Today is the only day I remember. Waking up in that ocean is all I have.
The rest is empty space. Although I don’t know how far back that space
goes—how many years it spans. That’s the thing about voids: they can
be as short as the blink of an eye, or they can be infinite. Consuming
your entire existence in a flash of meaningless white. Leaving you with
Every second that ticks by is new. Every feeling that pulses through me
is foreign. Every thought in my brain is like nothing I’ve ever
thought before. And all I can hope for is one moment that mirrors an
absent one. One fleeting glimpse of familiarity.
Something that makes me … me.
Otherwise, I could be anyone.
Forgetting who you are is so much more complicated than simply
forgetting your name. It’s also forgetting your dreams. Your
aspirations. What makes you happy. What you pray you’ll never have to
live without. It’s meeting yourself for the first time, and not being
sure of your first impression.
After the rescue boat docked, I was brought here. To this room. Men and
women in white coats flutter in and out. They stick sharp things in my
arm. They study charts and scratch their heads. They poke and prod and
watch me for a reaction. They want something to be wrong with me. But I
assure them that I’m fine. That I feel no pain.
The fog around me has finally lifted. Objects are crisp and detailed. My
head no longer feels as though it weighs a hundred pounds. In fact, I
feel strong. Capable. Anxious to get out of this bed. Out of this room
with its unfamiliar chemical smells. But they won’t let me. They
insist I need more time.
From the confusion I see etched into their faces, I’m pretty sure
it’s they who need the time.
They won’t allow me to eat any real food. Instead they deliver
nutrients through a tube in my arm. It’s inserted directly into my
vein. Inches above a thick white plastic bracelet with the words Jane
Doe printed on it in crisp black letters.
I ask them why I need to be here when I’m clearly not injured. I have
no visible wounds. No broken bones. I wave my arms and turn my wrists
and ankles in wide circles to prove my claim. But they don’t respond.
And this infuriates me.
After a few hours, they determine that I’m sixteen years old. I’m
not sure how I’m supposed to react to this information. I don’t feel
sixteen. But then again, how do I know what sixteen feels like? How do I
know what any age feels like?
And how can I be sure that they’re right? For all I know, they could
have just made up that number. But they assure me that they have
qualified tests. Specialists. Experts. And they all say the same thing.
That I’m sixteen.
The tests can’t tell me my name, though. They can’t tell me where
I’m from. Where I live. Who my family is. Or even my favorite color.
And no matter how many “experts” they shuttle in and out of this
room, no one can seem to explain why I’m the only survivor of the kind
of plane crash no one survives.
They talk about something called a passenger manifest. I’ve deduced
that it’s a kind of master list. A register of everyone who boarded
I’ve also deduced that I’m not on it.
And that doesn’t seem to be going over very well with anyone.
A man in a gray suit, who identifies himself as Mr. Rayunas from Social
Services, says he’s trying to locate my next of kin. He carries around
a strange-looking metal device that he calls a cell phone. He holds it
up to his ear and talks. He also likes to stare at it and stab at tiny
buttons on its surface. I don’t know what my “next of kin” is, but
by the look on his face, he’s having trouble locating it.
He whispers things to the others. Things I’m assuming he doesn’t
want me to hear. But I hear them anyway. Foreign, unfamiliar words like
“foster care” and “the press” and “minor.” Every so often
they all pause and glance over at me. They shake their heads. Then they
There’s a woman named Kiyana who comes in every hour. She has dark
skin and speaks with an accent that makes it sound like she’s singing.
She wears pink. She smiles and fluffs my pillow. Presses two fingers
against my wrist. Writes stuff down on a clipboard. I’ve come to look
forward to her visits. She’s kinder than the others. She takes the
time to talk to me. Ask me questions. Real ones. Even though she knows I
don’t have any of the answers.
“You’re jus’ so beautiful,” she says to me, tapping her finger
tenderly against my cheek. “Like one of those pictures they airbrush
for the fashion magazines, you know?”
I don’t know. But I offer her a weak smile regardless. For some
reason, it feels like an appropriate response.
“Not a blemish,” she goes on. “Not one flaw. When you get your
memory back, you’re gonna have to tell me your secret, love.” Then
she winks at me.
I like that she says when and not if.
Even though I don’t remember learning those words, I understand the
“And those eyes,” she croons, moving in closer. “I’ve never seen
sucha color. Lavender, almos’.” She pauses, thinking, and leans
closer still. “No. Violet.” She smiles like she’s stumbled upon a
long-lost secret. “I bet that’s your name. Violet. Ring any
I shake my head. Of course it doesn’t.
