For prongslilys because i read tags and i love hers
Sometimes, if you screw up your eyes and breathe through your
nose, you can remember a lot of green.
Remus says that was the colour of the other car, but you felt
like it’s something more. It’s as if your eyes exploded, dripping down your
face and into your mouth because there is a taste in it too, almost metallic.
Then again, that might just have just been the blood.
But thinking about the accident makes your head hurt, so you
try not to, because your head hurts enough already. You tell Sirius this and he
gives you the weirdest look, then climbs beside you and asks if you want to
watch Four Weddings and a Funeral again.
You say yes of course, because Four
Weddings and a Funeral is the greatest movie of all time, next to Die Hard, of course.
You watched Die Hard
for the first time with James on your forth day here, but of course, it wasn’t really
your first time, it was After Lily’s first time.
That’s how you separate the accident. There is Before Lily,
who married at eighteen, was in medical school, had dead parents and liked to
make charts. Before Lily didn’t like swearing at strangers, was going through a
divorce and living with her older sister that she used to hate. Before Lily
read thick medical journals, liked curry and had seven day planners on her
Now there is After Lily. The Lily you are now, amnesia
patient number #65248, who doesn’t brush her hair and is actually quite good at
Candy Crush. After Lily doesn’t like hospital jelly, watches 90’s movies and
laughs at bad puns made by her almost-ex-husband. After Lily types naughty
words on the calculator with Sirius and has four tablespoons of sugar in her
coffee that Remus brings her from the shop on the corner. After Lily remembers
nothing of her twenty-one years up until six weeks ago, when she went hurtling
through her car windshield after being hit by a drunk driver.
Petunia tries to get you to press charges, standing over you
when you had just woken up with her pinched face and painfully brown dress, demanding
a lawyer. But you weren’t interested in suing; you just wanted to know who
everyone was and why people kept yelling. Petunia did a lot of yelling when she
used to come and visit, she yelled at the hospital staff for calling James
about the accident before her, she yelled at the medical school on the phone
when they retracted your scholarship, she yelled at James about the divorce
papers, she yelled at you when you told her to leave. You don’t like it when
people bring up the almost-divorce around James; his face changes like he’s
just been kicked in the stomach. That look makes your chest ache.
He is the first real thing you can remember.
When you first woke up you saw him, sleeping in the chair
next to your bed, scruff on his jaw and long limbs stretched haphazardly across
the floor. You remember a guy next to him with long black hair who was doing
the crossword and yelling for someone called Remus to hurry up with the coffee.
You remember the guy you now know as Remus dropping the paper cups when he saw
your open eyes. You remember Sirius yelling for a nurse and James staring at
you so hard, like he thought if he looked away you might disappear.
The day after that James brought you an assortment of
lollies, so you could see which one was your favourite (Jelly babies, but the
Before Lily’s was Marshmallows). He brings you books of every kind and reads
aloud like you are five years old, both of you squished on the tiny bed. You watch action movies and
yell at the characters until the nurse comes over and tells you off. He teaches
you how to play chess until he realises he doesn’t actually know how to play
that well, so you end up watching YouTube tutorials about it instead. You show
him how to use this great new website you found called Pinterest which he
becomes totally obsessed with, so you and Sirius have to stage an intervention
and delete the app off his phone while James looked on, almost tearful.
Sirius comes to visit nearly every second day and he brings
great chick flicks that James won’t go near. You both cried during Marley and Me and he held your hand and squeezed
it so hard your fingers popped. He tried to make you an origami swan but gave
up when the paper was covered in blood from his own paper cuts, you laughed
when he threw the paper at the wall. Sirius has a big laugh and winks a lot. He
brings you Burger King and tells you about your parent’s death first. It is
easy with Sirius, and you miss him when he can’t come by.
Remus comes in as often as he can, but he’s a hot shot law
student and has a lot of papers to study for, which you try and help him with,
but his flash cards are harder to read than the fucking medical journals so you stop. He brings
you good coffee and tells you about the world and everything you’d forgotten,
quizzes you on American Presidents and Shakespeare. He lends you his iPod which
is full of hard core rock and you play air guitar with him on your bed until
the nurse comes over and loses it, because it’s the third time this week and “IF
YOU DON’T STOP THAT I’M THROWING YOU OUT ON YOUR ASSES, BOTH OF YOU”. When you
have one of your bad days, he holds your hand and talks about the one time he
got bitten by a goose at a park when he was five until you are laughing so hard
you almost forget that your brain is mess in your head. Remus teaches you how
to knit, which is surprisingly enjoyable. He brings you watercolors so you can
paint more, which is lovely, because drawing and painting is something your
fingers remember without your brain having to.
