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Our story begins with a name. Cameron. That was the name our hero first saw when he woke up. It was etched on the wall in front of him, but it looked fresh, like it had been done moments before he woke up. The man got up out of bed and walked over to the wall. He ran his fingers along the C. “Cameron...” he said to himself.
“Oh good, you’re up.” He looked away and saw a woman in the doorway of the room. “Samuel and I thought that you weren’t going to make it there for a while. What’s you’re name?”
The man looked back at the wall and found the letters had vanished. Had he imagined them? “Cameron...” he said softly. “I think my name is Cameron.”
“Think?! Surely you must know your name.”
“I don’t remember much.” He took a step towards her.
“You must have hit your head harder than we thought. Come with me. I’ll get you some water.” The woman left the doorway and Cameron followed her into a tiny room with a table. It was tinier than the room he had slept in. The small table was surrounded by four chairs and feet away from what might have been a fireplace. The woman stopped to get a bucket from beside the fireplace, then the two exited the house.
The land opened up to reveal miles of fields. There was a herd of sheep in the distance and what appeared to be edible crops closer to the home. The couple walked toward a pen, and passed that to a well. She attached the bucket to the rope and began lowering the bucket. “Allow me,” Cameron cut in, taking over the fairly simple task.
“As you wish.” She stepped aside obediently. Most women were still treated like servants at this time.
As Cameron let the bucket fall, he asked, “Pardon me, but you never told me your name.”
“Amelia.” She curtsied. “Amelia O’Malley. Daughter of Henry and Emily O’Malley.” Cameron thought she would have said ‘daughter of the late king and queen’ because of her formality. For some reason, that stuck in the back of his mind. Maybe he was the son of the late king and queen. Was there even a late king or queen?
“Nice to meet you Lady Amelia.” He started pulling up the bucket.
“No, not Lady. That is reserved for the lord’s wives. You must never call a commoner a Lady.”
“Sorry.” He was just trying to be nice. “I must have mistook your beauty for royalty.”
Amelia blushed. “I suppose, that if you would like, you can call me Lady in private.” She smiled at Cameron, and he found himself smiling back. Then the bucket of water reached the end of the rope.
Cameron took the bucket off the rope and held it in his hands. “Well, here’s the water.” Cameron made a move to hand her the bucket, but she pushed the bucket back towards him.
“No, the water is for you. You must be thirsty.” Cameron looked down at the water and saw himself, well, his reflection rather. He had light brown hair that hung slightly above his eyes and slightly below his ears. His eyes were a deep chocolate brown that, in his reflection, looked almost black. His lips were thin and it looked like he had some cuts on his face. Cameron didn’t recognize himself, but he hoped that his face was memorable. Someone must have been missing him right about now.
He looked up from the water to Amelia. “I think I’ll be fine without it. Thank though.” He actually was thirsty, but he had other things on his mind. “And thank you for your hospitality, but I think I should be going now.” Cameron started walking past Amelia, but she stopped him by grabbing his arm. He stopped and looked at her.
“Sorry, but, you don’t even know who you are or where you come from. Why would you leave?”
“Someone must know me and someone must miss me.” He started walking again, but Amelia just followed right along side.
“But you won’t know anyone. Even if you do find someone, you won’t know who they are.”
“But they can help me remember who I was.”
“And what if the person you were was thief. If that were true, the royal guards who grab you the second you stepped into a town.” Cameron stopped walking and so did Amelia.
He thought about it for a minute. “We don’t know what I was.”
“No. Just take this opportunity as a second chance to start over. Make a new, maybe better life for yourself.” Amelia stared into Cameron’s eyes, and to Cameron’s surprise, he found himself staring back. Maybe this girl was right. Maybe he should start a new life here. The two walked back into the home.
Cameron decided to stay with Amelia and her brother Samuel. Over the next few weeks, Cameron was brought into the family business: farming. He became an excellent farm hand and a excellent help for Samuel. When there were things to sell, Samuel left to go to market and left Cameron and Amelia alone. Cameron was left to tend the fields and herds of animals while Amelia took care of domestic duties. But there’s only so much time that farm work can fill.
Amelia and Cameron grew closer during the times Samuel was away. Well, they grew closer when he was there too, but not to their full extent. Cameron fell hard for Amelia and she fell harder for him, but there was only one thing standing in their way: Cameron’s past, or lack thereof. Cameron would always try to think about it and remember something, but always drew blanks. The only glimpses he had he got when he was a state of complete silence. Then, he could hear the names of someone, a woman, telling him to come back to her. He never told Amelia this; he didn’t want her to worry.
