My Name is Jane

Three Bears

Chapter I

Coming out of sleep, Jane tugged back at the tendrils of her dream as they fell away into her subconscious. The dream had been vivid. Passing through a dark forest, she road afloat a boat, incarnadine as the blood on MacBeth's hands. Beacons of lurid green light cast liquid beams across her path, beckoning her to some distant shore. She felt no dread, just a sense of relief, as she saw three brightly coloured polar bears sniff at the edges of something that looked like a body bag. None of it seemed the least bit real, as if she was stepping through a collage of life—a magazine cut-and-paste replica. She rode along, Goldilocks, unmoved, as if immune to time: more the river than the rider, disengaged, both from the dream of life and the threat of its ending. The image of life completely separate from the “I” of life. Jane grabbed the notebook from next to her bed, sketching with broad strokes, but the colours, over-saturated and acidic, were lost to the pencil’s dull leaden transcription.

She began writing instead. A diary seemed like a good idea. Having lost her memory once she wasn’t planning to let that happen again.

“I’m on a fishing boat somewhere in the pacific. My companions speak almost no English or French. Our conversations look more like a game of pantomime. I gather that they pulled me out of the ocean somewhere off the coast of California. This boat is small, but still, they’ve given me a bed - tried to make me feel at home. People like to say fishermen are simple, but they seem like a smart bunch to me. I’m pretty sure they’re Chinese, and I’m pretty sure they’re fishing where they shouldn’t be. Their boat is a bottom trawler. I remember - funny what I do and don’t remember - some treaty in 2006 that put a stop to bottom trawling. Maybe I was an environmentalist or something, but I doubt it. Sure my saviours are unscrupulous, but they did save my life, so who am I to judge.

My clothes seem wrong, not what you’d expect for someone on a boating expedition of any sort, not sporty, definitely not cruise-wear. Leopard skin tights, black sweater, my hair is white and cropped short. I have a feeling that I should have a wig on… whatever boat they pulled me out of, sank with any evidence it might have had of who I was, or where I was going. I still can’t remember my name.

I look myself over, playing Sherlock, what can I tell about myself. Age, I’d guess 30ish, but somehow I feel older: there’s too much experience in my hands. I’m trim, I have a decent body, my heart feels strong. There’s something terribly wrong with my knees. There’s been surgery, but it looks well healed. I have a good tan, not tan lines - well I guess I'm not shy. I don’t have a manicure. my clothes aren’t home made and they’re not designer so I guess I’m middle class. how disappointing. The labels are English and French, my top says Made in Canada / Fabriqué au Canada. Apparently I read both, but when I talk I’d swear the accent is a bit Southern US. My teeth are good but stained. Maybe I used to smoke, but I have no cravings when the men are smoking so I must have given that up a long time ago though I have to say, the smoke helps cover the smell of fish, for which I’m very grateful. I think my toenails were painted so I’m guessing I’m a little vain. Correction, I think I’m very vain, because, though I can’t really see any reason for it, I have a sense that I’m incredibly important and I get the feeling that my Chinese friends feel the same way about me, they’re practically deferential…

I'm not the least bit seasick despite the waves that often roll to frightening heights and spill across the deck with frightful sprays. The sea makes me feel alive, enervated. I adore the sound of the gulls screeching above us, ecstatic as the men throw the offal of freshly cleaned fish over the side, the sharp salt sting in the wind and the snap of my hair (which has been growing, thick and silky blond) against my cheeks. Above decks I don't feel the oppression of my own empty head, the missing pieces pressing against the sides of my skull, begging for release. I’m uncomfortable with the boat’s interior, the relentless thrumming of the engine is maddening at times, and everything is a bit low for me. I'm fairly tall, 5 foot 10 or so, which makes me effectively useless in the galley where I'd imagined being helpful. I found myself at a complete loss there, unfamiliar with both the types of food I found on the shelves and the utensils hanging from the low ceiling, the labels were no help either. After a week or so I could heat up soup, use the rice cooker and brew and excellent tea, but that was all. Hardly enough to compensate for my mongo presence in this tiny and crucial space.

On an extremely petty note, I'm also uncomfortable with the boat's interior design and feel compelled to do something about it, so maybe I’m an interior designer living in Canada but born in the Southern US - no, that’s not right. there’s a bump on my head, they’ve given me something foul to drink for the pain. The truth is swimming just outside my consciousness, I feel it, dark, slick, flicking in and out of site, a barracuda waiting for its chance. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I’d swear I have the head of a large, pensive rodent. must be that bump.