Memories Lost: Once Upon a December
GML: Hey everyone! I hope you like this one!
Darien: It's been a while since you wrote about Sailor Moon.
GML: *shrugs* yeah, I know. I just didn't have my inspiration. I'm still working on 'Ordinary?'.
Darien: *rolls eyes* Yeah, yeah, Do you mind?
GML: Oh! I don't own the song or 'SM,' If I did, Darien would be MINE! NOT Serena's.
GML: Ooops.. Nothing. READ! *ducks out of sight*
GML: Please see the author's not at the end of the fic! Thank you!
Standing in the doorway of the old house, my eyes struggle to adjust to the week light beyond the threshold. A niggling sense of familiarity tingles at the edge of my thoughts, an almost déjà vu like feeling which I quickly shake off. I don't have time for distractions. It'll be dark in a few hours and I'm miles from the next town which was the reason I made my way up to this old place in search of directions from the fork.
"Hello?" My voice sounds loud to my own ears as it slices through the oppressive silence, the house feeling empty as I take the first step passed the doorway. "Anyone here? I was just hoping you could give me directions. Hello?"
Of course no one answers. I'd realized the house was probably vacant as soon as I pulled to a stop at the head of the drive but I really needed directions and figured it couldn't hurt to try anyway. With a shake of my head I moved deeper into the house, feeling a twinge of guilt that I might be trespassing in someone's home. I could tell the house was large and old from the road, but up close it seemed impossibly massive. From the dilapidated state of the entrance hall, it was clearly abandoned, and had been for a long time. My eyes roamed over the intricate woodwork of the wall paneling, my steps muffled by the dusty old carpet as I slowly made my way down the main hall. Once again, the sense of familiarity nudged at the edge of my thoughts, like a half remembered dream or memory, buried in the back of my mind.
My frustrated sigh puffs out in a small cloud in the chilly air before me. I'm no stranger to the feeling of memories dancing just out of reach. It's been a long and frustrating sixteen years since the accident, though it feels far longer. The doctor's call it amnesia. They told me there is a chance my memories could come back, especially since they seem to still be there just out of reach, and that all I need is a trigger to unlock them. Bullshit. They've been out of reach since I was a small child, I doubt their coming back now.
I can't even remember the accident itself. It was on December the 24th, according to my records. The only thing I recall is a loud crashing sound, voices screaming, pain, and then… nothing. Next thing I recall is waking up in a bed, my mind a blank slate of confusion, unable to tell the doctors even my own name. I was in the hospital for over a week before memories started to trickle back; images, sounds, random names with no face to go with them, never complete. Always just bits and pieces.
One of the first things to filter back was a song, hazy and muffled, but still mostly intact, being sung by a woman's voice. I took to humming the song to myself when fear started to get the best of me as it was comforting, giving me a sense of warmth and familiarity. It was as though I had heard the song so many times that it was permanently impressed into my mind, yet I couldn't grasp how or why. To this day it still confuses me, though even now, wandering through a strange, lonely house, I find myself singing it under my breath.
Things I almost remember
And a song someone sings
Once upon a December
My steps pause in the hallway in front of a large, heavy, gilded mirror. It was a gorgeous old piece, probably antique, that must have been even more impressive once. The tarnished silver frame was an intricate pattern that gave the impression of oak trees proudly guarding the sides of the mirror, their roots and branches meshing together at the base and top. The niggling at the edge of my mind seems to unfold from its corner and rush in. I give a start as an image flashes before my eyes, seeming to overlay reality.
I'm standing in front of this very mirror, or perhaps it just looks like this mirror, but I'm a little girl and there's a woman standing behind me. She's beautiful with thick, dark hair and kind, gentle, blue eyes, so much like my own... She laughs, a tinkling, happy sound, and wraps her arms around me. Her lips are moving, saying something but I can't hear...
Someone holds me safe and warm
Horses prance through a silver storm
Figures dancing gracefully
Across my memory...
