Twisting Fate: Ch. 2

Tuesday, June 04, 2019


It’s the birds I notice first.

They seem to have burrowed a nest in my skull. 

But then I remember it’s just a hangover.

And why I have one.

I sit up with a gasp, forcing myself awake in an instant. I notice two things immediately: I’m alone, and I’m wearing what appears to be a man’s shirt, but my vision is blurry and my head is pounding.

I swing my feet over the edge of the bed, and stand up on shaking legs. Bathroom, I think, moving my body in the direction of what looks the most like a door. Why is everything so blurry?

I turn around and take a good look at the room. I still can’t see properly, but I can distinguish shapes and colors. There’s a lot of blue. The sheets on the bed are white. Wasn’t I in a car? When did I get here? What happened to my clothes?

I find a door. It opens to a bathroom. Even though the image is blurry, I can still see make out my disheveled figure in the mirror when I flick on the light.

I lean over the sink to dunk my face under the faucet for a drink of water, and my hair falls over my face. Only it suddenly isn’t my hair. My dark head of curls has been transformed into glossy blonde locks. I turn off the faucet and lean in close to the mirror so I can see my reflection.

I scream.

The reflection isn’t mine.

***

The girl across town used to think she’d be easy to forget because people often forget her name. She tells herself the name is just common. Everybody knows a Jennifer.

But now they will know her.

Now they will remember.

***

At first I think I’m hallucinating. 

Who is she?

The girl whose reflection is staring back at me in the mirror has blonde hair, blue eyes, and skin that might as well have never seen the sun.

What was I on last night? It had to be something. Why can’t I remember?

I lean in closer to the mirror, and notice a cut on the pale forehead, right along the hairline. I touch it, and gasp from the pain. It burns. 

I can’t be dreaming. 

This is real. 

But it can’t be. 

I don’t know what’s happening to me.

I need to get out of here. 

My vision is still frustratingly blurry as I stumble out of the bathroom, dragging my hand along the wall to find a way out. My head is throbbing. I can feel my brain pulsating behind my eyes.

I finally find another door that I assume must lead out of here. I’ve just opened it when a large, male figure steps in front of me, arms crossed over his chest.

“Where do you think you’re going?” he asks.

I squint, recognizing the voice. “Ben?”

“You shouldn’t be out of bed, Jasmine. Come on.”

Confused, I let him lead me back to the bed. What is Ben doing here? I don’t remember much, but I’m pretty certain I didn’t go home with Ben last night. 

Normally, I would have. But we were fighting again. 

I only go home with someone else when we’re fighting.

“Ben,” I say, “what happened? Where am I?”

He helps me lay back on the bed, and as he pulls the sheets over me, I catch a glimpse of the all-too-familiar pattern on the shirt I’m wearing. I see him push a button on the side of the bed, and suddenly I know exactly where I am. I can feel the blood draining from my face and my heart beginning to race as the sheer panic sets in. 

I hate hospitals.

 “Hey,” Ben says. “It’s okay. You’re okay.”

I hear the door open, and see a blur of pink rushing toward us. Something cold is pressed to my chest. A stethoscope.

“When did she wake up?” the blurry pink figure asks. 

“I don’t know. I went to grab a snack. She was up when I got here. The doc said to page when she woke up so—"

“Jasmine, sweetie, can you hear me? My name is Gretchen. I’m the nurse for Dr. Diaz. Do you know where you are right now?”

I clench my fists and nod my head. “Hospital,” I say.

“That’s right. And do you know why you’re here?”

I shake my head. “No.”

“Well, sweetie, you had a massive heart attack. Luckily, we were able to give you an emergency transplant right away. Dr. Diaz will be in shortly to explain things in more detail and answer any questions you may have, alright? ”

She places a blood pressure cuff on my arm before I can answer, and I look down at my hand. The albino-like skin is gone, replaced with my natural bronze. So it was a hallucination earlier? But it had felt so real…The cut on her/my head…I could feel it…

I feel the tight squeeze on my arm, and then the slow release. 

“Okay, sweetie. That's good. Try to rest. The doctor will be in to see you in just a bit, alright?”

She’s gone before I can answer. I close my eyes with a sigh, and pinch the bridge of my nose with my fingers. My head feels like it’s going to explode.

“Jasmine,” Ben says as I feel him take my hand in his, “don’t you ever scare me like that again.”
***

Jennifer never had a choice.

Her father was convinced he knew best. His strict rules governed her entire life. 

“We just want to keep you safe,” her mother said.

But all she wanted was her freedom.

***

I’m pacing in a room I don’t recognize. 

The room doesn’t have any windows or doors. 

There’s no hope for escape.

I don’t know where I am. I don’t what’s going on. When did I leave the hospital? Was I ever there? 

I wish I could find a way to contact Ben. He would know what to do. He would help me. Even after all I put him through, I know he’d come for me if I called.

I feel a tiny twinge of guilt in my chest at the way I’ve treated him. Ben is all I have left in the world. Though he’s saved my life many times, I never thanked him for it. He must be worried sick right now. It wouldn’t be the first time I ran off, but I’m usually able to call him and let him know I’m alive.

But now?

My phone is missing. I’m missing. These clothes aren’t mine. I don’t know where I am or how I got here. 

I have no way to reach him.

I start rummaging through the room looking for a phone or some other way to contact Ben, but besides the smashed pieces of what looks like used a be a phone, all I find is a cup, a bowl, and a journal belonging to someone named Jennifer. I read a couple of pages before I realize it’s hopeless trying to figure out what she’s talking about. She seems to have written everything in code.

I don’t know what to do. I can’t believe this is happening.

I—

“Jasmine? You in there?” Ben asks.

I blink. I’m still in the hospital bed. Ben’s hand is holding mine, an expression of concern on his face. I can see his face! Yes! This is progress!

“Ben!” I say, sounding more panicked than excited. I sit up and throw my arms around him. “Ben, what’s happening to me?”

***

Jennifer is trapped.

Though, as far as prisons go, it could be worse.

It could definitely be worse.

She counts her footsteps until she reaches the park down the street. Five hundred steps end in a patch of sunlight, and she pauses to let the sunshine kiss her skin. What if she took one more step? How far could she get before her absence was noted?

She looks down at the screen in her hands, already vibrating against her palm.

Not far enough.

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