Memories are not passive inhabitants of the mind, but lively and unruly negotiators for space in a coherent life narrative – or at least that’s what I told myself.
That’s what I tell myself in the 17 hours of the day I spend awake. In the one hour that I spend in the psychiatric ward at The Presbyterian Hospital Downtown, my own memories battle it out in forefront of my mind.
It’s been like this for so long, I think I’ve almost settled into the idea that it’s always been like this, and nothing ever changed. There was no big flip of the universe.
Unfortunately there was.
I was in second grade, and my brother was in the sixth grade. The scream could be heard throughout the entire school. As the day went on, whispered words found their way to me. Alex’s brother stabbed him. My brother. I thought it was absurd; just a rumor. To this day, I’m still not sure.
I got home that day, and he was gone. Mom was buried into Dad’s chest on the couch, shaking. I always went to my brother when I didn’t know what to do. I thought he might have known why Mom was shaking.
“Jake!” I called and ran toward our rooms in the little hallway to the left of the entrance. I stood at the doorway of his messy room. No one had touched it. It looked like he was just out, and he’d be back in that room at any second.
That room remained untouched for some time until Mom and Dad decided to sell the house when I went to college. I’m not sure where they are anymore. I returned home from college to visit one day, and it was no longer home. My key didn’t work. No one answered their phones, and no one returned my calls.
Then I got a call from the psychiatric ward telling me that Alex was to be moved into a padded room, and that his condition was not improving. What condition? I guess Mom and Dad put my name on his papers when they took him away.
Since then I’ve gone to visit him everyday for an hour. In five minutes of that hour, his memories hang onto the front of his mind. After the five minutes is gone, so are the memories, and he has no idea who I am. He stares at me through the glass, trying to figure it out.
Note: I realize this is supposed to be a full on short story, but I’ve been putting this one off for days, and I’ve got nothing. Today, I sat down, and I told myself I needed to have this posted. Otherwise, I was going to keep ignoring the very reason I’m writing this blog; to help me write better stories and tell them better.
And this is all I have. It’s at least an anecdote; a super short story.