Memory

Author’s note:  The following is a true story, but I do wonder how memory affects us…how we reshape our memories and how we relive them.  Memory takes us away from the present moment to a realm of our history and imagination.  As a writer, I like the vividness of certain memories, and I like recapturing the scenes.  However, I want to be careful that when I am not involved in the process of writing, I pay more attention to the present than to the past.

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Remember when?  The story changes over time, but I believe every version of it.  Remember when…oh, let’s see…

 I am a little girl and someone stirs the barbeque coals a bit carelessly. I find a green stick and spear my marshmallow on it, eager to toast the sugary delight above the embers.  Barefoot on this hot summer evening, I walk to the grill and step on a glowing red-hot coal that has fallen.  I cry, maybe even scream from the burn, and my dad scoops me up and brings me to the bathroom to wash my foot in the sink.  

Frightened at what I might see, I barely peek at the sole of my injured foot.  I imagine a big red burn, blistered white, with the smallest bits of coal dust on the edges — is that what I see?  Dad opens the medicine cabinet, removes the red ointment with the eye dropper in it, and takes out some gauze and medical tape.  “No, not the iodine!” I plead.  Oh, how I dread the sting.  “No iodine!” I repeat, and Dad shows me the bottle and reassures me that it is something else, but I can’t read the long words on the label, so I brace myself.

Then my father gently washes my foot, applies ointment to the burn, and protects the injury with a bandage.  I am sore throughout the process, but I hold the unwavering faith that my father can fix absolutely everything.  “Be a brave soldier,” he says warmly, encouraging me to stop crying and to endure, so I settle down to a whimper and finally to a state of calm.

Who will confirm my memory – my sister and brother or one of the neighborhood kids who toasted marshmallows that night?  Do you remember…Is this one of the nights that we watch bats dart above our heads in the backyard?  We dive to the ground, so that those creepy winged rodents won’t land in our hair.  The grown-ups drink beer and laugh and say that the bats are after bugs, not us, but we don’t believe them; we are having too much fun with the game. Can you tell me… Does Dad really pick me up after I burn my foot? I feel as comforted as if he does.  Remember? 

One thought on “Memory

  1. I love this beautiful piece of writing. Does it matter if it is totally true? Your knowledge of your Dad’s love and care make it so. Such a vivid re-creating. And I love the ending, as I imagine the party as the evening darkens and the bats come out, scaring the kids. Bedtime for you!

    Liked by 1 person

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