your memory again. Go to the computer you have a lot to read. Don’t worry there is no password.
The note looked to have been crumpled many times in the same spot over and over. As if someone had grabbed it and read it many times, crumbling it with gradual wear and tear.
With some trepidation I turned towards the computer and took a deep sigh. Sasha… Who names their child Sasha?
Taking a seat at the computer I moved the mouse. The monitor’s light flashed green and lit up. The first image I saw was the picture desktop of a family photo of sorts I guessed judging by the three people in the picture.
A tall man wearing a pair of khakis and a polo shirt hugged his barrel chest and broad shoulders. His face was adorned by a neatly trimmed beard and horn rimmed glasses. Directly to his right was a small girl barely a teen by the looks of her. Her skin was the deep tan of someone who spent far too much time tanning. Her light blond hair reflected that, aside from those features she was rather plain with a visible happy grin on her face. On the young girls right was a tall woman dressed smartly in a blouse and dress her brownish red hair styled into a shoulder length drape that curved inwards to accent her neck.
I thought it odd the little girl was the only one who was tanned. The parents seemed pale in comparison to her. The trio stood in front of a house with a lot of grass and a few very large trees. Behind the house was a picturesque mountain range snow dotted the tops of the mountains.
“This is beautiful,” I mumbled to myself. It was a wonderful photo, probably professional. I had no clue who these people where or why they were on my computer.
I frowned looking at the computer. It wasn’t mine, was it? The note said my name was Sasha but that didn’t mean this was my own computer. It could be anyone’s computer. I could be at anyone’s house! Anyone’s house who leaves a note for you? I thought to myself. No, you’re probably at your house, why else would the mirror have a note saying who I was? But what if that note wasn’t meant for me?
Dragging myself away from those thoughts, I began to browse the computer. As I clicked through the computer I saw it was a short search.
The machine only looked to have a text program. Its menus free of anything. The computer had only the single application? That didn’t make sense. Didn’t computers have more than just word? There were however a number of folders around the wallpaper.
Folder names like ‘Homework’, ‘Family Photos’, and ‘Shattered Dreams’, the one that grabbed my attention was the folder labeled ‘read me first’.
Inside the folder were several others. The first and most striking was labeled ‘Dear Sasha’ and another was ‘Diary’ and the final was ‘Important Dates.’
I double clicked on the ‘Dear Sasha’ folder weary of what I might find in there.
There was a single entry in the folder, and double clicking on it brought up a text document.
August 9th 2009
If you are reading this than you have lost your memory again. I’m sorry that this must be written down and given to you so impersonally but there is no way I can convey to myself what I need to know to live.
You are Sasha Ariel Jones, hatched July 9th 1994.
The most important thing to remember is that mom and dad love you. It’s not your fault you can’t remember them, yourself or your friends.
You suffer from a special form of Dissociative Amnesia. It seems to strike randomly. It wipes your memory of those things that are closest to you and leaves your academic knowledge alone. Doctor Aramaki says your memory will just come back at some point and that he wants you to keep a diary of everything that happens, as a track of your progress, and to fill in the gaps of your memory.
I’m sorry you have to learn this way, Sasha, but it’s how I have to learn about myself, too. For more info please read the diary entries.
There was a knock on one of the doors and it pushed open a little bit. “Honey?” There was a pause. “Are you decent?” asked a voice I didn’t know. There was a touch of concern in the voice and an almost familiar scent.
I looked up from the computer to the door. “Yes,” I called, readjusting the robe so it wrapped easily around my form. They must know me, I thought. Why else would they call me honey and wait to enter?
The door opened fully and a man walked in. I recognized him instantly! He wore horn-rimmed glasses and his face was covered in full brown beard; his hair was kept cleanly from his face. I spun to the computer and minimized everything. Bringing the desktop back into view. It was him! Standing next to the little girl and the woman, whoever he was.
The man didn’t duck to enter into the room, but he was tall. Way taller than me! He was dressed in the same loose khaki slacks and a tight fitting polo shirt as the picture. “Hey Pumpkin, how are you feeling?”
Pumpkin? I asked myself. Am I supposed to know this man?
“Disoriented,” I said uneasily, staring at the man as he approached me. He quickly pulled me from the chair and into a bear hug against his frame. He pulled me away from him after a moment’s bear hug and grinned down at me. His smile seemed to take up his entire face for a moment. He set me down from his quick hug.