“Well,” she says, straightening the sheets around my bed, “I’m
gonna call you that anyway. Jus’ until you remember the real one. Much
nicer soundin’ than Jane Doe.”
She takes a step back, tilts her head to the side. “Sucha pretty girl.
Do you even remember whatcha look like, love?”
I shake my head again.
She smiles softly. Her eyes crinkle at the corners. “Hang on then.
I’ll show you.”
She leaves the room. Returns a moment later with an oval-shaped mirror.
Light bounces off it as she walks to my bedside. She holds it up.
A face appears in the light pink frame.
One with long and sleek honey-brown hair. Smooth golden skin. A small,
straight nose. Heart-shaped mouth. High cheekbones. Large, almond-shaped
“Yes, that’s you,” she says. And then, “You musta been a model.
But I don’t see what she sees. I only see a stranger. A person I
don’t recognize. A face I don’t know. And behind those eyes are
sixteen years of experiences I fear I’ll never be able to remember. A
life held prisoner behind a locked door. And the only key has been lost
at sea. I watch purple tears form in the reflecting glass.
“Mystery continues to cloud the tragic crash of Freedom Airlines
flight 121, which went down over the Pacific Ocean yesterday evening
after taking off from Los Angeles International Airport on a nonstop
journey to Tokyo, Japan. Experts are working around the clock to
determine the identity of the flight’s only known survivor, a
sixteen-year-old girl who was found floating among the wreckage,
relatively unharmed. Doctors at UCLA Medical Center, where she’s being
treated, confirm that the young woman has suffered severe amnesia and
does not remember anything prior to the crash. There was no
identification found on the girl and the Los Angeles Police have been
unable to match her fingerprints or DNA to any government databases.
According to a statement announced by the FAA earlier this morning, she
was not believed to be traveling with family and no missing-persons
reports matching her description have been filed.
“The hospital released this first photo of the girl just today, in the
hope that someone with information will step forward. Authorities are
I stare at my face on the screen of the thin black box that hangs above
my bed. Kiyana says it’s called a television. The fact that I didn’t
know this disturbs me. Especially when she tells me that there’s one
in almost every household in the country.
The doctors say I should remember things like that. Although my personal
memories seem to be “temporarily” lost, I should be familiar with
everyday objects and brands and the names of celebrities. But I’m not.
I know words and cities and numbers. I like numbers. They feel real to
me when everything around me is not. They are concrete. I can cling to
them. I can’t remember my own face but I know that the digits between
one and ten are the same now as they were before I lost everything. I
know I must have learned them at some point in my eclipsed life. And
that’s as close to a sense of familiarity as I’ve gotten.
I count to keep myself occupied. To keep my mind filled with something
other than abandoned space. In counting I’m able to create facts.
Items I can add to the paltry list of things that I know.
I know that someone named Dr. Schatzel visits my room every fifty-two
minutes and carries a cup of coffee with him on every third visit. I
know that the nurses’ station is twenty to twenty-four footsteps away
from my room, depending on the height of the person on duty. I know that
the female newscaster standing on the curb at Los Angeles International
Airport blinks fifteen times per minute. Except when she’s responding
to a question from the male newscaster back in the studio. Then her
blinks increase by 133 percent.
I know that Tokyo, Japan, is a long way for a sixteen-year-old girl to
be traveling by herself.
Kiyana enters my room and frowns at the screen. “Violet, baby,” she
says, pressing a button on the bottom that causes my face to dissolve to
black, “watchin’ that twenty-four-hour news coverage is not gonna do
you any good. It’ll only upset you more. Besides, it’s gettin’
late. And you’ve been up for hours now. Why doncha try to get some
Defiantly I press the button on the small device next to my bed and the
image of my face reappears.
Kiyana lets out a buoyant singsongy laugh. “Whoever you are, Miss
Violet, I have a feelin’ you were the feisty type.”
I watch the television in silence as live footage from the crash site is
played. A large rounded piece—with tiny oval-shaped windows running
across it—fills the screen. The Freedom Airlines logo painted onto the
side slowly passes by. I lean forward and study it, scrutinizing the
curved red-and-blue font. I try to convince myself that it means
something. That somewhere in my blank slate of a brain, those letters
hold some kind of significance. But I fail to come up with anything.
Like the slivers of my fragmented memory, the debris is just another
shattered piece that once belonged to something whole. Something that
had meaning. Purpose. Function.
Now it’s just a splinter of a larger picture that I can’t fit
I collapse back against my pillow with a sigh.
