I Don’t Recognize This Place

Part 1

“Jeremiah stop! Don’t walk away from me!” She yells towards him. 

“That’s not my name!” He shouts, stopping his footsteps and turns around.  

The wind is blowing so hard, it feels like icy spikes against his face. The brush is tickling up to his shins, with the smell of dry grass wafting into his senses. He can hear the faint calls of the running water from the nearby reservoir. Without question, he knows that’s where he needs to go, if only his older sister will let him leave. 

“What does that mean? Why do you keep saying that?” Nichelle catches up to him. She looks at him with deep concern in her eyes and he feels compelled to tell her everything. Not just the abuse he’s receiving at school, but the truth about his timeline. He takes a deep breath, swallowing the bubbling of tears that are creeping up. Normally, he would take a few minutes to strategically plan what he wants to say, but he can’t do that with her. 

“My name is Brendon! Brendon Turner, and this-it isn’t my home. I was adopted as a baby and raised by Dakota and Martin Turner. They had two kids before getting me, and-and, I just..I thought I hated my life. Well not entirely, I just didn’t feel Black enough, or like, I didn’t belong anywhere. I didn’t have a lot of friends and my brothers were dicks and no one liked me, so I thought, maybe…” Brendon pauses, taking a breath to glance down at his shoes. The dirt covering the whites of his converse brings back a memory of his brothers. 

How they were so apprehensive about keeping their white sneakers clean.  

How they would remind him that no one wants anything dirty with something so pure.

“-if I was never adopted, I’d be happier. I would feel better being around my blood family, but I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean to!” One by one, tears begin to slip out his eyes, and he struggles to keep his voice from cracking. 

He can tell the look on her face is that of confusion. It sounds insane, claiming to be someone else, but he has to explain it to her. 

“I-it’s like,” he continues. “I didn’t mean to come here. I had said so many times that I wish I knew my birth family, but there was something weird about that day. I felt it.” He places his hand on the center of his chest, recalling the pitted feeling that had ached in his stomach on the last day in his timeline. “I kept thinking that I wished I was never adopted. I thought life would be better here, but it’s just a different kind of hell. It’s not right, I don’t feel right here.” 

He stares up at Nichelle, waiting for her to say anything. A huge gust of wind blows in their direction, slightly knocking her off balance, and her hair catches in her mouth. 

“Okay,” She starts while removing the hair out of her face,“so you’re not my brother that I played with every day when we were kids? You don’t remember the time you tripped chasing me down the street and got that scar on your knee? You’re trying to tell me that you don’t know who I am? The girl who has watched out for you every day since you were born?” She tries to deflect the anger in her voice. 

Brendon notices her tone, and starts to feel his frustration increasing. “It’s not like that! I mean-it’s like-” he pauses. He can hear the sounds of tiny footsteps heading their directions, but ignores them, believing the winds can cover them up. “I know who you are, Nichelle. I remember everything, it’s just they’re not my memories. They belong to Jeremiah, who exists here, but to me, I am not him. I didn’t do those things. I lived a totally different life and I can’t figure out how to get back now.” 

She nods, eyes glaring off into any direction to avoid him. He can tell she wants to scream; at him, into the wind, just scream until she can’t anymore. He can feel it radiating off her body, shooting in every direction like uncontrollable explosions of fireworks. The blistering winds are attacking her body, making her shiver along with the overgrown grass. The small footsteps are now noticeable to Brendon, but Nichelle is lost to the words that came out of his mouth.

Her train of thought is interrupted by the tiny person emerging next to her. 

“Kaia! You shouldn’t be out here, sweetie.” Her attention focuses on her little sister, who was carrying her white teddy bear and not wearing shoes as she often didn’t. 

“But Jeremiah-” 

“Why aren’t you wearing shoes? Kaia, you need to go back to the house. You could hurt yourself-” Nichelle stops her sentence short by the sounds of Brendon already continuing his run toward the reservoir. “Shit. Jere-I mean, Bren-” She tries to cry out, but unable to process the information he had given her, can’t decipher what to call the boy who says he isn’t her brother. 

“Where is he going?” Kaia asks her older sister. 

“I don’t know. Come on, let’s go inside, it’s cold.” She reaches down to grab her sisters’ hand. 

“No! I gotta help him get home!” Kaia says, and takes off running through weeds.

Nichelle instinctively starts to follow, until the remains of her sister’s words sink in and stop her in her tracks.

Brendon, taking large but cautious steps, makes his way to the basin of water flowing past the field. He could feel it with his entire being. There is something close. It’s the same feeling he had the day that he disappeared. He knew there was something weird about this reservoir. He didn’t know much about the outdoors. It’s a good thing Jeremiah did and his memories are the perfect map to help Brendon find what he needed.

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