Starting Over - Prologue

The woman awoke and resisted the urge to sit up suddenly.

Her thoughts were simple. Who am I? Where am I?

One answer came easily. I am Yvette Collier, she realized.

This eased her tension only slightly, as other information was not forthcoming. She knew that the facts must be there, but as she tried to reach that part of her mind, it slipped away - soap bubbles for memories.

Yvette sat up slowly, noticing that she was lying in a queen sized bed with clean sheets, and looked around. The bedroom was small and, save for the bed, a small table and a phone, entirely empty. Two doors were set opposite each other, both closed.

Opening the room’s single closet revealed an assortment of clothes – most of them in dark colors – clean, pressed and neatly hung up. One adjoining door led to a small bathroom, as sparse as the bedroom. There was a large mirror above the sink, and Yvette paused to look at herself. She didn’t feel surprised by the reflection. An oval face, long dark brown hair – somewhat messy – hazel eyes. She had hoped that seeing her own face might cause a resurgence of memory, but that proved fruitless. After a few moments of turning this way and that, regarding her features, she decided that there was nothing to be learned from her reflection and she returned to the bedroom.

The other adjoining door led to a medium-sized living room, furnished with a nondescript sofa, coffee table, television.

An apartment, or small house, she decided. She approached the window, that was letting warm sunshine in, but not much detail passed its gauzy curtains. Looking out, Yvette determined that she was in a small house in a suburban neighborhood. Traffic was minimal, but she didn’t want to step outside, not yet, she didn’t want to be locked out. As she thought that, she knew that the house keys were hanging on a small key next to the stout front door.

Entering the kitchen, Yvette found the Denver white pages next to a second phone. Interesting, but proves nothing, she frowned. She knew what Denver was, where it was, but she still couldn’t think of how she had come here, or why. The refrigerator contained a small amount of food – a carton of milk, a package of raw chicken, some cheese. The pantry contained a few non-perishables, dried pasta, canned soup. A below-counter dishwasher was empty and a only a few plates and glasses were in the cabinets.

The house was clean, spotless. She sensed that while she preferred neatness – another thing she didn’t’ know for sure – this place was too clean. But those clothes in the closet will fit me, she knew. And there are no others. I am intended to be the only person living here.

Further exploration lead her to the garage, where an anonymous sand-colored two door car, silent and cool, was parked. I know how to drive, she remembered.

Yvette’s gaze fell upon a range of tools lying on the workbench to her left. Rather than the usual assortment of wrenches and screwdrivers, a selection of knives, lockpicks and other tools for burglary lay on the wood. Like everything else she had seen, the tools were pristine and clean.

Yvette picked up a knife and hefted it carefully. It fit very well in her hand, comfortably. So I’m used to this, too? Almost immediately, she noticed a thick cork-backed target on the opposite wall of the garage. The target showed some signs of use – deep gashes and punctures. Almost without thinking, she hurled the knife at the target, easily burying the blade in the bullseye. Yvette regarded the target for a moment.

That was very familiar. Am I a burglar? An assassin? That seemed to fit what she had seen. But it didn’t explain why she was without a memory in an unfamiliar location.

Returning to the living room, Yvette sat down on a plush wine-colored sofa and thought.

Do I remember my childhood? No.

Do I remember why I came to Colorado? No.

What do I remember? Just my name and that certain things – like throwing knives – are familiar.

The clothes in her bedroom struck her as familiar, the tools in the garage, even the color of the furniture in this room. But none of it would tell her why her memory before this evening was a blank slate.

Finally, she turned on the television. At least that could verify her location, and tell her the date. Yvette found a news program and immediately discovered something new as she watched talking heads jabber about an area heatwave. They’re speaking English, but I’m not thinking in English. But I understand them. What is my native language?

To not know even this basic fact angered her more than anything else so far. She flipped through the channels, looking for something that sounded like the voice in her mind, as soon as she passed by a channel far down on the cable box, something clicked within her mind and that question, at least, was answered.

Arabic. She shrugged. Alright. But this English isn’t bothering me at all. So, I’m bilingual.

Another tiny piece of the puzzle, but all it did was indicate how much she was missing.

Yvette returned to the news program she had found earlier and watched it for a few moments. I’m in Denver, it’s ten AM, June fifteenth, nineteen-ninety-nine. She noticed that she was now thinking in English. Bilingual, indeed.

Feeling cold, and only just noticing that she was walking around in only a satin slip, Yvette went into the bedroom and got dressed. A heavy jacket was hanging in the closet, and Yvette followed the impulse to search its pockets. Inside, she found a slender leather wallet. Its contents were few, but they were somewhat reassuring. A driver’s license – issued a month ago in Denver – and a social security card in her name. There was also a wad of assorted dollar bills – including several hundreds – totaling over five hundred dollars. Nestled in between the money was a small card, with the name "Anderson" and a phone number written upon it.

Is this my handwriting? Yvette wondered. It doesn’t look familiar

Yvette looked for a pen, finding one next to the phone, and a clean notepad beside it. Quickly, she wrote the word Anderson and a few numbers. Her handwriting was noticeably different, small and cursive, rather than the blockish printed letters on the card in her wallet. I didn't write that, so who did?. Yvette sighed. More questions.

Fighting off another wave of angry confusion, Yvette considered her options. Finally, she sighed. "I might as well call that number. I really don’t have much left to lose." She muttered, in Arabic. That language seemed to come easier to her. She filed that fact along with the few others she had gleaned.

Yvette’s stomach growled – for some reason, that startled her. "But I think I’ll have a snack first. Memory or not, I’m glad I’ve got something to eat."

Yvette Collier returned to the kitchen – she was fairly confident it was her kitchen – and wondered what the future held. Whatever that might be, it must be more than the past…

Rachel DuNoir       Starting Over - Next Episode

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