“Your mother and I were worried about you, Honey. You had another one of your episodes again.” He sat down on the bed and patted it gently indicating I should join him. I only paused momentarily; if he’d wanted to hurt me he wouldn’t have to try hard given his size and strength of his hug.
I moved to stand next to him. He grabbed me about my sides and lifted me easily onto the bed and onto my tail. I let out a yelp of surprised pain as he did it. “Sorry bout that, Sweetie, I keep forgetting about your tail and how big it’s getting.”
Forgetting about my tail? So he knows me. I resettled the robe to better provide modesty as I set next to him. “It’s ok,” I said rubbing the base of my back where my tail met with my spine. “We all make mistakes.”
“Do you remember anything about yesterday?” The man asked. I was assuming he was my father. If he’d not said mother I would not have guessed my relationship to him. He didn’t look anything like me.
I shook my head. “The doctor was afraid of this. He said it was part of your condition.” He fixed me with a serious gaze. “Did you find the note, Sasha?” he asked using the name on the note. I nodded that I did. “Good, so you know about your condition?”
I nodded. “Sorta,” I said. “It just said that I lose my memory randomly.” He nodded. “Why?”
“It’s from trauma, and it’s happened ever since the accident?”
“What accident?” I asked. My note didn’t mention an accident.
He sighed and his expression changed and with that his smell changed. “You saw the trees in the photo?” He asked pointing at the desktop. I nodded I was not sure what he meant. “When I was cutting a tree, a limb hit you hard enough to crack your skull. A bit of your skull was in your brain. Doctor Aramaki removed it but you’ve had problems ever since.”
I turned to look back at the computer and frowned at the blank screen saver. Anyone could say that but I felt he was telling the truth. I don’t know how I knew but I knew. Maybe I just wanted to believe him. I sniffed the air and sighed. “What happened yesterday?” I asked.
He put a hand on my leg gently, easily enveloping my knee. “Are you sure you want to hear this, Honey?”
I nodded that I did. I wanted anything that would help to clear the cobwebs that seemed to have enveloped my memory. I had nothing to go on. The only memories I had were waking up, reading that note and checking the computer, the scent of this room, the scent of this man and a distant memory of the scent of some woman I didn’t know, but the scents where so closely tied together that they were almost one.
“All right, Pumpkin, but this will be hard.” He paused for a moment fixing me with his brown eyes. His eyes reminded me of a puppy for some reason. “You had another phobic attack yesterday when we took you to the mall.”
I gave him a blank look. “We got too close to the pet store and you panicked when you saw the kittens in the display window.” When he mentioned the cats my body went cold and my heart began hammering a mile a minute. I shivered and closed my eyes, an image flashed before my eyes of me staring down the mouth of a giant tiger.
I felt the man put his arm around my shoulders and draw me closer to him. Suddenly my snout was filled with the smell of Old Spice, his deodorant and the woman I didn’t know on him. I could smell the fabric softener in his polo shirt and the toothpaste he used to brush his teeth. I could also smell the coffee he’d drunk earlier.
“I don’t remember any of that,” I said in a near wail, tears sliding down my snout. “I don’t remember anything before waking up this morning.”
“Sasha,” he said gently, rocking my shoulder with his hand. “It’s ok; the doctor said that it would take time for it all to sort itself out.”
“Why does it only affect me, you and mom?” I asked in tears. I moved my face so I could watch him his face.
My father sighed and set his face as if the response he was repeating were something he’d said often. “Your confusion and memory loss is mostly focused around yourself and those people closest to you, your parents and what few friends you have.” His smile he directed at me was meant to be reassuring. “That’s why things you’ve learned through home school you remember but anything about you and those closest to you are a mystery. Its trauma and the brain,” he explained in a concerned tone. “The doctor has been helping you to get better but you were told to keep a diary to mark your progress. But the brain is a complicated machine.”
My father’s scent was worried as he talked to me and his voice was almost clinically detached as he spoke. I felt a pain in my stomach as if he’d gotten this way because he’d had to explain this so long it was almost second nature for him. “We recently moved from Seattle to Phoenix for your mom’s job. The doctor thought the climate change would help you physically as well.”
“Oh… ok,” I mumbled. “So now what?” I asked wiping at the spot on his shirt my tears had left. With my free hand I dabbed at the tears still sitting on the edge of my eyes.
