Most vividly, I remember the rain. My hair had been stuck to my forehead and I was shivering from the cold. Running through the trees had winded me and I was struggling to see through the fog and rain. The house was large, hiding in plain sight.
I was scared, lost, and alone. I was also only six years old.
Now, twenty years later, the memories have become distant at best and fictional at worst. Once, I made the mistake of confiding in my girlfriend at the time, telling her all I remember about that night twenty years ago. I told her how the memory of the night feels physical to me, but the evidence of it was never found.
She told me it must have been an exceptionally vivid dream.
It wasn’t a dream. Those dark colors and cold wind were more real than my apartment. The wet dirt between my bare feet was just a real as the New York Street I walk down every day. I try and remember more details every night before I fall asleep. I imagine my six year old self walking up to the door and knocking, but it’s not a memory, just an idea. I paint faces in the hopes that one of them will be familiar, but each time I see features that are too ordinary.
My alarm clock starts singing again and I turn it off, climbing out of my bed. The bathroom mirror shows my overgrown stubble and dark circles under my eyes. The man I stare at in the mirror is unconcerned with the memories I fight with daily. He’s unaware and he doesn’t care.
I splash water in my face.
New York is loud and the January air numbs my skin. I push my hands into the pockets of my jacket as I walk.
Someone grabs my shoulder and forces me around. I shout in protest and pull my earbuds away, prepared to yell at the stranger.
Her hair is such a deep silver that I’m sure it’s made of actual metal. Her eyes are the same color, the silver swimming together like an ocean of paint. She frowns at me, looking from my face to where her hand is laying on my shoulder. Tilting her head, she moves her small hand to my cheek and pushes her palm against the skin.
“Hey!” I shove her arm away.
She nods as if confirming something to herself. “You’re Avery.”
I take a step back, my stomach swirling with the desire to turn and run. “How–”
Her smile reveals teeth that are so white they look as if they are glowing. “You don’t remember me, Avery?”
I shake my head.
“We met twenty years ago when you showed up at my house.”