River, Mementos, and War

River, Mementos, and War

A Story by Samuel Clayton

Memories fade, but the harsh ones stay.


I told her I had a dream of a river. I felt the weight of the weeping sky, and the thickness of a bleak and dying atmosphere. The greying trees slouched over, reaching to hug one another, and I had not seen the sun in weeks. My feet trudged through reddened mud, and the grass had been drenched in vermillion. As I neared the river, soaking in the water lay a swarm of sparrows. There was no other way across than to wade through the dead birds, holding my breath from the stench. I never looked at their eyes.

    The look of grey clouds and the somber kisses of rain used to bring me joy. I used to love jumping in the puddles and the feeling of being drenched and running the streets. Now I see nothing but hollowed people. The touch of the rain brings that mystical, dark figure of a man, if he even is a man, to my mind. I feel his claws scratch at my shoulders, and the transparency of his eyes. Behind those windows I see a white canvas lined with men and women calling from that lonely void.

“It’s been twenty years, Zahir, and yet you still show the signs of a man fresh out of war. Why is that? What is keeping you from moving on?” asked Doctor Hale.

I woke in the night shouting my brother’s name. There was a wall in my throat, and my arms swung for the nightstand. The floor came at me, and punched my side. My wheezing was lost to the darkness. On the floor with me was my opened box of pills, and whenever my fingers found the tiny capsules, they slipped away. My trembling hands could not hold them. I called to my wife, my voice barely audible.

    “I’m right here,” she said, meeting my outstretched arms. She helped me take one of my pills. We sat there in the dark for a long time, waiting for my anxiety to subside.

Dag and I were sitting in our fort when his elbow nudged me. He was holding a small stick in his mouth as if it were a cigarette. He said he was like father, and then proceeded to blow imaginary smoke from his mouth. I smiled with him, and looked for a stick myself so I could join him. We had fun pretending we were adults, trying to talk about whatever it was they talked about. We moved about our fort with confidence, and as if we were important men in the village. Dag even sat quietly, staring at the floor, as our father would every day. He stayed that way for a while, before finally confessing that he was bored with it. Strange as it sounds, as young boys we found our father to be a man of mystery. Gaddi almost never spoke to us, and when he did, it was in short sentences. To us, he was an enigmatic, paternal being that caused us to want to be just like him. As we grew older, we realized we wanted nothing to do with Gaddi.

© 2017 Samuel Clayton

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This has a very personal feel to it, as if these words were pulled directly from memories without alteration.

Posted 1 Year Ago

Samuel Clayton

1 Year Ago

Thank you!

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Added on September 18, 2017
Last Updated on September 21, 2017


Samuel Clayton
Samuel Clayton

I'm just a 21 year old writer who hopes his failures will lead him to something that's not. more..