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There was an investigation going on about Joanie. They say she has gone missing. If they knew her like I knew her, they would know she wasn’t missing. Joanie was just choosing not to be found. But, they still request that I tell them my memories about Joanie. I barely remember anything about Joanie, besides the fact that she doesn’t want to be found. The Institution wiped most of my memories. But I do remember the first time Joanie and I met. The Institution couldn’t take that memory.
Joanie was young, and seemed very ignorant. I had my first Institution cop-duty, and while I should have been paying attention, I could not stop thinking of my mentor, Officer Mitchell. Though I hadn’t been paying attention, I saw her bright orange tank top. She was sprawled on the street, dirty and alone. I put my boot to her side, and coughed. “What are you doing here, miss?” Joanie looked up, a bemused, dirty expression watching my own.
“You’re a lady too, right? Though you ought to let your hair grow out cause no one will know if you are or not. Besides your boobs.” She started laughing, and she tried to get up.
“Come on, I’m taking you in.” I grabbed her arm. “Are you 21?”
She breathed in my face, “Oh, you probably should wear makeup too, if you want any action.” She laughed again, and alcohol stained her breath. I shoved her into my car. Joanie struggled a bit, but realized that she was too tired to fight back. She collapsed into the back seat of the Institution car, and fell fast asleep. I sighed, and drove straight to the station.
The cops came to my house today. They told me that Joanie has gone missing! Oh Joanie, I knew she would be running one day. I asked them how they knew about me, and they told me that the Institution had extracted Joanie’s memories before she had disappeared, and they are talking to the last people who had seen her. I told them that the Institution had also wiped my memory. Except, for some reason, they couldn’t get one about Joanie. They asked me what that memory was. I told them that it was the first time that I met Joanie.
Joanie and I were at least five years old. She was playing in the mud outside my grandmother’s house. I stomped outside, and told her off. “That’s my mud!” I screamed. Joanie just laughed in my face, and threw mud at me. It landed on my bare chest. I jumped forward, and tackled her. We rolled around in the mud for a while, until Joanie pushed me off.
“Hi!” She screeched, and shoved her hand toward me. “I’m Joanie!” I eyed her hand thoughtfully, and thrust my hand back towards her. I shook her hand, and smiled shyly.
“Hi Joanie.” She laughed happily, and held my hand in hers.
“You’re cute, aren’t you?” Joanie giggled.
I stared at her, and blushed. “I dunno.” I smiled at her. She giggled again, and kissed me on the cheek.
They told me a girl named Joanne Smith escaped from the Institution. They asked me about her, even though I had only met her a couple times. But they know that I would remember Joanne Smith. She was my only memory, and the only thing I couldn’t stop thinking about.
I was an officer in the Institution police station, and I remember Smith struggling through the doors with a woman cop named Cleo. Cleo nodded at me like she didn’t know me very well, but of course I knew better. Cleo and I had been dating for several months, and she was just acting like she didn’t know me. Institution officers are not allowed to date.
“Officer Mitchell,” Cleo said sternly to me, “This is the one hundred and sixteenth time in four years that Miss Smith has been found, drunk and disorderly.” Cleo’s eyes softened for the young girl, who was gripped tightly in Cleo’s strong hands. Joanne looked up at me, and her drunken face turned into a grimace, and she shook out of Cleo’s grip, unsteadily. Cleo, looking surprised, was watching as Joanne grabbed my hand and shook it. I felt paper slide between my fingers.
“Call me Joanie.” She giggled, and she realized how unstable she was, and fell into Cleo again. “Cleo, take me home please!” Cleo gave me a look, and stared at Joanne’s face. I was staring too. She looked completely drunk again, but was now fast asleep in Cleo’s arms.
“You’re sure she’s asleep?” I asked Cleo. Cleo nodded. “What do you want me to do?”
“I thought you should know about her. She asked for you a while ago.” She looked at me, and dragged Joanne back outside.
Later that day, I was sitting at my desk in my little apartment. I felt that I was alone enough to look at the paper Joanne had given me. I read the messy handwriting as best as I could.
