I groan as I regain my consciousness. My body feels heavy and sore, like that time I was training for the inter-school sprint match. How did I get so tired? I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything strenuous this past few months. I don’t even remember going to sleep.
Then more recent memories trickle out. Ah yes, I was in the kitchen with mom and Vert, and then…what? I know something important happened, but I can’t remember.
I open my eyes and see darkness. Either it’s night or it’s night and the lamp is turned off.
Grumbling, I get up from the soft bed I’m laying on to search for the light switch. But since it’s so dark I didn’t see the obstacles before me until I trip myself over it and fall face first. Again.
“Oowww…” I groan and shut my mouth immediately. That doesn’t sound like me.
Let’s try again.
Yep, not my old voice. It’s thicker and heavier, just like dad’s. My body doesn’t feel right too. Did I get a cold or flu? But I feel healthy. Fresh even.
A door opens in front of me. I look up, hoping for some light to come through the darkness, and find none. There’s a sound of glass breaking and a woman’s scream instead.
The scream jolts my heart so much that I’m convinced it’ll change its position permanently once it settles down. Then she’s gone—the footsteps rapidly fading away tells me.
How rude. When you see someone on the floor, shouldn’t you help him?
I pick myself up from the ground and the footsteps come back with another set. Did she call for help?
Brother? Who is your bro— “Ack!”
I gasp as I get pulled into a chocking hug. Man, what is this strength? The arms are small, but they’re like metal clamps!
“L-lady Vert. You’re strangling master Argent,” the first voice comes to my rescue. I can breath easy again. Thank you, miss!
Did you just say, Vert?
A series of images flashes through my mind. The stairs. Vert. Hospital. Mom and dad crying. Cemetery.
The hugger—Vert—loosens her arms, but not letting me go completely.
“Ah, so sorry about that, brother. But I’m so happy to see you awake!”
Vert’s voice brings me back to reality. She sounds a bit different, more adult-like, but still recognizable. What’s going on here? Am I dreaming? How did I fall asleep anyway? I was looking at Vert, in her casket, saying my last words to her—
—and then what?
“Brother? Are you alright? Are you hurt somewhere?”
Damn it, this is just too much. I never imagined it, but I’m sure that’s how Vert is going to sound like if she lived long enough to grow up. If this is a dream, then it’s a cruel one.
“Are you… really Ver?” I ask, sounding calmer than I actually am.
Vert huffed. “Of course I am! Did you forget your sister’s face already? Well, my looks did change a lot, but I should look familiar at least!”
“How should I know that? It’s dark in here!”
“Dark?” The jovial mood turns into confusion in a flash. “But it’s quite bright here. Unless—“ Vert grabs my face and tilts it down so she can look at it. “Your eyes… something is wrong with it. Let me call—”
“Wait! Rather than that, why and how are you still alive?”
Vert’s hands freeze in place.
“Pardon me?” she asks, either not understanding the question or thinks that she hears it wrong.
“Master Argent, I think you remember it wrong. Nothing happened to lady Vert. It’s you who—“
“Stop it, Rosalys. It’s a good thing that brother doesn’t remember.”
“But I remember!”
“What do you remember?”
“You fell from the stairs—” the memory replays in vivid images, as if they’re happening right now “—snapped your neck. We held a funeral for you—” I put one white flower and thought of what to say, just like now “—so how are you still alive?”
The whole room grows quiet. There’s an uncomfortable atmosphere around us, like everyone waiting for someone to say the bad news for them, until Vert breaks the silence.
“Rosalys, can you leave us?”
“Certainly, my lady,” Rosalys responds and promptly leaves the room. Vert waits until her footsteps disappear before addressing me.
“Brother, can you tell me the last thing you remembered? Slowly, please.”
“Like I said, I was in your funeral—“ I cringe at the memory rather than my own bluntness. ”—saying my last words to you—“ more memories come back “—then deliver the eulogy—” which I don’t remember what I said, “—and then—”
I stop right there, waiting for more memories to come back. But it doesn’t. My mind draws a blank. Something big happened right after that. I know it, but I can’t remember it!
“And then what?” Vert prompts patiently.
“I can’t remember,” I answer. But right after I say that another memory resurfaces, “Hold on, there’s something else. I think I heard your voice.”
“Yes, you were talking to someone else. A male. You didn’t want him to come closer for some reason.”
I sense Vert’s discomfort. Funny how you can still tell things like this even when you can’t see.
“What’s wrong? Did I remember it wrong?”
“Not exactly,” Vert answers vaguely. “Anything else?”
I try to remember again, but the result is negative. “No. That is all. What about you?”
“Yes. Your neck was snapped. How did you recover?” It feels weird to ask this, but I need to know.
“Hold on. I never broke my neck. I have suffered some injuries in the past, but never on the neck or anything equally life threatening,” Vert answers.
“Really? Then my memory is mistaken?” I ask. Maybe that lady called Rosalys is right. I am remembering it wrong. It’s just a bad dream I haven’t completely awakened from.
There’s an awkward pause before Vert replies.
“What do you mean by no?” I find myself asking despite the dread creeping into my heart like cold water seeping through the fabric.
“I mean I’m not sure if your memory is wrong. It could be, because you looked like you’ve been unconscious for a long time when I found you, but it could also mean that you’re—”