Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 6: Escape

Carol and Milla were starting to run out of ideas. In this state, when Lilac was this upset, there wasn’t anything they could do about it. They could comfort her all they wanted, assure her that this would get better, that it wasn’t the end of the world if she couldn’t write yet, but it didn’t matter. All she heard was that she was wrong, and all she could do was cry over it. The only thing left to do was let her sleep it off, and hope that she was in a better mood in the morning.

It was dreadful to be stuck like this, to just leave Lilac under the covers with her tear-stained cheeks and Blue held tight against her. To just watch the rhythmic rising and falling of her chest from afar. Neither Carol nor Milla knew what to do. They both knew that the other didn’t know what to do.

There was nothing they could do.

Carol wasn’t satisfied with that. She refused to be content with sitting around and watching what was left of her best friend suffer. If there wasn’t anything they could do, then they weren’t being creative enough. If there was one thing Carol had learned from Lilac in all their years together, it was that you never solve anything without acting on it, and Carol wasn’t about to forget that.

All she had to do was find some way to make Lilac happy. That couldn’t have been too difficult, right? Lilac was a pretty happy person, generally. Or at least, she used to be. This Lilac and the Lilac from before were so terribly distinct from each other. How could Carol know if Lilac would still take joy in the same things when everything else about her had changed so much? Well, it had to be worth trying, at least. They’d never know if they never tried.

So Carol tried to think about what Lilac had found happiness in, before all of this. If anybody should know this, it would be Carol, right? Carol knew Lilac better than anyone. So what made her happy? Sushi? There wasn’t an immediate way to acquire food from beyond the hospital cafeteria, and the stuff there wasn’t exactly five star, so that was out. Ninja Hurk? It would take too much time to retrieve their DVD box set from the treehouse (and assuming it was still there was assuming nobody had robbed the place in their absence), so that was out too. Dresses? Even setting aside Lilac’s current physical condition and the improbability of a shopping trip, Carol would personally really rather not, so that was definitely out.

It was kind of unsettling how much difficulty Carol was having with this. She hoped that it was just because of how late it was getting, but her memories from before they had landed in this place were blurring. How long had they been here now? A month? Had it even been a month? Had it been more than a month? She had lost track as soon as Lilac woke up, and quickly forgot how much time had passed before that. It was like they were being contained. It felt as though everything from before they were trapped here was so far in the past that Carol could barely distinguish the details. Was this how Lilac felt now? Was Carol even in any position to compare herself to what Lilac was going through? Could she possibly comprehend that feeling of emptiness and confusion?

After splashing her face in the bathroom sink, Carol collected her thoughts and composed herself as much as she was able to at this hour. She stepped back into the room and looked to Lilac, stiff under the covers of her bed. The bed that had been assigned to her by the people of this hospital. The same bed that she awoke in, and had spent nearly every moment in since.

If Carol was feeling trapped, she could only imagine how Lilac was feeling. This building, this air, these walls were suffocating, and they were all that this Lilac had ever known. It wasn’t fair to her. Lilac didn’t belong in a place like this, especially not for this long, with no escape from it. If she were still herself, and she was capable of it, Carol was certain Lilac would have fled this awful place at one point or another. She wouldn’t have been able to stand it.

And that was it. If Lilac didn’t belong here, then there was no reason for her to stay. If she couldn’t escape by herself, Carol would just have to help her.

Continue reading “Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 6: Escape”

Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 5: Try

“Alright, you three.”

Too soon after Milla returned did Doctor Quack enter as well, and what he had to say wasn’t something that any of them wanted to hear.

“It’s time to turn in for the night.”

Milla’s expression faltered in disappointment, though not surprise. Fixing her backpack straps, she gave Lilac an apologetic look, then turned back to the door. Lilac looked on with a frown, which only became deeper when Carol stood up out of her chair. Lilac’s gaze followed the two as they began to leave. Her brow furrowed as something began to rise in her chest. Then she allowed that something to spill from her mouth.

“W-Wait!”

At once, Carol and Milla froze in place and turned back to her. Lilac’s cheeks became slightly pink, and her fingers searched the bed sheets anxiously. She looked to the doctor, mouth hanging open for a moment before she spoke.

“Uhhh, um… ‘S it okay, if… if they stay here?”

The doctor blinked. He looked to Carol and Milla, who both blinked back at him. He looked again to Lilac, sat up in her bed and hugging Blue to her chest, eyes wide and pleading.

“Well…” Doctor Quack scratched his lower beak thoughtfully. Then he gave a smile and a nod. “I don’t see why not. Go ahead.”

Carol and Milla cheered, back to Lilac’s bedside within seconds, and the doctor chuckled as he left.

Continue reading “Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 5: Try”

Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 4: Reconnect

Lilac wasn’t getting better.

Actually, she seemed to be getting worse.

No amount of help or encouragement appeared to be doing much for her. When she was addressed, she took to the comfort of her bed sheets. She spoke only when spoken to, and even then her responses were short and strenuously pieced together. When the doctor spoke about advancing her rehabilitation, she froze up near completely.

She didn’t show any interest or enthusiasm for getting better. Not when the doctor brought it up, not when Milla prompted her about it. From Carol’s point of view, she could hardly be blamed for it; the girl could barely even hold a pencil properly.