Meet me at 2387 Ken Ling’s Tenth Inn Kensington Ave NY, NY
I was questioned for Joanie’s disappearance. What would I know about her disappearance? I told them I barely spoke to her anymore. I don’t even remember her! Still, the men wanted to know what I knew about Joanie. They kept asking do you have any idea where she went? I kept saying no to them. They finally asked me, do you remember the first time you met Joanie. I answered yes. Of course I do. It was in Junior High…
It was the first day. We were barely grown into our bodies, and I was shy and self-conscious. Very shy and self-conscious. And Joanie had come straight up to me in our homeroom and asked, “Do you want to be friends?” Before anything else had happened in the school, I was already being asked to be friends with someone? Confused, I nodded. We walked together to our first class, English, and during English we had our heads together and were talking about the cute boys in our class.
“Patty, can you believe Lily?” I looked over at the girl, Lily, who was giggling at the boy Michael. They were a couple rows in front of us.
“Why?” I asked nervously. I didn’t want to lose my first friend now, but Lily seemed all right.
“She’s talking to Michael! Everyone knows we’ve been boyfriend and girlfriend since kindergarten!” I looked at Lily again, wondering what Joanie was going to do. And I soon found out. When the bell rang, she slipped out of her chair, and walked toward the door in the front of the room. As she stroked Michael’s shoulder, she slammed Lily in the head with her book. Lily cried out in pain, and stared at Michael, confused. Michael stormed after Joanie.
These horrid cops knocked on the door. I sent Michael, my husband, to answer the door. I was 8 and half months pregnant, and my legs hurt. I heard noises for about twenty minutes, and a bang. After I heard the bang, I began to struggle to get up. A man came through the archway into the living room and told me to sit down. I asked why. They told me that they have to question me about Joanie. Oh, Joanie? I asked them. They nodded. When I asked why, they told me that she is a terrorist of the state. A shiver went through my body. They asked me what I knew about Joanie. I told them I don’t remember much, but I do remember one thing. For some reason they already knew it was the first time I met her.
Joanie and I were in Junior High. She had just hit me in the back of the head with her book when Michael went running out after her. I ran after him, because he was cute. I finally caught up with him. Michael was speaking very quickly to her, his ears bright red.
“There is nothing between Lily and me!” He screeched, and his voice cracked. Joanie sighed, and touched his face.
“There better not be.” She whispered, and looked over at me with victory.
I stomped over to her and Michael, and grabbed his hand. He stared at me with horror. “So what if there is?”
“There isn’t!” Michael screeched, his voice a tiny squeak now.
Joanie looked at me, and shook her head. She grabbed Michael’s other hand. “We can both be his girlfriends! Then he doesn’t have to decide.” She smiled warmly at Michael, and kissed him right in the hall. I, trying to be as sexy as she seemed, kissed him too.
“Lily Montgomery! To my office, now!” The principal snarled at me. “You know PDA rules!” Joanie, cracking up, watched me stutter an apology, and follow behind the principal. All I heard as I shamefully walked away, with a leap in my heart, was,
“Joanie, we’re over!” And a sob followed that.
Four men barged into my household. They stepped on one of my cats. When I yelled at them, a big man slapped me across the face. They told me that my old pupil, Joanie Smith, had disappeared. I shook my head. I couldn’t remember Joanie since the Institution wiped my memory. When they asked if I remembered anything about her, I said no. They pointed their guns, and shot my foot. I had to call the ambulance myself. When I was in the hospital, a young man showed up. He held my hand, and asked me about Joanie again. I told him the only thing I could remember of the girl was her first singing lesson.
Joanie walked into the stuffy room, and made a face. She was at least sixteen years old. “Hello, you must be Joanne Smith.”
“It’s Joanie.” She mumbled, and sat heavily into my chair. I looked at her for about fifteen seconds, and she snapped, “What?” I shook my heads, and gave her a thumb and thrust.
“Get out of my seat.” I snarled. She quickly stood up, and stroked the piano. She gave me an angry look, and started toward the door. “Fine, Miss Smith, leave. But I do still get paid for this lesson, and you will have to explain-“ Joanie had already left the room.
