And Still I Remember
I remember a lot about the day before they brought me here. They all said I wouldn’t, but I do. I remember perfectly.
I remember Father coming into my room the night before. I remember the suffocating weight. I remember fearing the darkness that night, and all the ones before it.
I remember how he woke me up early the next morning, like he always did, and told me to get in the shower before Mother woke up. I remember him wrapping me up in a thick bathrobe, and kissing my head, and "why don't you go into your room and get dressed now, daddy's sweet girl?"
I remember how much I hated being "daddy's sweet girl."
I remember the moving van pulling up across the street. I remember how the pink taffeta curtains that Mother had installed only days before felt against my skin as I drew them back to watch the new family moving in. I even remember the color of the car that pulled into the driveway behind the moving van: dark blue.
But mostly, mostly I remember him.
They said I wouldn’t remember, but still, after all these years I do. I remember how the sun cascaded through the oak trees on the lawn and made his black hair sparkle with highlights of deep red. I remember his smile as he gazed upon his new home, and how his teeth seemed so impossibly straight. I remember how I gasped when he looked up to my window and saw me standing there watching him.
I remember his eyes. Those beautiful emerald green eyes looking up at me with curiosity and wonder. I remember wanting to capture those eyes in a jar as if they were fireflies that would light the darkness that suffocated me every night. As if those eyes, the little fireflies, could keep me safe.
I remember staring at him for what seemed like hours until he disappeared and Mother called me downstairs to meet the nice new family from across the street. I certainly remember the way my heart beat hard in my chest as I took the long walk down the staircase to the front door. I remember the phrase ‘dead man walking’ repeating in my brain.
I remember Mother introducing us, though I don’t remember his name. I was too busy staring into his eyes. I remember her telling me I should bring him upstairs and show him some toys. He was new in town and hadn’t made any friends yet.
I remember the sound of his voice and how it filled my dark world with sunshine. I remember how his laugh tinkled in my ears and how his eyes crinkled at the sides when he smiled.
But mostly, mostly I remember the click of my bedroom door as it locked in place behind me.
I remember asking him if he wanted to play a game, and telling him to sit on my bed. I remember telling him how pretty his eyes were and that he should close them while I set about getting what I needed for our game.
I remember how my secret drawer sounded as it slid open and how the weight of my empty butterfly catching jar felt in my hands as I placed it on the floor by his feet.
I remember singing softly to him, a lullaby Mother used to sing for me. I remember knives, swift like the beat of a hummingbird’s wings and screams that drowned out my song. I remember how sticky the blood felt against my hands and the sound of Mother throwing her weight against my bedroom door, screaming for me to unlock it “this instant!”
I remember hiding my jar and the fireflies within before I heard the crack of the door jamb as Father kicked it in. I remember more screams, and lots of crying. I remember being shaken and how my face stung when Mother slapped it. I remember the sound of sirens.
I remember Father throwing things, and Mother crying, and someone screaming "how could you let this happen again?"
I remember police officers with guns and nurses with needles and doctors who said things like “just tell us what happened, Lily.” I remember my silence.
I remember all the "how are you feeling todays" and the "would you like to talk nows" and the "just be a good girl and take your medications."
I remember that I’ve been here at the Asylum for 2937 days and that today is my 16th birthday. I remember that my name is Lily Walker and that 8 years ago I accidentally killed a boy.
I remember that I didn’t mean to kill him.
I just wanted his eyes; those beautiful, green protectors of darkness.
And mostly, mostly I remember where I hid my butterfly jar.
No one will ever find it.
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