Femina does not find it difficult to find her way and adjust to this new world after having learnt the language. Besides, she loves the opportunity to feed her brain with all this new information. She enjoys it so much that she becomes negligent towards her original intention to search for her lost memory. The amnesia has not lifted but there are so many new things that vie for a place in her brain that the old cannot compete, particularly as it gives her more grief than pleasure searching for it. But change is on its way.
Slowly and unnoticeable fine cracks appeared in her blissful state of mind. It was nobody’s fault just an inevitable development. Not all memory had gone! That became always apparent when her customary opinions collided with that of the external world and its people. Initially the incidents were so subtle that she did not pay attention, but as they became too often and recurrent her suspicion grew. After all she had to acknowledge that she could not really trust this new world. More and more she believed this world to be one of deception and illusion. Too many people spoke differently than they thought or they pretended to be something they weren't, or they insisted to know something when they didn't, even when they clearly had no idea. Indeed, the only ones she could trust were her immediate friends. Not that she had many!
And then something outrageous happened. Dimitri and Pia brought the message being distraught themselves. Their closest friends, the elderly couple had disappeared, suddenly, without a trace, without a warning or Good Bye, without a clue where to or why they had gone.
Femina hurries along. She is on the way to the little pond that lies peacefully in the surrounding hills close to their house. Rarely anyone gets up there particularly not on a working day. It is therefore just the right place to retreat to in order to think and settle her thoughts. There had been enough talking and Dimitri is also busy consoling Pia. Femina is sad as well but more so confused. Lies! Lies! Hypocrisy! Nothing makes sense! She should have been thinking all along not only now! But had she been interested? No! She had only been interested in filling her belly!
Arriving at the little bench that offers a particular idyllic view over the pond she sits down, breathless but relieved. Here, the world is still intact. It just is not reasonable that people can suddenly disappear without a trace and nobody knows why. Two of their best friends have evaporated and nobody asks questions or wants to find out?! They are mourned, yes. Pia’s eyes are filled with tears and overflowing, but that is it?! Femina carried on asking questions but was answered more often than not in well-rehearsed and stereotyped manner. Even the ones who earnestly tried to oblige, ended up shrugging helplessly their shoulders, including Pia and Dimitri.
She picks up a flat stone throwing it over the water. It pebbles twice before it sinks. She sure is angry. Do they want to pull the hood over her eyes? There is a reason for everything and if not then one searches for it! But what did Dimitri say? “People come and people go. The same was applicable to her.” Indeed, she has never considered her appearance this way.
“But you have expected me, didn’t you? You m u s t have known something!” She insisted.
“We have applied and you were allocated to us.”
That was no explanation! She was not satisfied.
“Who or what allocates? Who is or has this power to give and take?”
As far as she knows, she has not been sent like a parcel to anyone ever. Even with the big hole in her brain there is no way that she was ever a slave to anyone. Her whole body revolts against such a suggestion. Besides, that is not consistent with the events as she remembers it, having no problems with the recent memory.
They could not provide much more information. Shaking their heads and shrugging their shoulders, their answer was one word, “fate”, who or whatever that is.
And what did others have to say? They babbled about an all-powerful superman who knows and can do anything. He manages everything, of course, and people are his subjects, obediently, of course. Femina’s question was then immediately, why was he doing this in secrecy, what did he have to hide this super-duper power-wielder? It was met with disdain. They called her impudent and brazen and much worse. Someone had a better version on offer which she was keen to hear. ‘The great Potentator had many names and he was ever-present. One could see him everywhere if you knew what to look for’. Well, that was not really much better! “And why does nobody see him then?” She kept prodding. “Who has actually seen him?”
“Chosen ones,” was the reply
“And who chooses? Him again?” She insisted though becoming rather dismayed.
The other shook his head: “No, No! Lottery! The right Number and you are in.” He considered that an absolute fair system.
Femina throws another stone. It bounces full three times, sinking only at the forth. The fact is, her friends are gone and she will never see them again. This finality has no mercy as no consolation can be found within. It means nothing will ever be the same and only time will heal the wound. It now is also certain that she cannot believe what people tell her. There is even some reservation towards Dimitri and Pia, though she still trusts them more than anybody else. She feels utterly miserable and alone. She sighs. There is nothing she can do, made worse by the fact of having amnesia, no concrete memory. They can tell her whatever, true or not. She finds the Lottery solution reasonably suitable, and “fate and chance” the best answers among all the nonsense she heard. She feels more compelled than ever to find her memory. Only then will she be able to argue her point or provide evidence. Hopefully! But maybe it is her brain after all making fun of her. Maybe what is now, is all there is? Her thoughts run in circles. She is their victim. No wonder that she feels sick. How can she solve riddles when there is no clue and nobody who helps! To know one’s name is not the revelation either isn't it? Instead finding answers to her own problems, new questions arise. And she cannot answer either or do something about it.
