Sunday, May 10, 2015
Movie Trailer Writing prompt 3: Terminator
I keep on going back. Over and over.
There's a picture of my mother, tanned, healthy, before they caught her. Before the cataclysm. The thing is, I don't remember the day we took that photo. We were in Mexico, I think. When I think of my mother, I think of that photo. That static, faded Polaroid. That artifact of another time. It's a strange thing, to default not to her, but to an image of her, a cracked and aging artifact.
I keep on going back. It's like a dream, that old life. That old me. I have my father's face and my mother's voice. I kept the memory of her in a box for a long time, never visiting. They say "use it or lose it", you know? Memory. But every time I go back, I just muddy the waters further. I envy machines, with their precise delineation of things into neat little ones and zeroes.
Did I live too long? Do we live too long when we lose those tethers to the people we once were? I think sometimes of all the moments in my life I don't remember. The dull routines. The uneventful days, blending one into the other. At home, in the kitchen, she makes PB&J with the crusts cut off. It must have happened once, right?
I keep on going back. I remember riding in the car, trying to memorize the contours of her face, trying to burn the details of it into my mind. Where were we going? The car interior was brown--or tan--or gray, maybe? Some kind of brownish gray? The AC didn't work, it was an oven inside.
Everything changes. She changes, she's a different person when you're three or eleven or seventeen, and you're always a different person, looking back. What did she smell like? I woke up this morning and it seemed terribly important but it's gone with all the rest of the little details, blurred away with time, slipping like water through my fingers.
I keep on going back. I passed a familiar street, today. I didn't even recognize it at first. Everything's changed so drastically. A row of storefronts now all boarded up; I can scarcely recall what went in them before. There was a barber shop, I think, and a Korean grocer. A few places that changed hands in the few years we lived in LA. Why can't I remember? There must be something wrong with me.
From the burned-out grocer on the corner I could probably navigate my way back to that old apartment we lived in, for a time. I could climb the outside stairs, step in through the door, and in to the funhouse mirror of my recollection. But I don't. People moved in, repainted, got rid of the old furniture. Maybe they knocked a wall down, maybe the shells took out this whole neighborhood. I leave the memory in its place, unwilling to write over it, knowing that in order to move forward, I eventually have to stop going back.