The rest of that day is torture, and that night I lay awake in bed, wondering what to do. I have to talk to Rachel and get some more information. I’m not sure she’ll give it, as she had seemed somewhat cautious in telling me all that she had, but it’s worth a try. Creating an orderly list in my mind, I come up with a few questions I decide are the most important; So I’m dead? What will happen to me once I save the person? How do I go about disappearing and never returning, leaving Ms. A wondering what she’d done wrong? I stay awake almost all night.
I’m awake before the rooster at exactly 5, and finish my chores by two in the afternoon, leaving just enough time for me to ride down to see Rachel and be home for supper. Ms. A allows me to go, and before long, I’m cantering down the road on Rose’s back. I love Jorvik, and for one reason alone: horses. Everyone and I mean everyone, owns a horse, and they’re more common than automobiles. More fun, too, if you ask me. I’ve only ever ridden in a car twice, and that’s Ms. A’s. Perhaps in my old life we owned a car, but if we did, I certainly don’t remember. Of course, I remember nothing, so that’s no surprise. At two forty-five, we arrive at Rachel’s cottage, a little stone house sitting on the edge of a pond, the only one around. Rachel’s family grows crops, they’re not animal farmers, but of course, they own horses. My favorite of her horses, Checkers, a big Paint stallion, nickers from behind the fence in friendly greeting. I tie Rose’s reins to the fence and walk up to the big wooden door, hoping with all my heart Rachel is home. To my great disappointment, it is her mother who answers the door and delivers the news that Rachel is not home – she is in the City visiting her friends and running errands, but should be home by eight. I thank Rachel’s mom and ride back home, stressed and sad.
The rest of the day puts me in a foul mood. Left with nothing else to do, I visit the stream, where I find Chase, sitting on the bank. He seems to be talking to someone, though who, I’m not sure. It’s not until I get closer that I see what’s in his hand: a cell phone. Not just any cell phone either: an iPhone! These are considered a treasure and a rare one at that on this island. Jorvik has been for so long cut off from the outside world that cell phones and even something as common as cars have become a nonentity, or so Ms. Ashton puts it. The desire to touch the screen and actually hold the phone in my hand wins over and I tie Rose next to Simba, Chase still unaware of my presence. Slowly, I walk over and sit by him, eyes glued in front of me. He jumps a little, then says he has to go and hangs up, casting me a suspicious look while doing so.
“You eavesdropping?” he asks, his tone hard and cold. I can tell he just got word of something he’s not too happy about, because, besides his temper, his eyes are filled with tears. He seems to realize I’m noticing, because he looks away. “My father. He just died,” he says softly before I can even ask the question.
“It’s fine. I don’t want a bunch of ‘Sorry to hear that’ from people who don’t even know how it feels,” he sobs out the last few words, then laughs and says he must look like an idiot. I tell him that it’s alright, it’s just me here. I can hardly believe it’s me talking, as I’m normally unsentimental.
Trying my best to comfort him, I say the only things that make sense to say. Sure, I may not know a lot about death, but at the same time, I do. In some ways, I’ve dealt with it, too.
“You know, I don’t remember my parents, or any of my brothers or sisters, if I had any at all.” I pause until he looks at me, and I see a tear roll down his cheek. “It’s pretty much the same as them being dead, except I don’t have the memories to make it hurt as much…but it still does hurt. Gosh, it hurts like heck, but I know there’s nothing I can…” Nothing I can do. But I can. I can find my family! They’re still alive, out there somewhere, and I’m with them. Never did I think I’d be jealous of myself.
Chase seems to think I couldn’t finish because of my emotions, and he is mistaken. He offers a smile and says he’s sorry for coming to my private place – he just likes it because it’s so calm. I offer to show him around a bit, and I teach him how to catch crayfish with his bare hands, and he teaches me how to make a fishing pole out of a stick and some string. We pass the time together, laughing and wading in the water, catching a dozen silvery fish and just talking. Suddenly, in the middle of cornering a crayfish, something buzzes, and he pulls out his iPhone. I had completely forgotten about it, and I decide I’ll ask about it some other time.
“Shoot!” Chase cusses, jumping out of the stream and pulling on his shoes. “It’s four thirty! Best be heading back. I have to be home early tonight.” He looks somewhat less depressed, and that makes me feel better. “I’m probably not coming tomorrow, or maybe until next week. Mom…she’ll be awful lonely.” I understand.
As we ride home, I feel comfortable enough to ask Chase why he wasn’t more upset about his father. I understand it’s a delicate subject, and I ask it kindly, giving him a full two minutes to answer. When he does, he tells me his father had been an abusive man, and though he doesn’t go into detail, when he’s done telling his story, I can hardly believe he’d shed even one tear over a man like that. He says he feels more sorry for his mother, because though she had hated the abuse, she had still loved Chase’s father, and he had kept the family out of financial trouble. Now, their future was in major jeopardy.
That night, I say an extra prayer for Chase and his mother. For the first time since I woke up in the hospital, I feel sad for someone who isn’t me.