Tag Archives: scifi

Unremembered (Part 7)

 

(If you haven’t started reading this series yet, please click here for Part One.)

 

“So what makes you think that?” He picked up a clean towel and dried his hands.

“She leaves,” I said. “Days at a time. Never any explanation, only some mumbled words about finding herself, taking a breather. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never asked where she goes.”

Just then I realized how pathetic I must sound, the confused boyfriend alone in a bar while his girlfriend wanders constantly into some adventure unknown to him. No questions, no accusations, he allows her to bounce from their bedroom to her own secret destinations; she could be writing a novel by the ocean, or she could be telling her worries to someone else’s bare chest. I watched as he took the towel to a spot on the bar and moved it for a while in the same circular motion, searching for a bit of bartender wisdom.

“An ultimatum,” he said. “Either she fesses up, tells you what she’s been doing all this time, or you leave.”

She leaves,” I laughed, taking another sip of my drink. “It’s my house, after all.”

“Right,” he said, walking away to help a customer waving an empty shot glass at the other end of the bar. I watched her, a woman with long blond hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. She leaned across the bar and put her lips to his ear. She spoke for a while; I was finished my beer by the time she flopped back down onto her barstool and they were both staring in my direction, avoiding any attempt to not look obvious.

I dug in my pockets for a ten dollar bill and threw it in a water ring, careful to avoid the gazes that were now digging into the left side of my face. I’d made it halfway outside when the shouting started.

“Wait!” Her face was as tight as the ponytail, so close to me now. “Matt,” she smiled. Her lips were cracked and smothered in layers of sparkling gloss. My chest tightened at the sound of my name.

I stepped back inside. “How do you know who I am?”

Two hours later and Jamie and I were downing shots and bumping shoulders.

“Yeah, Lily was a riot in college,” she laughed.

Slowly we eased off our barstools and headed for the door. Outside it was dark now and the edges in my mind had begun to blur, but it felt good. My worries were hazily bouncing off one another and I let my hands move freely to Jamie’s waist. She stopped laughing and caught her breath in her throat.

“I don’t want to talk about Lily anymore,” I said.

She started to speak but I caught her words with my mouth.

I spent the rest of the night in bed, swaying from sleep to guilt to anger at Lily’s absentness. My lips were still tacky with Jamie’s gloss and her words before we parted were still turning over in my head.

“She’ll turn up,” she’d said as she got into her car, too drunk to drive. “She always does.”

Stay tuned for more installments!

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Continue to Part Eight here.

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Unremembered (Part 6)

 

(If you haven’t started reading this series yet, please click here for Part One.)

 

I sat on the front porch while five officers in blue latex gloves picked apart our home like they were combing over a murder scene; slow, meticulously, opening every cabinet and lifting every bed sheet like delicate tissue paper. I avoided conversation and every room someone was occupying. I’d seen enough crime shows to know the hovering spouse was more suspicious than helpful, although I knew my distance was likely being just as carefully documented.

When they were done they filed out silently, no goodbyes. The last one nodded in my direction and closed the door behind him. Once the cars were gone and the gawking neighbors had gone back inside, I got up and stepped into the living room.

Things looked the same, but my world felt tilted; pictures, chairs, books, all off-kilter. Our memories had been groped by foreign hands. Suddenly I felt emptier than I ever had. I navigated the stairs on heavy legs, went to the bathroom, turned the shower on hot, stood under the water until my skin turned pink and I was forced out. I didn’t bother with a towel. I curled up in the middle of the cold tile floor and slept.

When I woke it was dark, and as I peeled myself from the floor I opened my mouth to form Lily’s name, to call to her, to whatever nook of our home she was in, likely reading a book, drinking a glass of wine. Only my eyes quickly adjusted to form the shapes in the room, and I remembered. Every waking was destined to be like that one; raw, aching hurt, sudden and new.

***

I went to a local bar on my lunch break, one of the countless afternoons Lily was gone. I’d spotted her bag by the door before she told me she was leaving; I’d only just gotten out of bed, my eyes still heavy and blurred.

“Be back in a day or so,” she said, and kissed my forehead. She was out the door before I had a chance to part my lips.

Within months, day drinking had become a routine while Lily disappeared, as normal as the spouse that orders takeout while the wife is away on business. The bartender came to recognize me – whether it was the suit or the lost expression that helped him remember, I’m not sure – but even if a month had gone by (a rare occurrence) he’d have the same beer at the same barstool, waiting patiently on a cardboard coaster. He never asked any questions but his smile was always an open invitation to spew my problems out into the darkness of the pub.