Joanne Smith, they told me, had escaped. I already knew she was missing. I was the doctor in charge of her! She had escaped me when I was looking over her memories. Oh, there were so many memories. That girl did a lot of things. She escaped two weeks ago. I decided not to tell, or else I would get fired. When doctors notice something is wrong, we can’t say the fact out loud. We have to wait until the commanding chiefs notice it. Strangely Officer Mitchell, the major commander, noticed. He tended to come to the hospital every couple weeks, looking for someone. He walked by Joanne Smith’s window a lot, and looked inside. Like she would wake up! Frighteningly, she did. And, because of my complete lack of interest, she was roaming some random street in the middle of nowhere. And Officer Mitchell told me she was missing. I looked at him strangely, and followed him to her room. Staring inside, I told him to call somebody and tell him or her to look for Smith. Then, as he walked away, I grabbed him arm. “I know.” I told him. He looked at me, horrified. “I won’t tell.”
When the doctors came to get me, and take all my memories, I couldn’t help but laugh. I had long-term memory loss. Some dumb-a** teenager hit me with their car a couple years ago. The doctors couldn’t retrieve my memory then, why would they be able to now? I asked them. They responded, because we have new technology. I didn’t believe a word of it. The doctors left me alone from then on. I guess they aren’t allowed to hurt a cripple. But then the soldiers came. They are allowed to do anything, because they had to find Joanie. They punch my in the face, and pushed me to the ground. I refused to share my memory, and then they lifted me back up into my chair. They promised to give me back my legs. I stared up at them, crying. I refused their offer. And they left. The next day I woke up in a hospital, and the doctors were about to cut open my skull to try and get my memories. While I was awake! I still told them nothing. When I woke up, Joanie was there.
“Hey, Fiona.” Joanie whispered, moving some of my hair behind my ear.
“Hey, Joanie.” I murmured weakly. “You know that they are looking for you?”
Joanie laughed. “Yeah, I know. Are you okay?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Your memories just got extracted.”
“Did they get the ones of you?”
“No, I killed them before they could.”
I began to cry. “Everyone’s dead!” Joanie looked at me, confused.
“Michael and Lily are dead! Lily was pregnant!” I buried my head in Joanie’s chest.
“Is the baby okay?”
“Yeah, I’ve been taking care of him.”
“Oh my God, Fiona. They probably took him.” I cried harder.
“Patricia is dead, Nico is dead, and your old piano teacher is dead!” Joanie stiffened.
“Are the officers dead?”
“You just had to play hero!” Joanie began to sob, and collapsed on me. When I had calmed down, I looked around, and saw a dirty inn. “Where are we?”
Soldiers burst into my house. They yelled at me, kicked me, and beat me with their guns. I crawled to the wall. I screamed back, what do you want? They kicked me, and then lifted me up. They dragged me to the Institution Headquarters in New York. There, they questioned me about Joanie. I hadn’t seen her for several years, not since Fiona and Joanie had gotten into that huge fight. They asked me what my memories of Joanie were. I couldn’t remember anything except that huge fight. They asked me what it was about. I asked if they were going to hurt Fiona, because she didn’t do anything wrong. They punched me.
I had my ear pressed to the wall, holding our daughter’s hand. Fiona was screaming at Joanie, telling her to leave now.
“Fiona, you have to help me!”
“I’m not risking my family so you can play hero!”
“Please, I can’t do this without you!”
“You couldn’t do this with me!”
“I’m not as smart as you!”
“Obviously, since you’re the one who is about to go try to destroy the…” The voices dropped to a murmur. I heard Fiona ask, “How did you even get that information?”
“A cop from the Institution.”
“Did you drug him?”
“Of course, he would never tell me if he wasn’t.”
“This is insane.”
“Come on, Fiona. We can save the world like we always wanted to!”
“You should leave now.” Fiona walked out of the room, and looked at me. I held her and our daughter. As Joanie left, she pulled herself away from me. She picked up Louise, and carried her to the bathroom. I ran to Joanie.
“Why do you want to take Fiona away from us?” I asked, breathless.
Joanie smiled sadly, and touched my cheek. “I just want to save lives.” Then she turned, and left.
