NaNoWriMo 2019 Chapter 15
Disclaimer: This is a NaNoWriMo attempt where quantity trumps quality. This will also be a long piece, so if you’re looking for a quick read, I recommend checking out a different category like Short Stories.
~Chapter 15 Lunchtime Conversation~
With Julia’s potion, they bring Fletcher back to consciousness, but the effects of whatever knocked him out still linger. Seeing how dazed he is, Nolan hefts Fletcher on his back and carries Fletcher to his room to sleep it off.
“Thank you for your help,” Corvus says to the stranger.
“I didn’t do anything. You came back at the right time,” the stranger says.
“You were still here until we arrived, and we are thankful for that. We were hunting before this. Please, take your pick from what we harvested as our sign of thanks. You can take the raw material to have it crafted into something you like or sell it. The choice is yours.”
“Are you alright, Anastasia?” Lucy asks.
“I’ll feel better when Fletcher is back to his usual self,” she says.
Lucy studies her with solemn eyes, then reaches out her hand to touch Anastasia’s hair.
“Your hair’s a mess. Come on. I’ll tidy it up for you,” Lucy says and pulls her into the guild hall.
“My emph,” Anastasia says and twists around.
“I have it,” Lex says.
The guild members split up into the guild hall with their own things to do. She lets Lucy take her away.
“First, take a shower. Everyone will be lining up for it once they’re done doing what they’re doing,” Lucy says. “I’ll take the other one.
That’s sound advice. She grabs what she needs and heads to one of the bathrooms on the second floor.
As the warm water hits her back and roll down her skin, her racing mind slows and settles.
She huffs and digs her fingers in her hair.
Is this the kind of person she is? Only calm when everything’s fine and falling apart when there’s a crisis?
Her hands move forward so that she can hold her face in her hands.
There were a lot of things she could have done better. Not waste her time going indecisively back and forth between Fletcher and the back door, for one. Calm down enough to remember about the phone, just to name another. If it was her on the ground instead of Fletcher, he would know what to do.
Mindful that the others will also want a turn at the shower, she quickly finishes up and leave the bathroom, which is always a challenge with long hair. She remembers belatedly that she didn’t prepare extra towels for her hair before she showered, but when she enters her room, the extra towels are already waiting for her, together with Lucy, whose hair is still a little damp from her own shower.
“Come here. I’ll give you a hand,” Lucy says.
She isn’t up for conversation, but that has never bothered Lucy, who updates her about what they did while she and Fletcher were in the guild hall. Lucy’s voice is pitched deliberately cheery as she unties Anastasia’s hair and combs it, skirting around anything to do with emphs and Fletcher.
A few times, she hears movement and voices outside her door. Her head turns automatically at the sound, but Lucy turns it back.
“Let’s try again. And try not to skewer yourself on my knife,” Fletcher says with a wry smile.
“I will try.”
“Will Fletcher be alright?” she asks.
“I’m sure he’ll be fine. You got better. So will he,” Lucy says matter-of-factly.
It makes sense. That assures her. A little.
“I tried to call you but I didn’t know anyone’s number,” she says as she rubs her hair in between the folds of a towel.
You wouldn’t be able to get us anyway. We usually leave our phones back here when we go hunting. Don’t want to be interrupted by someone’s ring tone at a bad time, you know? Usually the person who stays back will keep an eye on any calls and pass the message on to Boss through our crest if there’s anything urgent.”
“So if no one called you, how did you know to come back?”
“Boss felt the backlash, so he suspected something was up. When he couldn’t get a response from Fletcher, he knew something definitely was up and we immediately came back. Our crests connect us all to the guild leader, remember?” Lucy says.
“Yes, but no?” She frowns. “I don’t remember what a crest does, other than what you’ve just told me. But I should already know this.”
“You lost your memories. Don’t be too hard on yourself,” Lucy says.
“Memories and information are stored differently. I remember enough to know that. I was fine with not remembering myself, but now I know there are things that I should know that I don’t, and that can be dangerous,” she says. Her voice rises with every word.