Three months into his new life though, Cameron decided that his past wasn’t worth jeopardizing his future. He took Amelia out that night, past the sheep’s pasture, past the fields of wheat, a place where the hills crested and a person could see the glistening sea that was miles away. It was here that he asked Amelia to marry him. She of course accepted and the two came back to the house in the morning. Samuel was moderately happy because he knew his sister would be happy, but also that he was losing her to this man, this man whom they knew nothing about. But he was happy for her nonetheless.
Knowing Samuel’s dismay, Cameron promised to build his own house on the farmland so as not to deprive Samuel of his sister or his farmhand. After all, Cameron couldn’t move away because he knew of no other place or job than the farmland. The cottage Cameron built was small, but it was large enough for him and his wife. When they found she was pregnant though, Cameron had to expand.
Time went by and his twins, a strapping son and lovely daughter, grew up. Then on a cloudy day, a horn was blown. A horn designed to be heard for miles to signify the death of a royal. All subjects were to attend. It was the first time Cameron went to a town since he started his new life.
The towns moved in groups and all met up at the royal palace. Cameron, Amelia, and the two kids were at the edge of the crowd when the funeral started. The royal minister started off with a sermon followed by a prayer. Then the royal guards took the casket that had the late queen in it and carried it through the crowd. All bowed their heads and wept when the procession passed them, but Cameron was saddened more so than the rest. He felt some of his heartstrings break as the queen passed him. After the royal family finished following the guards, the subjects were allowed to follow. Cameron was at the front line of this mass.
A mile or so from the castle was the royal crypt. The ceremony continued there and the minister lead a final prayer. Once the guards had descended into the crypt to lay the queen to rest, the mob of commoners started to break. Cameron just broke down though. He couldn’t explain why, but he felt like a part of him had died when he had to admit to himself that the queen was dead, a queen he didn’t even know.
He collapsed into Amelia’s embrace. She consoled him. “It’s okay Cameron.”
Suddenly a lady, a royal lady spoke up. “Did you say Cameron?” She was looking straight at Amelia.
Amelia let go of Cameron and they showed their respect; Amelia curtsied and Cameron knelt. “Yes, my lady. Cameron is my husband.”
The lady walked over to the Cameron, his head bent down in respect. “Look up,” she commanded gently. He looked up, red puffy eyes gazing up at this royal. She studied him carefully, but gasped after a few seconds. She whispered to her lord who then turned and saw the man. As word spread amongst the royal, and even among some of the commoners, people turned and saw this man, and were taken aback when they realized who he was.
“Stand up,” the original royal told him. He did as she asked. “You’re even more handsome than I remember.” She hugged the Cameron, but he wasn’t sure what to do.
“My lady? Begging your pardon, but how do you know me?” He felt so awkward. He didn’t want to disrespect her, but he didn’t even know this royal, although he was pretty sure they had had a good relationship.
“My boy, don’t you remember. I’m your mother’s sister, Marion. Surely you must at least recognize Lord Garrett. You two had so many lessons together when you were younger.”
“Begging your pardon again, my lady, but I can’t recall any of that.”
She examined him had to toe again. “But you are Cameron are you not?”
“Yes, but I cannot remember anything from my childhood. My memories are only as old as my children are.”
“Children?” Lady Marion looked behind Cameron to see two children hiding behind Amelia. “Of what age are they?”
“No more than four years of age, my lady.”
“That fits the time...” she muttered to herself. “You there,” she pointed at Amelia. “Come here.” Amelia quickly scurried next to Cameron. “How did you come across Cameron?”
“I found him one night long ago, my lady. He was badly wounded and could barely stand. My brother and I brought him back to our home to nurse him to health. We did not know he was the queen’s son my lady.” Queen’s son?
“If what you’re saying is true, then you just stumbled across him?”
“Yes, my lady.” Cameron was still trying to come to grips with this. Was he actually the queen’s son?
Lady Marion looked into Cameron’s eyes. “Oh Cameron, what did you do to yourself?”
“I...I...” Cameron didn’t know what to say.
“But, it does not matter now, what matters is that you’ve found your place.” She motioned for him to follow her to the crowd of royals, but he didn’t move. “Cameron, don’t rebel, now come.”
“Lady Marion, forgive me, but I cannot leave my family. Even for a life as a royal. What kind of father would I be to abandon them for a life I know nothing about?”
