The first thing she was aware of wasn’t the blaring emptiness of her mind, but the cold surface beneath her numb body. The second was, how she didn’t like the cold air. It was unfamiliar, like she’d never felt cold before. Which she assumed was ridiculous.
Of course she’d felt it before, she was feeling it now.
At least she thought that she’d had. When she’d searched for a memory, there was nothing to find.
All of the sudden she felt empty, hollowed out.
Her thoughts traveled to the fact that she should perhaps be panicking right now. It seemed the right way to go about this situation. But there was no memory to back up the claim.
Besides, she was so very tired.
Her body felt drained, her mind aching with a pain she chalked up as a headache. The cold felt shockingly good against her head, but the rest of her body was screaming to move and get warm. So she pulled her legs up against her flat chest, and put her arms around them. It helped, but didn’t solve the problem.
She racked her mind for what to do.
She could always find a village to take shelter in for the time being. But being as she didn’t know where she was would raise a few problems. Her mind made up, she uncurled from her fetal position. What she left her gaping.
The dwellings were on fire.
Brilliant light streamed through clear glass in what she assumed were buildings. The structures were made of foreign materials, and the fires were so bright. She frowned. Why was no one screaming? Is it abandoned? How are there fires if no ones here? And why haven’t the buildings caught on fire yet? When nothing caught on fire she delved into further confusion. Was this not a natural fire? Her mind spun in circles, confusion clouded her thoughts but also curiosity. What would happen if she touched one?
She stood up on the hard ground—she noted in the back of her head how unfamiliar her surroundings were—and walked over to the closest contained fire.
An annoying problem was presented to her. She was incredibly and irrepetible-ly, short. Her hands, small as they were, still provided the necessary slap against her forehead. The fire was placed well over her head, shining onto the hard road she’d awoken on. The cold metal pole was too big to wrap her arms around.
Her headache was getting worse, the cold no longer helped the thrumming—but fanned it.
Mind made up, she decided to ignore the fire problem and look for a suitable place of rest. Preferably somewhere warm.
When she looked up at the sky, hoping to find placement, all she saw was inky blackness. Yes, it was night—but where are the stars?
Where was she?
She walked back to the empty black street.
Bright lights flashed at her, a loud noise so unlike the quiet she’d been in startled her. The icy fear shot through her veins nearly froze her. She’d jumped out of the way of—what she could only describe as—twin fires on a dark metal shape, moving right towards her. Her panicked dash/stumble caused her to run head-first into the metal pole.
The first thing she was aware of was the overwhelming pain in her head. The next was the heavy weights that seemed to drag her body—down, down, down.
Her eyes shot open, only to cringe at the bright light that shone directly into her eyes. She immediately shut them again. She missed the blessed darkness.
“Oh, good. You’re awake.”
“We believe you may have a mild concussion, along with a large cut over your forehead that needed stitches.” A cool female voice washed over her. The sound level was low enough that it hardly registered through her pounding head.
“How do you feel?” Her voice was closer now.
It was calming, the hand she’d placed on her head was cool.
“Wh-wher… e.” She rasped quietly.
Luckily the woman seemed to understand what she was trying to ask.
“You’re in the hospital. We need your name to find your parents. Can you tell me your name.”
What does she mean?
What’s her name?
Nothing popped up in her head. She desperately wanted her name, but nothing came. She clawed at her mental barriers. Where is it!? Nothing but stark emptiness echoed back at her.
Her panic must have been showing on her face because the mystery woman started to stroke her hair.
“Shhh, it's all right. You're here now, why don’t you get some rest first? I’ll come back, and we’ll try again tomorrow. Ok?”
That actually sounded good. It hurt to think. She’d barely registered the light going out other than the relief it brought. The door shutting jolted her head and brought a whole new wave of pain.
She didn’t trust this place. The woman was nice. But she had a sinking sense of dread that something was going to go wrong. Someone would out her, or something was wrong with this whole situation.
Nonetheless, her body betrayed her. Dragging her mind into darkness.
It’d been three weeks since she’d been taken to the hospital, and her sense of dread had yet to heed any results.
Three weeks of blatant distrust of everyone around her. Three weeks of only talking to Dr. Lake—or what she wanted her to call her—Barbara. Three weeks of waiting for her absent memories to return. Three weeks spent knowing that they were never coming back.