“Getting ready for high school,” my dad said. It felt so strange to think of him in that term. I held no emotional attachment to this strange man.
“So how long till school?” I asked with some concern, sniffling.
“That’s tomorrow, Honey,” he said. “Your mom and you were going to go shopping for school clothes. We need to buy more so we can get them altered properly for you.”
“I’m going to public school?” I asked.
He nodded. “Come on, put on some clothes and let’s go get some breakfast. We’ll stop by your favorite restaurant.” He stood up from the bed, and picked me up easily the same way he had earlier, setting me gently down on the floor. “You’re heavy for such a little girl, Sasha.”
“It’s just proper nutrition and exercise,” I replied with a forced smile still wiping away the tears at my eyes. “I’m still a growing girl.”
“That you are.” He turned and walked out the door, closing it behind him. Frowning, I shucked off the heavy robe that I’d used to protect my modesty from my father. It felt odd to use that word. There was no emotion to him or the word. Did it always feel like this when I woke up? He’d said there was an accident that caused this.
It was hard to take it all in and mixed with the confusion was the sense of curiosity as to who and what I really was. I would never know who I was if I stayed in this room all my life.
I quickly searched through the drawers of the room and began pulling out clothing looking to assemble an outfit to wear to my favorite restaurant and clothing shopping. I settled upon a modest looking blue skirt and a t-shirt with the picture of a large rainbow heart being hugged by a bear on it.
Dressed, I stepped before the mirror to critique the outfit. It would work for breakfast I guessed. I couldn’t recall having any real craving for any particular food but I was getting hungry. I turned and pulled on some of the jewelry to complete the outfit.
Humming I opened my double doors and looked around. The hall went another few feet before proceeding up a flight of stairs. Immediately to my right there was an open space filled with furniture. There was a laundry room of sorts separated by several pieces of comfy looking chairs. “This must be the rec area,” I said to myself, looking around. In the corner I could see a large bar, a fridge and a stove. “Or not…”
In another corner I noticed a room with a door partially obscuring a night-light. I walked over to this and saw a shower, a toilet and a sink.
“I guess this is my bathroom. It’s certainly not big enough to be a family bathroom,” I mumbled picking up the hairbrush.
“Sasha,” a female voice called from upstairs. “Are you ready to go?”
“Coming,” I called. It was a single flight of steps with a large wooden door at the top. I bounced up the stairs, taking them two at a time, my claws making scratching noises on the way up. “Ok, I’m ready!”
The woman who had been at the top of the stairs was dressed neatly, wearing a blue blouse and skirt with low enclosed heels. She was the picture image of the woman in the photo. So who was the young girl she and the man had stood by? Me? If so I didn’t look like either of them
“Not dressed like that, young lady,” she said in a crisp tone of voice. “You forgot to grab your watch.”
“My watch?” I asked, confused.
“Your watch,” she said again. She turned to look at my dad. “You didn’t tell her?”
“It’s a lot for her to take in, Dear.” He came to stand next to me. He knelt so his face would be more in line with mine. “What your mother means is that you need your holographic watch.”
“Why?” I asked, slightly confused.
“Well pumpkin,” he began. “As you can probably tell, you look different from both of us and everyone else. We’re worried about what would happen to you if you go out in public like this.”
“Cause of my snout and tail, right?”
“And scales and claws, Honey,” he finished. “Humans tend to be a panicky bunch and don’t really think for themselves. If one human sees something that isn’t right they scream and shout, and others join in. Then we have witch hunts and all that stuff.”
“I didn’t know,” I answered, turning to look away from him.
“Its ok, come on. Go grab your watch in the jewelry case and we’ll go grab breakfast.” I nodded my head and took off back down the stairs.
So if I don’t look normal why does this feel normal? I opened my jewelry cabinet and grabbed the heart shaped watch sitting by itself. I put the watch on and went back up stairs. “Got it,” I said holding up my wrist with the watch.
“Do you remember how to activate it, sweetie?” my mother asked. I shook my head. She smiled and stepped forward and played with the watch hands and dials, doing so in a manner where I could watch what she was doing. Her hands working as if this were something she’d done many times before. “There. Now you’re ready to go.”
I looked down at my arm and was shocked to see that my arm was now a deep tan and my scales had vanished. “What did you do?” I asked, looking at her. I glanced behind me to see what it had done to my tail. “My tail!” I shrieked. “What did you do?”
