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When Jessica wakes up from a coma, she has no memories of her life before the accident at her family’s bison ranch. As she struggles to reconnect with her family and friends, she experiences all the signs of traumatic brain injury: confusion, sadness, fear and rage. Returning to school is a nightmare, especially when she overhears someone say he thinks she is faking her amnesia. When a new friend presents an alternative to staying in her old life, Jessica must confront the reality of what it means to leave her past behind.
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Blank
BTlrinaaSt. Jenank
Blank Trina St. Jean
Copyright ©2015Trina St. Jean
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
St. Jean, Trina,1971–, author Blank / Trina St. Jean.
Issued in print and electronic formats. isbn 9781459808072(pbk.).—isbn 9781459808089(pdf ).— isbn 9781459808096(epub)
I. Title. ps8637.a45724b53 2015jc813'.6 c20149066619 c20149066627
First published in the United States,2015 Library of Congress Control Number:2014952054
Summary: Jessica struggles with retrograde amnesia after she is injured by a bison on her family’s ranch.
Orca Book Publishers is dedicated to preserving the environment and has ® printed this book on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design by Chantal Gabriell Cover images by Getty Images Author photo by Eileen Abad
orca book publishers po Box 5626,Stn. B Victoria,bc CanadaV8R 6S4
orca book publishers po Box 468 Custerusa, wa 982400468
www.orcabook.com Printed and bound in Canada.
18 17 16 15432
1
To my daugHters, Anîssa and Elîanne. I love you botH to îninîty and back.
Part I:
aWakE
EacH day îs a lîttle lîfe: every wakîng and rîsîng a lîttle bîrtH, every fresH mornîng a lîttle youtH, every goîng to rest and sleep a lîttle deatH.
—Artur Scopenauer he Essays of ArtHur ScHopenHauer; Counsels and Maxîms
Snapshots
remember. I hat’s wat tey want me to say, tîs Woman sîttîng besîde my bed, tîs Man by te wîndow. But I won’t, because ît woud be a îe. he Woman paces a stack o potos on my bedsîde tabe, ten sowy sîdes te top one toward me. Her eyes dart rom me to te Man. He eans agaînst te wa by te wîndow, starîng at te tree brances outsîde. “Honey,” se cas to îm, er voîce tîgt. He ooks at us over îs souder wît tîred eyes, ten suLes coser. It ees îke te room, te entîre buîdîng maybe, sucks în îts breat wen I pîck up te poto and study ît careuy, sowy, as î my îe depended on ît. Because ît kînd o does. A amîy stands on te beac. he Woman, petîte wît wavy back aîr, as er arms around te Gîr’s souders. he Gîr’s sunburned ace îs ît up by a grîn. he Boy, wearîng an oversîzed pîrate at, sîts on te Man’s souders.
3
T R I n a S T . J E a n
hey are a wearîng cooru beacwear. he Man îs stocky, wît a buzz cut, and as socks on wît îs sandas. here are pam trees and ocean waves beînd te amîy. Obvîousy, ît’s a vacatîon sot, taken somewere ar rom ere. How do I know? Some tîngs—te bîg stuf—I am sure o. îke, I do not îve în a tropîca pace, and te Eart goes around te sun. It’s te not-so-mînor detaîs tat eave me guessîng, îke wat my avorîte lavor o îce cream îs, wy my ead urts and wo I am exacty. Nîne days ave gone by, tey say, sînce I awoke rom te Bîg Seep.he coma. I stare at te poto, te expec-tatîon so tîck în te aîr tat I can amost taste ît. hîs Woman and tîs Man want my eyes to open wîde and a oudclîckto go of somewere în my braîn. For me to say, “O yes, o course, ow coud I orget tat amazîng day?” But ît doesn’t appen. I do know tat te Gîr on te beac, wît te naïve I’ve-got-my-woe-îe-aead-o-me grîn, îs te same Gîr wo gazes back at me rom te batroom mîrror. But I coud be ookîng at a poto o some random generîc, appy amîy în a resort brocure, because I ee ony a coo emptîness wen I gaze down at tem. I sîde te poto back across te tabe, ook up at te Woman and srug. Se nods er ead and says soty, “Okay, okay,” but er eyes gîsten wît dîsappoîntment. hîs Woman, you see, îs my moter. hîs Man îsmy ater. Te Boy în te poto îs my ten-year-od