The three-inch cut on her forehead had almost completely healed. Her headaches were practically non-existent by now. Between the medication and reluctant rest she’d made a full recovery—minus her memories.
She was staring at the all too familiar ceiling when her room’s door was opened.
“Hey.” Came the cool voice of Barbara.
Her tense figure immediately relaxed. Her silence was apparently enough of an invitation for her to enter.
“I brought new clothes!” She immediately chirped to the seven-year-old, after slipping through the door.
The child’s face twisted into a surprisingly large complicated array of emotions—surprise, small amount of hope, suspicious, calculating, and back to surprise when she pulled one of the outfits.
“It’s not yellow.” Her voice came out partly sarcastic and partly surprised.
“Hey!”—Barbara dramatically placed a single hand on her chest in mock offense—“I only made that mistake once! And it wasn’t even that bad.”
“It was hideous. It and anything like it should be burned to ash.” The kid deadpanned. The first dress Barbara had bought her had been puke-yellow, with enough frills to smother someone to death. She had thrown her book at Barbara and the abomination. Then blatantly refused to wear it.
Barbara gasped dramatically while flinging the new outfit at her. She caught it, examining the t-shirt and pair of shorts.
“For a seven-year-old kid, you have a really picky fashion sense.” Barbara scolded.
She merely stuck her tongue out at her.
Dr. Lake chuckled at the petty child. Moving on to the next more somber topic.
“There were no DNA matches on your blood test. We have no clue who you are.”
She stopped her inspection of the new outfit. Her face was stoic as she processed this new information.
Barbara mutely shook her head.
“I’d suspected as much.”
Dr. Lake didn’t seem alarmed by her stating it like it was indeed a fact. She just gave her a soft smile and said, “But you still hoped.”
Her blinking eyes holding back tears was answer enough.
“Oh, honey.” Barbara sat on the edge of the bed and pulled her limp body onto her lap.
“I’d hoped” She started stuttering her voice cracking, “Just may- ma-”
She choked up before bursting into racking sobs. Barbara merely pulled her closer, letting her soak the scrubs she wore. Her own eyes were watering dangerously close to leaking. Her arms tightened around the sobbing child.
“Hey—shh—it’s alright.” Her arms drew her further against her body.
“No, n-no it’s not.” Her voice quivered, muffled by Barbara’s shoulder, “Who would want a child who doesn’t even know their own name?”
Her sobs stopped at the so-certain words that had come out of Barbara’s mouth. Still heaving from her breakdown all she could muster out was a quiet.
Dr. Lake drew in a steadying breath before elaborating, “I’ve already signed the papers. If you want—I’m willing to adopt you.”
The girl merely stared open mouthed, at the only person she’d spoken to since she’d awoken three weeks ago, and processed this overwhelming piece of information.
“I-, yo-you want to, adopt” her voice cracked on that word, “me? Bu- I don’t even ha-have a na-name.” She broke down into sobs again.
Barbara softly stroked her hair.
“How about, Abigail?” Her soft whisper took the child by surprise again.
“I-I- what?” She whispered.
Dr. Lake simply smiled softly at her, “Abigail—it’s a pretty name. Don’t you think?”
“Abigail.” She whispered, not believing that she had a name. She made the decision subconsciously, “I do.”
“What?” Barbara questioned.
“I do want to be adopted by you.” A warmth started in Barbara’s chest as she gazed at Abigail, “I want to meet Jim and Toby. And I want to have my own bedroom. Without abominations that people call dresses.” Before the Lake could protest at the attack on her fashion sense, Abigail’s next words rocked her world, “I want a place to call home.”
The two’s sobs had echoed through the room for a while before they’d eventually calmed down from the emotional overload to pack up.
The newly dubbed Abigail Mara Lake had changed into the new outfit (removing the tags as well). Her small black shirt with decorative pink flames dancing around the sleeves and hems. The simple black shorts matched the dark contours of her shirt. Both had left the hospital after signing out, Barbara had received a three week leave to help her new daughter adjust.
Abigail fingered the single belonging she’d been found with, other the clothes on her back. A pendant necklace with a single carved onyx stone.
Twenty minutes later they arrived at the Lake household.