“I turned on your hologram,” she said, grabbing her purse from the counter. “Let’s go, we’ve some shopping to do later, honey.”
“But what happened to my tail?” I asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” my dad responded putting his hand on my shoulder. “You can still feel it right?” I nodded. “It’s just hidden from eye.”
“Do you really want to hear about higher quantum math and physics this early in the morning?”
“I guess not,” I said, my voice unsure.
“Then don’t worry about it, just know it’s there and no one can see it. But be careful they’ll feel it if you whack someone with it.”
“Where did you get this?” I asked. “And why don’t they have one that hides my tail?”
“We’d need a small moon to power a device like that,” my mom said. “Or some highly unstable and potentially risky super fuel to power it.”
“Oh… Ok….” I turned in a quick circle checking my clothing. Other than my skin and tail nothing seemed to have changed. “So… it’s a disguise-o-tron?” I asked, snatching a smaller purse from the counter and joining them by the door.
“Yes, because we have to protect your secret, dear,” they both said as if that explained everything.
In the garage there were two cars and a small motorcycle. They walked to the larger of the two vehicles, a sporty looking coupe of some sort. My dad opened the driver’s side and motioned for me to get into the back of the car. I got into the back and got comfortable. In the exact middle of the back seat was a small hole; I assumed this was for my tail to slide through.
I slid my tail into the spot and strapped the seat belt into place, settling in for the ride. My mom sat down in the passenger seat up front and my dad got in, checked the mirrors, and hit the garage door opener. As we pulled slowly out of the garage, his face was filled with concentration.
I watched my mom reach into her purse and pull out some sunglasses. I looked in my purse to see if I might have some sunglasses as well. Rooting through the various things in my purse I finally found my sunglasses and put them on.
I saw a wallet and opened it. I wanted to know what might be inside. There was an ID card with what I assumed was my disguised face smiling back at the camera.
The face looked familiar to the little girl’s, only older. So that little girl was me? What else is there here? Birthday, July 9, 1994, height 4’10” weight 100lbs, blue eyes, blond hair, not an organ donor. I suppose that’s good. What would humans want with my organs? I said to myself mentally. Sasha A Jones, I repeated in my mind. My name really is Sasha, Sasha Ariel Jones… I hate that name!
“Still having memory problems, honey?” I nodded and went back to examining the wallet. “The doctor said it would take time, Sasha. You just have to be patient.”
I didn’t respond as I continued through the other cards. Several of them were membership cards of various sorts, a bankcard. In the very back of the wallet, hidden from all the other cards was another card that looked like an ID Card. This one was orange and had my actual picture on it. The lamented paper read U.S. Government Identification Card. “What’s this?” I asked, holding it up.
“That’s your federal government ID card,” dad said without looking back. His eyes darted to the rear view mirror to see what I’d held up. “That’s your real ID card, honey. You’re registered with the Bureau of Alien Discovery for federal regulations and policies only.”
“BAD? You registered me with an organization whose initials represent something… bad?” I asked, startled.
“Well, you can’t judge them by their initials,” my mother said. “They’re really good people. They gave you to us when you were little.”
“Alright” I said, putting the card back into my wallet and crossing my arms. “I’m waiting.”
“I’m sure you’ve guessed you’re not human, dear.” I nodded at the obvious statement. “We’re not sure what your race is. You’re the only one of your kind here on our planet. When you first arrived you were just an egg. They recovered you from an escape pod. We were on the list for alien adoptions when you came to us.” She explained as if she’d done this multiple times. “And you’ve been with us ever since.”
“And my doctor you keep mentioning?”
“He has his degree in xenobiology,” dad said without missing a beat. “He’s an MD and a psychologist, best there is here on Earth.”
“I see,” I said, reaching back into my purse. I found a checkbook tucked back into the very back of the purse. Opening the checkbook I blinked behind my sunglasses at the amount in the book. It was almost a million dollars. “Where did I get all this money?”
“Where do you think most of the government’s extra spending really goes?” my mom asked, turning around with a mischievous smile. “All aliens under a certain age receive a monthly settlement, like a paycheck.”
“So the government pays me?”
“In a sense yes, but when you turn eighteen you’ll be an adult and no longer able to receive those payments, unless you get a government job or go on to college. They can’t officially have you working incase you’re injured on the job so they pay to make sure you’re comfortable.”
