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Forgetting August

By:J. L. Berg

Forgetting August

J. L. Berg


Sound roared in my ear like a freight train as I fought against the rushing tide.

I clawed, gripping and pawing my way to the surface. Where it led, I didn’t know—only that I needed to get there. Somehow.

In the distance, I heard an echo of a laugh. Soft and feminine, it disappeared like a feather drifting and dancing in a violent windstorm.

Sharp colors and fuzzy images danced around my head, confusing me, enticing me—motivating me to push ahead.

Where was I?

The sound of a siren blared in the distance as a murky green light seemed to move in and around me. It flowed like water and pulsated through me like it had a purpose. The color looked so familiar. I reached out to touch it and suddenly everything stopped, making my heart stop in its tracks.

I need to get out of here.

The woman’s voice called out once more and I instinctively chased after it, determined not to lose it.

But once again, like everything else, it faded and I was left alone in a dark tunnel with nothing but myself.

Sometime later, the soft green light returned. I watched it intensify, swirling and changing until it morphed into a single stone. It fell to the ground with a solid clink just as I glimpsed a wisp of red hair around a corner.

“Wait!” I yelled. “Come back!”

My lungs heaved and my body ached as I tried to catch up.

“Don’t leave without me!” I begged.

One tiny plink, then another. I looked down to find several green stones hitting the earth. As I looked up to the heavens, it began to pour. Thousands of stones fell from the sky like rain, filling the streets as if they were a giant glass bowl. I tripped and stumbled over them until I fell face forward and hit the ground. Reduced to a crawl, I still didn’t give up.

“August!” the woman yelled.

The stones piled one on top of another, surrounding me until I was choking and nearly gagging on the dazzling brilliance as each stone slowly buried me alive.

“Please,” I cried, clawing my way to the top as the stones began to cover my head, “Don’t leave me here.”

My next breath broke the surface and I opened my eyes.

I was awake.


Chapter One


I saw him again today.

It was at the mall this time.

He was wearing a grey suit and it was just seconds this time before he disappeared around a corner and my life returned to normal once more.

It had been two years and yet I still saw him. Everywhere.

The day after that fateful night, I saw him in our neighborhood walking a dog. Months later, he was next to me at a stoplight when I went out for groceries. Two weeks ago when Ryan got down on one knee and placed a dazzling diamond ring on my left hand, I swear I saw his face the minute I said yes.

He was like a ghost—my own personal poltergeist.

I knew it wasn’t really him. My therapist had reminded me of that simple fact over a thousand times, but that didn’t stop my heart from skipping a beat or my lungs deflating of air every time I saw someone that looked like him pass in my direction.

It could be the color of a person’s hair or the way someone laughed that set my body on edge.

Today, it was simply a suit.

Tailored, dark grey with a small pinstripe. The style had been his favorite, and even though the man who wore it looked nothing like him, I still found myself frozen in the middle of the food court.

Still as ice, unable to move.

Because life really didn’t move on from a person such as August Kincaid.

No, you simply learned to adapt and above all, you survived.

And that was what I had been doing for the last two years.


“Hey, you went blank again. Are you okay?” Sarah asked.

I looked around, and the world suddenly shifted back into focus. Children cried and begged for ice cream, teenagers laughed and flirted as they walked by us. The smell of cinnamon rolls and cheap Chinese food mixed and mingled, as people pushed and shoved their way around to get in ridiculously long lines. Life went on around me as I returned to the land of the living.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I assured her. Concern was written all over her beautiful, trim face. Her hand lifted briefly as if she were going to offer a hug, but quickly decided against it.

“Okay,” she answered, defeat clearly written all over her face. She knew I wouldn’t talk about it.

I never did.

There were certain things that just didn’t need to be shared.

Specific memories of my past were one of them.

She already knew I was a nutcase yet for some reason became my friend despite this. I guess we had that specific trait in common. We’d met in the waiting room at my therapist’s office. She was a recovering purger, or at least that’s what she called it. Since the time Sarah was barely old enough to vote, she’d been suffering from a variety of eating disorders. She attributed her illnesses to a dance mentor who’d never thought she was thin enough to be a ballerina.