liz meets her old friends and still doesn't remember...
“God, I can’t wait to see her.”
“What Isabel?” Max gave Isabel a dirty look, she only seemed interested in spoiling his good mood about Liz's release from the hospital.
Isabel shrugged his glare off and said, “Just don’t get your hopes up. Maria said she remembers nothing from before the crash. She doesn’t even remember Alex.”
“I’m sure once she’s home she’ll remember.”
“I don’t know, Max. She and Alex were really close. Kyle told me that his friend Michael is moving in with them.”
“So?” Max grumbled belligerently.
Slowly Isabel replied, “So, for some reason Liz likes him.” She needed her brother to understand the implications before being faced with reality.
“Yeah but she’s my girlfriend.”
“Liz might be. But Elizabeth isn’t.”
Frowning Max said, “I don’t get this Elizabeth stuff. Why do we have to call her that?”
“Because she wants us to.”
Shaking his head, Max decided he'd continue with his denial, “Well I’m sure once she sees me she’ll remember everything.”
“Are you sure you want her to?”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“I mean I was here when you guys had that argument. You cheated on her, Max. I can’t believe you did that. She’s a good kid. I don’t know what the hell you were thinking!”
“Have you told anyone?”
Isabel blew out an angry breath. “No. God. I can’t believe you. I hope she doesn’t remember for her sake. Not yours.”
“Good. That’s between me and her, Is.”
“Whatever. I’m catching a ride with Kyle and Maria.”
Max barely even registered Isabel’s exit. His sister was such a drama queen. But at least she hadn’t told anyone what he and Liz had been arguing about that night. He would make it up to her. Although he couldn’t help thinking, everything would be perfect if she just forgot everything that happened that day.
Betrayal is a funny thing. Forgotten it means nothing. Remembered everything.
All Max wanted was his life back to normal. The perfect girlfriend, the perfect life. He wanted to forget the past year had ever happened. But the irony of memory is that even if you’ve forgotten somebody else will always remember. So what’s the point of forgetting?
There is no way to turn back the clock. No way to undo the damage you’ve done. You can only hope to repair it. But it will always take time to heal.
Silence is always more startling in a group of people. The drive over to the Parker’s apartment was a quiet one. Each of the car’s occupants involved in their own thoughts about everything that was happening. Wondering what place were they to occupy now in Elizabeth Parker’s life.
“So did you hear from Alex when she got there?” Isabel asked Maria. She really wanted to know if Liz remembered anything. She hated that she was forced to keep her knowledge of things quiet, but she didn’t want to cause Liz any undue stress, and she really didn’t want her baby brother to get his ass kicked.
“Yeah. He called to say that she and Michael arrived fine. She didn’t seem to respond to anything in their surroundings, not even a flicker when she saw her room. Although she did say she liked the balcony.”
“She always loved the balcony. Do you think she’s going to change things around or will she keep them the same?”
“I don’t know. Hell, I don’t know what to expect from her.”
“Maria, listen to your big brother for once. Will you trust me when I tell you this?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Amnesia doesn’t change who you are as a person. What it does is makes you forget what sides of your personality you’ve shown to the world.”
“That sounds really confusing. Where’d you hear that?”
“We’re here,” Kyle announced as he shut off the engine. He turned to the girls and asked, “So are you guys as freaked as I am to see her?”
“Hey I’m just afraid of slipping up, you know.”
Nodding they both muttered, “Yeah.”
They exited the car silently. Each of them lost in their own thoughts. Wondering if theirs would be the face she remembered. And what would it mean if it were?
“Do you know them?” Liz asked Michael.
“I know Kyle pretty well. And I’ve seen Isabel, his girlfriend, around at games but we haven't talked much."
“Yeah, I noticed.” She'd ben retreating into herself and curling her body into his until there was barely any room for him to move on the couch. He wondered why he didn't mind her touch, he wanted her closer even. They hadn't known each other long at all, and already he mourned the day she'd go back to her old life.
They were sitting together on the sofa. They’d been watching TV until Liz had gotten restless. She was afraid of seeing the group of people who had been her friends. People she didn’t even remember. “Are you my friend?”
