Wednesday, June 6, 2007

she goes softly

Now, where were we? Rifling through memories, getting all caught up in nostalgia, weighed down by that terrifying beast of old. It stalks, tearing after us through that tangled unworldly jungle of the mind. We try to get away, but it’s always just a little faster, a little more cunning, a touch more persistent. It isn't long before we’re caught, pummelled by the many horrid limbs of reminiscence.

Thoughts creep up of small, dank rooms in unfamiliar countries. Of long short nights in smirched little pubs – those nights which never end and never really begin. Thoughts of never-ending bottles, of alien money, and of sweat-slicked bodies twisting between the cool sheets of roadside hotels.


Flower petals floating on a morning breeze.

“She loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, she loves me not.”

“You are a little tangled up,” she says.

“Naw,” I breathe. “Friends and enemies and all that. Each petal has a name and a face.”

“And which am I, then?”

I’ve no answer, so I press the last petal into her palm and smile.


A month later, and a mysterious train wreck in eastern Europe cuts our getaway short. A mountain pass aflame. Luggage and its owners strewn about. Things like this, one never forgets. The hellish stench of diesel and burning flesh. The angry red-orange of a fiery forest. The sun very nearly blotted out.

We’re sitting on a rock, the frantic flashing lights of emergency vehicles in our eyes, and I pluck a strange red flower from the ground beside us. Nervous fingers go to work, petals floating on a soft freeze. A head lies on my shoulder, words nuzzling into my ear.

“Which am I?”

I swallow, and fold the remainder of the flower into my fist, crumpling it into a tight little ball. I swallow again, hard, eyelids fluttering, tears welling up.

“None of these,” she whispers, answering her own question. She wraps her little hand around mine, repeating, “none of these.”


Years after the fact, and I only remember her first name. Her first name and her face. Her first name, her face, and the smell of her hair after a bath. The way she took her coffee, black with only a pinch of sugar. The way she would smoke only half a cigaret. The way she would steal the blankets each night.

I’m stalked ceaselessly by nostalgia, trying desperately to get away but finding that it is no use. There are certain things that one will never forget, memories that one will never be able to drive away. Our final meandering stroll along the muddied waters of that swollen river. The lights of her aeroplane as it taxied away. The taste of her lips, and the bittersweet bliss of that last long kiss goodbye.

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