Ezechul woke up for the first time blowing out the candles on his 10th birthday cake. “Funny,” he thought, “I don’t remember my 9th birthday, or 8th . . . “
“Why the frown,” his father asked.
“Cake isn’t big enough,” which brought a round of laughter.
How did he know they were his parents? He couldn’t remember ever seeing them before.
He watched everyone else, and tried to mimic the small talk, the jokes, the oohs and aahs over his presents.
His mother said, with a laugh in her voice, “Soon there won’t be room in the attic for you!”
Later, she knocked on the door to his room. A room full of things he must have acquired. She sensed the change in him. “You had a very serious accident; we thought we were going to lose you. We didn’t, but you lost your memory; each day was a new discovery of yourself. I don’t know why blowing out the candles made you aware, but we’re glad we have you back.”
Talk was always about the present or the future. Enrolled in a class for kids who learn differently where he felt safe. Elsewhere, there were times when he felt anxious. That someone was watching him.
At 12, he noticed there were no pictures of him before his 10th birthday “awakening.” He searched the house, and barn but never found any. “So you’ll remember on your own” was the answer to his query.
At 14, the dreams started. He realized he hadn’t dreamt before. These visits to the dreamscapes involved fantastic creatures, magical woods, feeling of being hunted. He often woke in a cold sweat, unsure of where and who he was. What brought on these dreams? He never told his parents.
At 16, he started dating Lilly, a member of his special learning class. He wanted to ask her out, but being shy (he never “socialized” well), he could never find the right words. Lilly saved him from his misery; she asked if he was going to the movies on the weekend. As he stumbled to say something, she said “Come by my house around 7:00 on Saturday.”
At 18, he re-awoke blowing candles out on his birthday cake. An image flashed through his mind. Not from the last 8 years. Not from his dreamscapes. From somewhere else. A child whispering, “The Monsters will soon find you.” He shook it off. Not a warning, just a glimpse. Maybe into his past, maybe not.
He was getting ready to head off to college, moving things around to look for stuff that might be in hiding in behind or underneath. With the weight of the dresser off them, two-floor boards sprung up. Inside the cavity, was a file folder, and a small cardboard suitcase.
The folder held newspaper clippings and notes he spread out chronologically. Small child with a severe head injury found wandering in the woods. Tried interpreters so could under what he was saying over and over again. Came to the attention of various government departments.
Then taken in by a couple who refused to cooperate with or allow continued governmental research on the boy. Slowly, the boy can to understand and speak more English than before. A special learner, but he was progressing.
So much explained and unexplained. Were his anxiety and the feeling of being watched caused by government agents or the whispered “Monsters”? Hurt and lost, could he have wandered through a portal between two “homes.”
Closing his eyes, a map began to take shape. The country dirt road they lived off, with it’s ruts, washboards, and dust out to the county road. Then, off to the right, was a previously unseen road, weaving through nonexistent woods. Did it head to another portal, or was the invisible road the portal itself?
Once his parents were asleep, as quietly as possible, he threw his knapsack and duffel into his old someday to be restored Camaro. His stash included the cardboard suitcase full of silver and gold coins marked with almost familiar runes.
He thought of emailing or texting his parents once on the road. But, that wasn’t really fair to the people who though maybe monitoring his progress (for the government or the “Monsters”), loved him very much.
He needed to find his portal He wrote to thank them for all they had done for him. Cellphones and computers might not exist where he was going, but if he could, he would let them know he was safe. He closed with: “I will love, thank and think of you everyday. You are my parents, whoever I turn out to be.”
Starting his car, he wondered if he knew where to turn right. He heard the whispering child say, “you will.”