We had to listen to the above song and then write in response. So, here's mine. It's random. Enjoy.
This piece is mine and mine alone.
Shadows and Regrets
It is an awfully strange thing when a person who meant so much suddenly becomes clippings of moments in your mind. They, as a whole, start to filter from your memory; only very softly at first, so as to not alarm you. Until, suddenly, you’re trying to remember the creases around their eyes, or the way their teeth did not align perfectly, and you find yourself stumped... hollow, terrified that a precious moment has left you, never to return.
It is like that with her. Five years have passed and all those hours that were spent together managed to snake away from me. During those days I would tell my brain to etch certain moments, so that I may never forget the smells, the sounds, the tastes of those minutes, but alas, my mind betrayed me; betrayed her and her memory. I only remember fleeting moments of foolishness now; moments that were so quaint, so miniscule they make my chest ache.
Lying in my pops’ cornfield, I had sat for nearly half an hour tickling her bare arm with a piece of corn, whilst pollen and dust whirled in the sunlight. I don’t remember what she wore that day. Nor do I remember the minutes that surrounded that moment, but I remember something so visibly, and it was how the little hairs on her arms rose with goose bumps as I tickled her golden skin. To think, for years we were company to each other and one of my clearest memories of her are her goose bumps.
Memories are like ghosts. They haunt but do not alleviate suffering. People say ‘at least you have your memories’ but memories are transient. Memories stay with us for a short time only, and then they become a haze. After the haze they morph in to snippets, and then tiny details.
Her favourite perfume, she’d said, was anything that smelt like lilies. She loved lilies and my Ma had always shaken her head at the thought of it, telling her it would bring bad luck. She’d shrug her shoulders, and tuck her hands beneath her bottom. Something she always did when she was trying to hold her tongue. I appreciated that about her.
The wedding had been small, some of my side, some of hers. We’d kissed like it was the first time, embarrassed and fidgety. Her parents were there, so were mine, and so was her grandma; back then, you didn’t want your folks seeing you kiss. I don’t remember the kiss as a picture, no, just the sensation and the smell. Kissing her was like standing in a garden of lilies. The church applauded and we left both our families and our hometown.
She rarely cried. She had stamina. That first Christmas was a shambles. I’d slaughtered a chicken, a small one that we’d raised, and she burnt it. Burnt it all to hell. How she cried. First it was a trickle and then it came in gushes like she’d been holding in those tears for years. She’d sat on a stool in our kitchen, folded double, her forehead on her knees as she cried. I’d laughed and thrown it out back but she cried and cried. Our first Christmas we ate half burnt roasted potatoes and carrots that had been boiled to mush. The stuffing was undercooked but I ate it and asked for more... looking back, it's probably the best thing I have ever eaten.
A book for Christmas and birthdays. Every year. That’s all she ever wanted, and every year I would buy a book and a bunch of flowers. She’d pick a flower from the bouquet and lay it like a bookmark between the sheets of paper. It would dry there. The shelf now is a graveyard of her reading, and a graveyard of every bunch of flowers that were ever presented with a book.
One child was given and then taken away. She did not cry until the babe was buried. Another child was given and it flourished and grew and she became something else entirely. She was no longer mine only, but shared. Naturally she insisted that this beautiful baby be called Lilly and I could not imagine a name best suited.
We would occasionally find Lilly playing in the cornfields, and as she grew we’d occasionally find her being chased by her best friend. Lilly grew and eventually married her best friend. It seemed that she was a girl who cherished tradition.
If you were to take my memories, of all those years from me right now, you’d compile a book no longer than a novella; a small little book that details goose bumps, burnt chicken, books and lilies. People talk of shadows and regrets but regrets are also memories that will one day be forgotten.
Her last days were spent in a white room, with white sheets and white light. A vase of white lilies sat beside her. I read to her for hours... and she would smile at me for hours. Her wrinkled fingers occasionally touched my wrist to show appreciation. She couldn’t speak in the end, but she knew me. When death took her, she held so tight that he took me too; and so my body waits here like a shadow in this world, surrounded by her books and dead pressed flowers to pass.
Lilly visits regularly and we sit awkwardly not wanting to speak of her. I ask about her day, she asks about mine. We want to talk of her, we’re desperate to, but no words can come without the grief. Lilly kisses me goodnight and leaves me, promising to visit in the next couple of days.
The cornfields wave at me every morning, and every morning I wave back. I’m sure they laugh at my balding head and stooped posture. I wake and sleep hoping to one day tickle her arm again with a piece of corn, and see those goose bumps rise.
When death comes I know that he’ll bring her with him too. My Olivia. We will kiss each other with embarrassment and leave hand in hand; but for now I wait watching those golden cornfields.