How did the doctor know? I hadn’t told anyone! But still, he told me that he wouldn’t tell. I then realized that he had her memories. So she remembered!
I had walked through the busy streets of New York City, and wondered where Kensington Avenue was. I stopped a homeless man on the street, and interrogated him. He told me where it was, for a hundred dollars. I walked toward the south of New York City, and the streets got dirtier as I went. After walking for many dark hours, I finally found a dirty, old, wooden street sign that said, “Kensington Ave.” I followed the street down until the end of the block, and realizing I must have passed the apartment building I set back up the road.
After walking up and down the block several times, I stopped in front of an old Inn. Its sign said, “Ken Ling’s Tenth Inn” and under the sign it showed dull numbers. I, being too tired to read the numbers, walked straight into the Inn. “Hello, I’d like to get a room for the night.” The man at the desk looked up at me. His eyes were a deep black and staring right into my soul. “Uh, can I have a room?”
“Oh, you read my letter, Officer Mitchell.” I heard behind me. I turned toward the voice I had heard hours earlier. “I was beginning to lose hope.” But, instead of the young girl I expected, I found a pretty young lady with no dirt-streaked clothes or mud splattered face. Her hair was a light brown with blond streaks. Her eyes were a piercing green with violet specks in them, and she had on a specially fitted black dress that ended slightly past her hips. “Shall we go to dinner now?” She grabbed my hand. I, completely speechless, turned to the man. He raised his eyebrows, and said something in Chinese. She turned and glared at the man. “I agree with Mr. Ling. We shall go to my room and eat.”
I nodded slowly, and followed her. Joanne pushed me into her room, and shut the door. Finally, finding my voice, I shakily said, “Miss Smith I do believe I should go home.” She shook her head.
“One,” She said, her voice ringing in my ears. “My name is Joanie. And two, you cannot go home just yet. You have just gotten here! So now,” She snapped her fingers. “Champagne and food!”
A woman with Asian features rushed into the room with a cart full of delicious looking food and a bottle of Champagne. I didn’t even notice when the woman locked the door when she exited, because I was too busy staring at the food. “Champagne, Mr. Mitchell?” She poured some into a cup for me, and pushed it across the cart. I was so hungry and thirsty. So I chugged it down, and felt lighter and bubblier than I had a couple of seconds earlier. I drank another couple glasses of the Champagne, and felt even better. “Now tell me, John, where is the headquarters for the Institution?” I looked at her suspiciously, though it was very hard to pay attention to her interest.
“I don’t know!” I giggled. She poured me another glass of Champagne, though she hadn’t touched her first glass. I drank it thirstily. It passed my mind that I shouldn’t drink without food, so I decided to eat some of the dumplings. I stabbed one with my fork. “Mr. Mitchell, you will find…” I ate the dumpling quickly, and felt happier than I have in a long time. I looked at Joanne as I stuffed another dumpling into my mouth. She smiled at me with a strange expression, and then shook her head.
“Where are the headquarters?” I shoved a dumpling into my mouth.
“In Argentina, gosh!” I downed yet another glass of Champagne. “What kind of Champagne is this?”
“It doesn’t matter. Eat another dumpling, try some rice.” I did as she said, and the rice was delicious. “Who is the Head Commander?”
“There is no name for the Head Commander, Joanie.” I giggled. “It is not a human.” I ate another dumpling, giggling. She smiled again.
“What is the Head Commander?”
“I am not sure, but I know there is no human in charge.” She leaned over the table and took my glass.
“You are dismissed Mr. Mitchell.” I looked at her pleadingly, and stared at her full first glass. Something clicked in my mind.
“You just tricked me into something!” I mumbled, stood up, and tried to head toward the door. But I was too dizzy. Joanne grabbed me, and turned me around. She brushed her lips against mine, and my head spun in circles, but I kissed this strange woman back. She smiled at me mischievously, and pushed me onto the bed. I felt her hand on my belt, and I tried to get up. “No! I have a…” She pressed her lips against my own, and a wonderful feeling rushed through my body. A feeling that I have never had with Cleo.
I woke up the next morning in my bedroom with a killer headache, a hickey, and note on my pillow, with some Advil.
Sorry- Love Joanie