My Paper Memories
S. E. Sanders
The sporadic bursts of wind coming through the open terrace door lifted the old letters spread out around me on the floor. Their pages glided in the air like white-winged butterflies. Those written on finer paper rose higher and hovered above, reshuffling my memories from many different lives.
The only spectator of the quaint scene, I watched the words blend into the atmosphere in different sequences, forming new sentences, thoughts and stories, as the authors exchanged words, making a jigsaw puzzle of my past. The wishes, the events, the consolations, all in a jumble like the ones mixed up in my head. My past flowing into my future, shaped by the gust of the moment.
Letters, nostalgic mementoes of the past, no longer written on paper with words flowing from a pen, their curves and strokes exclusive to the hand. From a time when things moved at a gentler pace, to tapping on the tedious keys of the computer, networked to the virtual delivery chain, not requiring an envelope, a stamp or a postman. They had evolved from tangible to ethereal, just like the photographs, now floating in the digital jungle, a mass of pixels.
My attachment to papers and photos is something I’ve inherited. I have burned them in my stories, shredded them to pieces in my dreams, and in my thoughts, flung them into the face of the writer or the photographer. Yet, I never had the courage to do anything to destroy them in reality. I’m a hoarder of souvenirs, a guardian of memories from my grandmother and my mother who gave me theirs for safekeeping. Maybe, I’m just about ready to deal with mine, but what about theirs? Will I betray them if I do?
Shall I cut them up into tiny bits and throw them into the air like confetti, and let the wind carry the remains to wherever fate takes them? Or simply toss them in the garbage and let them travel to the dump, and maybe take off from there, once more, when the disposable bags give in? Perhaps, they’ll take wing again and end up on the corner of a high-street, like the black and white instances of a life I saw, lying neglected next to a bin.
I remember feeling sad for that life, devoid of any carers, or due respect for the journey concealed within. I refuse to let my paper memories, or those from my legacy, be left to their own fate, adrift within the moment, and wandering into the future on the whim of the unpredictable wind. I must take a rational decision on this. Do I dare?
I have no guardians to leave them with for safe keeping. Those closest to me would not care. I know they will be dumped without further consideration. Rather than allowing strangers into my private world to make up their own stories after my love letters and photos of ghosts, I must return the documents of my secrets to where they came from. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, back to decorate the tree trunks and branches with haphazard glitter from an unknown source, outside the seasonal touch.
A cremation ceremony for the past, a life full of memories shrouded with respect, merging into the future from that moment, in a form undetected by the naked eye. Still present, though, but unperceived, to endure forever like the recollections in my head.
I take the ashes to the forest and blow them in the wind. Finally, I have done it. Some success, yet a bitter-sweet one. I feel lighter.
The wind carries the dust in the air we breathe, filling us with thoughts and ideas we never know inspired from where. Ether is eternal, able to travel everywhere in the universe. Stardust to stardust, to begin a new journey from the end …
I get angry at the train, my love. The one that stole you away from me. Its whistles piercing the night stab further into my incurable grief. I bury my head under your pillow till the sinister screams fade out. Maybe I should move somewhere away from the tracks. Somewhere I’m not constantly reminded of that moment when you left. Yet, I feel I may lose your presence, the smells and visions that still linger in the air.
I see your reflection in the bathroom mirror as you shave your face, half-covered in foam. Sitting in the chair by the window, reading while you sip your tea. You lift your eyes from the paper and give me that smile. The smile that touches my heart, brighter than the sunshine flowing in through the drapes. The smell of lavender cologne still fills room, each time I dare to open the doors of your wardrobe. Though I have changed the sheets so many times since you left, my head lying on your pillow, my body on your side of the bed, I am carried to those moments of bliss spent in your warm embrace and tender kiss.
My love, I get angry at the train that took you away to foreign lands. Jealous of what we had, I fear they might not let you come back. I avoid the railways and take the bus instead. Keeping my eyes off the tracks and the gloomy dark fumes that threaten my dreams, I go to the seaside and make a wish. Only one. You, and only, you. Because I know I’m not whole without you in my life.
Sebnem Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the Eastern shores of the Southern Aegean Sea where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have been published on the Authonomy Blog, and recently, on The Drabble. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child. Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, will be published this year. More information can be found at her website: https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/ where she publishes some of her work.
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sebnemsanders
*Featured image courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*