4
B l a n k
broter, Stepen. My name îs Jessîca, and I am iteen years od. And tanks to a bîson bu named Ramses on teîr—our—ranc, my braîn îs mus. One Very Bad Day, Aprî26, to be exact, Ramses carged me, puttîng me înte coma. Eeven daysîncoma pus nîne days te outequas twenty days în te ospîta so ar. I can wak and tak and eat and don’t need sponge bats anymore. But my od îe îs a ong bank tat my braîn no onger is în or me. I know a o tîs because tey expaîned ît to me, sowy and genty, wît concern în teîr eyes. Inteectuay, I can understand. Insîde, toug, were ît reay counts,I can’t ee any o ît. Wen se—te Woman, my moter— reaces toward me and wraps er arms around me, ît’s îke I am beîng ugged by a compete stranger waîtîng în ront o me at te grocery-store ceckout. Not an ounce o warmt or ove lows troug me. Not even sadness. he Woman reeases me rom er grîp, ten pîcks up te potos wît sakîng ands. Se doesn’t want me to see er ace, I tînk, because se waks over to a buetîn board on te wa near te wîndow and careuy starts puttîng te potos up, one by one, wît pus pîns. Te Man steps coser and puts îs and on my souder. I lînc. “We,” e says, “maybe next tîme.” I watc te Woman as te Man paces around te room, gancîng out te wîndow every now and ten. I am a ump,sîttîng tere. Feeîng notîng and sayîng notîng. I may inay be awake, but I am oow.
5
T R I n a S T . J E a n
e
Wen I am aone and te away outsîde my door îs quîet, I step sowy, careuy, înto te batroom. My ands umbe în te darkness untî tey ind te swîtc. he luo-rescent îgtîng ums, and te Gîr îs în ront o me. he Gîr în te Mîrror. “Jessîca,” I wîsper. Her brow îs sîgty urrowed, and er gray-bue eyes stare cody back at me. Se’s a serîous gîr, ît seems.Her ace îs pae, but maybe tat’s rom beîng cooped up în a ospîta or weeks. A ew reckes are scattered across er ceeks, and tere are aînt patces o purpe and green, etover bruîses rom er Very Bad Day. Her aîr îs mousy brown and medîum engt, mosty, except or a patc above er rîgt ear tat as been saved. I run my ands back and ort over te stubbe untî my ingertîps ind te sma cîrcuar dent. hîs, I’ve been tod, îs were a tube was înserted troug my sku. I ower my ands to te edge o te sînk and ean coser. he Gîr’s mout opens, stretcîng wîde untî I can see a umpy, of-wîte iîng în one o er back teet. My ace musces begîn to ace, so I cose my mout and orce a grîn. Wat made te Gîr smîe? Dîd te corners o er îps cur up easîy and quîcky at te sîgtest joke or a greetîng rom a passîng stranger? Or maybe er smîe was reserved or tose se oved, tose wo ad earned er trust.
6
B l a n k
he smîrk sîps away and I cose my eyes, ten sowy reopen tem. Her pupîs srînk, ten expand, but te eyes revea îtte emotîon. A tougt sîdes înto my mînd:tHe eyes are tHe wîndows to tHe soul. I get as cose to er as I can, untî my breat eaves vapor on te gass, and I peer arder înto tose eyes. I see te dark outer edge, te bue lecks, tîn red veîns on te wîtes o er eyes. he sou, owever, îs nowere to be ound. I move on to er oreead. Faîry îg, wît a sma wîdow’s peak în er aîrîne. Turnîng sîdeways, I înspect an ear—sma, wît two pîercîngs—and ten ean back to take în te overa sape o er sku. he ouse o te braîn. I ît my and sowy and tap on te sîde o er ead wît my knuckes. “Heo,” I say. “Anyone ome?” he Gîr în te Mîrror gazes back at me, er expres-sîon vacant. I know someone îs în tere, îdîng în te darkest corners o tat mînd. Se was a rea person once, beore er sate was wîped cean. I knock agaîn, tîs tîme ard enoug tat a sîgt ace trobs înmy tempe. “I saîd, anyone ome?” Se doesn’t lînc. A wave o îrrîtatîon wases over me, and my ist becomes tîgter, untî my ingernaîs cut sarpy înto my pam. I knock agaîn on my tempe, and agaîn…untî te ist lîes out în ront o me beore I can stop ît or tînk about ow stupîd I am beîng.
7