James wheels you around the halls in a hospital wheelchair
and you scream and tell him to go faster so he does. You take a cup and put apple
juice in it, and when James drinks out of it you tell him that was your pee
sample for the nurse and he spits it all over himself and frantically starts
wiping his mouth with his shirt, while you lose your mind laughing. You and he
start a competition to see who can start the best hospital rumor and he wins
when he tells everyone that Doctor Abernathy used to be royalty until he was
thrown out for setting free his family’s private elephant circus. When you have
one of you bad days, when your brain is turning to a bloody pulp and leaking
out of your ears he turns off all the lights and holds your hands and traces
shapes on them with his long fingers. In the hospital suggestion box he puts in
ten pieces of paper saying ‘some drinking games’ while you suggest ‘more wild ragers’.
When you watch Game of Thrones you
take bets on who will die next.
When he leaves, late at night, you go through Facebook albums with titles like ‘SIRIUS GETS A MOTORBIKE AND LEGIT CRIES’ and ‘MOONY
GETS INTO LAW SCHOOL AND WE ALL LEGIT CRY’. You scroll through videos on Sirius’s
phone that have flashes of your smiling face, a tan arm around your shoulder.
The older photos are your favourite; they have your hair taking up nearly the
whole frame while James sticks his tongue out at the camera, being piss drunk
and being held up by Remus, arm wrestling Sirius, trying to give James a piggy
back, all with your mouth open and happiness pouring from your throat.
The older photos are more serious, you, staring unsmiling at
the camera, James glaring at you, Remus looking uncomfortable, Sirius laughing
and you in the midst of telling him to shut up because you’re working. The old
photos show the Lily who was getting a divorce and who was stressed about
school. You don’t look at those photos very often. Your wedding ones are the
best. James in jeans and white t-shirt, you in a sundress holding a bunch of drooping
daisies looking like the sun is under your stomach. You were eighteen and it
was two a.m., Sirius told you he signed the marriage certificate with your best
lipstick because no one could find a pen.
But the divorce. That’s what bothers you the most. That none
of them would even be here if you weren’t still tied to him, a liability, something
he didn’t want. It plagues you, bangs against your temple until you blurt the words
out at James one night after you finish playing Uno. It’s the first time you
see him get angry, really angry. He goes really red, jumps up and starts pacing
“That is the stupidest thing- no. No. That is- how could you
even- no. Stop. I never even wanted-“
He stops abruptly then, falling back into his chair and
giving you that look he had given you when you had first woken up, the one that
makes you feel like he is trying to anchor you here, make sure you don’t disappear
into your own head again.
“Lily, don’t ever say stuff like that, okay?”
You nod. Then suggest you play strip poker.
The worst day though, was learning about the blonde boy. The
one that was in your wedding and that you are hugging in so many photos. He is
in nearly every shot, and you don’t understand why he has never visited, or why
the other guys don’t talk about him even though he looks like their brother,
someone they punched on the arm and gave joke Christmas presents too. It is
James who has to explain, explain that
Peter- the blonde boy who gave you a necklace for your seventeenth and bought
you your first legal drink- hit you that night when he was driving drunk, rammed
his green Toyota right into you when he was driving in the wrong lane. James looks
like he’s choking when he says it, like suddenly there is not enough air in the
whole room to fill his cracking lungs. You lean your head on his shoulder
because he looks like he might disintegrate and you have to hold him there, you
need him, you need him here.
When he falls asleep you draw things on his hands with the
sharpies he bought you and look through more old Facebook albums named ‘WE GOT
MARRIED BITCHES’ and ‘ALERT: JAMES POTTER IS OFFICIALLY ALLOWED TO DO WHAT HE’S
BEEN DOING ILLEGLLY FOR YEARS: DRINK’. You fall asleep smiling and with James’s
head on your stomach.
You have a secret though, something you can’t tell even
James about because you’re not sure if he would get it. Here it is: You don’t
mind being After Lily. You don’t care about your memories before right now,
they aren’t coming back, and you know it in your limbs. Before Lily became hard
edged and stressed, she wanted a divorce and to live with her pushy sister.
Before Lily had the weight of a universe on her shoulders. After Lily has wheel
chair rides and old 90’s movies, she has jelly babies and On the Jellicoe Road. After Lily likes to swear and do scary eye
makeup. After Lily has Sirius and Remus. After Lily has James. You don’t want
anything before this; you can’t remember it so it’s easy not to miss it.
But you do miss him when he leaves; miss his long fingers
with your smudged sharpie on them, ache for his loud laugh and shitty puns. You
miss his jaw stubble and his voice; miss the way his eyes look at you and the
feel of his sharp elbow against yours. But he will come back, and when he does,
strolling through that door and collapsing onto your bed, you will feel as
though the world is full of stars.
(Because that’s the thing about After Lily, she has the universes in her veins instead of on her shoulders)