Just One.

By Kayla Kumari

I feel like I am losing my memories. I feel them sliding through my veins and escaping through my lungs. The wind carries them away, perhaps always to the same place. I imagine a silvery catacomb, its damp walls lined with my airy runaway memories.
I am almost empty.
There is one memory that I cling to. It’s fuzzy, but if I concentrate on it, it starts to come back to me in fragmented slivers. It’s not the memory of Snowball getting hit by a pickup truck or of scoring the first goal at regionals or of sailing off the coast of California. Those are all gone. I force myself to trace the jagged lines of my one saved memory.
I am walking. The weight of my footsteps crunches against torn leaves. No, it is snow. Hard packed snow crunches beneath me, threatening to pull me in, but my breath heaves with a definite calmness and my legs move with a definite assertiveness that seems to dare the snow to swallow me whole.
I can hear something else, something heavy and round. It is a voice perhaps. Yes, a voice, a heavy and round voice. The way my head sways in tiny nods tells me that this voice is familiar. Yes, I know this voice. It is his voice and he is walking with me and we are talking and listening and not caring about the schoolwork we’re currently not doing or about the future that is looming like the snow clouds above the forest’s reach.
“Let’s go somewhere,” he says.
“Where?” I ask.
“Anywhere. Somewhere with sand dunes.”
“Let’s go to India! Does India have sand dunes?”
He shrugs, his clammy left hand lightly brushing against my my wrist. “Sure. If not, we’ll make some.”
“We’ll find a desert.”
“Yes. We’ll find a desert and sit on the sand dunes of our own design and write poetry about scorpions and corpses.”
“What will we bring?”
“Pens and plenty of paper.”
“No pencils.”
“Right. No pencils. You hate pencils.”
“I just don’t trust anything that is that temporary.”
He mouths those words as I say them, as if he has heard them a hundred times.
“What will we do in India?” I ask.
“Never sleep, absorb passion, become dirty, poor poets or traveling bards with sitars.”
“I want to sit on a deserted beach eating slices of frozen mango and listen to the sounds of lovers and thieves and tourists in the city.”
“We can do that too,” he says.
“And we’ll meet people and never stay in the same place for long.”
“We can tell them we are runaways or descendants of royals families from obscure island countries that no one has ever heard of.”
I throw my head back and laugh. Snowflakes sting the inside of my cheeks. “How will we travel?”
“By camel, by water buffalo, by sand dunes.”
“Transporting sand dunes.”
“I can see you sitting atop a camel like a wild Arab out for blood and riches.”
“I can see you with patches of dirt on your cheeks, gazing from your sand dune throne with a jeweled flask clutched between your knees.”
“I can see us walking like this, but in sand, not snow.”
“You’re right. I can’t see anything else but that.”
We continue to walk, the snow still crunching and our minds still drifting to a place more colorful and warm than this white, blank forest.
Between long strides, he says my name and I say his. I say his name right after he says mine, as if they were one word or thought, meaningless unless completed by both halves. His name forces my tongue to lightly touch the back of my teeth and fills my cheeks with air and round sounds. When he says my name, it is soft and bouncy and I think it doesn’t even sound like my name. No one will ever say my name that way, I think.
“The snow will all melt soon,” he says.
“Hard to believe,” I say, staring the white disease that seems to cover everything. I imagine the snow filling me up in the inside, seeping out of my ears, and swirling in my eyeballs.
“It will though,” he says.
“I don’t want it to.”
“Neither do I.”
I can’t remember what happens next. Perhaps we turn around and walk back to wherever we began. Perhaps we fall down into the snow and make snow creatures or imitation snow dunes to sit upon and watch passerby. Perhaps we keep walking until our feet bleed and our shoulders sag, talking of unfinished poems and the wars we will wage and frozen mango slices. Perhaps we keep walking until all of the snow melts away. Perhaps we keep walking until we have talked about everything in the world there is to talk about. We will walk in silence then, occasionally breaking it to say each other’s names one after the other until they no longer sound like names and until we know nothing else.

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Just One.

Created: Jul 19, 2010

Tags: memory, flash fiction, short story, self creation, india, memory loss

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