She asked the question abruptly. Almost as if she were afraid to hear the answer. Fiddling with the batteries on the remote control she leaned forward so her hair cascaded in front of her face, barring it from his view.
“Because I don’t think I have any.”
Michael’s heart broke at the sorrow in her voice. She knew and understood what friendship was, she just didn’t remember actually feeling it. He’d never had many friends. Even as a member of the team, part of the in-crowd at school, he’d never actively sought out others. His nature was reclusive, friends were few but extremely valuable.
He knew that he’d known Liz for such a short amount of time, but who was to say that he didn’t know her best, who was to say she didn’t know him. And she was beyond valuable, she was precious.
“Yes, you do. You have me.”
She smiled at him, her joy a painful thing to see. And she leaned back nestling her head against his shoulder.
“Thank you. You won’t leave will you?”
“Never. Not until you ask me to.”
“Good. You’re never leaving then.”
Michael smiled at the satisfied note in Liz’s voice. His words had been a simple thing to say, but something she had needed to hear so very badly. And the truth was he didn’t want to leave. He’d only spent the afternoon in what would now be his new home, and it felt more like a home than the miserly pad he and Sean shared. He recognized the love that inhabited this space. He was pretty sure Liz did too.
Alex walked into the living room with a strained smile on his face. Michael knew that the entire day had been really hard on him; he knew that Alex had hoped that seeing her things, being in this place would jolt her memory. But it hadn’t.
“Everyone’s here. They’re coming up. You okay?”
“Yeah. Sure, you’re staying right, Michael?”
“I promised didn’t I?”
“I know. I just wanted to make sure that’s all.”
Michael’s reply was cut short as the group walked into the Saunders’s apartment. They walked in laughing at some shared joke, their apprehension showing through their eyes and their uneasiness. Michael was glad to see Kyle; it was nice to have at least one familiar face.
“Hey, man.” They shook hands. Michael nodded at the two blondes standing by his friend. “Hey. Isabel. Maria.”
When he thought about it he realized that he was in a better position than Liz, he knew something about these people, he’d interacted with them before. Liz knew nothing, other than the fact that in the past she had.
He felt her come up to his side, and instinctively wrapped his arms around her. He knew without looking that her eyes were wide, like a deer caught in headlights, she felt like she was on the spot.
The sideshow freak, whom everyone had come to see.
“This is Elizabeth. Elizabeth, this is my friend Kyle, his girlfriend Isabel, and his baby stepsister Maria. She's also dating your brother.”
Michael shrugged and made the introductions. Alex had stepped into the kitchen to get some snacks, so there was no one else. And everyone was staring at them already. He couldn’t explain why it was necessary for him to be touching her, just as much as she couldn’t explain why it was she needed him. Kyle was the first to respond.
“Hey, Elizabeth. How are you feeling?”
“Um. A little achy and sore. I’m still really tired.”
“Let’s sit down. You need to be resting.”
Michael admonished. Ushering everyone to the different chairs and sofas in the room. He sat on the love seat with Liz, while Kyle and Isabel sat across from them on the sofa. Chloe sat in the lazy boy, and when Ned walked back in with refreshments he sat with her there.
“Chica, I brought you your final assignments. If you need any help with them give me a call okay!”
“Thanks, Maria. Did I miss a lot of school?”
“Nope were reviewing for finals week, and I can tell you that all us seniors wanted to do was finish already.”
Maria laughed nervously. This was her best friend. And for the first time in the fifteen years they had known each other they were behaving like strangers. She just didn’t know what to say to Liz to make her feel at ease. To make them both feel at ease.
“Yeah. Did I miss graduation?”
“Nope. It’s just a month away. And prom. So we’ve got to go shopping like mad. And we can totally redecorate your room. Isabel, you should come with.”
“You know I never say no to shopping.” Isabel replied.
And at once they all laughed. Not the nervous jittery laughter from before, but the laughter shared among friends. They amused both Michael and Liz with anecdotes, on how they met, who liked whom and who hated whom. Stories from high school, from middle school, from elementary, stories that demanded an open, new audience, stories that liked to be told.
Their laughter was real. But it stopped. Once the doorbell rang. It was Max.