Ariel awoke to find himself in a lip lock. He knew he shouldn’t have been complaining, considering the fact that he had awoken to find himself in far worse situations. In the past he had awoken to find himself imprisoned, in the middle of interrogation, but the worst was the time he had awoken to find himself in an exam he had no preparation for. Kissing a girl should have been no problem in comparison but he found himself pushing her away.
“Are you okay?” The girl asked. She tried to brush the back of her hand across his cheek and Ariel found himself instinctively grabbing onto wrist.
“I’m just a bit dizzy.” Indeed the girl was a haze of gleaming green eyes and long wavy, golden tresses. She sounded vaguely familiar, but it was all a fog. Ariel had no date was and he had to know what time it was. How long have I been gone? He wondered. The more important was the question of who had taken his place. He covered his face with his hands so he did not have to look at this girl.
“Are you sure? You don’t look so well.” From the tone of her voice, Ariel denoted that she seemed to truly care for him. Not to mention that we had been kissing, he thought to himself. He found the idea of having a girlfriend at once both amusing and frightening. Finally uncovering his face, Ariel found the courage to gaze into her eyes. She pursed her lips and knitted her brows, switching her weight from her left foot to her right, and back again. She dressed rather smartly in a green blouse with small beads sewn into her collar, with a black pencil skirt and matching suit jacket. Looking down, he realised that he himself wore a suit of navy blue.
“Relax,” Ariel said, lacing his hand through her hair— an affectionate gesture he had seen other couples do. He personally disliked physical contact but it seemed necessary to assure her. “If I collapse, I’ll let you rescue me.” Her lips broke into a smile and she stroked his cheek softly, before giving him a quick peck.
“Oi!” A voice yelled out. Ariel turned towards it to find a guy about his own age with a backpack slung over his left shoulder and a devilish smirk on his face. “Little mermaid, we’re gonna be late for tutor time so please, save it for under the sea.” Ariel was caught between anger and confusion. Who was this fool to make fun of him?
“Just ignore him, Ariel. It’s like you said; his name is no better.”
“Right,” he said, all the while having no recollection of ever speaking to this guy. “What nickname did I give him?”
“Fabrice?” she asked, leading Ariel towards the front gate of whatever establishment he was to attend. Ariel noticed several cars parked in front of a building which must have been a reception and a playground not too far. It appeared that he had returned to Hell on Earth— high school. “How could you forget? You call him Febreeze. My God, you just might need rescuing after all.”
She had no idea.
Ariel followed the girl to tutor group. She had claimed his hand as her own and Ariel had avoided the temptation of taking it back. In these kinds of situations he had learned to emulate other people’s behaviour. Gone were the days when he panicked over lost time and unfamiliar places and people. He had to keep a grip on things no matter what. If she thought they were romantically involved, then by all means, they were romantically involved.
Ariel made certain as to memorise the hallways it would take to reach the classroom. They passed by what appeared to be a reception with an older lady with a stern look on her face. She rolled her eyes as they arrived late but said nothing. When the end of the classroom there was no teacher present and Terri gave a sigh of relief.
“Looks like we’re not too late after all,” she said. She walked towards the seat at the corner of room at the back and Ariel followed. He checked his pockets to find his phone, hoping it would give him some sort of information. He entered his regular pass code but the iPhone would not grant him access. Perplexed, he tried once more. The phone buzzed and flashed red with a red warning sign, and instructed him to try again. Ariel sighed and rolled his eyes, setting the phone aside at the desk for the meantime.
“What’s up with you?” The girl asked.
“I think I’ve forgotten my passcode,” he admitted.
“That sucks. Here, let me try,” she said.
Just as he was about to stop her, she took the phone and entered the four digit passcode. Just one more incorrect password attempt would cause the phone to not only lock itself like a regular smartphone, but it would activate a program that would permanently delete all data stored on it, and remotely transfer it to a private server owned by the Iabal Court. That could have disastrous consequences, depending on what else was stored on it.
Thankfully, the phone unlocked and Ariel saw his usual background picture had been replaced with one of himself and the girl in a slightly more than friendly embrace.
“Did I tell you my passcode?” he asked. That would have been rather unlike him.
“Actually, I sort of just guessed. I suppose I was just lucky.” Ariel gazed at her intently and saw her demeanour change. She frowned slightly and then broke into giggles. “Actually, you sort of told me a couple of weeks ago at a house party when you got drunk. You asked me never to mention that night again.”
“Perhaps for good reason,” he replied.
Ariel searched through his phone, starting with the messages. It was the most obvious place to start and to his amazement, he found dozens of text messages sent to a girl named Terri Logan. The messages were filled with what appeared to be flirting, judging from the amount of x’s and o’s, and of course, the emoji’s. The current date was 3 October 2012 but the messages had abruptly ended just over a week beforehand. Ariel was uncertain of what had happened during that time but if anyone knew, it would be Vincent.
Ariel’s timetable seemed to consist of English Literature, Media Studies, Music, and Maths. He blinked at the atrocity. Maths and Music he understood — he played the violin and piano a high standard, and Maths was a subject requiring logic. But he cared little for the media, and he loathed writing essays. That had to be Rebecca’s meddling. Dear Lord, he thought. Had Bex been in control?
“Hey, what’s with the look?” The girl, Terri, — asked.
“You look confused,” she replied.
“Just tired, I guess." And he was tired. Sifting through the strands of his own memory was like trying to put pieces of a puzzle together— with many of the pieces missing. Surely looking through Terri’s memories would be far easier than his own.
No sooner had he thought of the idea, he found himself reaching out to hold her hand and squeezed it gently. She reciprocated the gesture and gave him a tender smile.
Flashes of memories appeared in his mind’s eye— a party he had attended and gotten very drunk, belting the song ‘We Are Young’ by ‘Fun.’ at the top of his voice whilst stood on a table; a date spent at the cinema with Terri, and several other insignificant memories of times spent in lessons.
Those memories bared little importance to him now. What mattered was the girl, but as Ariel attempted to navigate himself towards the memories of himself and their other dates, he felt as though a brick wall was there to deny him access. Of course this had happened before, but not in many months. Someone was hiding something from him and that meant that this girl truly did matter. Whether he liked it or not, it appeared that he and this girl were bound by forces beyond his control.