Breaking Memories

Breaking Memories

A Story by Edmund Reilly
"

One is forgetting, and one is getting forgotten.

"

“Who the hell are you?” he asked me. Talking to him could be a pain sometimes. He always started with the very same question " “who the hell are you?”

“I’m your neighbor.” I said “Yesterday I said I’d be coming over today to see you, remember?”
He was an old man with a very bad memory. He could hardly remember his own name, so I never blamed him for not remembering mine. In fact, I was somewhat glad that he could not. He never learned my name, and I never asked his. It was an unspoken promise we had.

“Oh, really? Well, I can’t really remember now, but come on in.” He said and moved aside so I could walk in. “Did you watch the match last night? The world cup is ours this year I’m telling ya.” This was another question he always asked. He was trapped in a single present. He was living a day over and over again, perhaps the only day he could remember clearly. For him, every sunrise was the beginning to the day that had ended just a sunset ago. But for me it’s been more than ten years since the match he was asking me about.
“Yeah, I saw the match. It was great.” I said.

“Debby? We have a visitor.” He shouted “She’s our new neighbor. Debby?” I was not new in the neighborhood, and Debby was no longer alive. She was his wife, and she had died a little more than a year ago, but he seldom remembered her death. To him, Debby was still alive. After Debby his daughters hired a maid to help him around the house. She never spoke anything but two words, “Hello” when I entered the house, and “goodbye” when I left.
“Debby? We have a visitor!”
“It’s alright.” I said “She’s probably not home. I can make us tea.”
“Thanks love. There should be milk in the fridge if you like, but "“
“You don’t like milk in your tea, I know.”

His living room was furnished with an old set of furniture, an old television, and a bookcase. I could recognize some of the books on the shelves. He used to teach philosophy in the university, but he couldn’t remember it anymore. Another piece of memory gone forever. It seemed as if his memories were disappearing in a pattern. Started with the world, then his friends got forgotten one by one, then his family, and now it was his own turn. Once a very intelligent and important man, now a fading memory. I remember once he told me life is in fact a process of dying. It starts as soon as we start breathing, and ends as soon as we stop. It’s somewhat like an hourglass, but filled with moments. An hourglass counting down the moments we let pass us by, all unnoticed, all unlived. I honestly do not know whether this is a pessimistic view of life or not; I know however, that it is an inevitability in everyone’s life.

“This tea is perfect. Just the way I like it.” He said sipping his tea slowly. How could he remember how he liked his tea? Would he ever forget his taste too? I remember my grandmother. She died when I was little, but I can still remember her last days. She could not talk, move, eat, or even use the toilet. She knew nothing. Absolutely nothing. Would someone who knows nothing about anything, be still considered as someone? Our memories define who we are, a person with no identity is defined by what we make of him. So he’d be nobody if he had no one to give him an identity, would he not? I could not possibly know the answer to that, I thought to myself.

“So, how do you like it here? It’s a pretty quiet neighborhood, isn’t it?” He asked me.
“Yes, it’s great.” I said, and then there was silence. I was smiling and looking around the room awkwardly, trying to find a topic to talk about. The old clock on the wall was the only that made a noise, ticking through the silence. Why do I keep visiting him?
“It’s a nice clock.” I said pointing at the clock  on the wall. Not the best topic of conversation, but I never liked the heavy air that came with the never ending silence between two people who have nothing to talk about, but yet, try their best pretending they do.

We did not talk much about anything else that day. I left shortly after I finished my tea. I took a short walk before going home, thinking about why I kept visiting that old man. It was sad and hard, and I knew that a day would come when he would remember nothing. Would he ever forget to wake up? I shivered at the thought and kept walking faster home.

I got home ten minutes later, crossed the front yard and went to the front door. The door swung open and a tall man appeared standing on the threshold, there came a look of relief on his face as he looked at me. I had no idea who he was, but for some reasons, I was not afraid.
“Kathy? Where have you been? You know that you can’t just leave!” He said angrily. He was tall, with short grey hair. His handsome craggy face looked rather familiar, but I just couldn’t remember …“Sorry, but … do I know you?” I asked. The next moment, much to my surprise, the man came and gently lead me into the house and then to the kitchen. I was both afraid and calm at the same time, I didn’t know who he was, but I knew it was my house, and who were those kids sitting in the lounge?

“They’re YOUR kids, Kathy!” he told me after I had asked him what was going on and who everyone was. Now I could remember, I had kids, and a husband and a …
“You went to visit your dad, didn’t you?” He asked.
“My dad?”
“It’s alright.” He said running his finger through his hair. He took a deep breath and continued, speaking calmly, and slowly. “Come on now. You need to take your pills. Then I help you remember everything, and you can write it all down. That’s what you promised the doctor you would do every day, remember?”
“Yeah, I remember now.” I said.

I stood in the kitchen while the reality came to me as a sudden epiphany, hitting me hard, making me remember everything, including the fact that I would be forgetting it all again. I was diagnosed with a rare type Alzheimer’s disease that was running in the family. My memories were leaking, I can’t remember who I was and who I am. Every day I wake up and live a new but exactly the same day as yesterday. I haven’t forgotten everything. I can still remember a lot. But, I know that everything will be gone one day, and a day would come, when I would forget to wake up. I am … well, I am … I don’t know who I am!


