A Journey Through Memories – Short Story
“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same” Virginia Woolf
My world goes silent as I read the words written at the back of the old pictures I’m holding.
My trembling hands flip the photographs and I stare at the two figures in every one of them. Suddenly, I’m no longer the old man that checks his pulse every morning, to see if his clock stopped ticking at night while he was sleeping. I’m a young boy, full of life and love and everything I lost over the years.
Forgotten memories find their way back to me. Images of long starry nights and bright summer days we spent chasing after a freedom our little town could never allow.
Petal, that’s what I used to call her. The beautiful flower that blossomed in winter despite the heavyweight of frost, and refused to tilt no matter the circumstances.
I remember everything from the moment our lives collided to the second they went apart; every single detail. I was so cautious of how deep I was diving in her universe at first, but then I’d willingly drown in her eyes with a shameless stare. Eventually, I ended up losing myself in her and strangely enough, I didn’t mind. My existence orbited around hers as days passed, and occasionally she would land on my heart to sign her name as the first person to ever reach it, so that it beat for her and her alone.
We belonged to different worlds. We knew that, everyone knew that. Hers was full of everything a farmer boy like me could never afford. But God, loving her was so easy. I never had to reshape any parts of my life to fit hers. She loved her books more than anything. Carnations were her favorite flowers, and her favorite color was a certain shade of green I could never distinguish from the rest of the shades, and she would never mind. She just included me in every aspect of her being as if it was the most natural thing to do, leading me to think that maybe, just maybe, my love for her could make up for all what I lack. Well, I didn’t have to wait long to find out. By the end of that summer, I realized that there are battles that are just meant to be lost no matter how hard you fight, and that sometimes love is just not enough.
I woke up one morning to find one of our photographs on my nightstand with a quote written at the back, I recognized her hand writing right away, it said: “He’s more myself than I am, whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” I went to search for her and that’s when I heard the news. She moved away with her parents that morning. No one knew where to, they just left.
For so long, I didn’t know how to react. I would swing between hating her for leaving me, then cherish every memory I had of her. Until I finally settled on the latter.
I was then possessed by an urge to put down everything about her on a paper, frightened that I might wake up one day and fail to remember her slightest details. I tried to write about her smile, her soothing voice and gentle touches. I tried to write about us, but I couldn’t. My words would refuse to be part of my pathetic attempt to paint her through them each time I held a pen. And in the rare occasions I would squeeze my brain through countless sleepless nights. I could only manage to form endless sentences that refused to be interrupted by any kind of punctuation, and ultimately made no sense. I miserably failed and I wasn’t even surprised. She was way more than words.
I’m brought back to the real world at the sound of Sophie, my granddaughter, who has been sitting next to me all along. I wonder how long I have been staring at these pictures.
“She was, indeed” I say as I put everything back into the old box and place it back under the tree where it truly belongs; buried along with everything I ever was. Sophie remains silent the whole time and just watches everything closely, as if she’s trying to solve the world’s most complicated enigma. The thought of telling her about it all crosses my brain, but I don’t. I guess she already knows, from the way she was looking at me. That young lady has always been able to read people like an open book. I love that about her.
I lay in bed at night and I feel so tired, but somehow lighter than I have been all these years… maybe even younger. I lay in bed and I think I’m ready… and if my clock stops ticking at some point, then I, at least, had loved, then lost, and lived to the day I got a last chance of seeing her again. Even if it was through nothing but memories.
Author: Serine Safia Achache.