About the Author
A Loss of Memory
Marliese says that I can’t remember anything. Really that’s not true. Sometimes all I do is just sit around and remember. But she calls doing that by some other name.
The night we came back from the bar, it’s true I couldn’t remember much, except that the kids’ clothes were strewn all over the floor and the children were naked and it was obvious that something had gone on while we were away. Marliese had picked up her daughter’s underwear and laughed. For some reason I didn’t think it was funny. I don’t remember why I didn’t think so. It was then when I didn’t laugh that Marliese said that I can’t remember anything, that she had done similar things when she was twelve and if I thought hard enough, I would remember that I had too.
My mother has a word for this condition of mine. It has a fancy name but all it really means is little holes in the brain. All that electricity moving around like little animals up there, trying to touch each other and make a connection. And then all of a sudden in their frenzy one of them falls into a hole and disappears. You are thinking a thought, maybe in mid-sentence, and one of them falls into a hole, and you can’t remember, just like that.
I must have many of these little holes. Marliese does not seem to have any at all. She sat, twirling the underwear around her finger and told me all about what she had done when she was twelve. It all seemed very interesting, but after sitting and thinking for a while I swore up and down that I had never done anything interesting like she had.
Sometimes, I told her, the little animals don’t simply fall but rush like lemmings into their holes. Perhaps this is what happened to me.
I was being silly, she said. All you need to do is pull them out again. If you rescue enough of them you will remember yourself at twelve.
So while Marliese picked up the other clothing off the floor and began to fix supper I tried to pull them out. I didn’t know why I would even want to, except to prove to Marliese that I could.
And then all of a sudden there I was, plump and blond, arms as large as a wrestler’s, standing against a wall in a line with my brothers, wearing a pink bathing suit, the type with a little skirt on it.
Then I was with my friend Anita. Anita told me one day that she and one of the boys had done “it.”
Then there was the house and the yard, and the road behind them winding up to the water tank. We kids used to go up there all the time before everyone became concerned with “it.” Taking the bikes or using our skates, that was our special place until we discovered that we were not alone, that the undergrowth around the water tank was a special place for someone else. We began to spy on a man who drove his car up each day at approximately 4:00 p.m., who would just stand motionless there in the bushes, staring like a mannequin out over the houses and sea, naked except for a device which it took some years for me to figure out what it was, a truss. Why he had to go up there to be alone with his truss, I never did figure out. He knew we were there, but never said anything or moved to cover himself, only just stood there naked in his truss, waiting for us to get tired of watching him and leave. Spying on him was something to do while waiting for “it.”
“You know,” Marliese said, “all this talk about holes and animals is not real. You know very well why you can’t remember anything. Just think for a moment.”
I thought instead about the policeman at the door. Flashing his badge he had come in and showed me all those pictures. It was that one, I told him, pointing to a photo. Would I come back and testify to that, he asked, and I hesitated and then said no, and could never adequately explain. I have a new life and want to forget, I told him, but the real reason was that I knew no one would ever believe a story like mine. No one would ever believe that someone could be so naive as to just get in a strange car. Two black and blue eyes even had not helped convince the investigating officer. It was too late, I didn’t have two black and blue eyes anymore, and the defense would certainly cut me to shreds for ever being so naive. I would never be able to explain adequately. That was the real reason.
“What was the guy like?” Marliese asked.
Rather thin and dark, I said. I thought he was someone else when I got into that car. I thought he was someone I had already seen at the house of a friend of mine. When I asked was it Eddie, he said yes, and that was why I got in. And then he just drove and drove and would not let me out.
“What did you do then?” Marliese asked.
I tried screaming and crying, I begged, I tried to talk him out of it, I tried everything, but he just said, “Shut up,” and kept driving until we got out into the middle of nowhere, where there were no lights and no houses, or people or cars, out in the middle of a pineapple field. I fought with him, maybe I shouldn’t have fought, but he had no weapon, that’s how I got my black and blue eyes, but that did not stop him. He drove away in the car then leaving me out there in the middle of nowhere and I walked down the highway in the dark with no shoes and my dress torn. I remember the stars were out and the sound of the sea was all I could hear. I thought about how he had said that if I tried to escape there would just be someone else out there to do the same to me. I walked until a car came, two bright lights coming down the highway, but the man who picked me up did not do the same.
“Did this happen when you were twelve?” Marliese asked.
No, this was some time later, I said. Nothing at all happened when I was twelve, nothing that I would even care to remember.
|© Laura Beausoleil, 2010|