Posted on April 17, 2015April 17, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair4.17.2015 Journal Prompt Image from Enemy April 17, 2015: These were the good times. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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These days I have to write things down to remember them. Even the simple things. Like appointments I have made, or the names of people I have met. I write them in a small black moleskin book that fits easily into my inside jacket pocket. And shopping lists, I write too, even when it’s just one thing I need.
I should see the doctor about it. I should tell him all the big and little things that have slipped out of my head. I should show him my notebook and what sorts of stuff I write there. Like the name of the street where I live and the number of the house – even though I have lived there for nearly ten years. And directions on how to get there, in case I am in the park and I’m a little confused.
It’s strange really, because there’s some things I remember as clear as running water. Things that are way back and so far that they could easily be lost. Like when I had a tooth pulled by the dentist and I remember sitting small in his leather chair and he put a rubber mask over my mouth and nose and he said I was to take a long slow breath and to start counting backwards from ten. I remember that, and the sound of his voice helping me count, and the feeling of falling, and then black.
And I remember a girl called Susie and everything about her I remember. I close my eyes and I can see her still and her hair catching the light and giving it back in honey colours. And her eyes were as blue as the sky and amber shards adrift in them, like flecks of rust or gold. And her had in mine behind the church, and the stained glass window on the back wall of the church all lit up from inside, and Susie said my name, said it soft as breathless whisper, and it was like an angel calling to me, and Susie kissed me – the first kiss that was not my mam’s kiss or my auntie Vi’s.
And smoking in the roof space of my parents’ house and it was me and a girl called Christine, and she was all the shape of a boy though she wore a girl’s bra for show. And she put her hand down the front of my jeans and that was a first, too. And I could see through the skylight clouds rushing from nowhere to nowhere, and smoke from the cigarette made my head spin so that I was somewhere between sick and elation.
But ask me what I did yesterday. What I had for tea, or what time I rose from my bed, or who I talked to, and I’d have to check the pages of my notebook. And when I do I can tell you that I had soup for my tea, and I got up about 6 o’clock and it was raining, and I didn’t talk to anyone yesterday, leastways no one I made note of, which I know can’t be true.
And then today, I forgot my own name, just for a moment. The phone rang and I picked it up and right there I lost it, lost who I was. I just said hello and I hoped the person at the other end would just know. It was when I was remembering Susie and kissing at the back of church and just before that she said my name – it was remembering that and I had it again, though I had it in a small girl’s voice rather than my own.
The phone call was from the doctor’s. His secretary phoned to say I’d missed my appointment again and could she rearrange. Her name in my book is Catherine. I said I was sorry and I thanked her for the new time and she repeated it for me and she said the date over again and she asked if I had written it down or if she should send me a reminder card. I said she should probably send the card.
After she’d gone, I saw a reminder card she had sent before. I had pinned it the fridge door with a magnet letter ‘C’ – for Catherine, I supposed – and I had cleared the rest of the fridge so it would catch my eye.
I’m sitting here, in my favourite chair, and all about me it is quiet and still. If I hold my breath, holding it so that nothing moves, then it is as though I don’t exist anymore. And I hold it like that for the longest time, till I think time has no meaning, but then the babble of my thoughts betrays me and too soon I must breathe and I snatch for breath and I cough because it catches in my throat.
A window is open somewhere. I can feel the air chill and creeping. I do not recall leaving a window open. Maybe it is in the bathroom. I can hear the sound of cars out on the street and somewhere someone is shouting though I cannot make out the words. I am alone and everything feels far off. I should take my pills, but I don’t.
‘I can’t be always reminding you,’ she says. She is no one. She is a voice in my head and once she had a name and an existence. I try to remember, feeling for her name, feeling for her, trying to recall just something about her. The smell of her hair or the taste of her neck or the touch of her. I try to make her real again, sensing the weight of her against me, and then reaching for her breasts or her hips or her arms. But memory fails me completely and she is just a voice and it is even my own voice.
I should take my pills. It would be different then. I should get up out of my chair and walk the seventeen steps to my bathroom. I know it is seventeen because I have done it before and I have counted them – seventeen. And there’s a cabinet on the wall above the sink and the door of the cabinet is a mirror. That’s why I stay in the chair, my favourite chair, and it smells of me and holds the shape of me when I am not in it.
Seventeen steps and meeting myself in the mirror and I don’t recognize who I am, except that there’s something. In the eyes, if I look into the eyes. Something there but far off. Like I am losing me.
‘Take the pills,’ she says. ‘It will all be different if you take the pills.’
And it’s easy for her to say. She doesn’t see herself old now and everything sagging and slumped. She doesn’t see that, because she is just a voice in my head and a soft voice, softer than a whisper even when she her voice crackles like the sound of a crow calling. Soft as a whisper because only I hear it.
Then for a moment, just the briefest, I feel the weight of something in my hand, like I am holding her, a part of her, warm and giving. And her nipple a small stub of roughness in my palm. But when I look my hand is empty and it is lost again. And I am alone as before and the air is cold on my neck from the open window somewhere.
‘Take your pills,’ I say, out loud and in my own voice, and saying it like that I am even more alone. I can hear the words hitting against the walls, like a bird when it is trapped inside, a pigeon that stepped in through the bathroom window maybe, curious, and now it is lost in the house, and it can’t find a way out so it flies into the walls, as if it believes walls can be surprised and just maybe there is a way through somewhere.
But there is no way out. There is no way out and it breaks its feathers, breaks its wings, and falls limply and heavily to the floor where it sits in its own shit, panting and wide-eyed and still, waiting for something.
And I don’t take the pills, I don’t, and I sit in my favourite chair and it doesn’t feel like sitting, feels like nothing if I close my eyes, and I wait, but I don;t know what it is I wait for. And I am listening, with my eyes closed and my head on one side, listening for the broken-winged bird’s last breath or for mine.