9 comments

Contemporary Fiction

Don’t you remember? The way her betrayal stung you like a wasp to a rash, the way you swore furiously under your breath in the chilled midnight air that you’d never forget the feeling. And you meant it – don’t you remember looking up at the stars, your eyes glossy and threatening to shut from exhaustion? I begged you to sleep, but you insisted you count each one and swear upon it that you’d never forgive her. You promptly moved out of the city to nestle in the countryside, and you swore you’d never fall in love again. You wrote in your tattered old diary that you’d never had the motivation to regularly make entries in about your wishes for love to cease to exist. It only rips at your tears; exposes your flaws. It hunts, behind your back, for the perfect downfall to your ego, for the perfect knife to enhance the wound. So sharp you can barely feel a thing except the numbness that makes you wonder why you trust anything. She was a worker for love, you thought, and you’d never forget that.

But now, you can’t even remember writing that diary, and you especially can’t remember the poisonous feeling of betrayal. The memories of all your attempts to write entries seem to flee, and I try to stop them, to pull them back and lock them up, but they’re slippery, and slalom between my fingertips. I can’t seem to grasp them as easily as I did once. Do you make this difficult for me on purpose? Do you intend on going against your younger self’s wishes? Do you want to forget these things?

You’ve heard people say to forgive and forget. Forgiving is a skill, but it can be mastered with practice. Forgetting is not something you can force upon yourself, and you’ve always wondered what people mean when they say that they managed to forget something. How? They say this whilst talking about the thing they forgot itself, meaning they lie. They’re untrustworthy just like her, but you insist it’s just a metaphor. It’s impossible to intentionally forget something. It’s not a skill you can master: my grip is too strong on the memories. But sometimes, if you don’t think about it for a long time and you busy me with other things, I don’t have enough limbs to hold onto them all for you. My grip is getting weak on the old memories anyway, and they slip away again. You’re usually frustrated, but now when these things disappear from your recollection, you’re uncaring, and you blunder on with life. Do you not care about me? I’m waiting for the day when I slip away too, just like the memories. You don’t care, and every day I’m becoming weaker.

They’re bolting away faster than ever, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Are you even aware of what’s happening? There was a day where I was your everything. You had no friends except her, and she was often away, so you spent the hours talking to me. I helped you plan every date, every kiss, every hug. I was the only one you could always place your trust in, and even when she betrayed you, you didn’t blame me. Those days are long ago forgotten now, only I remember their impish grins as they floated away. I reached out – they were close enough to grab, I could tell – and yet I seized thin air. I still remember their grins, but do you? Don’t you remember the days?

She found you again yesterday. You swore to the stars if you ever saw her again, you’d retrieve the knife from your wound and drive it through her mouth. You didn’t do that. You smiled blatantly up at her and asked who she was. Who she was! How could you ever forget? She looked exactly the same – thin, bleach-blonde hair that you once played with; glistening pale-blue eyes you once would stare into and announce your undying love for her; pink lips, tightly stretched across her face, the lips you once kissed. I knew who she was, but I was ignored, and when her eyes began to twinkle with fake sympathy and she promised you were her all, her everything, the love of her life, the word “love” didn’t even spark the same old hatred. Don’t you remember anything? How can you have taken her word for it again, and allowed her to bend down to your level and peck you softly on the lips, just like she used to? Why did you take her word over mine?

Oh, that’s it. You’re not ignoring me. You can’t even hear me. You haven’t been able to hear me since the memories started to flee. And now all I can do is watch them continue to do so. I once directed the movie of your life, but now I’m just an audience member, sitting right in the back row of the cinema. I watch the movie, but I can’t edit it at all. That’s the way it’ll stay. Poorly edited, made purely of first takes. I just have to wait for the day I slip away with the final few memories. I’m almost there. I’m almost at the exit.

Today you’re at the hospital again. You don’t even remember what that is.

The doctor introduces themself with a warm smile and a handshake as Dr Ingleby. He told us the same last time. And the time before.

Dementia, he announces almost instantly. For a minute, it rings a bell, and I’m hopeful, but in an instant, even the memory of you literally just talking to him slips away. It catches me by surprise, and I get caught onto it. I try to untangle myself, but it drags me away. For good. I wonder if you ever really knew of my existence, or if you just thought I was part of you, and now you don’t even know what you are. Why you’re here. Is it really worth doing anything, if eventually you forget it ever happened?

July 24, 2022 14:29

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9 comments

Lily Finch
16:31 Aug 01, 2022

I like the point of view of the dementia patient. This story is well written. I suspected early on this was about memory loss with your clues throughout the story. I enjoyed moving through the process as a person with dementia. Thank you, LF6

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Zoë Page
17:19 Aug 01, 2022

Thanks, glad it was easy to understand!

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Michał Przywara
15:58 Jul 31, 2022

What a neat twist :) The way it starts off, I'm thinking it's a story about a jilted lover, but then we learn it's dementia -- and from the POV of his mind, no less! It looks like the mind suffers the same way everyone on the outside does. They see someone they know fading, but they're powerless to stop it. Except, the mind has no choice but to witness it. It can't just get up and go on with its life elsewhere. Very neat POV. The question at the end is striking, too. We might expand that and say, when we die our memories die with us, so i...

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Zoë Page
16:10 Jul 31, 2022

Your comments are always very insightful, Michał, thanks for taking the time to read, comment and think it all through. :) I hoped the question at the end would spark some thoughts in any readers, so I'm glad you picked up on that. It definitely is striking, and got me thinking. It's like how if you were to have a baby, the memories you make with that baby don't matter that much realistically, as there's no way they will remember anything you do, as long as you don't leave any permanent marks. Nonetheless, most people still do special thing...

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Ryanna Ezq
13:50 Jul 30, 2022

This story is by far one of my most favourited out of the others I've read so far. I love how you've expressed the perspective of the mind and the plot twist at the end. This story kind of showed me something that I already knew but never gave the time to think about. Great story!

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Zoë Page
14:41 Jul 30, 2022

:) Thank you so much!

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Dina Castwell
17:41 Jul 26, 2022

good story. for me what was the most interesting was trying to figure out who the speaker was. i’m still not sure lol

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Zoë Page
21:13 Jul 26, 2022

It's meant to be the perspective of "your" mind. It's shown in how the narrator used to be able to keep the memories strong in their grip, but as "you" develop dementia their grip on the memories weakens, and at the end they slip away, hinting that "you" essentially lose your mind. I hope this makes sense, thanks for reading! :)

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Dina Castwell
22:09 Jul 26, 2022

yes that was my initial thought! no problem, it was refreshing

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