The Girl With No Past
By Rachel Ledge
In the year 1919, a woman crash lands in the past, unable to recall even the most basic facts about herself. Her quest for answers turns up more questions, until by chance she meets Damian Glass. After all, some things are meant to be. Or are they?
As Damian helps her discover her unlikely identity, her future comes calling, and she finds herself catapulted into a world of passion, intrigue and danger, where friends and foes merge together, and doesn’t know whom to trust.
When she finally uncovers the mystery of what happened to her, and why, she must face an astounding new reality: What if fate isn’t fate at all? What if it can be controlled?
I woke up on a pile of hard, brown earth. “Woke” isn’t exactly the right word. Somehow I came to consciousness, while my eyes slowly registered blades of grass a few inches from my face. I stirred, and a vague sizzling pain radiated down both legs.
My teeth ached; my body throbbed. I tried to move my toes and various other appendages. Everything seemed to be in working condition, though sore. I flexed my left leg and felt it shifting in the dirt. Right leg? Another positive response.
A gust of wind rustled the tall vegetation around me. Ambrosial country scents of sweet moldering earth filled my nose. Slowly, I pushed myself up and sat blinking, trying to clear my vision and take stock of my strange surroundings. It appeared as though I was sitting in the middle of a corn row, clearly in a rural part of the world. America? I had no idea.
A black stiletto heel encased my left foot; its gleaming diamanté toe clip winked at me in the bright sunlight. My right foot was bare and muddy, toes still barking from the narrow shoe I’d lost at some point during the night’s festivities.
I rested my pounding head in both hands and racked the blank canvas of my mind for something—anything—that would help me understand why I was currently sitting in a cornfield, wearing a black ballgown and only one shoe.
My mind was frighteningly blank. I searched for any more clues about my current predicament. Rifling through my billowing skirts, I felt my bare legs and fought a surge of panic. I pulled back my dress and found an empty weapon holster encircling my right thigh. Am I a cop with a drinking problem? I wondered.
Carefully, I climbed to my feet, hand pressed against my left temple as if holding in my roiling brain matter, and limped down the swaying green aisle of cornstalks. Must have been an interesting night, I thought to myself, swearing away from booze for the rest of the century.
Even if I had a drinking problem, blackouts, it seemed to me, wiped the memory clean of only a few reckless hours. In my case, I couldn’t recall a single fact about myself, not even a foggy childhood memory.
With slow and painful progress, tripping often on my voluminous skirts, and with several long pauses, I finally emerged on the edge of the cornfield and almost cried with relief when I spotted a humble farmhouse with two children playing outside.
At least my nightmare was populated with people—real people, who could help me find my way back to wherever I’d come from. They could give me a glass of water and allow me to rest a moment while all the pertinent details of my life slowly floated to the surface like a waterlogged body. Soon, this frightening blank state of mind would pass.
I limped closer to the children, who stilled immediately when I came into view, sidled close to one another and clasped hands. I was aware that I formed an incongruous sight. A woman wearing a black ballgown, limping on a single heel, emerging from the edge of a cornfield wasn’t your normal, everyday event.
“Are your parents home?” I asked in a croaky whisper. As soon as I spoke, nausea raced up my throat and the world swirled around me. My vision blurred into a speckled field of gray fuzzy splotches. Suddenly, I was falling, falling through a dim aperture, and I wanted to go. I wanted to escape from this horrible, blank landscape of mind.
Sometime later, faint voices floated to my ears. “Her hair is smoking,” someone said, and then, “Hey lady, can you hear me?”
My vision started returning in fuzzy patches. Two shapes hovered over me: one encased in a kerchief and the other a bright round shape that slowly morphed into a kindly looking man. “Are you all right?” he asked, brow furrowed with worry.
I groaned, trying to slot the talking heads into some dim alcove of recognition. “Mom? Dad?” I asked weakly.
“Maybe she needs a glass of milk,” said the man. “Elaine, go get her one.” The kerchiefed figure slipped out of view.
Elaine? I thought despairingly. That wasn’t my mother’s name. Well, what is your mother’s name? I asked myself. I don’t know, I replied testily. But it’s not Elaine. Slowly, I rose onto an elbow, blinking. My head was clearing, but it was still blank. Both children stood back a few paces, gaping at me.
“You look kind of messed up,” said one of the girls. I felt kind of messed up.
The attire of my new acquaintances brought fresh paroxysms of alarm. I barely resisted the urge to ask: When am I? They wore simple cotton costumes that seemed to harken to historical times. This is an Amish community, I thought. Of course!
The sudden surge of relief was so acute, I stifled the urge to giggle hysterically. The Amish were notoriously resistant to modernization, wearing the same dress style for generations. But how in the world did I get to an Amish community?
“I thought the Amish lived mostly in New England,” I said, rubbing my eyes.
An awkward silence ensued. “We ain’t Amish,” the man said, shrugging. “We’re farmers. My name is Herb Kent. This here is my daughter Barbara, and her friend Olive.”
Not Amish? Alarm started to spread through me in a slow precipitous wave. And then the words flashed in my mind: You’re not in Kansas anymore. “Kansas?” I asked.
Herb scoffed in a kindly manner. “You must have had a real rough night. This is Athens, Ohio.”
A feeling of discombobulation descended upon me, which didn’t help my underlying certainty that everything was strange, very strange. Of course everything felt strange, I reassured myself, but everything felt so wrong.
Elaine returned and pressed a glass of cold milk into my palm.
“You reckon you’re from around here?” he asked.
I struggled up to my elbows and took a sip. The milk tasted buttery rich and gamey. “I don’t know,” I said, putting the glass down as my stomach roiled. Then I looked into Herb’s kind eyes, hoping for a miracle, and asked, “Am I?”
Rachel is an award-winning author of historical novels with elements of suspense, romance, and time travel. She grew up in Idaho, Texas, Utah and California due to circumstances that didn’t involve the military. An expat since 2008, she and her husband lived in Sydney for five years before sailing to Singapore, where they lived on a boat for a while before transitioning onto terra firma. She can be found sitting up late at night, reading anything with a compelling storyline.
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See you on your next coffee break!
Mary Anne xxx