“Come on ma, don’t show her that!” Ethan yelled from the kitchen.
Elaine paid him no mind. “Just wash the dishes, sweetie,” she called out, scooting closer to Sarah on the couch. She had three thick albums in her lap, each a different color. Elaine looked to her son’s girlfriend and said, “Don’t listen to him. It’s tradition,” the older woman grinned and opened the blue album.
“Look at his little feet there,” Elaine pointed at the photo which pictured baby feet with a name and date . “This was the first time we brought him out of the hospital...”
Claire shook when another shot sounded across the plain. Her pen twitched and made a small ink blot on the white paper. She was there to interview a Civil War reenactor for her history paper.
“Don’t worry about nothing, darling, they’re blanks with some smoke to make it real,” Kevin, a long-time history buff and the head of the Reenactor Society in her area. Claire nodded her head hesitantly and clicked her pen twice in preparation.
“Why do you do it?” Claire curiously asked her first question.
Kevin hummed. “We think of it as keeping the memory of history alive.”
She fingered the perfume bottles, each a subtly different shape. The deep blue one, sculpted like a dumpy tornado was one her grandmother had bought her for Christmas a decade ago. The tall, shard shaped one (still 3 quarters full) she’d bought herself in Duty Free on the way back from her first business trip. There was one edged at the side of the drawer. A tiny, cylindrical one with only a few drops left. The first grown-up scent she’d had, lovingly chosen by a girlfriend for her 15th birthday. She twisted off the top and fell backwards into memories.
Does it Matter?
“You couldn’t see the sea from the hotel,” he asserts.
“But I remember watching people gathering along the promenade to watch that damaged fishing boat limp in. Remember, the guy we spoke to later that day said they’d been worried about the crew all night?”
“Then we must have been in the restaurant or on the terrace.”
“We weren’t, you were lying on the bed, pretending not to be interested in what I was telling you.”
“I’ll find you the photo I took of the room and prove it.”
“But I like my memory.”
“But it’s wrong.”
“Does it matter?”
Memories are one of the most precious things we have. Without them, we're just an empty shell. Who are you if you lose those? Your personality? Did that not get formed by your memories too? If you lose your memories it's one thing, but if you never had them... how could you know you're you and not someone else?
It's a scary thought, but really, are we not the sum of our memories with a little added spice of our natural talents and preferences? It's the old discussion between nature and nurture really. What's more important; experiences or innate nature?
The sun was warm on her face and when she placed her hand on the wall beside her that too was warm: the stones had stored the day's heat and were now radiating it back at her. It wasn't like it had been then. Then, the walls had been ice cold, snow sapping any heat from them that might have been there.
It was long ago now, but still, the memory of the cold made her shiver and pull the shawl she wore to protect her skin from the sun a little closer around her shoulders before hastily moving on.
The Best Birthday
It didn’t matter how many years had passed; whenever she saw the photograph, she smiled and was filled with happiness. It had been her birthday and she was four years old. She looked like a little princess in the golden party dress, her black patent Mary Jane shoes, and the sparkling tiara she wore proudly. Her expression was priceless as she posed regally on the couch, flanked on her right side by her mother holding her three month old baby brother and her beaming father on her left. The photographer captured the moment when all was right in her world.
The Joy of Cooking. Not!
They say smells are strongly associated with memories and I am sure smells destroyed my enthusiasm for cooking. When I was barely old enough to read, I found a recipe for scrambled eggs and surprised my mother with breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. Cooking was fun until I added bacon to my breakfast repertoire and ill-advisedly decided to cook it in the oven. When smoke started pouring out of the oven and blackening the kitchen walls, I opened the door and singed my eyebrows and eyelashes in the process. That dreadful burnt smell seemed to hang around for days.
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Poetry poetry poetry! This is where submissions get a bit more creative than most, and it's a wonder how many HOLers (particularly the eagles) are filled with fabulous artsyness.