“Thank God, there you are! I was worried when you took so long to show up,” I scolded softly as he pulled me into an embrace.
We were both looking so foreign in the stolen clothing. But now we looked like we fit in here or maybe if not still like tourists. The first rule is to become like everyone else, to be unnoticed or briefly noticed and then forgotten by questioning eyes sliding away not wanting to interfere with a private moment. Don’t make a scene, don’t become too memorable. Why did I think that thought?
“Did you have any trouble?” He whispered into my neck, breathing me in as we clung in our brief lover’s embrace.
“No, you?” He shook his head just enough so I could feel his response as I hugged his warm, spicy scented, athletic body. “Where do we go now? Should we try re-boarding the tram and see where we end up?”
“No, let’s not. We just got here and got these clothes. Let’s find something fresh to eat and maybe a place to play before we try to return to our own time and place again. Maybe we’ll like it here. Maybe we’ll stay for a while.”
The sun was getting lower in the sky making the narrow streets shadowed and cooler than they had been just minutes before. The air was dry, desert-like but with the smells of bus exhaust, mint, curry, garlic sauteed food and it was clear this wasn’t a land that ever worried about ice or snow.
So different from where we come from, why did we end up here? Where was here? Thoughts kept cycling through my head. Was this real or was I hallucinating. It seemed real. Could I trust him? It felt like I knew him, how well did I know him? Oh, just go with it, it’s a lovely place.
“Did you figure out where and when we are?” I asked him, Lucas, that was his name.
“No, not yet, but this place is old. You have any ideas?”
I shook my head, “but I’ve got some money, I found some where I found these clothes.”
The people of this foreign place were rapidly disappearing into their own four-story dwellings to settle in and have their suppers. We kept walking at the same pace not faster, not slower than anybody else. We headed downhill, towards the water we guessed would be at the bottom of the stairs and the lively center of the city’s evening life.
“Do you think anyone is chasing us, or did we escape?” I asked in a soft voice.
“Cherie’, I think we should assume we’re still being followed and if we’re not, then all the better, but let’s see if we can find some outdoor bazaar, we don’t want to be alone in the streets. Start memorizing our path so we can return, we’ll want to be able to pick up our other things before we leave.”
“You think I should memorize the streets?” I asked, surprised by the request.
He looked at me oddly. “Of course. It’s what you do, sweet heart.”
I smiled, warmed by the confidence in my abilities and the endearment. Can I actually memorize pathways? Why can’t I remember more about him? I concentrate on the streets, on the direction, on the sounds and scents on the way. I can hear lively street music and it’s getting louder. We’re soon in crowds of laughing people; a religious celebration with fireworks. We eat and dance and dance and dance until we need more to drink and then collapse laughing. The language is like Spanish and Italian, we can get by with the words we know. This is a wonderful place, maybe we can stay in this place…this place…
“‘Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding the truth,’ Borne said that,” droned on the patronizing voice of the psychiatrist, my psychiatrist, at least that’s what they said in their flat nasal voices. He is talking and talking. I thought they were supposed to listen.
Maybe I can truly escape. Maybe next time they won’t find me and then insist I deny where I’ve been. He hasn’t stopped talking.
“I want you to try this new medication and we’ll speak again in a month. You may go back to your unit.”
A month, I’ve got a month. I nod as he dismisses me and returns to keying in his new plans for me on his z5Z computer. I walk down the pale green hallway, green for balanced mental health in the safe clothes from that place. No patterns on these walls, no vines that could look like snakes, of course I’ve never seen snakes on the walls. Fake vanilla scent sprays into the air as I pass to blanket me in calming aroma, but I’m already calm, planning my next journey. The doors are all key padded, locked and camera monitored, but that won’t matter I know a route, I’m the memorizer of pathways.
Getting away isn’t the problem. The problem is recall – mine and their’s. They seem to be able to bring me back. What will it take and how will I prevent my recall gaps and enlarge theirs? If I hadn’t been able to search his computer files I wouldn’t have seen the photo, Lucas and me in the foreign city, in a different time. Maybe some sort of linkage – it was real, it wasn’t illusion. I can escape, but can I go someplace where they won’t find me and where I can find him, again?