Memories in the Snow

Submitted into Contest #77 in response to: Write a story set in the summer, when suddenly it starts to snow.... view prompt

17 comments

Contemporary Friendship Sad

You know, from the moment you’re born, that you’re meant to be a Memory-Keeper. 

As your eyes open for the first time, looking around at the wonders of the world you’ve been born in, you can see the semi-transparent “shadows” behind people, looking on with expressions of wonder or sorrow or joy. They all have a blue glow, and are younger versions of the people they follow. 

When you leave the hospital (you’re always born in a hospital) you can see hardly-there people standing around, clear like glass and mostly nervous. A man talking rapidly on his phone. A woman hugging her son. A girl holding a bouquet of colorless flowers, looking up at the windows, waving to a person who is no longer within the hospital’s walls. Light snow dusts the ground. (You’re always born in winter, with the snowflakes falling.) As your mother carries you into the car, you see what looks like… several copies of her, and of your father? One is at the wheel, but moves over for your physical, non-memory dad. He can’t see his mirror. Two versions of your mother occupy the backseat-- one, see-through, but with the same rosy cheeks and short red hair, with a round belly-- there’s a memory of you inside of her. The other is younger, driving a small boy home. You hear their whispers. 

Thanks for the ride, Mrs. Jones, the boy says.

No problem, Ethan! the non-pregnant memory-mom says with a smile. 

I’m so excited, Michael! A daughter of our own! the other memory-mom squeals to the memory-dad in the front. They’re aware of the fact that they are only memories, images and emotions storied away in the brains of your parents. But they are able to move about a little, not trapped in the infinite cycle of repeating the things your true parents remembered. They’ll be stuck here until your real parents die. Maybe longer, if someone else-- like the boy, Ethan, is alive to remember.

You get home and see many, many transparent copies of the man and woman who brought you to life, at different ages. More people, like family and friends, show up too. It’s going to be hard, living as a memory keeper. But you learn to speak to the memories, even though they scarcely talk. You watch more and more arrive. 

And then, one day, when you are five, the first memory of you appears. 

You don’t know what to do with her-- she moves about freely, going where you go. She is silent, with short, fluffy red hair, still a little chubby. Then again, you’re a little chubby. Her wide blue eyes stare into your own, and you see that this memory is in full color-- no blue shadow-people, no translucent images like the ones all around. 

Actually, I’m wrong. 

That’s my first memory. 

Well, not remembering-wise, she was the first memory person I ever made.

If you’re a memory keeper, you’ll remember it differently: a little boy version of you, petting a nearly-invisible rabbit, maybe a short girl you don’t recognize until you see that you have the exact same face,  maybe even a tiny, toddler you, walking and crawling.  

It doesn’t matter.

You probably aren’t a Memory-Keeper.

But I am.

As I grew older, I began to have issues.

Depression, anxiety, and a constant fear of the memories around me. I had a friend named Lisa, who always wore a hat with a pompom on top, who had straight brown hair and smooth, white skin. 

One day, she vanished and I only had the memories. No one even noticed that she was gone. No one cared. Her parents were gone, too. 

I never learned what happened to my best friend ever. 

Memories in the wind. 

The voiceless memories of the Lisa I once knew floated around me, haunting me.  

They don’t speak, but I know what she was saying.

Her memories, like mine, are untethered-- they float around, doing whatever they desire. They look at me sometimes-- they aren’t like the shadow-memories, which stick close to a person, with a blue glow, and they’re nothing like the semitransparent creatures that hang around not people, but places. They are alive. They move around, interact with other memories-- and this is happening to more than just Lisa memories. 

Little boys wave to me. 

Weird ghostly teens look up from colorless phone screens.

The weird memory-kids that make the playground swings go when no one’s on them invite me to play.

A small asian girl wearing a pink coat smiles and beckons to me. 

I shake my head. I’m busy.

Wait.

I’m directing color in the filmy, no-color memories.

This is new.

I know what this means.

I have to run.

Soon, the veil will break, and I will dissolve into memories. 

So I run home.

I sit under the stars in our lush garden of a yard. I’ve been going here to escape the memories in the house. I escape my depression out here. The memories don’t come in the garden. 

I look up at the moon.

Something gentle and soft as mist touches my arm.

“I’m afraid, too,” she says.

It’s me. 

She’s fading to gray and white. She’s dying, or doing whatever the memory version of dying is. 

“Can you be scared with me?” I ask.