© 2016 Edmund Reilly



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Reviews

You have done a great job describing the visit to the old man in the first section and then the very sad and totally unexpected twist in the second part. It somehow accentuates the cruelty of this condition. Perhaps the very analytical consideration of loss of memory by Kathy in her visit to her dad puts us off the scent! I really liked some of your images like the one of the hourglass. Well done great writing.
You might be interested to read my own take on this topic 'field'
Cheers,
Alan





Posted 1 Year Ago


For some it's a story... for some it is real. You gave the words life and defined some life with your words.

Take care,
Chris

Posted 1 Year Ago


Edmund Reilly

1 Year Ago

Hi, thank you for dropping by and thank you for you kind words :)
Chris

1 Year Ago

I'm not kind, just real. I tend to speak my mind.
Whoa, whoa, whoa....a great twist in the end, EdReilly. It reminds of HG Wells, whose trademark was a twist in the end. You got me so much involved in the beginning that I had no reason to believe that the lady is the one who has the memory-loss disease. In the end, it comes out of nowhere and and beings a big smile on my face. How very sarcastic- the lady who thinks of things like- he would forget to wake up one day- suddenly come her way, and she relates those to herself. Everybody suffers from memory-loss one day, and that is the day when he; or she, forgets to wake up.
A beautiful piece. Keep writing.

Posted 1 Year Ago


Edmund Reilly

1 Year Ago

Hi, thank you for dropping by and thank you for your kind words. I'm really glad you enjoyed the sto.. read more
Vatsal Rohilla

1 Year Ago

A blunder there- I meant O Henry not HG Wells.
I am a poet by nature, not really a short story writer, and there is so much material in this piece because there is so much of human nature and sadness and reality in it. I am drawn to all topics on remembering and forgetting because I have a very bad memory though nothing diagnosed so I hold on to my memories through my writing, but, as stated, I write poetry, and sometimes, when I read poetry I've written a while ago, I forget why I wrote it and it makes me sad to forget. Anyway, this piece was great! Thank you!

Posted 1 Year Ago


Edmund Reilly

1 Year Ago

I'm drawn to topics concerning with memory because our memories define who we are, they define our n.. read more
geez....you got here pretty well, i guess
i didn't see that coming

nice twist
awesome writing
u rock

Posted 1 Year Ago


Edmund Reilly

1 Year Ago

Thank you for your kind word.
This stood out to me in the first part -- a total lack of love & affection in the narrator's way of describing the old man. It seemed harshly critical, which made me wonder why even visit, then? This eventually came out in your story, explaining the regular visiting. Unstated in your story is the idea that we often dislike in others the very things we dislike in ourselves. This could explain why the narrator comes across as cold & critical toward the old man. So then the story evolves to show us this memory loss in the narrator, as well. It felt a little uneven, becuz the narrator seemed to remember everything when at the old man's house, yet suddenly she is forgetful when she gets home. I think you might've been trying to "hide" the narrator's memory loss in the beginning, to enhance the surprise of discovery later. But for me, it wasn't a uniform presentation of the narrator's situation. Still, the story definitely works to align & compare these two people as having a similar memory issue. The hubby is the only one showing understanding & affection, so your story turns out to be a compassionate look at this issue.

Posted 1 Year Ago


Edmund Reilly

1 Year Ago

Hi and thank you so much for dropping by.
Yes there are more than a few things that need imp.. read more
To me it was an interesting and sad story. I would have like it more if you didn't tell me so plainly as much as to what is happening and let me feel and figure out the story as it revealed itself. Such as:

He was an old man with a very bad memory - you already showed this in and I could figure that out. Took away the emotion when you explained it to my face.

but he seldom remembered her death. To him, Debby was still alive - I already figured this out as well.

Your whole last paragraph I would delete; your last piece of dialogue tells all this and is poignant. If you really wanted a last paragraph I'd make it into one short sentence.

Still I liked it. It had a god twist, and the whole first experience with the old man showed everything she was going to experience - that's why I didn't need the last paragraph.

Fell free to think my thought are rubbish.

He was trapped in a single present. He was living a day over and over again, perhaps the only day he could remember clearly. For him, every sunrise was the beginning to the day that had ended just a sunset ago. But for me (it’s been more than ten years since the match he was asking me about.) - you only need the part I put in parenthesis at the end to reveal your whole point here.

Posted 1 Year Ago


Edmund Reilly

1 Year Ago

Hi there, thanks for dropping by and thank you for your feedback. I don't believe your thoughts to b.. read more
So I may be slightly obsessed with the way you write. Wow. This is a story I could read over and over

Posted 1 Year Ago


Edmund Reilly

1 Year Ago

Thanks, I'm glad you liked it.

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Added on April 8, 2016
Last Updated on April 8, 2016
Tags: Short Story, Psychology, Fiction, Inspirational, Sad

Author

Edmund Reilly
Edmund Reilly

About
I’m an aspiring author, a trying-to-be thinker, an absolute dreamer, sometime a traveller, always a wanderer, and somewhat a drifter. I work as a freelance writer, journalist, tutor, and web dev.. more..

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