Chapter 1. The wrong side of the wall.

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"There is no need to worry, Madison

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"There is no need to worry, Madison. Your training will resume according to schedule. This is just a slight change."

The broad, reassuring smile highlighting the finality in Jake's words distracted me, but only for a second. And that was all it took; when I opened my mouth to protest, Jake was already handing me the printed training schedule.

"I don't really have a choice, do I?" I asked instead.

Jake pursed his lips, his eyes desperately scanning the gym lobby for an escape.

"To be honest, no. Jerome is the only available trainer at the moment." His hand landed heavily on my shoulder. "You'll be fine. As I said, just a small change."
I silently cursed once more my former personal trainer, Matt, who seemed to have vanished for five days without giving anyone a heads up -me included. I had run out of any possible -and ridiculously absurd- excuses to put forward to Jake, the guy who ran the Academy gym, in order to avoid Matt's substitute. That piece of paper was in fact my defeat.
Jake's attention was now drawn to the treadmill section.


"Look," he glanced at me briefly, "I have to go."

"But, Jake..." I struggled for the words that'd make him stop and listen to me.

My time was up. Jake just gave me a thumbs up before turning away.

"I'll see you tomorrow. Chill out. You'll be fine," he said over his shoulder.

Letting out a heavy sigh that I hoped he could hear, I looked at the piece of paper he'd given me. Did he just say tomorrow? Great! My first session was scheduled for the following morning.

I made a ball with the piece of paper in my hand and barely managed to resist the urge to throw it away.

"Slight change. Just a slight change," I tried to reassure myself when the gym door closed behind me.

Slight or not, I had never liked change. That may be because I had too many changes in my life, all of them falling into the category of not being controlled by me. And although I would admit that not all changes in my life so far have been for the worse,
They say that the moment you are born is forever carved in the subconscious part of your brain but it is impossible to recall it, at least under normal circumstances. I, on the other hand, have an absolute memory of the day I was born -or rather reborn- in the murky water that flooded the streets of Hopkinsville after the hurricane hit. I have total memory of feeling cold and paralyzed, sinking deeper and deeper into the dark, muddy water. I can still recall my terror when things that must have been sinking along with me crashed into my body, pulling me deeper. I can still remember fighting for my life, struggling for one more breath and, finally, giving up. Until, all of a sudden, I was summoned back to life. That summon made me strong enough to kick hard whatever was drawing me deeper and try to surface. I still remember the feeling; the need for just one breath; the strong hands that pulled me up, and then .... nothing. All the memories from my life till then sank in the flood and I surfaced a new person. Madison StClaire, a.k.a. the amnesia girl, was born that day. Past-free. Before that, nobody knows what my name was or where I came from. Two months later, the Sisters of St Claire's Convent practically adopted me after they had tried all possible means to locate my family. In the years I stayed at the Girls' Shelter the nuns run, nobody looked for me; the outcome of the investigation on my past was that my family was part of the statistics; two more digits to the number of the hurricane victims. It didn't help that I could not remember my surname. Because I knew I had a first name. It was carved on a silver bracelet they found around my wrist. As for my surname, the Sisters gave me one.
The Sisters of St. Claire's Convent took care of orphan girls from all around the country, but I was the only girl in the Shelter who had suffered the hurricane nightmare. That, however, didn't make me any different from the others; each one of us had gone through our own tragedy. It was at the Shelter that I met Megan and Blue. The two girls became my friends from the very first moment I met them. Even more, they became my only family. Sister Meredith, the closest to a mother figure for the three of us, used to say that we matched like a three-piece puzzle. And so we should. We all knew loss. And grief. In that stark building, we were able to feel almost like little girls with normal lives just because we had each other; there was a feeling of strength that grew among us as and -although we never talked about it- I am certain that all three of us could feel it.

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