Lucy lets go of Anastasia’s hair and plants both hands on Anastasia’s shoulder.
“I think, you have had a tough day and you should rest,” Lucy says. “How about a nap after we’re done with your hair?”
“I’m fine,” she says.
“If you say so,” Lucy says and changes the subject. “Wow. Your hair’s taking a long time to dry.”
“This is normal. I should cut it.”
The green-eyed girl begins to chatter away about a hidden event in the city that she’s looking for as they work on Anastasia’s hair. Anastasia lets Lucy’s words drown her thoughts. The words blur together like waves that lap at her feet with the tide.
“Anastasia? Are you there?” Lucy waves her hand in front of Anastasia’s face. Anastasia startles in her seat.
“I’m here,” she says.
“I said your hair is done,” Lucy says. Her voice is light, but the reflection Anastasia catches of her in the mirror wears a frown.
“Nap time,” Lucy declares.
“I’m fine,” she says.
“I want a nap. Join me.” Lucy grabs her by the hand and pulls her over to her bed.
“Sleep makes everything better. Just ask Jessica. And today we have extra time before dinner. We should take advantage of that,” Lucy says as they settle in. “So go to sleep.”
Anastasia can sleep any time she wants, so this isn’t a special opportunity for her. Still, since she’s already in bed (and Lucy still has a hand clamped around her wrist like a shackle), she’ll at least rest her eyes.
She only realises she fell asleep when a hand shakes her shoulder.
“It’s time for dinner,” Julia says.
With some rest, she feels much better, and her turbulent emotions from earlier feels like a faraway dream.
“Yay dinner. I’m starving.” Lucy bounces to her feet. “Let’s go.”
A few people are missing from the dinner table. Fletcher, who is still resting in his room, Julia who is with him, and Jessica who has chosen to sleep over eating dinner.
Other than that, it’s just another dinner.
The next day also begins like any other day, but this time, she makes sure she is properly prepared. Fletcher is taking the day to rest, so if anything happens, it will be up to her to do something.
“Don’t worry too much about it,” Julia says.”You have your notes, and you have my number. If anything happens, call me and we’ll come back right away. Alright?”
She nods and tries to smile normally as the rest head off to the hunting ground.
Mindful of Fletcher’s need to rest, she leaves him alone until noon when it’s time for lunch. Setting two portions of food on a tray, one for each of them, she heads upstairs to Fletcher’s room. She doesn’t have a free hand to knock on the door, so she knocks with her elbow instead.
“Come in,” Fletcher says.
She… still has no free hand to open the door.
Very, very carefully, she shifts the tray to one hand, bracing it against herself for added stability. Without moving the rest of her body, she reaches out with her right hand to turn the door knob. The door swings open.
She quickly grabs the tray with with two hands once more and steps into the room.
“Lunch,” she says.
“Thank you, Anastasia,” Fletcher says as he sits up.
“Would you like to eat in bed or at the table?” she asks as she sets the tray on the desk beside Fletcher’s bed.
“Table. I’m not used to staying in bed all day anymore,” Fletcher says with a chuckle and swings his legs over the side of his bed.
Fletcher is slightly unsteady on his feet, but makes it to the table with no problems. She gets him to take the chair while she takes the extra stool. The chair back should give him more support. She won’t be able to lift him out if he collapses again.
“How do you feel?” she asks as they begin to eat their lunch.
“I’m fine. Really. You don’t need to worry about me. I didn’t even need today off, but Julia insisted.”
Fletcher tries to play things off, but she sees the tightness in his smile and the faint glaze in his eyes.
“I’m sorry my emph did this to you,” she says.
“No, I did this to myself. I know something like this might happen because your emph was damaged, but I took the risk and did it anyway. That’s on me. And… there’s something that you should know.”
She looks at Fletcher, who has his eyes on the wall before them.
“I think I have some of your memories.”
Her breath catches. “My memories?”