I never talked, only drank, but this time she’d been gone for four days, the longest yet, and I was worried something had happened.

It never occurred to me that she had simply decided not to come back.

“My girlfriend,” I said, taking in a sip of my beer. He looked up from the glasses he’d been washing, surprised. He was young, maybe twenty-eight, small and soft in his features.

I stared at a nearby salt shaker, contemplating my next sentence like a game of chess. I took a few deep breaths.

“I think she’s seeing someone else.”

The words slopped off of my tongue like soot. They hadn’t sounded as permanent in the confines of my head. Yet out here, where even a whisper can hold the ugliest weight, they made my chest hollow.

 

Stay tuned for more installments!

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Continue to Part Seven here.

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Unremembered (Part 1)

 

Lily went missing on a Sunday, the day of rest. On Sundays we’d drape ourselves on tables and chairs around the house, drinking coffee from mugs adorned with our alma maters, cooking luxurious pasta dishes even though we rarely dined in (she could burn boiling water, I could barely make condensed soup), if only to match the hushed euphoria of the neighborhood that came with the sinking of the sun; stress was set out with Monday morning’s clothes, and on those evenings our cul-de-sac glowed with golden lamplight and blue-hued television screens. By dawn we were always heavy in sleep, a tangle of limbs and breath, a lasagna still cooling on the kitchen counter.

We were always together those days, except the day she disappeared. The weather was a Summer tease in early Spring – the first week of April and seventy degrees, a baking sun – and Lily wanted to take advantage with a jog.

“It’ll bring out those awful freckles on my shoulders, the ones you love so much,” she’d said with a laugh.

Her laughter was always so strangely appealing, like the blocky music that churned out of a Jack-in-the-box; it excited you, even if you already knew what to expect. She was a constant of beautiful predictability. So when she hadn’t come home by three I felt the knot in my stomach pick itself up, twisting slowly at first with caution, worry.

By four I was worrying a trail in our galley kitchen’s floor.

At six I was roaming the trails near our house like a tourist, arms stretched out in front of me as if it might get me to her sooner. I called her name until my throat felt like sandpaper and the trees began to taunt me. By eight I was somewhere deep in dirt and foliage, my head between my knees. I wailed and darkness swallowed me.

When I woke the curtains were tightly drawn. Days could have passed. I stretched my arms out over my head and sighed, my eyes barely open before the remembering began. Lily, the woods, the faceless jogger who’d found me flailing helplessly in a clearing, alone. Somehow I’d gotten home, and the procession of worried family and friends had begun; then there was an officer on our couch, drinking coffee from Lily’s mug. Somehow I’d ended up in bed.

This was the start of day two without her.

My legs felt like lead as they hit the floor, and suddenly the guilt that I’d fallen asleep while my wife was missing washed over me. It was pure exhaustion, at least. My insides remained frantic. Downstairs my parents and hers were perched around the living room. Each head turned my way as I walked in; every eye was ringed in bright red. They said nothing, and looked away. It was all I needed to feel the blame that floated towards me past the coffee table. Not even my own mother got up. Mechanically I took to a chair in a corner and fell into it, fading into the wedding photos that hung slightly crooked, slightly dusty, behind me.

We’d met three years prior, in a place most don’t head to looking for anything bathed in solidity; the bar was poorly lit, as most are, making everyone beautiful even before the blurred lines that come with drinking whiskey. I’d noticed Lily first, the way her face maintained a sort of ethereal glow even in the darkness of the room, as if a candle were being held below her chin. I saw a flicker in her eyes as she laughed in that way that made me joyously anxious. When she noticed me watching her she paused for a moment, then smiled and lifted her martini glass in an airy cheers. I raised mine in unison and began to weave through heavy waves of shoulders and conversation to the other side of the bar. When I’d made my way to her we clinked glasses and drank.

“Matt,” I said, smoothing my tie with one hand.

“Lily.” Her name fell from her lips like snow.

 

***

This is Part 1 of a I-don’t-know-how-many-parts-there-will-be short (maybe) story. It came to me in my second glass of vino last night, and demanded I give it life. I hope you’ll follow along as I make more installments here and there!

Click here for Part 2!

 

 

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