The car slowed to a stop and I heard the parking break being engaged as the engine died. “Here we are,” dad said in an excited tone as he got out of the car. I looked up at the sign, which read, in large rustic letters “Cracker Barrel.”
“Cracker barrel?” I asked, skeptical.
“You love this place,” mom said, her voice sounding upset. “We get a spot right next to the fireplace and it always manages to perk you up no matter how bad you’re feeling.”
I shrugged and began to get out of the car, taking care to make sure my dress wasn’t getting caught on anything. I watched as my father walked ahead in a hurry to get to the door. My mother, however, walked at a more leisurely pace, keeping beside me. As we walked, her high heels made a clicking sound in the parking lot which probably helped to mask the clicking of my claws.
The restaurant wasn’t busy as we walked in and I saw several employees hurrying to light one of the large hearths. There probably wasn’t much call for it during the summer in Phoenix but they weren’t about to disappoint a customer who wanted a fire to eat beside, I suppose. I was given the chair closest to the fire and felt its warmth behind me, wrapping my tail close to the chair to avoid anyone stepping on it. My father ordered for us. His breakfast was biscuits and gravy, and my mom had some oatmeal or something. I was given a large steak that was still pink. I looked at them with an arched eyebrow.
“Eat up, we need to get the clothes we didn’t get yesterday,” mom said, dipping out a spoonful of her food. I noticed that all three of us were given straws for our meals but they didn’t put theirs in the drinks right away, preferring to drink from the edge. I tried it and felt my snout get in the way. Sighing to myself, I took the straw into my mouth and took a sip. I looked at the meal for several seconds before making use of the knife and fork to cut my food into small swallow-able chunks. The first bite I attempted to chew was closer to grinding the food between my teeth. I decided to just cut smaller chunks and simply swallow it after that.
For the rest of the meal I listened as my parents made polite conversation. I realized they were bringing me up to speed with what I should already know. Dejectedly, I continued to cut small pieces of the meat I’d been given, popping one into my mouth as I eavesdropped.
Our meal finished my father hustled us back into the car, opening the door for my mother and I. Once we were in the car and settled he started the car and began driving again. It wasn’t very long before we pulled to a stop next to a several other vehicles.
We were parked outside of an immense building with large letters on the front displaying the store name. “You girls have fun,” dad said closing the door behind us.
“You’re not coming with us?” I asked.
“I need to run a few errands.” He gave me a quick hug and kissed my mother on the top of her head. “My new computer chips are supposed to be in.”
“Your father builds computers in his spare time,” mom said.
“We’ll meet up at the food court when you ladies are done.” He smiled and indicated his cell phone. “Text me when you’re done and I’ll come meet you.”
“Alright,” My mother said, shooing him off. “Come along Sasha, we have clothing to try on.”
“Sure mom,” I replied as we walked into the mall together.
“But you’re so petite, honey,” she responded over the wall. “Just try them on please,” My mom called over the booth wall.
I was upset with her for dragging me to the little girls section and forcing every cute outfit she could on me. It didn’t help that the outfits didn’t work for my unique body. Any pants or shorts had to be discarded and some of the dresses as well. But the thing that was giving me a figurative and literal headache was my mother and her continued shopping for clothing that a girl years younger than I would wear.
Sure the shirts all fit but I couldn’t see wearing clothing that someone in grade school or middle school would wear in high school. I was a young woman now, not a child!
“Mom, I’m not wearing anything with teddy bears on it,” I declared, throwing one of the little kid shirts back over the changing wall. “I’m not a little girl mom!”
“Yes dear,” my mother replied. “But you’re still too petite for normal teen clothing.”
“I don’t want to wear little girl clothing, Mother,” I snapped. “Why not just wear baggy clothing?”
“Because it won’t trap air as well and you’ll get cold.” My mother sighed. “Honey, if you think you’re fine on clothing we can move on,” she said, her voice clearly holding back annoyance.
“I wanna look around more,” I called back.
“Alright, I’ve some things to take care of. Just stay away from Sears. That’s where the c-a-t-s are at. We’ll meet up in an hour at the food court.”
After trying on the last of the clothing my mother had given me, I shrugged on my shirt and checked my hologram to make sure I was decent and stepped out of the changing room looking for a sales counter, armed with the least childish shirts to purchase.
My search for a sales counter brought me through the bathing suit area. I stopped to stare at a blue one piece that was hanging on the model. It hugged the dummy’s rather plain curves very well, but it was just a dummy. It wasn’t like it was going to move and display the bathing suit in all its best qualities… or had a tail. “Not like I can wear that,” I said to myself.
