Prologue

Lilacs . . . their sweet scent drifted into my nostrils, twirled through my mind, and disturbed my sleep. No matter. It had not been a sleep of rest anyway.
     Images of spring, butterflies and blossoms bloomed in my mind, prodding at my memory. Thoughts came slowly. It occurred to me that my eyes were closed and that I should open them. But I didn’t want to. It would take too much effort. And besides, I felt safe under the cover of my eyelids, seeing only what I wanted to see, and I had a foreboding that if I opened my eyes, I would regret it. But something was pulling at me, a sort of fear of the unknown, urging me to open them, and it was even stronger than the smell of lilacs. Too strong to resist.
     So I gave in and opened my eyes.
     Since then, I have not known peace.
     My surroundings brightened, revealing that I was in a small white room, not unlike a hospital room. In fact—a wave of fear swept through me—it was a hospital room. My heart pounded against my chest as my brain asked, What am I doing here?
     It was a question I could not answer. My mind refused to try.
     I realized then that there were people in my room. But who were they? I didn’t recognize their faces. My fear swelled. I tried to get ahold of myself, to understand what was going on, but my head hurt, felt disoriented. And I was hot. I could feel the sweat trickling down my forehead. My body ached, and I couldn’t distinguish one limb from another. Panic added to my fear.
     The strangers were talking, but I couldn’t make sense of their words; the syllables blended together into an undecipherable hum. I yearned for these people to be silent so I could ask what I so needed to know.
     “Why—am I here?”
     No answer.
     Struggling up from my warm, moist pillow, I took a deep breath and spoke as loudly as I could.
     “What’s going on—why am I here?”
     This time they heard me. “She’s awake!” someone cried. Instantly, people were swarming over me, suffocating me. I wanted to push them away, but I didn’t have the strength. I wished I hadn’t said anything—wished I hadn’t woken up. Dizziness and exhaustion overtook me, and forgetting my frustration, I fell back and closed my eyes.

~

A man’s round face peered down at me through a halo of haziness. He spoke in a voice that, though gentle, held a note of urgency.
     “Tiffany, how do you feel?”
     I blinked to clear the haze. The face shimmered in and out of focus, but I could see he needed a shave and that his glasses were slipping off his nose. There was something oddly familiar about the man, but even though I knew I should know him, I couldn’t identify the face. He knew me, but I didn’t know him. That’s when it hit me: I didn’t know who I was.
     “Am I . . . Tiffany?”
     “Tiffany!” Behind the round glasses, alarm reflected in the man’s eyes. “You don’t remember?” For an awful second, I thought he was going to cry. Even though I couldn’t remember who he was, I knew I didn’t want to hurt him.
     Still, I had to ask . . .
     “Who am I?”
~

“It will come back. Just don’t try so hard. Give it time.” That’s what the doctor told me repeatedly over the next few days. “You’ve had a bad accident. You need time to heal. You have serious bruises and a broken leg, but you’re a lucky young lady to be alive.”
     I didn’t feel lucky.
     They told me about the accident, but since I was alone when it happened, no one knew the details. They’d hoped I would be able to fill them in. I tried to remember, but the threads of memory were tangled in my mind, and the more I tried to untangle them, the more tangled they became.
     Was it a castle or a mansion? A bridge or a balcony? A push or a fall?
     Most disconcerting of all, when I began to remember, I wasn’t sure if I was actually remembering, or simply recreating from the things they told me . . .
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