The sun is low in the sky over the plains as Matt pulls into the driveway of a very simple, somewhat weathered home. There are a few large buildings behind the house, plus animals off in the fields.
“Want to go see yer best friend?” Matt asks. “This food’ll be okay out here in the truck for a bit.”
Baffled, Missy doesn’t respond. He takes her hand and leads her to the first of the large buildings.
A strange odor assaults her nose as he opens the large door, but comforting, soft sounds from the beautiful creatures bring a smile to her face. She knows from her late-night escapades with Google that these—and the animals in many pictures back at her mom and dad’s house—are horses. But how much more magnificent they are in real life! Her smile stretches into a huge grin.
“You remember yer Diamond Girl?” Matt leads her to a beautiful brown mare with a long, white diamond shape in her fur between and over her eyes, going all the way up under where the front of her mane hangs down like bangs.
“Hey, Diamond Girl,” she says. White shows around the horse’s deep-brown eyes, and she pulls back a little as if she’s confounded by this human who looks like Missy, but….
No, I’m not her. But I’m happy and honored to be great friends with you, just like she was.
Diamond Girl hesitates another moment, but then allows Missy—this Missy, anyway—to stroke her muzzle and run her hands over her mane.
Missy looks out over the fields toward the herd of cattle out in the snow.
“Aren’t they cold?”
Matt shrugs. “They get used to it. If it gets really cold, they’ll huddle up together and keep each other warm. Speaking of warm, let’s go in the house. Well, after we get the stuff from the car.”
Matt flips on the light switch and a plain kitchen greets her. She stands in the doorway gazing around the room, so different from Linda’s: no cheerful colors, no flowers. It could use a paint job, too.
What’s that word? Drab.
Matt takes the ice-cream cake from her hands and puts it in the freezer.
“I don’t seem to take after my mom in homemaking.”
“Nope. Sure don’t.”
“You never minded that?”
“Not so much.” But the tone of his voice says he really did and still does.
She wanders into the living room. The couch and matching chair are gray. So is the carpet. There are no pictures in frames, no small trinkets lining the shelves. In fact, there are no shelves. This room makes the hospital room look like a party.
It’s almost like these two people don’t want to live here. Or it’s temporary. Or…something.
She walks down the hallway to the bedroom, which has just a bed and a chest of drawers with nothing on top. She then heads farther down the hallway to the bathroom and spies another room, which seems to be just a holding spot for some random items.
“Why don’t we have any children?”
Liquid springs to her eyes. Oh! Wow, that stings. “Why not? Doesn’t every hu—I mean, well, why not?”
“Yer mom took you all over fer all kinds of tests. Never did figure it out. I got work to do with the horses.” He leaves, rather abruptly.
She wanders through the house some more, trying to coax out a few of the secrets that live there. No such luck. They want to remain just what they are.
Hours pass and Matt still hasn’t returned to the house. She’s Googled, walked around the house some more, Googled some more, tried to whisper to the secrets some more, and finally climbed into bed.
Shortly after she turns off the light, Matt comes in. She hears him use the bathroom and brush his teeth.
She’s starting to remember more and more of her training, and she thinks about the special ritual that two humans have together. It’s the talk of the entire universe. Surely that has to happen sometime. But Matt just lies down in the bed with his back to her.
Oh, just feel that love. Not. Google is helping her develop an attitude.
Matt rolls onto his back and starts making those crazy noises. She studies the ceiling, growing brighter from the rising moon.
You can’t just leave me here forever……….can you? You wouldn’t……….would you?
Matt walks into the kitchen the next morning to find her in yet more ecstasy over a bite of ice-cream cake.
“Cake fer breakfast?”
But she’s way too absorbed in the sensations of her taste buds again to answer.
This is quite the gig they have going here!
She cuts off another piece of cake.
“Just means slow down. Maybe pace yourself. Maybe not make up fer three months of missing out on ice-cream cake on yer first day home.”
A movement outside the window catches her eye—it’s another humanoid. “Who’s that?”
Matt looks out the window to where Missy has spied a man about their age heading toward the barn and stable. He’s wearing that strange head garment that she’s seen on other men, including on Frank.
my, my buddy who helps me with the horses and cattle. We have a bunch of reg’lar guys to help. He just comes over sometimes.” He pauses for a few seconds, looking at her. “Do you remember at all how much you love riding horses?”
She shrugs and then starts to cut another piece of cake.
“Miss! Yer gonna give yerself a bellyache!”
“Fine.” She puts the piece back and puts the cake back in the freezer.
“I’m going to take a shower.” He leaves the room.