“Why not?” A male voice I didn’t recognize asked in response.
Startled, I turned to look at who was responding to my statement. The teenager had to be almost six feet tall and his frame was wiry. He wore sunglasses and a baseball cap. With his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his cargo shorts and a band shirt of some sort I didn’t recognize. His chin was adorned with a rather pathetic dotting of facial hair. He seemed typical of the few other teens I’d seen strolling around but something about him caught my eye. Perhaps the bold way he injected himself into my personal space and thoughts. Maybe it was his charming smile or that wonderful scent.
“I don’t look good in one pieces,” I said hesitantly, still eyeing his face and taking a step back.
“I bet you’d look good in that one,” he countered, grinning back at me.
“Yeah, well I won’t. Trust me,” I said, turning and taking extra care to avoid brushing him with the tail. I felt the ruffles of some clothing flow past my tail and quickly stopped hoping no one saw it. There were no shouts and I released my last breath in relief.
“You won’t know till you try it on,” he replied with a mischievous tone ignoring my rigid body or missing it completely as I worried about my tail.
“Yes, I will,” I said, not turning back to him. I headed to the checkout counter, placing my purchases down. I could hear the sound of sandaled feet slapping behind me. I looked over my shoulder to see him standing not far behind me. “Yes?” I asked, slightly annoyed.
“Oh, don’t mind me,” he smiled. “I’m just wandering ‘bout.”
“Huh?” I replied taking the offered pen and scribbling a signature. “Thanks,” I said taking the bags and walking away.
As I walked I could still hear the boy walking not far behind me. “Look, if you’re going to follow me at least tell me your name.”
“Dan,” he said from over my shoulder. “And who am I chasing again?”
“Ariel,” I said, slowing down to wait for him. “Again?” I don’t know why, but Ariel just sounded better than Sasha. Sasha made me sound Russian and my hologram looked too tan to be from the ‘Old Country’. He stopped just to my left. “So why are you following me, Dan?”
“I saw you yesterday with your folks. Then I saw you wiggling your butt through the women’s department alone and decided I’d say hey.” He was quiet for a second. “So um… hey?”
“Wiggling my butt?” I asked turning to stare at him. crossing my arms in front of my chest. “So you were staring at my ass?”
“Uh… yeah,” he said, his face uncertain. After a moment’s pause he offered his hand palm up. “I’ll carry your bags for ya, if you like.” I gave him my freshly purchased bag of T-shirts and blouses. “Must not have finished all your shoppin. Where to?” he asked with a grin.
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m not really sure where I’m going. But I can’t go to Sears. You’re welcome to tag along till we reach that place.”
“Sure,” he said with a shrug.
As I walked with Dan he started talking, filling our uneasy silence with his constant chatter. As he talked he told me he was the middle child of his family and that he was a sophomore at the high school I would be going to. Something I had only discovered an hour before during breakfast. He occasionally played hoops but mostly he played baseball.
He was studying to be a rock god worthy of Hendrix, Clapton and several other names I didn’t know. I smiled and listened politely while he spoke. Totally confused about half of what he was talking about. As we walked we drifted to the music store and he followed, evaluating each of the bands and who was popular and who was not. I browsed the stuff with little interest, not knowing really what I wanted to listen to and unsure where to start even if I did know.
As we walked, Dan picked up various CDs. By the time we made our way through the store he had four in varying genres. He grinned and set the CDs down at the counter. He fished into his pocket for his wallet all the while making small talk with the lady behind the counter and I felt angry that he did it in front of me! He was just a flirt with no interest in me what so ever!
His CD’s purchased, he dropped them into the same bag as mine.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“You looked confused when we were walking through the store and you didn’t comment on any of the music selections. I figured I’d give you the gift of music.” He smiled and patted my shoulder. “My gift to you, Ariel.”
“Thanks, Dan. That means a lot to me.”
“Think nothing of it; you can be my number one groupie when I’m famous.”
“I don’t know what a groupie is.”
“Then you can be the watch dog for the other groupies.”
“Uh… thanks Dan.” Did he know I wasn’t human?
“Don’t mention it,” he said, wrapping his arm around my shoulder and hauling me closer to him. I didn’t resist as he did so. His hands were safely on my t-shirt so he couldn’t feel my scales. “Just remember, we built this city…” he said, “…on rock and roll.”