I blink and the image is gone. Searching, I realize it's still there, I remember it but it's faded into the background, mixing with my memories of the last six years. Disconcerted, I continue exploring, following the main hall a few more feet, until I come to a pair of thick, oak doors. They're open a few inches, allowing a small glimpse into the dark, gloomy room beyond. Curiosity getting the better of me, I push the doors open far enough for me to step through. A quick glance around reveals that the darkness is due to the thick, heavy curtains being drawn closed over the windows. A strong sense of wrongness steals over me, as though somewhere inside I know those curtains shouldn't be shut.
Before I can fully comprehend the notion, I'm across the room and pulling them open to reveal grime covered windows which allow enough light into the room to see its contents. I've found a parlor or family room of some sort. On the far wall rests a fireplace, its grate empty, and above the mantle hangs a fairly large portrait of a young family, a man standing with his hand resting on the shoulder of a woman sitting down with a baby cradled in her arms, tiny face beaming up at them as they gaze down at it. My feet carry me across the room, my mind spinning in curiosity. Are these the people who lived here? What happened to them?
I blink and suddenly I'm the little girl again. I fling the double doors open as hard as I can in my rush, my heart is racing with joy. The man from the painting is standing in the center of the room with the woman sitting on the sofa sipping from a tea cup. He had just returned from another of his business trips, the ones that kept him away from home for weeks at a time. As he hears the door slam open, he turns to me and smiles.
"Ah... There's my princess." Beaming widely I rush into his arms, I can't be any more the five... With a deep, joyous laugh, he swings me around the room as though we are waltzing.
Someone holds me safe and warm
Horses prance through a silver storm
Figures dancing gracefully
Across my memory...
This image too, slips from my mind's eye in a blink. It was the same woman from before and in the painting! Fear started to creep across my senses as confusion set in. Why does this place bring out these visions? ... or ... Could it be these are really memories? Why would I have memories here? I consider leaving, but this place... it seems to call to me and my innate curiosity wins out as always.
With a deep breath to settle my nerves, I decide to see what I can find upstairs. I quietly leave the room without closing the curtains and head back towards the stairs near the head of the hall. After testing the first step to make certain it's stable I carefully move up the rather large staircase to the second floor. Two rows of seeming randomly dispersed doors line either side of the hallway alternating with paintings of landscapes and tables with knick-knacks. I stride toward a door at the far end as though guided by some unseen force. Reaching for the knob I hesitate, what will I see in this room?
Far away, long ago
Glowing dim as an ember
Things my heart
Used to know
Things it yearns to remember...
Breathing out shakily, I firmly grasp the knob and turning it, I push the door wide. Standing in the doorway my gaze flits around the room. It's a little girl's room. The walls are a light pink, and the carpet appears to be cream colored, though darkened with age and dirt. There is a rather large Princess canopy bed in the far corner and dolls and toys spread all over the floor as though waiting for the little girl to return to them.
Something draws me into the room and with a heavy heart I slowly approach the bed and sit down, a cloud of dust raises from the blanket. I gaze around the room, my eyes settling on an old doll. She is lying on the bed in her once white silk gown, her brown curls splayed across the pillows as though waiting for the little girl to come running up the stairs and jump into the bed and hold her tight. Carefully reaching out, I pick her up and stare into her tiny face. 'Marie...' The name floats across my mind, as familiar as my own. Pulling the doll firmly into my arms I hug her and close my eyes.
I'm lying in this very bed, my long blond hair in two plaits resting over my shoulders, wearing my favorite nightgown, and cuddling Marie in my arms while waiting for Mum and Dad to come and tuck me in. Finally the door opens and my parents step in, both smiling.
Mum sits on the bed beside me and leans over kissing me on the forehead, "Good night, Sweet Heart..."
"'Night Mummy. Night Daddy." I smile up at them.
"Good night, Princess." My dad smiles at me, his warm brown eyes twinkling.
