A short story by Ashley Lopez (a snippet)
“Imagine if your brain was capable of sustaining every memory we’ve ever lost,” the old man with a missing front tooth said.
“Then we’d all be fucked, meaning, I’m fucked.” Jim ran off into the night.
“Wait! What?!” He shouted after Jim who already disappeared into the darkness.
Jim was going mentally insane and he didn’t know what to do anymore. For the past month he was able to recollect every aspect of his childhood; every cut, bruise, birthday party, bath, diaper change… everything. His days grew longer; his beard was now grown out to the point where he looked like homeless person fleeing all over Manhattan. But, no one understood why he kept leaving; everything scared Jim at this point. His memories were now his own betrayal.
He ran and ran until he reached 14th Avenue only to enter a dingy, little bar with the letter ‘P’ un-illuminated on the ‘OPEN’ sign. The bar was filled with addicts, crack whores, and his favorite, depressed people. He collapsed onto a seat at the bar and that’s when he noticed the bartender. His eyes began to burn like a car’s leather seat in a 100 degree weather, his palms began to sweat like a busted faucet, and finally, the veins on his arms began to bulge out like The Hulk; except he wasn’t The Hulk, he was just recollecting yet another memory of his childhood.
“Hi there, what can I get ya?” Susan asked him. His only escape from forgetting his enhanced power has now failed him at this bar. At this bar where Susan just happens to be. Susan from Ohio just happens to be in the city.
“Whiskey and eye drops would be nice, Susan.” Jim said blinking like a maniac.
“You got – How’d you know my name?”
“Don’t you remember me? It was 1984 and we were Mr. Austin’s class. Please remember me,” desperately he tried to calm his sweat and throbbing veins.
“Uh, I’m sorry. I don’t remember someone I supposedly knew almost 30 years ago, freak.”
“Hey! FUCK YOU!” He banged his fists against the bar with the power of a lion and nearly lost his breath. Jim’s big, square chest was going up and down, up and down until the security approached him.
“Let’s get his crazy ass out of here!” The security guards roughed him up a bit and he was thrown into the alley.
“No, no, no, no, no, God no…” he was sobbing shamelessly to himself. Seconds turned into minutes, and minutes turned into hours until his eyes stopped burning, his palms stopped sweating, and his veins remained intact with his skin. He then waddled through the city to his busted-ass loft.
His loft was filled with unopened boxes, clothes, shoes scattered all around the floor, and his bare, cement-like mattress stretched out on the floor. Jim moved to the New York from Ohio to escape the physical pain his new constant childhood remembrance caused him in his hometown and to hopefully find some answers in the big city.
He never answered any phone calls, letters, or care packages his friends and family sent him because he didn’t know how to explain to them why he left in the first place; he was alone in this city that he knew nothing of. Susan was the first person to reignite his physical pain. “Freaking Susan,” he mumbled to himself and drifted into a deathlike sleep.
Later that night, Susan wasn’t able to get that weird guy at the bar out of her head. “How the hell did that guy remember me?” She asked herself. “There is no damn way he remembers me as much as I remember him,” she mumbled aloud on her way home from the bar. Susan took the long route home to clear her head; she was just about to lose her mind until that guy appeared at the bar and remembered her.
Susan gained the power of remembrance a few years ago and the intense pains lasted about three months. “He must have just gained the power because of his symptoms,” she said to herself. Susan kept wondering why Jim would ask her if she remembered him because she never made it obvious that she gained this wicked power for her own safety.
The next morning Jim decided it was time to get some answers. He took a trip to the local library and began researching his life away. With a notebook and pen in hand he was glued to his seat for seven hours until he came across the blog of Susan McGee. “SUSAN?!” He nearly yelled.
“Shhhhh!” About three people rudely quieted him down.
“What the fuck is going on?” He whispered. He explored her blog a little more and came to the realization that she was rude to him last night because she’s like him. She knew. The website had an address to send letters to, so he jotted it down and decided to physically go instead of sending a letter.
Susan woke up with a massive headache and the loud knock on her front door didn’t help. She slumped out of bed and walked to the door like a sloth. She opened the door to face Jim.
“Umm h—hi.” She said.
“You knew. You fucking knew and you didn’t do shit when I was getting kicked out last night!” Jim yelled harshly.
“I’m sorry… I don’t understand why you made it so obvious that you remembered me, dude. That’s not cool! I’m trying to keep this a secret, why do you think I’m here? Ohio was haunting me.”
“But you saw me, you saw how my body was reacting. Did you get the same symptoms as me?”
“Yes, I did. I’m sorry about last night, please come in.” She opened her door, which felt like the gateway to heaven for Jim.