Twisting Fate: Ch. 7

Tuesday, July 09, 2019



I want to tell Ben what’s been happening to me. I want to tell him about the flashes of memory that feel more alive than the most vivid of dreams. 

And how the memories don’t belong to me.

I want to tell him I think I’ve been remembering the life of the girl whose death gave me her heart. I want him to help me find out who she is—was—and help me piece together these memories and what they might mean.

But I’m pretty sure he would think I’ve gone insane and have me committed, strapped down to another bed in another hospital. For my own good, of course.

So I don’t tell him. Whatever is happening to me, I’m on my own.

 He helps me off the floor of the bar, his concern a mist shooting through his pores.

“What happened, Jasmine?” he asks. “Where did you see Sweet Breath?”

I shrug. “I didn’t. I fell. I was trying to get some ice for my glass. I must have slipped and bumped my head. It’s not a big deal.”

He doesn’t believe me, I can tell. He’s always been good at seeing through my bullshit. Thankfully, he doesn’t call me out on it this time. 

“I think you should go home and rest some more. I know it’s not what you want, but—” I cut him off.

“You’re right,” I say. He closes his mouth, shocked. “I’ll go. I’m feeling pretty tired now anyway.”

“Wait,” he says. “Let me drive you home.”

He rushes behind the bar and grabs his keys. He locks up the bar behind him as we leave. I follow him wordlessly to the car, afraid if I speak he’ll see through me again.

I won’t be resting when I get home.

I’ll be finding answers.

****

They had been meeting in secret for weeks.

After her parents fell asleep each night, Jennifer snuck out through the dog door to meet her perfect stranger in the park where they first met. She would dress in the same running gear she wore every morning, just in case.

“You don’t have to go back,” he would say at the end of each night. “You can come stay with me.”

“I can’t,” she would say. “You don’t understand. My father… he would never let me leave.”

“He doesn’t have to know.”

But as compelling an argument as it was, she would still return home just in time to wake her father for their morning run. And even though she didn’t get a wink of sleep, she ran behind her father with a smile on her face, unstoppable.

She thought she was hiding her secret so well.

She was wrong.

****

I start with the local news.

The death of a young girl would have made headlines, especially since it saved a life. My life. Though I doubt I’ll be mentioned by name.

I’m not as newsworthy.

As soon as Ben leaves, I look up the newspaper’s website on his computer. I scroll through the archives, wishing I remembered the date of the accident. Eventually, I stumble upon a headline reading “TRAGIC HIT AND RUN KILLS ONE, SAVES ANOTHER.” I click the link.

Jennifer Hawkins, age 19, was killed in a tragic hit and run on Route 66 late last night. Truck driver Roger Thomas found her on his usual route to Flagstaff. “I didn’t know what it was at first. Thought it might be a deer or something. I always try to stop and move them out of the way when I see one,” Mr. Thomas told authorities. When he realized the body was of a young girl, he called for help immediately. To the paramedics surprise, another young girl, Jasmine Youvella was found in critical condition in the backseat of a green sedan believed to be involved in the accident. The sedan had been reported stolen earlier in the evening, and was parked nearby. Both young girls were rushed to the Regional Medical center. Miss Hawkins was declared DOA while Miss Youvella was rushed to emergency surgery. The driver of the car remains unknown, though Mohave County Detectives will be investigating the incident as a homicide.

I’m surprised my name was mentioned. And that nothing else about the incident has been reported since. I remember the business card Detective Gold had given me at the hospital. Would he talk to me? Probably not.

I sigh, and write down the names Jennifer Hawkins and Roger Thomas. Quick google searches, however, don’t turn up any useful information on either one of them. 

As far as the internet is concerned, they don’t exist outside this article.

I remember the packet Dr. Diaz gave me when I was released from the hospital. He said he would include the contact information for the foundation that would allow me to write a letter to Jennifer’s family. It’s a long shot, but if I can get them to agree to meet with me, maybe I can figure out what’s happening to me.

And why I have their daughter’s memories.

****

Jennifer returns home at the usual time, just before her morning run. The dog is lying on the grass when she lands in the backyard with a quiet thump. He smacks his tail against the grass, but doesn’t bark or make any other effort to move. She gives him a pat on the head before slithering through the dog door again. 

She slithers right into her father’s legs.

“Where have you been?” 

His arm muscles bulge around his white wifebeater, and the glint of moonlight coming through the window reflects off the dog tag around his neck. She’s been caught, frozen,  feet still sticking out through the tiny doggie door and her arms locked in the push-up position. 

“Out…outside?” she stammers, her voice shaking with instant fear.

He picks her up by her hair, and she screams as he yanks her through the tiny door, her skin scraping against the edges as her skull flares with pain.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, sneaking through the goddam dog door in the middle of the night? Do you have any idea what I’ve sacrificed to keep you safe and give you the best life possible?”

“Daddy!” she squeaks. “Daddy, please! You’re hurting me! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

“Explain yourself!” he roars, smashing a fist into the window, shattering glass on the floor.

The pain in her scalp is too much for her to bear for much longer. She reaches up and grabs his arm, sinking her nails into his flesh. He lets go, and she hits the ground, the shattered glass piercing the skin on her hands and knees. She cradles her head in her bloodied hands, and curls into the fetal position.

“Get up, and go to bed. We’ll deal with your punishment in the morning,” he says.

Slowly, she picks herself off the floor. Her limbs are shaking as she walks to her room.

She can feel his eyes glaring into her spine.

She decides she won’t be staying here much longer.

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