“Maybe if we’re scared together, the fear will go away,” the other me says. 

“Maybe.”

“Maybe.”

We sit on the weird, hard plastic box that dad keeps the folding chairs and inner tubes in. I never used to like the beach. Too many memories. Forget drowning in the sea, I was drowning in other people’s past experiences, drowning in visions. 

We look at the garden. There’s a wooden pole, about six feet off the ground, probably less, balanced on two triangular sets of beams. We used to have a swing there. Now, it holds two hanging baskets of flowers, swaying in the night breeze. 

I walk over. My memory follows.

I stand on my tiptoes and wrap my arms around the pole. I begin to swing back and forth, little memories dancing in the corners of my eyes. There’s no one there, though. Just me and a me from the past. My memory begins to swing, too. When my hands get sore, I pull myself up and sit on the old, wooden pole. My memory follows. She reaches out and touches my arm.

“The veil is opening,” she says.

“I know.”

“Maybe everything will be okay.”

“Maybe.”

“Maybe you’ll be a memory with me.”

“Does it hurt, being a memory?”

“Does it hurt, being human?”

“I guess, sometimes…”

“I’m trapped in one emotional state forever. I’m a piece of your soul.”

I never thought of that.

Memories are us.

“Uh, Memory…” I say, addressing my former self by name. 

“Yes, Memory?” she asks. 

“Is it weird that you’re a memory and you come from a girl named Memory?”

“Is it weird that your past selves live in your house?”

“I guess… No one else has this many, though.”

“When the veil breaks, will you… go?”

“I must.”

“I’ll come. I am you after all.” She looks at the moon. 

“Tomorrow, it’s going to snow,” she says.

“It’s summer!”

“Tomorrow, it will snow.”

“Okay.”

“Memory?” my past asks me. 

“Yes?”

“I love you. Not just because I am you.”

“I love you too.”

“Like a sister?”

“Like a sister.”

The next day, it is snowing. 

I grab my sled and get dressed to go. I haven't sledded in so long-- the slopes have too many memories, and some of them can interact with me. 

The powder swirls around my head as trucks drive by with homemade plows fashioned out of cardboard falling apart on their bumpers, and people who woke up planning for a day at the pool are shoveling. Kids throw snowballs in the streets. There’s enough snow. If this is my last day as a real person, I’ll savor it all.

I’m not real, though.

I was never real.

I was only a vessel for memories. 

I step through the snow in my too-small bots. The tiny flakes I crush beneath my feet are individual works of art, just going to melt. Some say that no two snowflakes are alike. Others say that they can be alike if their crystal structure is formed the same way or whatever. I don't care. That’s like saying that a lion can eat the equivalent of a thousand burgers. Or was that tigers? I don’t care. I’m only a flesh-and-blood girl with a heart and soul made of other people’s cherished memories. 

All Memory-Keepers are. 

I miss Lisa so much. I won’t die and be reunited with my ancestors. I’ll just... Stop existing? Start existing? It’s not like there's a guidebook. Maybe I’ll write one if there’s paper and ink on the other side of the veil. Not like I could get it over here.

When I reach the slopes, I’m the only one there. 

Except for the memories. They’re turning gray-- dying. To save their poor lives, or the past lives of their physical bodies, I’ll need to cross the veil.

I sit on the red plastic sled and prepare to go down. I never told my mother I loved her. I’m just going to vanish, like Lisa. 

Lisa.

Was she a Memory-Keeper? 

No, I’m the only one.

“Excuse me, can I ride with you?”someone asks me. 

A little boy, turning gray. A memory. 

“Why not?” I say. He won’t be able to go into the veil like I will-- he’s bound to Earth. 

“Can we come?” a chorus of tiny voices ask. It’s little kids-- some of them must have been photographed, because they’re wearing old clothes. Memories stay around for centuries if they’re in a picture. Others are pretty new, wearing modern clothes, with familiar faces. That one in the blue coat is a memory of my little neighbor, Selene. 

“You can all ride,” I say. They can only interact with me. It’s so sad. They must be lonely, although they do have a transparent sled to ride. At least they can play. 

I get on the sled, at least fifty little memories climbing on. 

A boy in the back pushes off, and we glide down at a fast, freakishly fast slide. I forgot sleds went this fast. Somehow, these moments stretch on forever, lasting for all eternity. 

And then I see it.

The Veil.

It stands directly upright, looking like a crystalline, frozen lake hanging in the air. The sled stops at the base of it, and I get a good look.