“What if no one comes?” I ask quietly, still cringing at the
unfamiliar sound of my own voice. It’s like someone else in the room
is speaking and I’m just mouthing the words.
Kiyana turns and looks at me, her eyes narrowed in confusion. “Whatcha
talkin’ about, love?”
“What if…” The words feel crooked as they tumble out. “What if
no one comes to get me? What if I don’t have anyone?”
Kiyana lets out a laugh through her nose. “Now that’s jus’
foolishness. And I don’t wanna hear it.”
I open my mouth to protest but Kiyana closes it with the tips of her
fingers. “Now, listen here, Violet,” she says in a serious tone.
“You’re the mos’ beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in all my life.
And I’ve seen a lotta girls. You are special. And no one that special
ever goes forgotten. Its been less than a day. Someone’s gonna come
for you. It’s jus’ a matter of time.”
With a satisfied nod of her head and a squeeze of her fingers, she
releases my lips and goes back to her routine.
“But what if I don’t remember them when they do?”
Kiyana seems less concerned with this question than the last one. She
smooths the sheets around my feet. “You will.”
I don’t know how she can be so confident when I couldn’t even
remember what a television was. “How?” I insist. “You heard the
doctors. All of my personal memories are completely gone. My mind is one
big empty void.”
She makes a strange clucking sound with her tongue as she pats the bed.
“That doesn’t make any difference. Everybody knows the memories that
really matter don’t live in the mind.”
I find her attempt at encouragement extremely unhelpful. It must show on
my face because Kiyana pushes a button to recline my bed and says,
“Don’t be gettin’ yourself all worked up, now. Why doncha rest up?
It’s been a long day.”
“I’m not tired.”
I watch her stick a long needle into the tube that’s connected to my
arm. “Here, love,” she says tenderly. “This’ll help.”
I feel the drugs enter my bloodstream. Like heavy chunks of ice
navigating a river.
Through the mist that’s slowly cloaking my vision, I watch Kiyana exit
the room. My eyelids are heavy. They droop. I fight the rising fatigue.
I hate that they can control me so easily. It makes me feel helpless.
Weak. Like I’m back in the middle of the ocean, floating aimlessly.
The room becomes fuzzy.
I see someone in the doorway. A silhouette. It moves toward me. Fast.
Urgently. Then a voice. Deep and beautiful. But the sound is slightly
distorted by whatever substance is pumping through my blood.
“Can you hear me? Please open your eyes.”
Something warm touches my hand. Heat instantly floods my body. Like a
fire spreading. A good kind of fire. A burn that seeks to heal me.
I fight to stay awake, wrestling against the haze. It’s a losing
“Please wake up.” The voice is far away now. Fading fast.
I can barely see the face of a young man. A boy. Hovering inches above
me. He blurs in and out of focus. I make out dark hair. Damp against his
forehead. Warm maple eyes. A crooked smile.
And without thinking, without intention, I feel myself smiling back.
I open my mouth to speak but the words come out garbled. Half formed.
Half conscious. “Do I know you?”
He squeezes my hand. “Yes. It’s me. Do you remember?”
The answer comes before I can even attempt to respond. It echoes in some
back corner of my mind. A faraway flicker of a flame that is no longer
lit. A voice that is not my own.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen.” He speaks softly, almost to
himself. “You’re not supposed to be here.”
I struggle to make sense of what is happening. To cling on to the
unexpected surge of hope that has surfaced. But it’s gone just as
quickly as it came. Extinguished in the dark void of my depleted memory.
A low groan escapes my lips.
I feel him moving around me. Fast, fluid motions. The tube that was in
my nose is removed. The IV is gently pulled from my vein. There’s a
faint tug on the cord attached to the suction cup under my gown and then
a shrill beeping sound fills the room.
I hear frantic footsteps down the hall, coming from the nurses’
station. Someone will be here in less than fifteen steps.
“Don’t worry,” he continues in a whisper, lacing his warm fingers
through mine and squeezing. “I’m going to get you out of here.”
I suddenly shiver. A chill has rolled over me. Slowly replacing every
spark of heat that was lingering just under my skin.
And that’s when I realize that the touch of his hand has vanished.
With all my strength, I reach out, searching for it. Grasping at cold,
empty air. I fight to open my eyes one last time before the darkness
He is gone.
Copyright © 2013 by Jessica Brody Entertainment, LLC
Excerpted from "Unremembered" by Jessica Brody. Copyright © 0 by Jessica Brody. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.