“Only some, and what I do have is very fragmented. It’s actually worse than not knowing anything, because now I have a bunch of jumbled memories that just crowds out everything else. Don’t worry. I am physically fine. I just need some space to sort out what’s in my head. If I manage to find any clues I’ll let you know,” Fletcher says and turns to her with a smile.
“That would be nice. But you don’t have to if you can’t, ” she says.
“It’s for my own sake too. I want to understand what I’m seeing. For example, does the name Odette ring any bells?”
“Odette, stop eating that, or there won’t be any left for dinner,” she said.
“But it’s so good. Can’t you just make more,” a young girl said even as she reached for the serving bowl again.
“Yes. A young girl who liked to eat our ‘chef cuts’ as we cooked. We eventually recruited her to help us cook since she was already always hanging around in the kitchen,” she says.
“You said ‘we’. Who else was with you?” Fletcher asks.
But the memory of their faces are already gone, fading away to leave behind only faint echoes in her mind.
“I can’t remember,” she says.
“That’s alright. What about Peter? Does that sound familiar?” Fletcher asks.
She stood on the tip of her toes, one hand braced against the kitchen counter as she stretched her other arm as high as it could go. The tips of her fingers just brushed the base of the jar, but it wasn’t enough for her to gain a grip and pull the jar out of the shelf.
A hand reached over her to easily grab the jar she was struggling to reach, then handed the jar down to her. She looked up at the tall teen.
“Thank you, Peter.”
“Peter was a small boy who grew to be the tallest in our guild after he hit his growth spurt. And he’s not done growing yet,” she says.
“Who’s taller? Corvus or Peter?” Fletcher asks.
The boy in her memory is hazy at best. She can’t remember how tall he is, but she remembers that despite his height, Peter still felt very small due to his skinny frame.
“I don’t know who’s taller, but Corvus is definitely bigger,” she says.
Fletcher laughs. “There aren’t a lot of people who are bigger than Corvus. And Maverick? Who’s that?”
Two boys stood side by side, the taller one proudly holding a hand out to show their height difference while the other kids looked up in a circle around them.
Both boys, now older, stood face to face. The boy who was shorter before now stood one head over the one who used to be the tallest among the children.
“Looks like I’m the tallest one now, Maverick,” said the boy who used to be shorter.
“I’m still growing. I can still beat you,” Maverick said.
“He’s a kid that used to be the tallest among the kids, but after one of the boys had a growth sprout, he’s no longer the tallest, but he is determined to reclaim his title of being the tallest,” she says.
“Maverick sounds like a handful. I’m guessing the boy who became the tallest is the Peter we were talking about before.”
“Peter? The one who’s the tallest in your old guild?”
She frowns. “My old guild?”
Fletcher frowns. “The one we were just talking about? From your memories?”
She thinks back to their conversation. The last thing she remembers is Fletcher telling her that he has some of her memories. She waits for him to continue, but he looks like he’s waiting for her to say something. The frown on his face deepens.
“Remember Odette? he says, “The girl who keeps stealing chef cuts from the kitchen?”
Fletcher looks at her expectantly, but she doesn’t recognise the name.
“What about Peter?”
She shakes her head.
“If Fletcher looked concerned before, now he looks alarmed.
“What’s wrong?” she asks. Should the names mean something?
“You just told me about them. Odette who steals food, little Peter who’s now the tallest in the guild, and Maverick who used to be the tallest but isn’t anymore. Do you remember nothing of that?” Fletcher asks.
“Did I? Just now?”
“What’s the last thing you remember talking about? Scratch that. Tell me everything you remember of our conversation since you came in,” Fletcher demands.
“We were talking about where to each lunch. You chose the table over the bed. Then we talked about our emphs. You think something went wrong yesterday because my emph is broken. Your body is fine, but your mind is a little scrambled because you think you might have my memories,” she recounts their conversation as best she can.
“And?” Fletcher asks.
“And what? That’s it, right?”
Fletcher’s face says it all.
~End Chapter 15~
Continue in Chapter 16.
Chapter word count: 2414
Total word count: 25872