The Author Part 1
That is all there is.
Like a butterfly, it flutters through a reverie, searching for somewhere to be, something to be.
And then, thought becomes being.
She awakes. Her mind is blank, and her soul is a void. She knows of herself but knows nothing about herself, not even her name. She knows nothing of her past, not even how she came to be. For her, there is only the here and now. ‘But where is here,’ she wonders, ‘and how did I arrive? When is now and how do I get to then?’
Her eyes open. She sees only blackness, hears only nothingness. Bereft of emotions, she cannot react to her situation. ‘Will the emptiness of this nowhere, this non-place fill as the emptiness of my soul fills,’ she ponders. ‘Who will fill it? Me? Someone else?’ Suddenly, her eyes widen in surprise as she declares aloud, ‘I know who I am.’
I am Andrea Melissa Furness
‘My name is Andrea Melissa Furness. Andy for short. I’m 25, my hair is ash blonde, my eyes are blue, my skin is fair.’ Her head is tilted to one side as she listens to herself speak. ‘Hmm, my voice is kinda high pitched. Not screechy but it definitely wouldn’t pass for an alto. East coast accent? Maybe. Can’t say for sure. I talk in clipped sentences. Why? Am I in a hurry? Why am I in a hurry?’ She stands motionless as answers come to her.
‘Oh, I grew up in a city. A big, bustling city. That explains it. City people are always in a hurry.
‘And I have a family. My parents are Richard and Marjorie. I have a sister named Annie, and we’re twins. I’m a twin! How cool is that? And I have a brother. A younger brother named Mark.’
Andy looks down at herself, oohing and aahing at the sight of her clothes. She holds the corners of her frock out for a better view. ‘Is this gorgeous dress a Versace? Gotta be. And these shoes?’ She lifts one foot and notes the distinctive red sole. ‘Louboutins,’ she squeals. ‘Yes!’ Andy feels a sense of well-being flowing through her.
‘This thing I’m feeling has a name. Oh, what’s it called?’ She snaps her fingers repeatedly trying to summon the word she is looking for. ‘Emotion! That’s it. I’m feeling an emotion. I think it’s called hap…happy…happiness! Yes, that’s it, I’m feeling happy.’ She smiles.
As these revelations come to her, a faint light appears in the distance like a rising sun ushering out the darkness. As the brightness grows, the black fog burns away, and Andy feels the warmth on her skin. She closes her eyes against its brilliance and feels a pull so faint, she is unsure she felt anything at all.
‘What’s happened? I feel like I’ve arrived somewhere. Home? Am I home?’ She listens for a moment. ‘Nah, don’t think so. It’s too quiet. No cars rushing past, no sirens blaring, no people walking around.’
With her hand shielding her eyes, Andy opens them slowly. Her face drops as she takes in her surroundings.
Down on the Farm
‘What the hell,’ Andy says in dismay. ‘This can’t be right. Where are the skyscrapers, the traffic, the people? I don’t see a single designer boutique or nightclub anywhere.’
Andy stands alone in a cornfield save for a solitary scarecrow tied to a pole. It is dressed in tattered, sun-faded clothes with straw poking through the holes. On its stuffed, misshapen head, a wide-brimmed hat sits at a jaunty angle. The light she had seen was, in fact, the sun rising into a cloudless blue sky. Though it’s early morning, the air is hot and still.
‘Oh my God, what am I wearing?’
Andy’s designer clothing has been replaced with a drab, ankle-length skirt, a red gingham blouse and muddy clodhoppers.
‘My Louboutins,’ she whimpers.
Across the field, backlit by the sun, is a tired, red barn topped by a weather vane. Next to it stands a tall, silver-grey silo. A little ways from those structures is a small, somewhat weather-beaten farmhouse. Hoping to find out where she was, Andy walks towards the house.
Meeting the Mistrals
She gets no further than placing one foot on the front steps when a man emerges through the door. Like the scarecrow, he is attired in faded bib overalls, a blue gingham cotton shirt and a straw hat, though the clothing is in somewhat better condition. Just behind him are a woman and a young man. The young man is also in gingham and overalls while the woman sports an outfit similar to Andy’s.
‘I guess gingham is the new black here.’ My but she is quite the wag.
‘There you are, Lizzie Mae,’ the man says, his voice soft and unhurried. ’We been waiting a while on you.’ Andy looks behind her, then realises the man is speaking to her.
‘Are you talkin’ to me,’ she asks pointing to herself.
‘Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you. What kept you?’
‘You been waiting on me? Who are you? What are you talkin’ about? And my name’s not Lizzie Mae, by the way, it’s Andrea Melissa Furness.’ Andy quickly covers her mouth with her hand as she hears her words spoken in a soft, Mid-Western accent. As she does so, she notices her flawless skin is tanned and leathery. She reaches up to inspect her hair, but it’s tucked under a bonnet.
‘No,’ the man says, shaking his head, ‘you’re Elizabeth Mable Mistral. Lizzy Mae, for short. And we are your family. I’m Abel, your father. This is Hattie, your mother, and this is Hank, your brother.’ Hattie nods cordially while Hank gives her a small wave. ‘And all this,’ he gestures proudly towards the fields with a wave of his hand, ‘is our farm. How come you don’t know that?’
‘Annie?’ Abel thinks for a moment. ‘She’s probably in the barn hunting. She’s one good mouser, that one.’
Andy is mystified. ‘Wait. You’re saying that my sister, Annie…my twin sister, Annie…is a cat?’
‘You ain’t got a sister,’ Abel replies shaking his head again, ‘but, yeah, Annie’s a cat.’ Abel rubs the back of his neck as he mutters to himself, ‘Seems mighty peculiar she didn’t tell you about us.’
‘Anyway,’ he says aloud, ‘you and your Ma had best get to milking those cows. They ain’t gonna milk themselves. They can’t, you know, ‘cause they got no hands.’ They all laugh roundly at this witticism apart from Andy. Abel notices her stone face and clears his throat.
‘Well, the boy and me need to get ploughing. Let’s go, son.’ As they walk past, Hattie steps forward and hands Andy a milk pail.
‘Wait, please, Mr. Mistral,’ she says, handing the pail back to Hattie. ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but firstly, I’m not your daughter. Secondly, you people are not my family. And thirdly, I don’t belong here.
‘My real parents aren’t farmers and my real brother’s name is Mark. And I do so have a sister named Annie. She can be catty, yeah, but she is most definitely not a cat. We don’t live out in the middle of nowhere either. We live in a high-rise building that overlooks the city. Well, me and my parents do. Annie’s got her own place and Mark’s away at college.’
The Mistrals exchange amused looks. ‘Lizzie Mae,’ says Hattie, ‘you surely have your Granddaddy’s knack for storytelling.’
‘It’s not a story’ Andy exclaims, exasperated. ‘I’m Andrea, you’re not my family, and this isn’t my home. You gotta believe me.’
Abel studies Andy’s face for a moment. ‘I do believe you, Miss. But, if you ain’t Lizzie Mae, what are you doin’ here?’
‘I was hoping you could tell me.’
‘I’m sorry, Miss,’ he replies regretfully, ‘I ain’t the one you need to speak to.’ He mutters again, ‘This ain’t like her at all. Not at all.’
‘Not like who? Who are you talking about?’ Who do I need to speak to,’ asks Andy as her anxiety rises. She shuts her eyes, inhales deeply then exhales trying to remain calm. Once again, she feels a pull and the sense of having arrived somewhere.
Andy didn't take to kindly to being stuck on a farm. And now it looks like she's off again to parts unknown. We can only imagine where she'll end up next.
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© 2018 Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon