There was something familiar about the landscape before me. Whether it was because I had seen something similar in my previous life or perhaps the colours just naturally fitted together so well, I couldn’t tell. For whatever reason, there was something that stirred my mind into a knowing contentment.
I turned from the balustrade and looked up at the large two story house which had towered shadowless behind me. The outside wall was plastered in pale pink and the roof was clad in weathered terracotta. There was a large glass door that led into the house from the veranda. It was already slid half open as if I had just come through it. From inside the house I could hear the sounds of moving furniture. The ribbiting of wooden legs being dragged along a hard floor. Being dragged by someone. My girlfriend. I could remember her, not her name or what she looked like, but her.
I stood staring at the glass door as if it were a portal to my whole history. This was my house too. I’d bought it. Or had she bought it and we’d moved in together. I couldn’t quite remember the details, but there were vague recollections, undefined shapes floating around my previously empty mind.
I carefully edged my way towards the door. My body could move freely. Gone was the aching pain across my shoulders. Back was the strength and sturdiness of my legs. I was still in the same body, the same plump and unwieldy figure, but it no longer bore the marks of a terrible ordeal. This brought an unasked smile to my lips and I shook my shoulders slightly like a gymnast loosening up. Confidence started to swell back into my veins and I began to walk with a slight hint of a swagger.
The kitchen beyond was dark and cool. It wasn’t the same type of biting cold that, until a moment ago, had been cutting to my bones, but rather a refreshing cool of a cave hidden behind a waterfall. The air kissed my cheeks and caused the final muscles in my body to relax. The darkness, too, wasn’t a murky shadow. It wasn’t an all pervading gloom to help conceal the devious monsters hiding in the corners. It wasn’t a breeding ground of ghouls and ghosts. It was a shield from the glare. A haven where you could relax.
It took awhile for my eyes to adjust from the brightness of the outside, but slowly the room built itself around me. Lightly coloured tiled floors. Walls crested with wooden cabinets, giving a guard of honour to the wide open space of the room. There was a solitary table. It was placed under a pair of closed wooden shutters on the left hand side of the wall and standing next to it, looking out of breath and a little flustered, was her. My Girlfriend. My love.
She had long curling brown hair that swirled and cascaded over her shoulders to the small of her back. Her brown eyes, even in the gloom of the room, sparkled like an innocent child’s and reached out to me across the empty floor. She was petite, possibly around five foot, and her thin frame made her look as fragile as a doll, but her confident posture and relaxed aura spoke of a woman in complete control of her universe. I instantly wanted to take care of her and be protected by her at the same time. I felt my mind empty. There were no thoughts left, just simple feelings and desires. I stood there, motionless, unaware of anything but her.
My features must have relaxed into a ridiculous expression because her smile flicked from a teasing greeting to one of humorous concern. “Don’t worry Neil, I’ve moved it now so you won’t have to. Don’t you think it’ll be nicer by the window though? We’ll get the sun on it for breakfast.”
I squinted dumbly, listening to her words. For a moment it felt like she was speaking in a foreign language that I had only just started to learn, I had to think carefully about every word and slowly slot them together to form a picture of her meaning. As my brain got into gear, though, my faculties started to return to me and I stared at her in amazement. She had called me Neil, she had given me my name, returned my identity to me. I was Neil. She had made me, built the world back around me. I was Neil.
I began to realise that she was still staring at me, more and more concern seeping into her face I stood silently looking back at her. Finally I managed to move my lips. “What?”
“Are you feeling all right?”
“Yes. Fine. Fine.” I said hurriedly, “The table looks great, um, this is going to seem like a silly question…”
“It wouldn’t be your first.” She interrupted and shot a beautiful teasing grin at me, the signs of concern having completely evaporated from her. She started to place a few things back on the table, taking time over a bowl of flowers that was its centre piece.
“What was I doing outside?” I asked slowly, trying to make it sound like I had lost my keys rather than my entire memory. This place felt familiar. She felt familiar. I knew she was my girlfriend. I knew this was our house, but I had no specific memories about any of it. I didn’t know her name, I didn’t know where we were. I couldn’t recall a single moment of being here, and yet I was certain I had been.
“Darling,” she spoke as if she were having to tell me my own hair colour, disbelief in my question bouncing with every intonation of her voice. “You were enjoying the oneness, the harmony of the valley. Like you always do at this time of day. This is when it is perfect.”