A few moments later she peeks down the hall toward the bathroom. Matt’s left the door open but is mostly hidden by the steam on the shower door. His back is to her as he lathers shampoo on his hair.
Woah, Nellie! What in the universe?
The feelings flooding her body are incomparable, beyond anything she’s ever felt before, anywhere.
Oh, you crazy human be-things! How can you possibly complain about anything, ever? Do you have any idea what you have going on here—on this planet, in these bodies of yours?
Relishing the scrumptious sensations in her physicality (still a brand-new dimension for her), she wanders down the hall. She stands outside the bathroom, watching intently, while Matt finishes up. Her eyes widen as he opens the shower door, reaches for a towel, and dries himself. He rubs some steam off the mirror and catches her watching him.
“Missy! You want to take a shower?”
He turns the water back on and holds the door open for her. Trying not to stare at his body, she slips out of her pj’s—she remembers that term from one of her “friends” on the book of faces—and into the shower.
Utter euphoria fills her body as thousands upon thousands of tingles wash all over her. It’s so much better than the tiny, slow shower she’d used a couple of times in the hospital. Matt leaves, shutting the door behind him.
She holds her hands under the spray, then lets the spray hit her face and her head. She pulls the showerhead from its holder and slowly sprays water up and down her arms and legs, down her back, across her front.
An hour later, Matt knocks on the door. “Missy, what in heaven’s name you doin’ in there?”
But Missy ignores him as she softly moves her face back and forth under the spray…for the hundredth time.
Matt opens the door. “You okay?”
“You done yet?”
“I could be, I guess.”
“Fine. Here’s a t’al.” After she turns the water off, he wraps her in a towel.
Her knees nearly buckle at the sensation of his big hands running over the soft towel around her.
“Can we get goin’?” he asks.
“Ohhhhhhh, sure,” she says, trying to not sound too disappointed. But even putting the soft clothing on her beautiful body are more moments of elation—well, except for that thing that clasps in the back.
As Matt drives into the middle of the small town, Missy notices something hanging off the very back of the pickup in front of them.
“Is that a sock?”
“What’s in it?”
“Two tennis balls.”
“Why in the universe—uh, the world—do they have a sock hanging off their….”
“Trailer hitch. That’s what it’s hanging off of.”
“Off their trailer hitch?”
“Takes all kinds and everyone needs a hobby, I guess.”
She recognizes the shape from seeing her husband just this morning and rolls her eyes.
Matt pulls the truck into the lot beside a very large, flat building. The parking lot is quite full, overflowing.
“Wasn’t the most brilliant idea to go grocery shopping the day before Thanksgiving,” Matt mutters.
Missy watches the stream of people walking in and out of the store.
“Ready fer yer next new adventure?”
“Let’s get ’er done.”
“You said get ’er done. Who is the her you’re referring to?”
“Hon, maybe don’t say much until you get yer mem’ry back.”
Missy is dazed as they walk the aisles of the supermarket.
So many choices! Her extra-sensory awareness picks up something amiss, though. Most of this food isn’t real! No wonder they need to eat so much of it.
When their cart is nearly full, Matt wheels it up to the front of the store, where a sweet young woman smiles at them. The machine in front of her sends out a strange series of beeps, almost like its own language… at least to Missy it’s pretty close to a language.
Strange publications line the aisle on both sides of them. Missy can see that the headlines are falsehoods. Why are they selling lies where they try to sell their nourishment?
“Oh,” Matt says, “forgot the milk. Could you just run back and get some? It’s in that far corner back there. I’ll stay here in case she finishes quickly.”
Fifteen minutes later, Matt walks to the back of the store where Missy’s still staring at the array of milk cartons.
“Missy, you alright?”
“Well, you said milk. There’s two percent, one percent, organic, goat milk. There are big sizes, small sizes, in-between sizes. I don’t know what kind of milk you want.”
Matt reaches for the gallon of whole milk. “I’m sorry, Missy Girl. Shoulda just gotten it myself.”
They slowly make their way back to the front of the store through the throngs of people. Matt tries to hide his irritation at having to wait again and on an even longer line this time.
“Let’s get these put up,” Matt says back in the house as they unload the bags of foodstuff on the kitchen counters.
“In the fridge and cabinets.”
Oh, put away.
“Where did you go in that coma of yers?” His patience seems to be wearing a little thin.
She turns to him. “Matt, honey, you happy I’m back?”
“Sure, Missy Girl. Of course I am.”
Her expression conveys that his tone isn’t entirely convincing.
“I am!” he repeats. “You happy to be home?”
“You’ve had quite the journey.”
That’s sure the truth.
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