Chaos (Lanie Bross) - Lanie Bross
“Close your eyes. Tell me what you see.”
Luc scowled and crossed his arms. “How can we see anything with our eyes closed?”
Jasmine slipped her hand into her mother’s and squeezed her eyes shut dutifully. It wasn’t often that Mom took them out of the house anymore, and the trip to the Botanical Garden had been so spur-of-the-moment, so unexpected, that Mom had even forgotten to put Jasmine’s shoes on. Jasmine was halfway to the car in socks before Luc had run after her, holding a pair of sneakers.
“Good girl.” A soft hand rested on top of Jasmine’s head, and fingers stroked her long dark hair. “Now take a deep breath. What do you see?”
Jasmine inhaled a breath as big as her lungs would allow. A color came to her. Yellow. “Lemon?” she asked hesitantly.
“Yes. And what else?”
Luc snorted but Jasmine ignored him. He was going to ruin it. It felt so good to have Mom close, to feel her delicate fingers running through her hair again. She wanted to make her happy more than anything in the world.
“Strawberry,” she said. “I see a strawberry.”
Mom crouched down beside her. “That’s good. What else?”
Jasmine took another deep breath and concentrated with every ounce of her being. She squeezed her eyes so tight, she saw little bursts of color. Bursts like fat fists. Fat fists like bright blooms. The heady aroma wrapped around Jasmine, filling her lungs, her veins with the throbbing scent.
“What do you see, Jas?” her mother prompted.
“I see … the flowers Daddy brought you for your birthday, only … brighter.”
Her mother’s delighted laughter sounded like music. “You can open your eyes now.”
She did, feeling a rush of triumph. She had done it. She had made her mom laugh.
But when she opened her eyes, her mom was gone. Luc was gone. She was alone in a lush forest where the trees seemed to be whispering to each other. If she listened hard enough, she could make out what they said, except for an annoying whine coming from overhead.
“Mom?” The sharp bite of panic put an edge in her voice.
An ache started in her stomach, like she hadn’t eaten for a week, and she doubled over from the pain.
Blood pounded in her ears, drowning out all other sounds.
Then a voice called to her out of the fog. Luc? She tried calling out, but her mouth wouldn’t form words.
The whining returned, louder and filled with rage. It filled her head, pushed to get out until she thought her body would explode. In a moment of clarity, she knew what was happening.
She was dying.
“Jas, I’m coming.…” It was Luc.
But before he reached her, she fell.
Jasmine jolted awake, gasping for air. It took her a second to recognize that she was in her own bed, her own room. The heavy perfume that had haunted her dream clung to her sheets and her hair.
Outside her window, the sun had begun to rise, and the sky was alight with streaks of red and orange. Cracks in the plaster ceiling revealed intricate patterns, spidering outward into a twisted mass, like tree limbs in winter. Someone had made coffee and the aroma made her feel nauseated.
Jasmine sat up slowly, waiting for the usual fuzzy-headedness that followed getting high, but there was none. In fact, things were sharper than they’d ever been.
Except for her memory. Her memory was a blank. Had she partied too hard?
Carefully, she pushed the blanket aside and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Her muscles ached as she stretched her arms overhead. Jas waited for the room to tilt, for the bile to rise in her throat. But it didn’t happen. She scanned her desk for her phone, but it was nowhere in sight. The clock on her nightstand read 8:42 a.m.
What the hell had happened? How had she ended up back in bed? What had she taken last night? She was hangover-free, at least. She felt clear, alert.
So why couldn’t she remember?
Jasmine slipped on a pair of jeans that were slung over the chair. She looked at herself in the mirror on the back of her closet door. Her hair was a wild dark mess splayed out in a million directions, but her skin looked oddly glowing, as though she were standing in a patch of sunlight.
She shook her head. It was as if a curtain had been pulled over her memory. She could catch only glimpses, snippets of images, when the curtain fluttered.
She was meeting him at the marina, but why?