The Memory Jar

The Memory Jar

A Story by Johari

The reconstruction of several lives through the connections of various items in a memory jar – an introduction.


She kept her memories in a jar beside her bed, a colourful mish-mash of celebration, woes and revelations that hadn’t been opened for years.


It is an autobiography without dates - no years, months or days. Not even words. Every object a mnemonic for one distilled moment unbound by time and free to be remembered in any order.


The peaty warmth of whiskey begins to melt the cold from my bones while the cottage stones absorb the fire’s dance. The old place is warming to me now and the shadows no longer lurk menacingly. The smell of her is in the furniture, her cooking and perfume. In spite of the fact she had tried to walk lightly on this earth, she has still left her mark.


As I twist off the top, I smell the bouquet of a hundred emotions, musty from captivity. Laying each item out in front of me in a neat line, I will them to release their memories. But they hold fast, locked beyond my understanding. I create my own time line, moving this or that object till I’m happy with the line up, all the while rolling a smooth grey stone around in my hand, absentmindedly.


Sarah had been a soft soul. Too sentimental at times; and fragile so I’m told. She was the black sheep of the family " a good catholic tea leaf reader, and a lady of secrets. Had she lived great adventures or just a 'little way'? Whatever it was, she kept it inside " except for the jar.


I take the lock of hair between my fingers. It is old and the blonde fading, but still so soft and I feel an overwhelming urge to smell it, as one does a new born babe. A primordial keening echoes in the Stygian hollow of my womb, but it is more than the simple craziness driven by mortality. Loss swells my belly as her pain meets mine - undone meets unmade. A torrent of Bean Sidhe song rages through gut, blood and bone and I begin to drown in the voices. Gasping down the need for guttural release, with shaking hands I deny the instinct with tears and whiskey. I can’t however, resist the birthing breaths that steady this dangerous force, as visceral as it is transient, my body knows, in spite of me, what it needs to do.


As the tide slowly turns I begin to understand that such pain would twist and buckle any but the steeliest soul. Perhaps she was stronger than she is given credit for?


My whiskey waits patiently on the coffee table, forgotten for a while in the wake of remembrance. A second shot sits on the windowsill with a red candle, which still sparkles. Its light, a charm against the dark on this thin-veiled night, bends the amber in the glass and I swear it is less than before. Have the dead yet taken their sup?


Calmed; I return to the stone.


Her resonance is strongest here and I imagine it washed over and over again in the currents of her soul. She lived a balanced life. Tumultuous under scrutiny perhaps, but for every mania is a salve of peace.


Faith anchored her, clean and sweet. Like an oyster on a string she clung, filtering life to make pearls.

I have no way of proving these visions of mine bear any resemblances to the facts of her life, but then memories rarely waltz with reality so I continue to roll the stone and remember her fondly.

© 2016 Johari

Author's Note

I am quite robust so happy to accept anything, so long as it is constructive! I am mainly interested in what people like/don't like and why. It may help to know this is a prologue to a novel.

Technical stuff like grammar can easily be tweeked later. However, please feel to comment on any grammatical/spelling errors that significantly impede the reading of the piece.

My Review

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Theres nothing in here that shouldnt be in here Johari. Its just - Im speechless for once

Posted 6 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I find this piece both interesting and a little cryptic. You have created an atmosphere that calls to something ancient in Man and I distinctly like the hint of Hibernian flavor. Also, I like your turn of phrase and narrative pacing. If there was any grammatical issue, it was probably with semicolon placement; but that's something you can refine with a little study, as I have been doing this last year or more.


Posted 6 Years Ago

I was drawn right in to this, but I feel like I missed something important.

Someone's cleaning out the home of a woman who has just died, but there's more here that hasn't been made plain. Who is the narrator? What was her relationship to the deceased woman? Why is no one else there?

I didn't know what "undone meets unmade" meant, but I was intrigued by it.

I love how you brought birth imagery into a death story. Is she holding back grief with the "birthing breaths?"

I enjoyed reading this and I hope there's more!

(I'm new to writerscafe, so I'm not familiar with what should be in reviews or how to give ratings. Hope this is okay.)

Posted 8 Years Ago


6 Years Ago

Sorry for the er, rather long delay in replying, I've only really started using the site on regular.. read more

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3 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on November 19, 2012
Last Updated on November 8, 2016
Tags: shorty story, supernatural, folklore, celtic



Norfolk, United Kingdom

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