Mum tucks the covers around me and Marie as I glance out the window and smile. It's snowing. Only two more days till we go visit Aunt Irene for our Christmas celebration. Mum smiles and nods when I point it out as she starts to sing the goodnight song, Daddy Humming along.
And a song
Once upon a December
I blink back tears as that memory settles into place. Now I know why the song was familiar, it was our 'Goodnight' song. Mum sang it to me every night before bed to help me go to sleep. That memory seems to be the catalyst as more memories start to crowd in.
We did head out for Aunt Irene's the next morning, bright and early. I remember getting in the car, grinning with excitement as we drove off to make the cross country drive to Aunt Irene's house two counties over. I remember the joy of being with her and my, then baby cousin, Sammy. I recall getting back into the car with more presents then I knew what to do with. The car driving along the motorway, the three of us singing along to the Christmas carols on the radio... Then suddenly the car was out of control. Mum was screaming for me to hold on to something, Dad was swearing as I've never heard him do before, I was crying, breathing ragged, as I clutched at the new doll Uncle Danial gave me for Christmas and clamped my eyes closed. Then came the heavy jolt and sound of shattering glass as the windshield broke. I remember huddling down in my seat, dizzy, crying in fear, my body shaking uncontrollably. Something from the front of our car came flying back, I don't know what, hitting me hard on the head knocking me unconscious. Mum and Dad didn't make it. Everything in the car was destroyed or ruined and there was no way to identify them or me.
Sobbing quietly I clutch Marie tighter. I'm home, somehow by sheer coincidence, I found my way home. Other than the missing Christmas decorations that Mum had put up every year, the house looks exactly as it did that day, only the warmth is gone. The laughter, the joy, the hugs, the kisses, my family, is gone. I fight back tears at what I have gained and in the same breath lost. After a moment I rise, tenderly setting Marie back on my bed, and make my way out of my room and back down the hall.
I open the first door to the right of the stairs, Mum and Dad's room, and smile. I can almost still feel them here, Mum's perfume seeming to tint the air along with the thick dust. Walking over to the old dresser I pick up the tarnished silver picture frame that rests there. Two nearly identical woman, one with short dark hair and the other with long are sitting on a swing smiling and waving at the camera. It was Mum and Aunt Irene when they were younger. They had been twins. Suddenly I was struck with a realization. I'm not alone! I still have Aunt Irene, Uncle Danial, and Sammy! Determination filled me as I left the room and made for Daddy's study where he kept his maps and his address book. I would find them.
GML: Okay! How did you all like it? *grin* Talk about Déjà vu? Eh? *snicker*
Darien: *rolls eyes* Do you ever have any original ideas?
GML: Sure, I do. *smirk* I just can't use them on here. *evil grin* Besides, I like Anastasia! It's my favorite animated movie!
Darien: Right. Whatever ditz.
GML: I AM NOT! *whacks him over the head* Baka! *stomps foot* Small wander Serena didn't like you at first.
GML: *snicker* Truth Hurts, Dar. Likies? No Likies? I DON'T CARE! *snicker* Just kidding, I do. REVIEW!
Author's note: WOW! *eyes wide* I never realized this didn't get published. *shakes head* What you are about to read is the heavily edited version of this fic. I originally wrote this back in 2011, while working on Ordinary, as a one-shot side piece. I've always had a soft spot for this one so when I realized it was never posted I just had to edit/update it and post it. If anyone wants, I'd be more than happy to post the original to give readers an idea of just how my writing style has changed over the last four years and why it is so hard for me to pick up the strings of my old projects. As for possible lingering questions: Yes, the woman is Usagi/Serena (I prefer to think of her as Serenity in this one it just would have been weird for her to say her own name since she's the only one there and it's in first person). The story takes place in England (I love that country). She is 21 years old. Her parents are Ilene and Ken Saunders (my default Western last name). Sammy [Shingo] is her cousin rather than her brother. She grew up in an orphanage.
P.S.: The above disclaimer [other than that last line] and end commentary are the originals (if you can't tell.)