I am such a chicken you guys don't even know how much nerve it took to post this.
So lemme know what you people think, eh?
[font=Verdana]Memories For Sale
The front lawn was covered in them. Fold-out tables stood in tidy rows lined with cardboard boxes. I had arranged them by genre â€“ romance, mystery, horror. People milled about the aisles, browsing through boxes, sifting through the remnants of a relationship. From time to time someone would pull one out of a box, a small bauble like a colored marble -- but living, something alive there inside the swirl of colors â€“ and examine it. They all examined them differently. A frail-looking old fellow in worn corduroy pants and cataract-filled eyes would hold each of them up to his good ear, listening to the memory whispered into the tuft of grey hair. A young boy with huge buck teeth would pick them up and shake them like wrapped Christmas presents, listening to their squealing protest. The fake fortune teller down the street, Psychic Mary, who couldnâ€™t really see anyoneâ€™s future but was nice enough that the neighbors liked her, would touch them to her forehead, eyes closed, like a piece of ice to fevered flesh. The marble-shaped memories would soften, melt, mold themselves against her forehead as she listened to what they told her, then reform themselves as she pulled her hand away. Sometimes she would mutter names, places, pertinent facts. Maybe she wasnâ€™t a fraud after all, I thought as I tagged a box of memories at ten cents each.
They had been free (a huge sign on the front lawn said â€œMemories for FREE,â€ with the FREE crossed out and SALE scrawled underneath it in purple Sharpie), but nobody had wanted them then. Everyone wants to feel that theyâ€™re getting something of value, even if they donâ€™t pay for it. A balding man, Frank from two blocks over, had asked me why he would want someoneâ€™s free memories.
Why not, Iâ€™d asked. You donâ€™t even have to carry them.
Theyâ€™ll take up space in my head, he responded tersely, and there wonâ€™t be any room for my own new ones. Who would want to fill their head with someone elseâ€™s worthless memories?
So Iâ€™d priced them, from a nickel to a few dollars, depending on how strongly I felt about them â€“ the less I wanted to sell them, the less they cost.
At a small table closest to where I sat were jewelry and notes and books and any number of other things arranged beside their corresponding memory, with a sign above them declaring, â€œBuy a memory, get the item free!â€ A young blonde woman had bounded up to the table, dressed in all pink. Elle Woods, I thought. This was a girl who lived for men, whose sun rose and set by the belief that some day she, too, would join the ranks of beautiful, home-making housewives whose husbands bring them gifts of jewelry and chocolate and who somehow never gained an ounce. She spent a minute scanning the burnt pots and photo frames, then gasped and closed her manicured hand around a small diamond ring. How much for this? she asked me, thrusting the thing into my face. The memory wafted to me, like the green odor of cartoons â€“ him sitting across a low-lit table, eyes dark with shadow, too dark to catch the firelight, reaching into his coat pocket and sliding sideways out of his chair â€“ Free. But the memory is five cents. The girlâ€™s babydoll blue eyes opened wide, bugged, threatened to pop right out of her pretty head, and she stuffed a dollar into my hand. Clutching the ring to her perky pink chest, she snatched up the shiny memory and yelled, Keep the change! She hurried off wondering what kind of woman would be insane enough to not want this memory. She hadnâ€™t seen the one beside it, a neatly-folded sheet of paper, a Dear Jane letter, next to a blood-red memory that swirled with fog.
I stared out across the lawn from the shelter of the garage. The boxes went on forever. They stretched out to infinity, full of birthdays and arguments and movies. In the far back corner of the lot, farthest from the road and myself, was the section I had labeled â€œErotica.â€ The boxes there were packed, the memories in sloppy disarray, unlike the rest. A man in a trench coat had been hovering over them for two hours, picking up a memory here and there and giving a faint, throaty sigh as he rolled them in his fingers. As I watched, he picked out another and stared at it. The memory nudged at me, even from here â€“ some were stronger than others. Thereâ€™s a storm outside, thunder and lightening like the first time we met, and weâ€™re down on the floor in our house, the house we bought together, my head resting on his huge barrel chest, his fingers in my hair. Iâ€™m wearing shorts, he is naked. I look up and his eyes are skies of unbearable blueness, like Iâ€™d never seen before and have never seen since, and he smiles and kisses my head, which I love because heâ€™s tall enough to do it when weâ€™re standing and sweet enough to do it when weâ€™re not.
I want him inside me. I want to take him in my arms and squeeze until he melds into my chest, fits into the space between my skin, like a canary inside my rib cage. I want him to occupy me; where my liver and lungs and heart should be, I want him. I look at him and I want him to hug my spine, to kiss my ribs, to make love to my blood and bones, the bits and pieces that make me up.