“Leave them? No, they must come with us. They are now part of the royal family, and we must keep each other close together. Even grander than that though, they are now in line for the throne, for you are the heir to the throne.” Lady Marion turned to the large mass of subjects still there and announced. “In this great time of mourning, I bring you great news. The queen’s lost son, Cameron, has returned!” There were whoops and cries from the crowd and everyone swarmed around him. All Cameron could do was stand still and soak it all in. He was now heir to the throne? How could that be? Just yesterday he was a simple farmhand, but now he was royalty.
Cameron eventually learned all that he could about the royal family back at the castle. Lord and Lady Garrett taught him how a royal should act, how he should dress, how to address a crowd, anything a royal was supposed to do. But Cameron found himself wishing he was back at his humble cottage away from all this luxury and extravagance. He had been a nobody before and now people were counting on him to lead them in any direction possible. It put a great deal of stress on Cameron, but at least he had his family. They were the one thing that kept him from running off again.
A year passed and Cameron had run the kingdom pretty well, up to that point, but then word of a violent neighboring kingdom spread. In that kingdom, the king had just died and the widowed queen had lost most of her kingdom to factions of Lords and Ladies. Now she was out for blood and land with little to lose. Rumors had been spread that she had the ability of magic and that only a preemptive strike could neutralize her, but Cameron was gentler than that and proposed an arranged meeting with this evil queen. Everyone urged against it, but he knew what he was doing, or he hoped he did.
The meeting place was the hill on which Cameron had proposed to Amelia. It was quiet and out of the way, so that if anything went wrong, no one could get hurt.
He met the queen there. She was looking out at the sea. “Marvelous, isn’t it?” She pondered. “So much power, but so tame. Yet, when mother nature is angered, she wreaks havoc among the people closest to this gentle giant.” The queen turned around. “Wouldn’t you agree.”
“Yes. But we are here to talk about peace, not violence.”
“The only peace I speak of is the pieces of my the people who get in my way.”
“There is no need for violence. I have a proposal for you.” He paused, waiting for her reaction.
“I will divide my kingdom in half if it will keep you from going to war with us.”
“Tempting, but I think I’ll decline.”
“But if you don’t my army will fight to the last man. There will be nothing left to rule over if you kill everyone.”
“Or everyone will surrender before total destruction sets in. I find that fear is a much greater asset than benevolence.” She started to walk away, but Cameron grabbed her.
“I will not lose my entire kingdom over some petty war.” He unsheathed his sword. “And I will kill you know if that is what I must do to protect my land.”
She turned around and looked at him. He was doing his best to be mighty, but she just started laughing at him. She held her hand out in front of her, then squeezed, squeezing Cameron’s body and holding him in place. She really did have magic. She walked up to him and kissed him on the lips. He felt strange during and after the process, but then he started getting weaker. She backed away. “I have just enchanted you to die within the next day. Surrender now, or you will be through before sunrise tomorrow.” She smiled wickedly.
“I’ll die before I surrender.”
“That you will my deary, that you will.” She turned and walked away. As she left, Cameron thought that it was just a simple bravado, but then he realized he was getting physically weaker. Maybe he was dying. The sun started going down and he started to worry.
He rode back to his castle and got there before the sun came up. He woke Amelia from her sleep and told her what was going on. She started crying and he consoled her. When she was all cried out, he told her. “Never give up this kingdom, Amelia. I want was is right for my people.”
“Our people,” she corrected, crying but still hating that Cameron sometimes unintentionally excluded her. Then there was silence.
“Cameron?” He wasn’t sure he should ask what he was about to ask.
“Did you know who I was when you found me?” She didn’t answer him, and Cameron could feel a slight warmth in the air. Sunrise was coming. “Answer me, please. I won’t be angry. I just need to know.”
“Yes,” she whispered quietly. “Yes I knew who you were.” Cameron stared at her wide-eyed. Had this all been a trick? Did she love him? Was everything he had built with her a lie? No. He knew what they had was real. Or at least, he thought he did. When sunrise came, he kissed his wife passionately, but then started drifting away. His heart slowed down and he fell down, never to rise again.
It would have been a wonderful ending to such a tragic story, if only it were real.
If only it were Amelia and their kids and not his late wife Beth and their dead five-year old.
If only it were amnesia and not a nervous breakdown.
If only it were a royal family and not his family trying to integrate him back into his old life.
If only it were an imminent war and not the car crash he caused.
If only it were an evil queen and not death.
If only it were real life and not a fantasy.
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