THE MEMORY CLAUSE
She couldn’t open her mouth to speak so she just stared at him with wide eyes and a furrowed brow. As he hovered in the doorway he offered no explanation but a pained look in his eyes.
‘Okay, this is starting to get awkward,’ Lydia thought to herself. “You’re back.” It was all she could manage saying.
“Well aren’t you going to explain to me what that was all about? I mean, I think it’s been at least a week. What happened to you?”
“Well, this is kind of hard to say. Mainly because it’s going to scare you, but partly because just talking about it kind of scares me.”
Aiden looked at her from across the room and she could feel it. The fear. She didn’t speak. She just waited.
“As you spend more and more time here, you start to remember more and more about your life. The things you did, the things that had been done to you, the people you loved and the ones who loved you. And when you remember these things, the overwhelming feeling of happiness hits you all at once. But it’s not only the good that comes rushing back. It’s the bad too. It’s everything. And it’s all so much to deal
Unable to really comprehend everything Aiden was saying, Lydia mustered up the only question she could think to ask.
“So, what did you remember?”
Aiden let out a deep sigh and said quite simply, “The day my parents died.”
“Now, I can remember it like it was yesterday, thanks to that stupid memory jolt. We were spending the summer up at the family cabin, we did every year. And so, one night just halfway through the summer—the sun was just going down so the sky was still that nice mix of orange and pink it gets, you know? I went to take the dog for a short swim off the dock before we went in to bed. And so I guess, for the first time in my father’s life, he made a mistake. He left the gas on for the barbeque and my mother’s nasty habit of smoking led to her accidentally igniting it when she went out to have her last of the day. She always smoked right next to the bbq because she sat her ashtray on the side of it, and it was right near the door. And when it exploded, it somehow took the cabin with it, killing both of them. The force was enough to blow me off the dock and when I surfaced all I could see around me were pieces of the cabin I practically grew up at. That was the memory.”
“Wow, I’m really sorry Aiden.”
“Don’t be sorry. It doesn’t quite matter now, does it? I’m dead too.”
“Maybe you could find them!” Lydia exclaimed as soon as the idea reached her head. “They have to stop through the middle, too, don’t they?” She was so excited at the thought of it she barely heard him say that he had tried and found that they had already been sent back, to new bodies, and new lives. They were officially no longer his parents, and Lydia couldn’t imagine what he was going through. It was in part due to the fact that she couldn’t even remember her parents and because of the fact that she didn’t want to imagine that kind of pain, or love. It was terrifying.
“So, what have you been up to? Any memories yet?” Aiden changed the subject as soon as he could.
“Oh, you know, tag with Nancy but she was sent back. Cards with Walter but he was sent back, too.”
“Walter got sent back! Oh, finally. That old grump needed to be reborn more than anyone here. I mean, good for him and all, but finally.”
Lydia smiled to herself because, although she liked Walter, she knew exactly what Aiden meant. The two sat through the night reading to each other because Aiden suggested it would help them with their memories.
“Could act as a sort of trigger,” he’d say.
They read everything from Shakespearean plays to Oscar Wilde, and even the Hunger Games trilogy. Lydia liked Katniss naturally, and Aiden—just to be a thorn on a rose—liked President Snow. Lydia kept questioning why
she and Aiden got along so well, and why it was so effortless to spend countless hours with him without getting annoyed enough to want to be alone. And then it hit her.
“We must have known each other!” She jumped off the bed as if it gave more grounds to what she was saying throwing her arms up in the air screaming, “Oh my god, I can’t believe we didn’t see it!”
“You’re acting like a freak! Relax, now what are you saying?”
“Okay, we both knew that song when we first got here right?”
“We’re the same age. We died around the same time. The trees at that cabin. They looked familiar.”
“The trees looked familiar, oh come on Lydia. You know how many people our age die, all the time? Plenty! That song was probably plastered all over every radio station in the world.”
“The way we feel about each other.” That one got to him.
“Yes, I will admit. That is kind of strange. But it’s probably just because we are the same age. No one else around here seems to be from our generation, we’re both fairly new. It’s easy to relate here, Lydia.”
“Yeah,” she said with a sort of exhale sigh. “You’re right. Okay, maybe I got too excited about that one. But how cool would that have been?” She smiled. He smiled back.
Because of all the reading they were doing together, Lydia really was beginning to remember all sorts of things about her life. Like she remembered her parents, Jim and Judy. And that she had a little sister who was about three years younger than her. Her parents retired to their lake house in a forest just like the one Aiden was in, which explains her familiar trees scenario, and her sister attended university overseas at some high-profile fashion school. She even remembered the family pet, Fluffy, who was a golden retriever that she was certain she didn’t want to name Fluffy. She didn’t know who she was in life, but she liked to believe that she would have come up with something a little more creative. Maybe something like Sergeant Fluffball at least. Something with some oomph.
Although she started to remember things, she really wanted to figure out how she died at a much faster rate than she was going. She started reading books that had common themes of death to try and give her memory a little jolt but all that led to were memories of those she loved dying. The first one was her baby brother Isaiah. She could see it so clearly, as if she was thrust back into the existence of all those around her to watch him die for a second time. She was about 4, her sister Quinn, short of Harlequin, was 1. And little Isaiah, only a couple months. ‘So small,’ she thought as she stood behind her former self and watched the doctors pull the tubes from
his little body. He had been born with a hefty set of lung problems and spent most of his life in the hospital. Lydia couldn’t feel sadness, at this memory; most of it just confused concern. She imagines it’s because at that moment she had no idea what was happening, she was only 4. Any sadness that she did feel was only by association, watching the adults in the room have their hearts broken into a million tiny shards and knowing that something sad was happening. She did find comfort in the fact that although she had lost Isaiah before she ever really understood what it was like to have him, she could remember him now and know that she did have a brother for whom she was sure she loved. It didn’t hurt either, now that she knew the rules about death and that there was no way he’d have to stay long before being given another chance at a healthy life. I guess death wasn’t something she had to get particularly used to because the only other memory of death she could manage to have was of her friend in high school. Accidental drug overdose, and that was it. It was just that simple because she wasn’t present for the actual death. Just the aftermath.