“God that’s cheesy,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief.
“It didn’t work for Jefferson Starship either,” he responded with a laugh.
We left the store, his arm around my shoulder and my arm around his waist. We walked through the mall in silence. From a distance I’m sure we looked like a couple. Was that so wrong? If I lost my memory randomly why shouldn’t I have fun? As we walked I took a deep breath of his scent. He smelled of slight after-shave and cologne, of mild perspiration and old clothes, unde6r arm deodorant, and shampoo.
However underneath those mundane smells lay two other things. Something that I couldn’t quiet place and something else, something I could only describe as happy. That scent sent a wonderful ripple down my spine to the tip of my tail, causing it to tingle. It was a wholly pleasant feeling.
“You smell nice, Dan,” I commented as we continued walking.
“Thanks,” he said, rubbing my shoulder lightly. “It’s my own blend of cologne.”
“Really,” I said. “I can smell the cologne, aftershave, and shampoo you use.”
“Shit! How can you tell?” Daniel asked. “You’ve gotta have a great honker I mean nose… I mean… ah shit, I didn’t–”
“It’s a gift,” I said modestly, ignoring Dan’s flustered reaction. Busted! I thought triumphantly. He’s not so confident after all.
Dan was quiet for several minutes afterwards as we walked. “Come on, let’s go to the food court, I’m starving!”
“Your food court awaits,” he grinned leading me off towards the enticing smells of nourishment.
“Sasha!” A voice I didn’t recognize called as Dan and I walked towards the food court. “Sasha! Attendre!” I casually looked around to see if I recognized anyone, which was a waste of time, as I didn’t know anyone I’d met today.
There was a tap on my shoulder and a pretty blond girl stepped up beside me. “Bonjour Sasha,” she grinned pulling me into a quick embrace. “Comment sont vous mon cher ami?”
“I have no idea what you said,” I responded pushing against the taller teen. Now that I was right next to her I gulped. She was gorgeous and I felt incredibly jealous of her looks. I couldn’t help but see Dan staring.
“Désolé, Sasha,” the girl laughed. “I was asking how you are today?”
“I’m well,” I fumbled looking at the girl. She was dressed very similar to me and she didn’t react when she felt my snout. She couldn’t have missed it! I didn’t have time to react to the hug.
“And who is your friend?” She smiled looking to Dan.
“Dan,” he responded smiling and extending his hand.
“Yvette Cuillerier.” She took his hand and shook it once. Her eyes sparkled mischievously at both of us as she stood practically swaying from foot to foot.
“Pleasure. Are you one of Ariel friends?” Dan asked, his eyes seeming to roam over her entire body.
“Oui,” she responded with a quick nod. “We have been friends for many months.”
“You speak French?”
“Oui,” she responded still smiling at what she must have thought an obvious statement. “I have but just moved to America from France. My English is not strong enough. My parents are thinking and they wanted to enjoy warmer weather.”
“So how did you meet Sasha?”
“Our parents are working in the same building, we have slumbered together,” she smiled and then stopped tapping her chin with one manicured nail. “We have painted each other’s nails,” she finished grinning. “We are best of friends.”
“Ah, slumber party,” Daniel supplied with a grin. “Any pillow fights?”
“Non,” Yvette responded shaking her head with a look of confusion.
I could only watch in fascination as the two talked. My diary didn’t mention anyone named Yvette. How was I supposed to act around her? Her grasp of English seemed to be somewhat shaky. If we knew each other it would be rude for me to point it out… or did she know I had memory issues and it didn’t bother her?
“Well that’s pretty cool, Yvette,” Daniel finished their current topic. “We’re about to go grab some milkshakes. Do you wanna come?”
“Impressionnant!” Yvette grinned grabbing my hand in hers and beginning to walk. “It is a pleasure to see you at the mall today, Sasha. How did you get here?”
“Parents,” I supplied. “We’re making a day of it.”
“Wonderful,” she grinned patting me on the back. “C’est magnifique!”
“Right,” I mumbled as she switched back into French and lost me completely. There was something odd about Yvette. I looked her over hoping to figure out what it was. I caught on her wrist holding Dan’s hand a similar watch as my own. Could she be an alien?
Between Dan and Yvette talking about the latest bands and movies I began to feel better. Like despite having memory issues I was going to be ok as long as I took everything a day at a time.