awakening, for realsies this time

Everybody was asleep in the hotel room we’d checked into for the night, May and Maxine forgetting to hit any publish buttons on the crappy drafts that they made after enjoying the feeling of being in a place that wasn’t open to just anybody walking in. They’d swam for quite a few hours, finally returning with tangled hair and the first genuine smiles I’d seen on their faces since they’d come to Zorphia. But now they were sprawled out on the beds; Abbey and the man who’s driven us to the server library sharing one and May on the other, Maxine getting a cot that was of better quality than the standard hotel cots on Earth. May’d agreed to share one with me, on the condition that I, accidentally or otherwise, didn’t smother her in the off chance that I found myself cuddling up to her in the middle of night.
“Alright, mysterious former girlfriend, what do you have to show me?” I inched the chair closer to the desk where the laptop was perched, waiting for me to plug in the little flash drive that Maxine had brought with us. Digging around in her bag as quietly as I could, not wanting her to wake up and pound me for violating boundaries that had never been set up in the first place, I pulled out the flash drive and slowly plugged it in, watching the light blink for a few moments while the computer tried to figure out what it was supposed to do with a piece of electronics that held what pretty much amounted to a human soul.
Rishen, is that you?
I almost fell out of my chair in shock, hoping that in the dark I hadn’t nudged anybody closer to waking up and seeing what was done. “Did… did you just talk to me?”
Yes, but you’re the only one who can hear me since you’re touching the computer.
I readjusted myself, trying to sit normally in the off chance she could see me. “Who… who exactly are you?”
Yasmin Tomariko, age fifteen, legally married in the country of Zorphia to one Rishen Tomariko. Aka you.
“I… I’m Constance. I don’t know who this Rishen person is…”
You. Your birth name. I see you’re going by middle names now… that reminds me of Algeria back in 2013, you know? How she wanted to be called Mriri because she didn’t like being named after an African coun-
“Stop.” I took my hand off the computer, silencing the voice for a moment before I reestablished contact. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Oh… I knew you had some form of induced memory loss, but I didn’t know it was this intensive.
“Yeah, well… it’s not like I asked for it.”
Actually, according to the records I accessed earlier today in this computer- which seems to belong to my mother, Abbey- you did indeed ask for it. Begged for it, thinking it would bring you the same escape as death without actually dying.
I was silent for a while, not sure what to say to this girl from what seemed like another life. Hey, it was another life- the one I didn’t know anything about! Dang it.
“My name’s Constance,” I choked out, trying and failing to sound forceful.
Fine. Constance?
Do you still feel anything for me?
“How am I supposed to answer that? ‘Yes, I can barely remember you, and I’m not sure that those memories are even genuine, but I still love you?’ How am I supposed to have any kind of attachment to someone I barely remember?” I could feel my voice rising, and I struggled to remain in control of my voice as courtesy to those who were sleeping. “If I told you I had something that could be classified as a crush on somebody else, would you kill me?”


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