Friday, May 25, 2012

I Remember - Flash Fiction

She tossed aside the medical journal and closed her eyes. "The core meaning of memories remain, but each memory transforms every time we attempt to retrieve it."

And so she concentrates, for hours at a time, trying to recall and then rebuild the story of her childhood. But there are reminders everywhere, the scent of  beer and vomit in the alleyway, stale cigarette smoke woven into the curtains, a handwritten note tucked into a book.

Library. Call Jackson. Paint snapdragons. Sue transit company for allowing spy cameras on bus.

There is a photo of him, leaning against a Packard; he is debonaire and slightly smug, hair slicked with Brilliantine, leather jacket hanging loosely on his frame. But his eyes are squinted and focused on something to the left, as though he were making up his mind whether it posed some sort of threat. Were the voices manifesting themselves already, at age 18?


She still avoids those places where she is bound to run into the legions of old men; the Goodwill store, the garage down the street, the McDonalds on the corner where they congregate in murders like crows or sit alone with palsied hands and gray stubble. It hurts. She wants to take them all home, wonders briefly why they don't have Societies where they can be adopted like the sad-eyed mutts at the Humane League.  Maybe someone would have adopted her father, someone better able to nurture him, understand him, or at least find him the help that he needed. Prevented him from running away and living on the streets.  Her mother couldn't do it, and neither could she.

It was with great reluctance that she finally burned or threw away everything that had any vestige of him.  She started over with a box of photos from a rummage sale and a dogeared card with a picture of a teddy bear and Love Daddy scrawled inside.

I remember when he took me to the baseball game. The Metropolitan Art Museum. The movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

She screwed her eyes tightly closed.

I remember...





 

21 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I think as we get older, we do tend to remember more good things than bad. Fortunately. Perhaps it's a survival technique.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Marc :-) Hope your new flash fiction collection is doing well!

      Delete
  3. Is the tense swapping intentional? It opens in the past but seems to turn present quickly. Seems to work, but could off for some readers.

    And, is it bad I've never seen Chiity Chitty Bang Bang?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is intentional,John, and I agree that it could be confusing. I wanted to open in the past when she first read the article; move to the present as she tries to invent new memories; end with the past when she burned every trace of him. There was more of a transition in the first draft, but I deleted some of it as unnecessary; and the finished product seemed to blur past and present, which accidentally fit the whole theme.
      As for Chitty Chitty, I'm not big on kid's movies/musicals as a rule, but I do enjoy the steampunk elements!

      Delete
  4. Sad, powerful, real. This is a flash comment, suitable for flash fiction. Oh, and John: yes!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Was she really remembering only good times or was she manufacturing good memories of events that never happened to replace the bad memories?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The latter. She hoped that eventually they would become her own memories and therefore just as "real" to her as if they had actually happened. Thanks for stopping by Tim.

      Delete
  6. *tears up and offers imaginary bunny for her to hug*

    Lovely piece of flash!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Really touching story, Li. It's a shame she feels she has to "live" someone else's memories. Sounds sadder than what her father is living.

    I didn't find the time jumps jarring (sorry John)...and I agree with Doug(Allan): yes, go see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is elegant and heat wrenching. Beautiful story.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is a beautiful piece. I love the emotions and the way the girl is trying to cope with her hurtful past.

    Doris

    ReplyDelete
  10. Fantastic, heart breaking, roller coaster of emotions.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I read it twice and felt the same both times. A touching story.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Loved this! Certainly runs the gamut of emotion.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Li .. sorry it's taken me ages to get here from the A - Z .. made it finally .. I can feel her pain with her past and her father, an unknown not terribly satisfactory father .. as Talli says .. lots of emotion ..

    Cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  14. Very emotional piece of flash fiction. Its bitter sweet and tugs hard on the heart. Well done.

    ReplyDelete