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Try to Remember, Want to Forget
They smile and tell me to sit down. Each of them settle in folding chairs across from a single chair on the opposite side of the table. They make an odd trio; one african-american man wearing a suit, a white man who looks like a poker player, with cigar-stained teeth and a hairy chest, then a young, blond woman that looks like a Barbie doll. The Barbie scares me the most. I can see a gun in the black man’s pocket, and I’m sure he can use it, but the Barbie is more menacing, with crystal blue eyes and red lips the color of blood.
She feigns a smile and motions for me to sit.
“Now honey,” she starts, her voice like poisoned honey, “Where’s your sister?”
I gulp. Every time. Every frickin time. “Gone.”
The Barbie laughs and her cohorts laugh uneasily along with her. Suddenly, she cuts off her laugh, but the other two, unaware of what had happened, continued. She smacked the Poker Player and they both stopped. “We know you have her.”
I close my eyes. “I… Don’t… Have her.” I force each word out, the strain nearly killing me. Why can’t they stop asking?!
Barbie narrows her eyes. “Honey, she is a threat to National Security!” Her voice hits a high note at the end, making me further believe that she should be an opera singer. As she talks, she slams her hand on the table, causing the men to jump. She does it too often for me to be surprised.
“I don’t haver her.”
For a moment, we hold each other’s glares, until Barbie relents. She leans back and crosses her arms. “Fine. Where were you on June 17th?”
I try to think. It’s like trying to remember something that should be there, but just… Isn’t. I’ve tried to remember for days, weeks, perhaps even a month. It just isn’t there. As far as I knew, I was sitting inside my air-conditioned house, using the fan to cool myself down. That was the day Jenna disappeared. I need the answers… I need to know what happened.
The black man leans over and stares at me. His eyes are dark brown, so dark they look like chocolate. Dark chocolate, even better. Those eyes make the whole world disappear.
“Jessica, what does your sister look like?”
I close my eyes. Even that’s getting hard to remember. Her eyes were green… No blue. “She was short,” I announce. Immediately, the Barbie furrows her brow. “She had green- no blue… Wait, hazel eyes. And she had curly hair down to her shoulders. It was a dark color. Brown… Or black.”
I can’t believe that I can’t remember Jenna. The Barbie leans over and whispers something in the black man’s ear. Upon hearing her request, he leans over and takes a bundle of papers out of his briefcase. “Jessica, I’m going to show you a few pictures.” He sees my fear, then quickly elaborates, “I want you to tell me what you see, what emotions they make you feel.”
He puts the first picture on the table, and I’m surprised to see something I recognize. It’s a drawing of a family, two grown-ups, and three children. It’s a crude drawing, made by a young child, but I can recognize the army uniform on the oldest child, a boy, and two children, one with curly brown hair, the other scribbled of with red crayon. I can only tell that it was originally a child from the little feet sticking out the bottom.
“What do you feel?”
I stare in wonder at the drawing. “H-happiness. I feel… Happy.”
The man nods, then shows me the next picture. This one is made by someone older. It’s an anime drawing of a girl with long blonde hair and dark brown eyes. She’s smiling and there are birds flying in the background, but I get a sense of fear. She… She’s almost as menacing as Barbie.
“I don’t like her,” I stated, shaking, shaking all over. “I really don’t.”
The man nodded, then went to the last picture. This time, it’s a photograph, fuzzy, as if it had been taken from a phone, then zoomed in on the focus. I could see a grieving family, again, two grown-ups and a girl with brown, curly hair, but this time, there was no boy and the last girl was not scribbled out, it was a tall, blonde girl, just like the one in the anime picture. They were standing in front of the grave, and while the other three cried, the blonde girl stared straight ahead. I felt nothing but betrayal.
“Who are these people?” I demanded. “Is this even legal?!”
Barbie looked at the black man, then looked back at me. “Honey, I want you to look at your reflection.” She holds out a mirror. I haven’t seen one in forever. I’m dying to see what I look like. It’s getting harder to remember even that. I reach for the mirror like water in a desert. But when I look at my reflection, it clatters to the floor. I see curly brown hair, hazel eyes…
“WHAT IS THIS?!” I demand. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
The poker player stands up, and starts to haul me out of the room. I shake from what I saw in the mirror. If that girl in the photograph was me, then who was the blonde girl…? I’m thrust into my room, then the door slams shut.
I pull myself over to the bed and collapse on my covers. Instead, I landed on something hard and warm. Shrieking, I shoot up to find myself facing the blonde girl from all those photographs. The one that made me shake.
Realization creeps over me, like a bucket of ice cold water.
She smiles weakly. “Yeah… Hey.”