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Remember to forget
by Katerina Charisi
2019-02-24 11:01:35
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I don’t remember when I started to forget. Sometimes I feel my brain like a patched quilt; Scattered, torn pieces of discolored fabric, all stitched together; beautiful in total, useless piece of trash if separated.

amily01_400Sometimes this absence of memories makes me feel cold; makes my loneliness brutal. And I sit at the corner of my bed staring at the wall with the pictures of people smiling at me, wondering who are they; do they remember me? How would they feel if they knew they mean nothing to me? Is the feeling of emptiness the same with how I feel for not remembering myself?

I can’t decide if it is worse to have a fully functional mind inside a dying body, or vice-versa. My body is still fully functional, I can’t tell the same about my mind. Still, time keeps going on. A fully functional mind could stay like this till the end, but a body sooner or later gives up. I can feel that “falling”. A body, kept in a room that makes thousands of rounds around it, like a lion in a cage, gets tired in the end. It slows down. Slowly, but steady. I feel it. I can’t do anything about it.

Time seems to stretch at “Home”. How useful that time-stretching would have been out of here! When I was still young and fully aware of my life. That’s when people need extension of time, not now. Not in here, where all the days feel the same; days, nights, weeks, seasons, all the same circle, round and round.

“Don’t you just love those long rainy afternoons in New Orleans, when an hour is a piece of eternity dropped in your hands?” A handsome man asks me from his frame on the small table. Oh, I remember you, mister. No, Tennessee Williams, I don’t. Not anymore.

To kill all these endless hours I try to figure out why I don’t remember things that I should remember, why I still remember things that are totally meaningless. Like last night’s dinner for example; pumpkin soup with a generous spoonful of Greek yogurt in the middle, a peppermint leaf floating, like a green boat in an orange ocean and a tiny melting iceberg. Deep red dots of paprika circling the white porcelain dish. In one side a paprika trace is fading out, by the finger of the hand that carried the dish. Maybe it was mine. I can’t remember.

But I do remember that I can still sing along Wooly Bully and I still remember that it remained for 18 whole months in the hot 100, named Billboard’s “Number One Record of the Year” despite the fact that it never reached the top. All that back in 1965.

I mumble that rhythm while I look at the pictures on the wall, nothing rings a bell. There are all these small things here and there, touches of memories, all looking as torn pieces of fabric, useless, nameless and timeless by their own. Where is the patched quilt of my own to cover myself under it? I feel more like a crumbled paper, like the first page of a book someone started writing but never actually bothered to continue with it.

I can’t tell for how long I’ve been here and I don’t know for how much longer I’m going to stay. But I know that at least I stopped wondering every morning if it’s going to rain or not. At first I thought it always rains outside of my window, imaging a grumpy stupid cloud right above, pouring with rain only my world. Then I remembered I was in Louisiana.

I spent days and weeks and months, trying to remember. Or at least I think I do. Days, weeks, months all blend into one. And I do try. I try to get my memories back. It seems that somewhere in the course of my life, I lost them. But today a memory stormed inside Home and had a name too. It literally made me hit my back on my rocking chair. Her image flashed in front of me, her pale face was all alive, her eyes looking at me behind her shades; slightly lifting her right eyebrow, and for a moment I got so excited that I even opened my mouth to talk to her. But of course, she wasn’t there. She was just a lost and found memory. A ghost of my mind. A spirit from my other, forgotten life. Or was she really there?

It took a minute for my heart beat to get back to normal. I stood up slowly and the chair creaked. I went to the large window, looked outside in the streets, catching myself stupidly looking for her, waiting for her to show up on her motorbike, stopping at the red traffic light, hoping she would look up. I even put my hand on the window as a wave, for that case. Could it really be her?

I don’t know. I can’t tell. I don’t care at all. Real or not, she visited me and she was the only visitor I had for long time. She stood right there, with that long white dress, her black leather boots and the black leather top jacket, worn on the elbows. Dark brown eyes all blasé behind the shades, furious, indolent, ironic …unique as always.

Her short stay was enough to make my brain burning and like the rusty gears of an old clock, it started clicking- my mind got back to work, sewing back the scattered fabric pieces of my memories back together, helping me to remember again.