Her gaze glides over the smooth mirror-like surface of the water. The pond is so beautiful, fringed by reed and carrying bright glowing water lilies. Fish bustle about in his milky green water being rich in plankton. The ground is partially covered by grasses and climbing plants which can grow high and scare bathers like her. She was once caught by them and it was not a nice feeling. It felt like long thin arms tried grabbing her to pull her down into an unknown abyss. Since, she knows the pond well, knows where to swim and where not. But the plants would take over if they were not cleared once a year. Without them the pond looks naked, sure not as pretty as now with much of the green cloth striving to make up for a cut some time ago.
She takes off her clothes except the underwear, walks down to the water and dives in. She swims to the other side where there is a small rock sticking its head out of the water and where it is beautiful to sit surrounded by reed and, hidden from curious eyes. She pulls herself on to it making herself comfortable and letting the warm sun dry and caress her. She can see the creepers striving towards the surface. They are still well below, but she can see their heads swing softly in the underwater current, to and fro, and to and fro. She closes her eyes, swaying with them, it is like a lullaby.
Brrr! How cold it suddenly is! Shivering she looks up. There it is again, the long hallway. The dreary lamps hanging from the ceiling swing softly in a draught and the stone floor is as ever smooth and cold. She gets up, hurries down the hallway. To the left and right are doors, none open, but that is of no interest to her at all. She is after something else. Having been able to enter the house there ought to be a way out! That’s what she wants. She wants to leave the house. And indeed, she finds what she is looking for. From the end of the corridor gleams a plate. In red letters on mellow white ground it says “ E X I T ”. The lamp inside its container is as tired as the rest in the hallway. It is far too weak, to make it visible from the other end. Unfortunately it also turns out very quickly that she is not able to leave despite having found a door marked as an exit. The door itself is impressive, big and wide and shiny, made of steel. It has no handle, no lock, no button or knob nor another gadget on it or on the neighboring walls. In the middle runs a vertical fissure. Obviously, this is one of the automated doors with wings that slide apart into the cavities of the adjacent walls when triggered either by movement sensors or remote control. She can try as much as she wants and she sure tries hard, she cannot get it to open. Disappointed she gives up but she is still relieved to have found an exit after all. She is confident that she will find out the rest.
The floor plan of the house seems to be a T . The two corridors, one to the right the other to the left, show windows on both sides of the exit door while more doors are apparent on the internal walls. The windows big and wide and high, have frosted glass covered by a lettuce built from small metal bars. One can neither look outside, nor break the windows and the corridors end in plain walls, ending Femina’s hope to find an emergency exit.
She returns to the steel door, lets herself down on the opposite wall. She stares at the smooth matt shiny surface. Despondency wells up in her. Whichever way she looks she is trapped. What she once perceived as rescue ended up as a trap. Damn it! It is so unfair! She already had been closer to death than life, couldn’t she die there and then instead crawling on only to become a prisoner? And to make matters worse, one with amnesia and loss of important memory! Whatever is left of her memory is sure only due to being anchored in instinct therefore expressing itself habitually as part of her character and inherent traits!
She tries again to concentrate, dive deep down into the crevices of her brain, to search in all the folds and layers for something useful in storage from the past. But no matter how hard she digs, nothing comes to light. She gives up. It makes more sense to concentrate on the present instead of wasting more time on a search of the past, at least for now.
Her suspicions have now been confirmed. She has landed in a highly questionable world. What name can she give to such a place? Her thoughts immediately start another merry go round. Ph! She can even hear them whirring. Her rational calls for order. ‘Be cool’, she tells herself softly. Neither mind nor body have a reason to exaggerate. So what! Sitting in a trap, what does it mean? She was not suffering, not until now anyway. And now it has only been confirmed that, what is, differs from what she expected it to be. The same applies to everything else she has experienced in this house so far. All has shown to be two-sided and ambiguous. On the one hand it is a world of chimera and illusion on the other hand a world of deception and lies. Its reality is therefore neither unequivocal nor absolute.
Or is it really possible that what is, is all there is? Maybe she is in fact the illusionist. Well then she landed in a circus! That makes her smile. She loves the circus. She likes particularly the clowns because they make people laugh. It is something she cherishes most. But she admires the tightrope-walker because they are masters of balance. Something she desperately needs now!
Well, she concludes, to give this world a name is not that important. She deals with illusion this or the other way. What does it matter if the whole world lies to her? That truly does not matter at all. But what matters is that she does not lie to herself; that she does not mistake illusion for truth and most importantly, that she does not doubt herself which is under given circumstances probably the hardest of all. Particularly if she has to stay here for a while it may get even harder.
One thing she will not be able to avoid, that is to stand up for what she believes is just and true. With that she faces a dilemma because confrontations are a natural consequence of speaking up and speaking out. It means, there will be sad times and hard times and lots of pain, not only for her. She does not like to see any one suffer, nor does she like to play hero. She prefers to leave instead. It sure would be better, if she could leave this house sooner than later. Hence, her decision is made.
It leaves her with nothing more to deal with but grief. She is mourning the loss of her dear friends. They were good-hearted people, they helped always where it was needed. They always helped her. She will miss them badly and she will never forget them if she can help it. It is impossible to describe in words what she feels. True grief is fathomless. A song comes to her mind that they have sung to her on many occasions and ever so often to her delight:
“Mariechen sat on the shore crying………..”