The strong rays of the sun and landscape made Deville think of the past. The life he’d led was an enigma on its own. Pieces of the puzzle came infrequently with images, emotions or smells.
Deville suffered from amnesia for a large part of his past. This past was a battle he shared with almost no one. His mind was eager to unwrap any memories but no methods proved successful. Hypnosis and treatments stopped long ago. He abstained from it due to fear of delirious effects. His body, and in most regards, his mind, functioned well, even when memories surfaced.
Parts of his childhood escaped him, even before the amnesia, before the doctors and hand me downs and the hospitals in both countries. What he remembered, whether it was images, smells or tastes, were sudden and vivid.
From what seemed like another world away, the smell and taste of France were now coming back to him. As a boy, when not studying or in school, he had spent the afternoons in the fields of Bordeaux, a large region off the Atlantic Coast. One such memory erupted now, just by the warmth of the sun.
He could hear the wind blowing, giving off an ocean breeze that made his knees cold. This meant he was in shorts, which were hand-me-downs from cousins whom he didn’t recall. He remembered feeling poor but grateful for the little he had. He was running and laughing. His shoes were loose. Deville thought they were also given to him because they were one size too big. He could see the ocean from a distance and it made him happy. How old was he? It must have been summer because it was sunny and he didn’t have his schoolbooks with him. While running, he could smell the growing lavender. He thought the tips might be in danger of catching on fire. A child thought of such things; any worries were simple and innocent.
“Don’t be silly, Louis. The lavender will be fine,” his mother announced. Her voice, strong and sometimes mistaken for a man’s, could drown out any noise but did little to muffle his uncle’s shouting. The arguments were constant but the details were a blur. The accents were as strong as their voices. He thought maybe the animals outside were afraid of the yelling because when his mother and uncle weren’t arguing, stray cats were always running around and he could hear birds chirping. His mother and uncle yelled about finances, education and food. He remembered his mother, a heavy but pleasant dark-haired woman, asking him not to be silly. “If the lavender burns so be it. It is God’s will.” She winked. “Plus imagine the lovely smell if it burned!”
Where was his father? He could see the lavender fields ahead of him connected to something, a building that looked like a shack. The lavender wasn’t burning but the shack was. The fire in the distance didn’t change his emotion. He didn’t feel at all sad while watching the shack burning. It was a place no family should live in but for some reason he called it home.
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