art by Wi Waffles
Memories like Bread, Words like Little White Stones
by CÚcile Cristofari
The first time you got lost, I thought you were just light-headed with the heat. We laughed it off as I drove you home. When you forgot our neighbor's name, I just shrugged. Wasn't it hard for a man your age to keep track of the names of everyone he knew? When you forgot our son's, I said it was nothing. But we both knew we couldn't keep lying.
Soon, you stopped leaving the house--it was easier than asking me to come and walk you back when you forgot the way. You took to writing. Sometimes, as you doodled in your notebook, cut off mid-sentence as you tried to remember what was so important you had to write it, I bent over your shoulder to read.
There were pieces of memories scribbled in a shaky hand, trailing off, as you struggled to write our moments together before they were gone for good. But it was too late, already. At first I cried, but it would do no good if you woke up from your nap and found me red-eyed over something you didn't remember. So I took a pen, and I tried to write for you.
Every day, I added new lines to your old memories, and some memories of my own. Sometimes you read from the notebook, and you never seemed to wonder why the writing didn't look like your own. The last thing I wrote was half made up. We had been planning a trip. Somewhere in France, there was a palace made of pebbles, that a single man had built over thirty years of his life. He was a postman, like you used to be. During his rounds, he picked the nicest-looking stones, and added them to his work in the evening. We never managed to see it, but you wanted to so much I made up a memory where we did.
I was so sad, though, when you read it and smiled, and didn't notice it wasn't real. I couldn't keep writing after that. It tore my heart to impose my memories on you. We always remembered such different things--when we talked together, it felt like looking at the past with one eye closed, then suddenly opening it and seeing a flat cardboard picture turn into a beautiful, living landscape. With only my memories remaining, I felt I had become half-blind.