Rebirth: Chapter ii - The Stranger by Roy Neyman

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Anderson started, awakening to the sky shimmering in flecks of gray blue through the rust and yellow of the autumn leaves that were cast in a flowing dome overhead. Grass damp with the scent of early afternoon warmed his back.

A new moment of awareness pealed through his nervous system, stirring far tendrils of memory that seemed to have been silent until that very instant. Not dead, but unborn. Some tenuous, timeless memory told him no, ...perhaps just asleep. Though this particular tidbit of sure knowledge was slipping away even then, Anderson would, from that point onwards, be haunted with the sense that the edges of his mind touched upon a storehouse of understanding that reached back to the beginning of time.

As he rolled over, putting his brand new hand into the cool grass to push himself upright, he glared at his fingers.

"How odd," he thought. They were long, slender, almost girlish looking. The pink nails with new moon crescents at the tips were clean and even, if a bit too long. They struck him as contrary to the ancient recall still echoing in his head.

Sitting up slowly, he finally drew the woman next to him within the sphere of consciousness that had seemed to constitute his entire universe. She blinked him a china blue blink, flashing a mysterious question with her eyes, "Where have you been?"

"Away," Anderson wanted to say, ...but didn't. Absurd. Away? No, here, and yet somewhere else. Casting about with more than his eyes, he had trouble recognizing this place, this moment. For one fractured instant his heart was rent with the feeling that God had abandoned him in some lonely corner of the galaxy.

An answer drifted just beyond his grasp but, though so crude a scale as time seemed inappropriate, it ticked both farther away from and deeper within him as each second passed. Instead he responded to the unasked question, "Oh, I must have been day dreaming. What? Why do you look at me so strangely?"

Her name bubbled up in the pools of his drifting thoughts. Marcy. Marcia. Her parents said, "Mar-cee-a", as if their beloved daughter might have been a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria. This seemed so quaint to Anderson, even as the ambiguity that he despised being called Andy missed his attention altogether. Sweet, but feisty Marcy gazed at him with a slight kink in her brow, her blush lips tightened, teasing a trace of impending frown into putting in an appearance at the corners of her mouth.

"I was watching you sleep," she answered. "The sun and the warm breeze tempted me to doze, too, but you looked so, ...so happy I decided to watch you instead. It's been a long time since I've seen you so peaceful that I had to enjoy it while it lasted." Marcy splashed a few fingers' worth of deep red Shiraz into each of the two small Dixie cups nestled in the grass at her knees. The waxy pink flowers on the cups argued cheerfully with the serious tone of Marcy's observation. The lovely spring day whispered its supporting murmur through the shrubbery around them.

Was that true, Anderson asked himself? Her wonderfully loving observation irritated him a bit, drawing his shoulders up with a touch of tension, the more so because he knew she was right.

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