The Veil Is bright blue, but frozen over with swirling, delicate frost. The edges are dripping with icicles and frozen with snow. It was supposed to be a clear pool, but it was frozen by the sudden change in temperature. Must be global warming. Or global cooling. It’s frozen, that’s all I can tell.

I stretch my hand out.

I touch the ice.

It thaws and welcomes my palm. 

Tears come to my eyes.

I can’t leave them all, but the memories need to survive. 

I’ll do this for them. 

In the end, I'm just a memory and a desire put in a flesh body. 

“Wait,” a little voice says.

My own, from years and years and years ago-- a tiny me, in a pink hat and jacket, fading to gray.

“We’re dying,” she says.

“I know. I’ll help you,” I say.

“Can I come with you?” she asks. 

“WAIT, MEMORY!” another voice calls. It's the me from last night, turning gray, gasping as her feet skid over the snow, not leaving a single footprint. She’s dressed in summer clothes-- a green short-sleeve shirt and a skort. But she keeps coming.”I want to tell you,” she gasps, “That you’re not alone.”

She holds out her arm.

I take it.

I hold the mitten of my little self, and we step towards the veil.

“I’m ready,” I say.

They smile.

I step through with them.

Inside the veil, it is cool but warm, everything swirling about with a gentle ripple. 

I feel like I’m losing my material form. My memory-selves float away, and as I look at my hands, I see blue mist rising from them.

I’m going. 

I close my eyes and place my hands on my heart, feeling it beat, beat, beat, until there is no beat, just mist.

As I float away into memories, I notice something:

Lisa’s face. The faces of others. They’re looking at me from the top of the pool-- there’s a big golden circle they’re leaning through.

The other Memory-Keepers. I’m joining them.

I float up, taking on a misty, ghostly form, entering the circle of light.

“Welcome,” a voice says in my ear. Warm and bright. Everything is warm and bright-- I can’t even open my eyes, if I still have any. 

“Who are you?” I ask.

“I,” it says, “am Time. And you, Memory Jones, are now an official memory-Keeper.”

“I wasn't before?”

“You have to give yourself up to keep them alive. Memories are living beings. And you gave up your human form for them. Now, you are among the Guardians, watching over Planet Earth and protecting her people.”

I open my eyes, and light is everywhere. 

I look at my hands. 

They’re made of mist, taking the form of elegant, beautiful fingers. The same is true for the rest of my body. I’m made of blue mist, but I'm alive.

“I believe there’s someone here to see you,” Time says. 

It’s Lisa.

Made of blue mist, but still.

Lisa.

And I know now, that I am home. 

January 18, 2021 16:02

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17 comments

16:03 Jan 18, 2021

This was originally written for the sledding prompt, but it was actually, like, one person and fifty memories, so I did the summer snow instead. :)

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20:33 Mar 03, 2021

HEYO! ARE YOU STILL HERE?! EMERALD IS TOTALLY FREAKING OUT AND STUFF...

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Rachel Smith
17:11 Feb 23, 2021

Wow, this was amazing. Didn't want it to end. Looking forward to reading more of your stories.

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16:09 Feb 24, 2021

Thank you! Unfortunately, this is one of my only contemporary things.

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Rachel Smith
16:14 Feb 24, 2021

For now...

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19:02 Feb 24, 2021

I do like them.

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William Flautt
03:00 Jan 26, 2021

Wow, I was absolutely taken away to Memory's world. What a fantastic piece of writing. From what I've read so far, I hope you win or shortlist for this contest. Here are some of the parts I especially enjoyed: -The beginning: the 2nd person narration and mystery of "Memory-Keeper" got me hooked. -The flow of the story was so jumbled and chaotic. Usually, that's a huge drawback, but for your story it was perfect. Plus, you write well, so it was confusing, but a readable confusing, if that makes sense. -It literally felt like I was inside som...

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16:31 Jan 26, 2021

Thank you! I love long comments, and I love it even more when people really like my writing! And yeah, good confusing.

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12:34 Feb 03, 2021

Yya!

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OMG!!! Emmie, this was so increadible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SUCH beautiful details, loved how creative you came up with this story!!!! 100%%%%%%%%% AMAZING!

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13:13 Jan 20, 2021

Thank you! I cranked this out without even really paying attention, and it took me about thirty minutes. It's one I'm proud of!

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You should be!!! It's amazing!

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16:41 Jan 21, 2021

Thanks!

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