Something was niggling her brain, somewhere way in the back. Things were not what they seemed, she knew it. Wearily, she wondered if she could trust these feelings or if they were just the result of her traumatic experience. She quickly brushed those thoughts away and started concentrating on her strange dreams again. And she couldn’t forget Jason and not trusting a thing he said, but again her mind was blank when she tried to find a reason not to trust him.
She was not left with much time to try to sort things out. Nurses were in and out taking her blood pressure, checking her IV, charting her stats. Dr. Aguilar stopped by a few times, checking on her and smiling, trying to reassure her that she would get her memory back. It would just take time. Lanie didn’t feel like time was on her side though.
Six months later
The bird was perched perfectly, the early sun’s rays hitting the beautiful plumage so that it sparkled in the crisp morning light. She captured the Whydah bird just as it prepared to take flight. When she captured these moments in time, she remembered again why she loved her life taking pictures. That was only one of the few things she could remember though.
Lanie felt as if her amnesia was destroying her life. The only place she felt comfortable was behind the camera, as if the lens could shield and protect her from all the real things out there that she was afraid of. She was afraid of running into friends whom she no longer remembered. Terrified of going to work and not recognizing her co-workers. Saddened when people contacted her to take their portraits, only to realize that they had been her clients before but she didn’t remember them. Figuring out where she banked, trying to get her driver’s license renewed, and remembering where she had her dry cleaning done were just icing on the rotten cake.
Since the kidnapping and subsequent return to America, she had tried to keep a low profile. Being the twin of a very famous actress made that difficult in today’s society with cell phones, youtube, facebook and other social media. So she sought the company of nature, animals, landscapes; things that did not mind that she couldn’t remember her first sunrise or sunset. She had also kept her distance from her family. They had returned with “proof,” but what they had was meager and not really proof at all. Seeing her twin, she felt like any of the pictures could have been photoshopped or faked. She didn’t feel a connection with her twin either, which really bothered her. Lily though, she was another story. Her enthusiasm and naivete helped calm Lanie and thus she became her only confidant. Her only friend. And she still hadn’t recovered any memories of her mother or father.
Lena and Jason had gotten engaged. What Lean saw in Jason was beyond Lanie. He was smug and controlling, deceitful and smarmy. And every time she was in his company, she felt those negative vibes all over again. Vibes that reverberated through her mind and told her there was something very wrong about him. Lena was impatient with Lanie, expecting her to go with the flow, enjoy life and just be grateful to have made it home. Long gone were any twin-speak or special bond the two might have shared before the accident.
“Accident my foot” Lanie thought darkly.
It was the next day that she received a package in the mail. It had made several stops around the world while searching for her. California, Arizona, Spain and now the wilds of Africa. The sendee of the package was from Nicaragua and Lanie wondered suspiciously what on earth anyone would have sent her from there. The yacht had never made it to Nicaragua, as they were besieged by the dreadful pirates before then.
Curiosity finally got the best of her and she tore the packing tape off, gently folded the flaps of the box back and looked suspiciously at the object nestled amidst the air-filled bubble wrap inside. As she pulled the camera out, she felt a spark of recognition as soon as she had it securely in her grip. This was her camera. The camera that had been lost when she was kidnapped by those pirates. Suddenly her mind clicked and she remembered Jason pleading with her about the location of her camera. Even boasting that there were pictures of the two of them on her memory card showing that they were in love, and how she immediately knew that he was lying. Quickly, her fingers knowing exactly what buttons to push, she tried to access the pictures on the memory card. The camera’s battery was dead. She would have to wait until she got back to the lodge that night.
The rest of that day, as her driver took her around the grounds of the park, her mind seemed to be working at warp speed. Things were dashing through her mind that felt and tasted like memories. Her twin and her at the beach, building sand castles. Lily coming home from the doctor’s office after falling out of a tree, so proud of her bright pink arm cast. Her first photographic shot, how she had felt right away that this was her talent, this is why she was here on earth. Her mom, having lunch with her just a few days before the accident… All these memories cascaded into her mind, bring joy and laughter, peace and grief more quickly that she knew what to do with them. Soon, she no longer cared about more shots of birds or wildlife. She just wanted to go back to her room, lie down and let these thoughts and memories wash over her, examine them in private, and see what she was like before she lost her memory.
After a long 45 minute drive down dirt roads filled with holes and cliffs on either side, her driver finally roused her from her stupor to let her know that they had arrived back at the lodge. After telling him to meet her the next morning at the usual time, she fled into the lodge and sought out her room like it was her personal sanctuary. Putting her camera equipment down next to her bed, removing her shoes and hat, she laid down on the bed, cuddling a pillow in her arms protectively. Though if she was protecting the pillow or the pillow was protecting her, she wasn’t sure.
Bit by bit she remembered her life. She treasured the memories of her mother and her father. While her father and she had not been particularly close, she and her mother had shared a special relationship. Her mother loved her and was proud of her and just experiencing those feelings again helped her know that she could trust the rest of her memories. Good, bad or terrible. And she knew terrible ones were coming.
Then there it was. Lena and Jason, meeting with some shady looking men one night at their home. Why these characters were in her house, she had no idea. Perhaps they were business associates of Jason, or even friends of his from his days of growing up in San Antonio. She had been in the kitchen when she heard them all talking, hushed and furtive-like in the living room. As she looked in she realized that these goons were there to deliver a few packages. One for her sister and two for Jason. All of a sudden it clicked, why Jason had red rimmed eyes and always seemed to have a cold. Cocaine. He was addicted and had gotten her sister addicted as well. Grabbing her ever-near camera, she shot a few pictures of them. One of the dealers, Jason, the other men and finally one including her sister. Lanie knew that if this news got out, Lena would be ruined. But she couldn’t not take a picture of everyone there, could she? Of course not.
That was a week before her parents were killed in the auto accident. How could all of this be connected? Apparently, Jason had had connections to her family long before he started dating Lena. Perhaps she would never know, but at least now she understood that her parents weren’t in any “accident.” They had been murdered. Which led her to the trip they had taken on the yacht to San Andres. It was supposedly just a last minute whim, Lena corralling them all together, giving them just a few days to clear their schedules and get packed up for some fun in the sun.
Lanie wasn’t sure of many other details, except that fun was not supposed to be on her itinerary. She was there because her twin sister and her boyfriend, both of whom were beautiful, famous movie stars and more importantly, drug addicts, had planned to have her killed.
14 months later
It was a day full of blue skies, the scent of orange blossoms in the air and long awaited justice. Lena and Jason had just been sentenced to years and years and years spent in little cells wearing prison garb. They wouldn’t be together, they wouldn’t be able to sell drugs, let alone partake of them themselves, nor would they be a threat to Lily or Lanie any longer. The last year or so had been a long, dark time for her and her little sister, but today justice was finally on their side. Jason was found guilty of killing her parents. Then Lena and Jason were found guilty of attempted murder, selling drugs, and kidnapping. Lanie was sure there were many other things that they could have been accused of and prosecuted for, but their celebrity status probably saved them from the death penalty, among other things.
It was also a day for Lanie and Lily to visit the graves of their parents. It had been 5 years since their sudden deaths. Mystery still shrouded much of the circumstances surrounding their murder, but the girls knew they loved their mom and dad and missed them very much. That day they were able to bring flowers, clean up the grave site, and have closure with their parents’ tragic end. She and Lily were ok and she hoped she never had to forget that, or anything else, again.
Check back tomorrow for a new story!