I just spent the last several hours in the Department of Transportation trying to get my license and residency changed. There were close to 50 million people there and it took about 3 and a half HOURS. Okay, the first part is an exaggeration, the second is most definitely not. I'm a little frazzled. BUT I am now a resident of the state of Pennsylvania, for whatever that's worth.
I did manage to write almost a thousand words today in spite of my completely unproductive afternoon. So without further ado, I present, an excerpt:
The sky was starting to turn pink on the edges as Salem walked up to the train station. Stepping inside, she pulled out the wallet again and took out the license. The picture on it looked familiar, and she wandered into the bathroom, looking for a mirror. Salem studied the face on the license and the face in the mirror. They looked the same. Her name was Salem McCarthy. And her address…!
There it was in crisp black letters. There was money in the wallet as well. She could take a cab there, and find out what had happened to her, who she was, where she was supposed to go from here.
A train came clattering into the station and Salem turned to watch it for a moment. As car after car slid by, something tugged at the back of her dark and clouded mind. A nagging feeling that she was missing some vital piece of information and that it had to do with trains. Salem had an overwhelming desire to ask one of the people getting off the train why she was here, but decided that was a silly idea; they’d only just arrived, how would they know? She settled for asking a man at the counter.
“Excuse me,” she said. “When trains leave here, where do they go?”
He stared at her, then returned his gaze to his cup of coffee. “Ha ha,” he said in a tone that indicated he wasn’t the least bit amused. “Go on, get out of here.”
Salem was confused. “But sir…”
“Did your friends put you up to this? It’s too early in the morning for stupid games. Trains go everywhere, and unless you’re going to buy a ticket, I suggest you move along, out of the way of paying customers.”
“I’m sorry,” Salem said. “My friends didn’t put me up to anything. It’s early, and that was a poorly phrased question, forgive me. It’s just…I feel like I’m supposed to have been here, but I can’t remember why. I can’t remember anything, actually. My wallet told me what my name is.”
The man was staring again, wondering if this was all an elaborate joke, or if she was telling the truth. He took a fortifying sip of coffee and then asked, “What was it that you meant to ask?”
“Where did the trains that came through last night go? I have a vague feeling that I should have been on one of them.”
“How did you lose your memory?”
“I…don’t remember. I don’t remember anything before the car accident that I saw this morning.”
“You saw a car accident?” He was waking up more without the help of caffeine the longer this girl spoke to him. “Did you report it?”
She looked worried. “No. I didn’t think to. It had already happened, and I didn’t know what to do.”
He eyed her disheveled and dirty appearance. “Kid, I think you were in that accident.”
Her eyes widened in shock. “Me?”
He nodded. “It would explain the memory loss, and, well, you’re kind of beat up looking. How do you feel?”
“Fine. Just confused.” Salem thought for a moment. “Maybe a little sore. Here,” she said, pointing to her neck.
“Where did you see the accident?”
“I don’t know. On the road.” Salem said.
“What road?” He tried to be as patient as possible.
“The road that leads here. I followed it after I saw the accident until I got here.” Salem told him, wishing she could be more helpful.
“About how long did you walk?”
She sighed, frustrated. “I don’t know. It was dark when I saw the accident and light by the time I got here. It could have been five minutes or five hours.”
“Okay, wait right here. I’m going to call it in.”
Salem stood patiently in front of the man’s window, while he dialed the police and told them all the information that he knew. A few minutes later, he hung up and turned back to Salem.
“Someone else already called it in. You should stay here until someone can come and take a look at you, make sure that you’re all right. They can help you figure out who you are and help you get where you need to be.”
“Oh I’m all right. If you can just tell me where the trains last night went…”
“Really, miss, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Please, I’m fine. Where did the trains go?”
He sighed, and against his better judgment peered at the schedule on the wall above him. “New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston…”
“Boston!” Salem cried. “That rings a bell! Thank you for your help, you’ve been very kind!”
“Wait!” he called after her, but she had already disappeared into the growing crowd. “And Baltimore.”
Several miles down the road, police were gathered at the scene of a car accident.
“Will he be all right, you think?” One officer called to the paramedics who were loading the business man into the ambulance.
“I think so. Doesn’t seem too serious. He’ll live, if nothing else.”
The officer nodded. “Good, good.”
Another officer approached. “What about this one?” He asked the first man, nodded at the tangled wreckage of Salem’s car.
“I don’t know how they got out alive. Can’t be too far.”
“Trying to get away?”
“Could be,” he replied to his partner. “Maybe just dazed and confused.”
“Laroquette!” a third officer jogged up to the pair, addressing the man who had just spoken.
“What have you got?” Laroquette replied.
“Just got a call from an employee at the train station. Says he has a girl there that might have been in this accident. She doesn’t remember anything, except that she saw an accident on this road. Nothing before that.”
Laroquette turned to his partner. “There’s your answer. Amnesia.” He turned back to the messenger. “We’re going to the train station.”
“Very good, Sir.”
The three men turned and walked away. From the floor of Salem’s car came the muffled ring of a cellular phone.
Good luck! Can't wait to read yours!