Amanda let Steph lead her through the downtown streets to the hangout she had been raving about. Steph, recently returning from traveling the country, couldn’t be more excited to show Amanda the new glorified downtown district. Amanda listened while she talked non-stop about her travels, her new tattoos, and what it felt like to be home again.
“But when I was in Miami, I just thought the food was better there…” Amanda would catch snippets of Steph’s unending monologue.
Steph caught on. “Are you even listening?”
“Of course. I’m just happy you’re home.” Amanda smiled.
They walked through the streets they grew up in, but not recognizing them at all. New housing developments sprouted up everywhere and all the old buildings that used to be abandoned where now sprawling with city folk. Amanda never saw her hometown as a place to travel to. Maybe some of these people were like Steph. An outsider who fits right in.
Steph rounded a corner, “Ta da! The new gathering area. Pretty sweet, huh?”
As Amanda eyed the building, her smile disappeared and a weird feeling in her gut appeared. For some reason, she had the overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. That made sense, though, considering she’d walked this street a million times when she was younger. She must be recognizing the repurposed building from her childhood.
Except. That didn’t feel right either.
“Let’s go!” Steph led her to the entrance. But Amanda hesitated. “What?” Steph said.
“Nothing. I don’t know. Let’s go.”
But stepping inside made her stomach lurch. Suddenly it was as if she was floating. No, drowning. She tried to look around at all the people getting food and shopping but everything felt off. Her senses were fully engaged and yet completely dulled. Like everything was flowing but stagnant on top. A frozen river rushing beneath the ice.
Centering herself, she tried to shake it off. Concentrate on the now. Focus on her best friend’s brightly dyed purple hair. But it didn’t feel right. She didn’t feel right. Trying to summon the memory that was floating in front of her, Amanda racked her brain for a rational explanation to this response. The bustling people didn’t feel exciting, it felt dizzying. Her childhood didn’t match with the memory she was trying to conjure. It was as if the memory she had was from before her birth. How was that possible?
She followed her friend around the winding crowd, suddenly unaware of who she was. I’m Amanda, why is that so hard to grasp? But her gut said otherwise. I have to get back to work. Back to work?
I won’t get today’s pay if I don’t continue working.
Amanda began to sweat as she gathered the goods coming from the carts. The daily struggle of lifting, sorting, packaging. It never ended. She had to finish before nightfall. The kids would be wondering where their mother is. Lift, sort, pack. Lift, sort, pack, begin again. The routine was monotonous and she felt like it would never end. She wiped her brow as the sound of a bell pierced the air.
The factory was closing. But she wasn’t done! How could she not have finished today’s work?
Tears came to her eyes as she heard a distant voice calling someone’s name. Amanda? There’s no Amanda here. The echoing voice throbbed in her head.
“Amanda! What the hell! You’re acting like a zombie, let’s go.”
Jolting to the present, Amanda identified her friend’s purple hair. Her reverie faded into the white noise of the present moment.
“Come on, let’s get some ice cream.” Steph said, grabbing Amanda’s hand.
Whose memories were those? Amanda walked uneasily, following in her friend’s steps. And how were they tied to this place?
“What was this building originally?” Amanda asked.
“A factory of some sort. They said it was haunted. But it makes for a great shopping place, right?”
A factory. Was this place injecting her with someone else’s memory? Even though it felt like her own. She walked the rest of the day in a daze, with the ever-present déjà vu sitting right beneath her consciousness.