The below story has been applied to four flash fiction magazines and duly rejected. Yet, this story is very special to me. So, I’m putting it out for you all to read. Do let me know what you think of it in the Comments.
When I lie on his lap, my head nestled in him, he tells me stories of all the good times we have spent together. He remembers every date we met, every conversation we had. He remembers every time I have said something nice to him, praised him for keeping a promise. When I hear him narrate the days of a previous summer, it feels as if I am in a story. I see us together in that story, sitting cross-legged on the green, grassy field under the stars, watching kids play football at a distance.
As I listen to him, I wonder what it must be to be him every single day – to have little compartments in his mind, filled with happy memories, like shiny wrappers filled with dark chocolate balls that melt within moments in your mouth. Oft times I have wondered, how is it that he recalls the plainest remark I made on any day when months later I have no memory of it? Is it because he hangs onto every word I say with the kindest attention, because he loves me so much? His memory is like an ancient family heirloom – something I have learnt to cherish ever since I discovered it. His memory makes me feel powerful: even though the day is long gone, I know he can make it as real to me as if it were today.
Today, it is different. Today we had a bad fight. It is past midnight and I am lying on the sofa. He is in the bedroom. I bristle in the uncomfortable heat, cursing the broken air conditioner. I am ruminating on the bitter words he and I exchanged earlier.
The thought comes like a sudden chilly wind of a winter morning. If he remembers every date we have met, every word we have spoken between the two of us, he probably remembers every single fight we have had, every venomous word we threw at each other too. Does he compartmentalize his memories in boxes then – pink-red boxes for the happy ones and dark, ominous ones for the poisons?
What it is really, then, to be him, every single day? What is it like to be someone with an infinite reservoir of memories, memories that you cannot erase away? Can you, then, ever escape from naturally drawing on happy memories when the times are good and on the bitter ones when the tides are rough? Is that possibly why he froths a little more venom with every next fight? A little more intolerable, a little more uncaring?
The prickling heat of the sofa is engulfs me slowly, completely, like a water demon. Suddenly, I am breathless. I walk to the balcony and wait for a breath of wind to kiss my face.
There is no wind. The trees are as still as a colorful glass paperweight, frozen in time.
©2016 Arpita Pramanick