Days of attempts led to zero progress in the reading and writing category, and they seemed to have tried everything. And oh how Milla in particular tried everything. She tried having Lilac repeat sentences back to her. She tried reading one page at a time. She tried drawing letters and having Lilac trace over them. She tried holding Lilac’s hand while she traced over them.

But nothing changed.

Continue reading “Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 4: Reconnect”

Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 3: Distance

“She has what?!”

“Retrograde amnesia.”

“What the heck does that mean?!” Carol shrieked.

Doctor Quack signaled for her to lower her voice. Carol looked to the door that they stood outside of. It was closed tight, the blind pulled down over the window. Although her eyes could not see through, Carol knew that her voice could pierce that barrier, and the volume would only raise panic in her bedridden best friend. So rather than screaming further, she let her hyperventilation do the talking for her.

“It means that she’s lost her memories,” the doctor explained, moderate and gentle in his tone. “I’m afraid her injury was more severe than we had expected…”

“Lost her… Lost her…” Carol couldn’t bring herself to repeat the entire thought. She swallowed the lump in her throat and shook her head, refusing eye contact. “So, she just… can’t remember anything?”

The doctor hesitated before glancing back over his notes. “Well, she hasn’t forgotten everything, per say… She wouldn’t be alive if she had. That is, you see, she’s retained basic functions, breathing, eating, etcetera… We’re still testing, but she seems to at least mostly recall how to speak, and—”

“But her?” Carol cut him off, and he stared down at her uneasily. “Her, her past? Her friends? Who she is? It’s, it’s all just… gone?”

The doctor lowered his head solemnly. “I’m sorry.”

Carol pressed her palm against her forehead.

“I’ll give you some time.”

Continue reading “Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 3: Distance”

Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 2: Sirens

Sirens blared around the capital city of Shang Tu. Streets were cleared to make way for the ambulance carrying its top priority patient off to the city’s best hospital. Tailing behind was the motorcycle of Carol’s, which carried her and Milla just in the vehicle’s wake. Milla had her face buried in Carol’s back, wetting her shirt. Carol blinked her own tears away from her eyes, laser focused on the road ahead of her.

Upon arrival at the Shang Tu Hospital, Lilac was immediately removed from the ambulance and hurried inside on a stretcher. Carol looked on vacantly from the sidelines, patting Milla gently when she hugged her arm.

They weren’t allowed in the room while the doctors worked, much to Carol’s outrage. Milla was able to convince her that it wasn’t worth arguing, however, and they were sat in the hallway outside. Tension filled the air, the two taking turns glancing up at the glowing red sign over the door. Doctors and nurses passed in and out on various occasions. None were especially in a hurry. Milla kept breaking into periodic fits of sniffling and sobbing into her hands. Carol was too lightheaded to remember how comfort worked.

Hours passed (or at least what might as well have been hours; the clock was ticking unnecessarily slow) and Milla cried herself to sleep in Carol’s lap. Carol fended off her own exhaustion with pointed persistence, though she realized that she probably wasn’t helping herself by running her fingers through Milla’s hair. She stared up at the red sign over the door, glowing just as bright as ever. However, barely a moment later, it flicked off. Suddenly, Carol was wide awake.

The door opened, and all of the doctors and nurses who had been inside filed out. A couple glanced down at Carol and Milla, but each continued on with their own business. Except for the last one, that is. He was a tall, aging bird man with gray-blue feathers, dressed in a clean white coat. He looked to Milla, fast asleep, then turned his attention to Carol and smiled gently.

“Carol Tea, I presume?” he said quietly, and Carol nodded. “My name is Doctor Romedius Quack. I’ve been placed in charge of your friend’s care.” He reached down to shake Carol’s hand. “You made a good choice bringing her here. The treatment she received before she arrived may have saved her life, but her condition would have worsened had she not been left in our hands.”

“So she’s going to be okay?” Carol asked.

Quack’s smile weakened. “She’s going to live.”

Despite the two keeping their volume to a minimum, Milla stirred from her slumber. Her ears lifted somewhat as she gazed sleepily up at the doctor before her. “Can we see her?” she squeaked.

The doctor frowned.

Continue reading “Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 2: Sirens”

Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 1: Riveredge

Lilac the Dragon Girl stood at the top of a cliff overlooking a small village below. It was built beside a long river, which stretched away from the little town’s territory and into the vast beyond. Not far from this village, the target: an enormous yellow machine, spherical in shape and packed to the brim with artillery, wandering aimlessly across the landscape.

She stepped out of the way of the motorcycle that zoomed up, sending off a cloud of dust as it skidded to a halt. At the handlebars was Carol the Wildcat, wearing a gleeful grin and looking rather energetic. Seated behind her was Milla the Hound, clinging to Carol’s waist and now glancing uncertainly over the cliff they had just barely not fallen off of.

“Took you long enough,” said Lilac, though her tone was pleasant.

“Yeah, whatever,” Carol responded, smile unwavering. “What have we got?”

Lilac raised a hand over her eyes for a better view, a motion which Milla mimicked. “Something big,” Lilac answered, “and probably stupid. A little too close to that town for comfort, though. We should have been here sooner.”

Carol chuckled. “Don’t sweat it, Heropants. We’ll clean this up no problem and be home in time for my mid-midday nap. Got a plan?”

“I think so…”

“Good enough for me!”

Continue reading “Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 1: Riveredge”