BY TRINA BROOKS
Copyright is held by the author.
SHE’S THE only one I can talk to.
“Are you cold?” I ask.
Of course she isn’t. Her flesh is gone. Bones don’t get cold. Her bones are mine. There lie my white, dirt covered bones. I can see them under the ground but I’m the only one. I thought there would be something special about my bones. Something that was personal to me but I wouldn’t recognize them next to a stranger’s. I only know they are mine because I know this is where he put my body. I had my last feeling under that dirt. My heart had finished its duty, my breath had all escaped but still there was a sense of dirt falling on my skin. It was actually a soft, pleasant sensation like when I would lie with Amanda and she would run her little fingers on the inside of my wrist, while she drank her bottle. I try to remember the feeling but only dredge up the thought that it happened.
That’s all I have now…memories. I move from place to place, in this town where I grew up. I listen to what the people are saying but I hear it all as if I were underwater. It’s the sound of gurgles and tones, laughter is the easiest to catch because it’s sharp and cuts through.
I walk away from the woods, moving across the high school sports field. Main street is just on the other side. Then it happens. There is a wind or a breeze. I’m not really sure what it is but a soft movement lifts my hair. It feels cool. It’s wonderful, the first pleasant sensation I’ve felt since I died. Everything else is grey and blah like the second day of rain, when the world is cold and bloated with all the wet it has sucked up inside itself. The wind is something new. I wonder why it’s here now? What it means, if anything? In the day after day of nothingness even a breeze is worth noticing. I hope it can stay.
Maybe it’s a sign of change. That something new is coming. That I’ve put in my time. Time. When I was alive I would say “time is dragging by.” I had no idea what that truly meant, till now. Time is not a clock anymore, a day or night. It’s just a feeling of going somewhere and never getting there. It’s like driving across the prairies, wheat field after wheat field. I don’t even know exactly when I died. Was it a week ago or a year? The only way I can track time now is by watching my children change. Josh’s hair has gotten a little longer and I remember buying those jeans he’s wearing, they’re getting too short. Amanda looks like she’s losing some of her baby fat, her face is getting thinner, like her father’s, the prick. Sometimes I watch them through the window of my sister’s house. It’s like watching a silent movie. I can tell what’s happening just by their faces. I see the anger in Josh by the way his eyebrows tilt and the sneer on his lips. Thank God Mary took them in. The foster system would have been hell for them. I spent some time there growing up while Mom got straightened out. I wouldn’t wish that on any kid. Mary will have her hands full with Josh but Amanda will be easy. She wants to make everyone happy. I was like that as a kid. It’s not a great thing for a girl. She’ll end up giving in to boys just to please them. But you can’t make a man happy if he isn’t already. I learned that. She’ll probably end up pregnant at 15 like I did. Maybe she can hold out until she’s 20. That would be best. I wish I had got a chance to talk to her about men and life. Mary was never good with guys. She won’t know what to say.
Maybe I should try to go inside. Would they know I was there? Could I whisper stuff to them that they couldn’t hear, that would seep inside them and they’d never know why they knew it? But why? What would I have to say anyway? Look both ways before you cross the street? Eat all your vegetables? Stay away from booze and drugs? Or better yet, never hitchhike and take a ride from a stranger with tobacco-stained fingers who won’t look you in the eye. Never mind, they’ll learn about life the same way we all do. They’re not my world anymore. It’s probably best if the kids start to forget me anyway. After all, that’s who I am. One of the forgotten. There’s a bunch of us here. I see them, like me, sitting in parks or standing outside a building looking in. We don’t speak. We look away when our eyes meet, embarrassed to be here, each of us forgotten. Maybe that’s why we’re still here. If no one cared enough to find us, find out what happened to us in life, then maybe nobody cares about us in death. I know Mary did. She tried to find me. She called the police, but who was I to them? A nobody. “She probably took off with some guy,” they said but I’d never do that to my kids. Sure I liked to party and go out sometimes. I know I drank too much but I always made sure my kids had breakfast and got to school. I would never have just left.
Now I’m close. So close. I used to think some kids taking a shortcut through the woods would find me but it was fall. He covered me with leaves and branches. Mary even stood just beyond the trees in the field one day and whispered my name. I heard it. It was like a shout to me — to hear my name said out loud. It meant I wasn’t forgotten, not yet. I wonder what will happen when I am? When thoughts of me get replaced by new memories. Maybe I’ll just fade away. I kind of hope so. This is real hard.
Maybe I can just walk away. Just keep walking to see how far I can go. I wonder what Vancouver would look like to me? I always wanted to go there. It’s probably just like here, grey, ugly and full of people like me, waiting for something, anything, but I can’t stay here. I mean how long can I stand outside the window watching a show I’ve been written out of? Is this hell or some kind of punishment for something? It kinda feels like Hell. I never expected I was going to be famous or the kind of person that people remembered forever. I just wanted a regular life — see my kids grow up, stay out of trouble, get jobs and have grandkids for me. It would have been nice to be part of something. I never thought my life would end up as…nothing. I don’t exist no more. Forgotten. No tombstone. The missing posters are all gone now. There had been some put up on poles and in store windows. I used to like seeing them. For a while there was hope and the picture Mary picked was my favourite. I was smiling, and it was a real smile, because I didn’t know I was getting my picture taken. Those are always the best ones.
Sometimes I’ll see a candle in a window and pretend it’s for me. I wish someone would light a candle that would guide me home. Not this home but a new one. I think if someone did that, in memory of me, then this would all be over. One strong memory would make all the difference because to be forgotten is like being erased from ever being here. Forgotten is dark and cold, memory is a warm light. Where does a forgotten person go?
I wonder if I should say goodbye to them before I leave? Will they even notice? Will their world feel different with me gone, I mean really gone? Goodbye Josh, watch out for your sister. Goodbye Amanda, watch out for the boys with the pretty smiles. Goodbye Mary, thanks. I’m real sorry I didn’t come home that night. Try not to forget me…or if it’s easier go ahead. If you check the police report I’m already officially forgotten. File closed on one more missing woman.