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started by RedBengalTiger on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 10:36pm PST
modified on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 4:43pm PST

Marta felt it before she saw it - a storm on the horizon, massive and gusting across the fields with its thick grey clouds; she felt it deep in the marrow of her smallest bones, coarsely ingrained in her skull - a shaking, a hushed whisper of a thought, and there it was, facing her through the tall, glass window panes. She had known it was coming, yet had done nothing to prepare. Perhaps it would've been more beneficial to have at least shut the storm windows, but now there was no time - and did it really matter?

With uncharacteristic stillness, she settled down into a comfortable wing chair, closed her eyes and waited. Her breath slowed to a steady rhythm, inviting her imagination to wander as the roar outside increased. Was that hail beating on the roof or her heels tapping on the hardwood floor when she danced with Max last month? Where was he now? There had been such sparks, so much romantic passion at first and then . . . came that terrible accident. The doctors had done their best but his memory was utterly gone. Suddenly, Marta was startled out of her reverie by a loud crash somewhere in the house. A furtive glance toward the window informed her that it was now early evening, so the sound hadn’t come from the storm which had long since dissipated. Where had the afternoon gone? The window was still open and fire flies winked in and out of the darkened room.

She trembled. Something wasn’t right. There was someone else here.

She stood, a little too quickly, and listened hard. A low steady hum came out of the kitchen. Not a sound she recognized. Using the protective darkenss to her advantage she followed the faint glow of the fireflies toward the back of the house.

The hum grew louder and formed words. I'm as restless as a willow in a windstorm, I'm as jumpy as a puppet on a string, I'd say that I had spring fever, But I know it isn't spring.

Marta’s breath caught in her throat. Was that. . . Max? How could it be, he had been so. . . damaged. But there was a characteristic lilt in the voice that belonged to no other. “Oh Max!” she cried. “You’ve come back! Where are you? I don’t see you.” “I’m here, my love.” The voice emanated from the shadows near the kitchen table. “No, don’t come any closer! You mustn’t look at me. Just think of how I was when we were happy together. His voice sounded strange, like honey dripping through a comb.

“But you KNOW me, you know who I am!” she said with surprise. “I thought your amnesia was permanent. And the. . . procedure. All those skin grafts. They said you wouldn’t walk again. Oh Max, are you alright?”

“Yes, m’love. But I’m no longer the man you knew” he dissembled. “I (sob~!) I’m going away, far away. I just wanted to see you one more time. It was wrong. I’m sorry.” Somewhere in the distance, a dog barked.

“Oh Max (Mack? Nat?)” she pleaded “I don’t care about all that. I love YOU!” Suddenly, she flipped on the light. An involuntary gasp escaped her lips. Then she fainted.

Somewhat later she heard the low rumbling of a car’s motor. No, not just that, but the sound of tires in rolling contact with the road. She was moving. Then this cramped, darkened space must be the trunk of a car! “Oh help, help! Let me out of here!” she wailed, pommeling the lid above her without effect. The car slowed down. She heard the texture of the road underneath her change from asphalt to loose gravel. Then it came to a stop. The engine cut off and a door opened and shut.

Then a sound she wasn’t expecting. She caught a whiff of salt air and. . . the trunk lid sprung open. Max stood over her with the hood of his jacket pulled over his head and his face in shadow. “I’m sorry about the rough treatment, m’love. But you were in danger – real danger.” I had to spirit you out of there fast. Hurry, take my hand and follow me up the gangway. There’s no time!”

Marta unfolded herself from the restrictive space, stepped out onto the ground and smoothed her dress. Her eyes followed his across the dock to a long gangway to the deck of an impressively large cargo ship. “Alright Max. I trust you” she whispered. “But once we settle inside I want you to tell me what this is all about.”


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