I submitted to Longshot Magazine, a magazine that is produced in 48 hours. It's nice because you don't have to wait too long to find out if you got in or not. I knew ahead of time that my style isn't what they go for, but I'm still proud that I submitted. Let's pretend I stood a chance, okay? The theme was Debt. My submission below:
A Deficit of Memories; A Debt.
I imagine my memories as these tiny creatures with rapid flapping wings. They flutter right in front of my eyes, so close that my lashes brush against their spastic bodies. My breathing matches the rate of their beating wings and while I am on the verge of an anxiety attack I reach out and try to grasp a little personified memory, aiming to hold it so close that I crush its wings and its moth-like powder stains my hand. When I try to grab it, my reflexes are too slow and the little beast outsmarts me and vanishes, not a trace left in my brain.
The realization that I had terrible memory began when I found it difficult to describe movie plots, even those of films I had just seen. The credits would roll and already I would be scrambling to think of a character’s name or the opening sequence, and by the time I exited the theater all I could remember were slivers of scenes, like the strange facial reactions by supporting characters or an especially well designed costume on a glamorous leading lady. If asked about storyline I would automatically rattle off a narrative and wonder how the words mechanically escaped my lips without a visualized companion inside my mind. All information began to feel like pieces of data, unreadable code that would transcribe itself verbally but could not be internally computed.
I could deal with film being erased, as I could always find a way to watch it again and take notes if I felt so inclined to remember every detail. It was when unrepeatable actions began to fade that I started to worry. There was a brave instance when I tried to explain the experience I had with an emotionally abusive partner, and I found myself getting tongue-tied, trying to restring conversations and picture the way his jaw tightened when he spoke or how his eyes lost contact with mine and focused instead on the cars speeding ahead. We were driving. Or we were in his bedroom. I think, once, we were at dinner, and he played with a straw wrapper as I shared my anxieties about leaving for college. The visuals morphed, but the basic information, the raw data, stayed consistent. If I wanted to use specifics details I would feel like a liar because the memory was incorrect and the images in my head were ragged and dissolving.
Painful memories, I thought, were the ones that would disappear. I was uncomfortable but able to come to terms with that idea. I could cope with a subconscious defense mechanism that distorted the nuances of bad situations and for some reason decided that most films were not worth being recalled.
Then it spread to pleasant memories. Of my childhood, before five years old, the only solid memory I have is the Dalmatian print on my bed sheets. My tiny hands jumped from dog to dog, spot to spot, pronouncing the dogs’ names from the Disney movie I had loved. Nothing more. I close my eyes and contract my facial muscles until my brain tingles and there is not a single image that comes to mind apart form the dogs. It was not a painful childhood, nor traumatic or scarring. It is simply my memories flying out my of my head, perhaps leaving through my ear canals or nasal passages, trying to force me to live moment by moment even though I believe that I am designed to think in the past.
I am young, painfully inexperienced. I wonder what will stick with me when I reach old age. I fear that soon the only images I will have are actually visualizations of anxieties about future. They are large monsters that have nothing but empty words.
So I keep reaching out and clutching my fingers tight, praying that I have caught a memory. I hold my fist steady and pretend that it starts to suffocate and twitch and then begs for mercy, seeking refuge inside my brain.