I keep hope and my happiness in a box. In it is my past and my future.
I pull the small leather covered box from the cabinet and set it on the table. Its lid is marked and cracked with age. There is no lock and it opens easily.
A note, a silk flower, memories. These are all I have left now. But who knows how real they are. Oh, the note and silk flower are real enough, tactile. But the memories associated with them are nebulous, filtered through fog, viewed through frosted glass. They are mine, but I can’t say for certain that I own them, yet. At best, I am their caretaker.
The silk flower is a rose. It is beautifully made and even looks real from a short distance. If I hold it to my nose I can smell its cocktail of oils and scent that the manufacturer laced it with. That smell, unique to this silk flower, elicits a cascade of emotions and memories in me. I inhale deeply and I am transported to a day when the sun was high in the sky and its heat blistering. The flower was left for me on the door to my place, draped over the doorknob. It was new then, not faded or frayed on any of its edges, as it is now.
I feel loved when I smell the silk flower from the box, from the past. But I can never be sure it was my past, or a love that was meant for me. I cannot find a face in my memories that I can attach to these feelings. No catalog of times spent together or events I attended with the person who gave it to me. No name. Just a whiff of emotion that washes over me, void of form or direction, or … someone.
The note is handwritten. It is on old style paper, ruled and yellow with age around the edges. It feels fragile so I open and unfold it carefully, not wanting to tear or damage it in any way. There is a simple message written in a heavy pencil, unsigned.
"There can never be another. Until we meet again."
Like the smell of the silk flower, strong emotions wash over me when I read the note — longing, love, need, anticipation. And like the flower there isn’t a face or a name that is associated with it. Again, there is no catalog of time spent together. Like the silk flower, the note is missing some one.
Being disconnected from the author and inspiration of these feelings is disconcerting to me. But no more so than knowing that they may not be mine to begin with. I am subject number one in the Clean Slate Program. I am told that by agreeing to participate in the program my life has been spared. I was scheduled to be executed by the state for having committed murder.
I remember none of that, the murder, the incarceration. None. The Clean Slate Program is a state sponsored experiment: wipe the memory and install new memories. Change the individual. But the program isn’t that far advanced yet. Wiping the memory is easy, apparently. But installing new memories is still in its nascent stage. What I have for memories is small in number and vague. As I said, filtered through fog, viewed through frosted glass. My life, but not.
We each define our own reality. You can think me twisted or bent – unfortunate, maybe – but don’t pity me. I have something many don’t. I have hope. One day the author of these memories will come. One day I will smell the silk rose and there will be a face and a name that inspires the emotions that go along with it. One day, as the note says, we will meet again. One day the fog will lift.
Carefully, I place the silk rose and the note back into the leather covered box and place the box in the cabinet. This is where hope goes.
in category Fiction