I feel all calm now. I feel safer. I know that I’m not just a disposable body with no soul in it. Someone is really there for me, even if it’s only in my mind. I turned my back to the large window and I listened the first raindrops while I sat back to my rocking chair. I shut my eyes, the place falls in silence and I can clearly hear now the heavy rain and my hurried steps.

It’s raining like hell and I’m late. I’m walking fast and I’m all wet. I’m holding a paper bag that’s ready to torn apart. I should have let my husband drive me there, but I wanted to walk and meet our new neighborhood; ignoring the moods of Louisiana’s weather.

I take a turn left to find the place. I open the iron-gate and start running through the all muddy path; my shoes stick in the mud. I lost a shoe and didn’t turn back for it. I had to get inside, that’s all I was thinking. I reached the wooden porch and climbed fast the steps until I was finally under a roof. I look and feel ridiculous. My hair is stuck on my forehead, a thin lock of wet hair is in my mouth. I lost my hat, a shoe and my foot makes a funny, slimy noise inside my single shoe when I walk. Perfectly timed the paper bag rips off and the box falls on the wooden floor. Thankfully there’s nothing inside to break.

 I try to put myself together before ringing the doorbell, but then again there’s nothing I can do. I could really use a shower and clean, dry clothes. It’s not cold at all though. It was one of those sudden summer storms that mess everything up in few minutes and then the brighter of the suns comes up making everything shine. Beautiful, but disastrous for today.

I look at the muddy path and the iron-gate, the streets and then up to the sky. Not a single drop falling now. The sky clear blue, and the clouds are dissolving, letting the sun brighten the place up. I decide to return home. I already missed the party anyway. Inside the house, I can hear people singing happy birthday songs to Miranda’s husband. Not a very good first-attempt-to-meet-people-in-my-new-neighborhood.

I take the muddy path back, I walk in the mud; I pick up my stuck shoe, turned it upside down to empty the water, put it on and get out of there. The sun is warm and people walk around, all wet like me but none looking ridiculous like me. The locals are used with these sudden bursts of weather, I tell to myself and I’m becoming one of them. I ignored the wet clothes and the muddy shoes and I just walk for a while.


A little later nothing shows that it had rained so hard. Everything is dry, even my clothes. I’m at the park, sitting on a bench, reading one of the books I was supposed to give as a birthday present. I took off my shoes and I feel the grass under my feet. I swear to you, I can smell it right now, the rain, the soil, the summer. Suddenly I hear the noise of a lighter and I turn my head to see who was next to me.

A woman. Not young, not old either; Impossible to guess her age. She lights a long menthol Moore cigarette with a golden lighter and looks at me sideways with her eyes behind pilot shades, slightly lifting her right eyebrow. I smile to her but she doesn’t seem to care about my existence. I get back to my book a little irritated, but I keep throwing quick glances at her.

She wears a long white dress that reaches under her knees and a leather top jacket, torn on the elbows. Her hair, a mix of silver and faded blond with a few scattered black locks. She is pretty. She looks defiant and confident. She doesn’t wear any make up on, except some black eye shadow. She doesn’t even carry a purse. There is something odd in the way she carries herself I can’t explain. She looks like a hippie, but then I notice a black motorbike helmet next to her betraying a motorcycle somewhere around. Then I see her black, motor boots. She has a child- looking face, but she holds the cigarette between her lips like a macho biker. Deep puffs - exhaling large menthol clouds of white smoke.  Suddenly I feel ashamed for my naked feet and my shoes with all that dried mud on them.

That woman was Emily Winter. That’s how I met her for the first time, that’s how I remember her and that’s how she visited me earlier today, after a long time. And I know that she came to me determined to stay.

Welcome Home, Emily.

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Emanuel Paparella2015-10-04 20:24:54
Thanks for the insights. What makes this confessional writing authentic and poetic is that it is both particular and individualistic while at the same time being universally applicable.

Having just undergone a quadruple by-bass followed by a two months recovery and physical therapy, I now know in some way what it means to have a fully functional mind and a weakening body…As the ancients well understood, the trick is to keep a balanced and harmonious holistic relationship between body, mind and spirit. The problem today is that many place the emphasis on the material (the body) overlooking the fact that the mental and the spiritual are just as important, in fact more so. Well done Ms. Charisi.

Alan2015-10-04 22:00:34
Good story, waiting for the rest

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