Chapter Seven | Memory
The air was cool and crisp. The smell of snow was fresh and inviting. Jordeyn knew it was that time of year; the year of holiday cheer and gift giving, spending time with family, and being with those she loved the most.
There were toys in the windows and candy stands on the sidewalk. The smell of fresh pastries and bread drifted through the air, filling her soul with what she knew would be the best feeling she ever would. Her mother and father weren’t far from her, “honey, come here for a minute! Don’t you want your picture taken with St. Nick?”
This was her favorite part. Sitting with St. Nick and telling him what she wished for most during the holidays, “tell me, little one, what would you like from St. Nick this year? A doll house? Oh, dear, no. How about a pony?”
“I don’t want anything this year, I swear! I would actually appreciate if somehow my family became one, again.”
“Now, now. You know I can’t do that for you. But I can tell you this. This one thing will be what will help you with whatever hardships you’re dealing with. Just remember, no matter what, they’ll always be with you. When you’re at school, having an argument with them, or even when you’re crying on the bathroom floor. They’ll always be with you.”
“How is that supposed to help?”
“It’ll help when you believe it the most. Tell me, do you think that you would be half the person you are today without them?”
She thought about it. They have been with her even when they weren’t at their strongest. They didn’t have to be there for her, but they were. They never gave up on her, and she wasn’t going to start giving up on them right now, “thank you St. Nick!”
“Jordeyn, I’m not St. Nick...” A deep, smooth voice spoke softly in her ear.
“Azyriah?” He was bloodied. His tooth, cracked and a prominent cut under his eye just below his cheekbone.
“I’m so sorry.”
“What are you talking about? We’re in the town square.” And all of a sudden, she recognized where she was. The hospital, “Mom? Dad?”
“They’re gone. I’m sorry. I tried getting them out of the wreckage but-”
“What. Wreckage. What are you talking about Az?”
“They’re gone. I swear I tried...”
Nothing made sense anymore. She could only hear the slow monotone line of the monitor attached to her parents. No pulse. No blood pressure. Both brain and heart dead. But they couldn’t be. They were just with her.
She saw him walk in. The familiar tall, demanding figure right in front of her. Viktor, “Would you care to explain what happened?”
“I swear to God, Az. I tried telling Castillo not to drop the bomb, but he didn’t listen.”
“You do realize you killed over 300,000 people right? Jordeyn’s and my parents included.”
“What? They can’t be. I was just with them.”
“You were in a bunker. It’s nuclear resistant. They walked out of it just as the bomb was dropped.”
Jordeyn slipped out of his grasp and ran. She ran to her mom’s room and shook her. Shook her like her life depended on it. Nothing happened. Her eyes were wide awake, lifeless, and rolled into the back of her head, “please, mom, please. Don’t leave me. Please. Whatever you do just don’t leave. I promise, I’ll eat my brocolli and spinach without being told. Or do my homework and not miss anything. Just please, whatever you do, don’t leave me. I..I-I need you.” Tears streamed down her face and stained the pillow, “please, please, please... God, why you and not me? WHY?”
“We need to go.” Viktor tried peeling her from her body.
“No. Let go of me. Let go. I can’t leave her. She died alone, and I’m staying here until I do too.”
“Jordeyn, please. We need to go, now. They’re evacuating the hospital.”
“I’m staying. I can’t just leave. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t... I can’t... Not yet.”
And she cracked. The weight of their death crushed her. Her chest felt heavy and unbearable. Her knees gave way and she collapsed. They were gone. They were gone and her last words to them were, “bye.” Bye. That word had no meaning to Jordeyn. Until today.
“Shhh, shhh. It’s okay. Everything’ll be okay. We’re here.” She sobbed into his shoulder. His shirt drenched in her salty tears. She remembered crying the same way with her dad when she scraped her knee trying to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time. And her mother wiping her tears away with her apron when she burned herself with the baking sheet. And it all came back. The memories she had with them. The good, and the bad.
“JORDEYN WAKE UP.” Her body convulsed involuntarily. She saw his face above hers. She shook like a leave in car traffic, “Get her legs. I can’t hold all of her down at once.”
Her eyes flew open and she tried to move, looking around her frantically, “It’s okay, it’s okay. You had a dream.”
“No. No it couldn’t have been. It was real, too real. I was there.”
“At the hospital. My parents... they. I just found out they were dead. I - what is - I need -” She cried. She was tired of crying but she couldn’t help it. She needed to. She hadn’t cried in so long, she thought it wasn’t physically possible to anymore.
“Come’ere. It’s okay, I got you.” And he held her. Despite everything they’ve been throught together, he held her. He held her shaking body. He hated seeing her this weak. He never saw her this weak, and he hated it. Her broken nature was because of a bomb he built. It was his fault she saw him this way. It was his fault she couldn’t see him any other way. He felt tears collect on his lashes. He closed his eyes, and let them fall. He didn’t care. Everyone in the room was a broken soul.
Azyriah came around from the foot of the bed and hugged them both. They all quietly cried together and didn’t care who saw them.
They all knew everyone had those thoughts and memories. The thoughts where you think you’re bothering your favorite person by talking too much, or the thoughts that you’ll never be good enough for those you truly love. The ones you truly love who have done everything for you, and with one small slip-up, you’re on the floor of your bathroom crying yourself to sleep. Maybe it’s the thought of loosing the most important people in your life. The ones who you think will walk out on you in a heartbeat, even though they can’t bear to be without you.
And the memories of those you lost. The good, and the bad. Blowing out birthday candles with your family on you’re birthday, wishing that you’d get the new video game you were hoping for. Or maybe, it’s the memory of laughing at a comedy show on the television, or watching your favorite Disney movie when you were at home from school because you have the seasonal cold.
They all had these thoughts and memories. Some of them, more vivid than others. But it didn’t matter to them. They had each other. And at the moment, it’s all they truly need.