The contents of a house, of a shared life, were laid out on a nearby table too flimsy to support the weight of their meaning. It buckled under the memories, heavier by far than their corresponding pots and pans, linens, towels, the multitude of wedding gifts left unopened and unused. The tiny round memories waited, reflecting the sunlight like crystals or absorbing it like onyx. I lifted a daisy-painted coffee cup from beside a tar-black memory, which trembled on the table and threatened to crack open and spill its contents across the yard, down the street, to flood the world in choking darknessâ€“
The kitchen is quiet. The clock doesnâ€™t tick â€“ itâ€™s digital. I run my thumb over the childishly-drawn flowers near the rim of the mug. He sits across the table and this morning his eyes are icebergs of unbearable blueness. The folded letter sits between us. Iâ€™d gotten up earlier than heâ€™d expected.
So, thatâ€™s it? Itâ€™s my voice, but smaller, like when I was six. It disgusts me.
Yeah. Iâ€™m sorry. The silence breaks over me like a wave. Heâ€™s sorry. Iâ€™ll pack up my stuff while youâ€™re at work.
I lower my head over the mug. The liquid is brown, smooth, and ripples when I breathe over it, ripple pushing ripple, cause and effect, like dominos. What did I do? Cause and effect.
Nothing. I just â€“ Silence. It stops up my ears with its immediacy. I donâ€™t love you anymore.
I hold the mug firm, to still the trembling in my hands. The silence stretches, yawns, lazy like Sunday morning, fits itself into the crevices in my skin and fills my pores until I cannot stand its touch, lewd and insistent. Get out of my house.
Sara. . .
A chair scrapes on tiles. Shuffling. A pause in the doorway, where I will him, please God, to say something, to apologize, to come kneel beside me and kiss my head and tell me heâ€™s sorry, heâ€™s sorry, he doesnâ€™t know what he was thinking, he loves me, but instead the shuffle moves toward the door, which opens with a creak and closes with a slam and then the silence fills the space in my head again. I hold the mug so tightly that my knuckles turn white, then beyond white into transparency, until the veins in my hands stand out, gnarled and engorged, until I threaten to crush the ceramic into pieces, crumble it to dust. He does not return; the mug does not break.
There was a tug on my sleeve. I looked down and the frail old man with small, cataract eyes looked up at me, his fist closed tightly around something.
Who was he?
Someone. Someone I loved very much, someone who hurt me very badly.
What was his name? The old manâ€™s voice was a waver, a ripple in the sea.
I donâ€™t remember. A woman bought it. Said she collected names.
The old man looked down at his worn loafers, then back up at me. How long are you going to keep selling them?
Until theyâ€™re all gone. Until I donâ€™t remember him at all anymore. The man in the trench coat winked at me.
The old man lifted his hand. The skin was grey, splotchy like huge freckles, fingers knobby, the branches of an ancient tree. He uncurled his fist and in his palm sat a perfect sphere, glittering in the sunlight like a million tiny stars, the universe inside of a marble. It very nearly glowed.
How much is this one?
The memory came like a flash flood, engulfing my senses. Itâ€™s early in our history. Things are still good. We are laying in bed, fully clothed, just enjoying existing, here, with one another. It is a moment of unspoken words, perfect, the things romances are made of, and I reach up one hand, pinch his nose and pull away.
Got your nose.
He stares at me for a second, the moment in which he could decide that I am, undoubtably, completely weird and leave me there, embarrassed, holding his invisible nose. My breath catches. His eyes open wide.
Give it back!
For five minutes we battle like children, me sticking my thumb between my fingers like my parents had done to me, him reaching and laughing and begging me to give his nose back, as he had done as a child. It was the moment I loved best, both of us completely vulnerable, completely foolish, and completely carefree, confident enough in each other to know that we could be, utterly and unabashedly, ourselves, free of any pretense, with no need to try to impress or be someone we werenâ€™t. It was the essence of honesty, there in bed with me holding his nose between my fingers.
Maâ€™am? The old man was still there by my side.
Iâ€™m sorry, I said as I closed my hand around the shining memory. This one isnâ€™t for sale. The old man peered up at me through the clouds in his eyes. Heâ€™d seen the memory, before he came over to me. He nodded.
I took a step away from the old man, lifted the memory high into the air where it caught the sunlight and sparkled, created a rainbow in my hand, then swung my arm down and smashed it into a million tiny shards on the cold, black cement of the driveway.[/font]
EDIT: Added line breaks for Ori.