It’s that time of month again: free short story time! This month, I’m reading a short story I wrote last month entitled “Memories.” I wrote it in contribution to an autumn short story collection one of the writers’ groups I’m a part of was putting together. You can purchase An Ode to Autumn, the autumn anthology, over on Amazon for only $0.99! There are a number of award-winning authors who contributed and it’s mostly full of short stories, but you’ll also find a sprinkling of poems.
This story would not have been if it weren’t for the incredible talents of my favorite K-pop duo, Akdong Musician (a.k.a. AKMU). Their latest single, “Time and Fallen Leaves,” was such a huge inspiration and I think it sounds wonderful in the background if you choose to read the story at your own pace.
If you enjoy the story, consider sponsoring me at Patreon. Hope you all have a fantastic weekend and had a great Thanksgiving!
Download the PDF version of this story here!
Memories by Sheenah Freitas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Memory is a funny thing. It ebbs and flows, always moving and forming. When you want to remember something, it might rush away from you. And there are moments where something triggers something you thought you had forgotten.
As the colors change and the air gets colder, I find myself walking amongst the trees in nothing but my bare feet after reading the newspaper, the page still clutched in my hands. My hands are shaking and I can’t stop them. They’re not shaking from the cold—I can’t even feel the weather. I can feel the leaves beneath my feet though; the ground is slightly cold and wet. If someone looked out and saw me, they might think that I’m crazy. And maybe I am crazy. Or maybe we’re all a little bit crazy. Who’s to say what sanity is anyway?
Do you remember that time when everything was brand new? When you thought you could take on the world? When you were invincible?
Do you remember your first kiss? Your first love? The first time you gave yourself to one person?
I think about it from time to time, you know. The first time I met you. The first time I kissed you. The first time we were together. The memories just won’t stop bursting out of my heart. They were memories I thought I had locked away a long time ago.
I keep moving, walking faster to the water’s edge. I hope that you’re there. I hope that you’re waiting for me with that big smile on your face. I know it’s been years, but I just need to see you. To hold you. To return back to that time.
The water is even colder than the wind and leaves. The sun is blinding here as it peeks over the horizon. As it makes its way upward, it tears the sky, ripping it apart and making it bleed like my skin did all those years ago.
Do you remember when my skin used to be dyed red? Do you remember finding me in the bathroom, whispering your name, begging you to find me? Do you remember feeling helpless?
I was helpless. Or maybe we were both helpless. It wasn’t your fault. You were my only saving grace, but even you couldn’t help me from myself. The pain was relieving only to me for only a short amount of time; my pain only hurt you, slicing you far deeper than I ever did to myself.
I blink and I find myself back at the water’s edge and not with you. You’re not here. My hands clutch the newspaper even tighter. I take the paper and look back at the article I stumbled upon in the local news: Your engagement announcement. You look happy, serene. It’s a look that I only remember seeing back when we first started seeing each other, a look that quickly disappeared.
I don’t know why seeing this announcement even bothers me as much as it does. We haven’t spoken to each other in years. We’re not even friends on Facebook. But there it is. That tinge of jealously. Despite having found someone who could help me from myself, despite having let go of all traces of you, I find myself clinging to every single memory.
I don’t know why this surprises me. If I can move on, surely you’re allowed to move on, too. Did I think that in my warped mind that you were forever mine? That in some twisted world, we would find ourselves together again and then…And then what? We’d reminisce of all the times we had? And then…and then…
And then nothing.
Do you remember all of the fighting? All the arguing? All the times I hurt you? Do you remember that time you broke my heart? Do you remember the last time you said goodbye?
Still…it’s a strange thing seeing you engaged. I’ve always thought that time would just stand still for us. Maybe because in the end, I still have difficulty thinking of any of us getting older. What are we going to be like in ten years? Twenty?
I can’t stop latching onto the memories like they might blow away with the wind. My memories have merged together, creating this one eternal image in my mind. I imagine myself as forever twenty, just you and me, taking on the world.
Do you remember the time we went out on that double date? Do you remember what that couple said? How we were made for each other? How perfect we were? How they couldn’t imagine us not being together?
And now look at us. I can’t even remember their names. I can’t even remember the last time I talked to them. Were they your friends or acquaintances of mine? When was the last time I talked to any of the people whose memories have wedged themselves into my heart, my mind? Will they ever come out?
The water continues to lap at my feet as the leaves from the nearby tree fall all around me. Everything is so cold now. So numb now.
I look one last time at your announcement. And then I tear it into tiny pieces, slowly, methodically. You are no longer mine just like I am no longer yours. But despite that, despite everything, I’ll keep holding onto our memories—both the good and the bad. The wind is starting to pick up, so I let go of the little pieces of paper and watch them get swept up with the wind.
The gust catches them, taking them out to the water. They drop ever so carefully down, just like everything tends to do during this season. As every piece of our memory falls to the back of my mind, I can’t help but wonder how many people have I forgotten over the years? How many of those that I keep tucked away in my heart still remember me?
Do you remember?