December 15, 2012 by The Citron Review
by Jessica Green
What were we talking about that night? It was cold. I should have felt cold.
I whispered, “I write so I don’t forget.”
You answered, “I read to remember.”
We were face up to the moon lying on frost-stiff grass. The puff and cloud of our voices hung low making the moon waver.
I laughed about something. My laughter pushed our lingering confession up into the cold sky until it dissipated. We got up, searched for my mitten, walked back. You left me on the porch. It never occurred to me then that you would ever be beyond my recall.
Another night, warm and scented. We sat leaned against an old willow’s trunk beneath the dome of low branches. I had already begun to pull away. Looking back, perhaps you had too. Still, you grabbed my hand, and said, “Don’t forget.”
I remember we came to no dramatic end. We parted ways, almost as naturally as we joined them. I figured we were more in love with the words than each other.
Where do they hide these things that are forgotten? They lay beneath thought, under dreams. Gone. Until some trigger sends one splitting through your mind and prickling across your skin.
Thwack. In the convenience store, today, I waited while a woman struggled to pull out a gallon of 2% before the heavy door shut. I tried not to notice her. I tried to grab my own bottle and melt away. But she stopped me anyway. Some people watch hawkishly for connections. Some let the hair fall in their faces and slip past.
“I know you, don’t I?”
On the slenderest of acquaintances, she chastised me for never coming to a reunion and insisted on prattling about people I could barely remember. In the parade of names and faces, I pictured you standing aloof laughing that I got caught in the jam of news and accomplishments. Somehow, that flit of mental energy prompted her to mention you. You had a book published. It was her top article in a recent alumni newsletter. I should read it sometime. Get back in touch, she told me. Presumably, she meant the newsletter.
With her duty dispatched, she retreated down the aisle leaving me awash and with her business card. A request for my email and any interesting achievements trailed behind her. You wrote a book.
“Find me on Facebook,” she called. And, oh, did I hear you were getting married too? Her parting shot rang out with the bells on the exit door.
Tonight, in the bookstore, I sneaked along the stacks like a voyeur. I had to see it. There was no author’s photograph and only a terse bit about living in Brooklyn. Possibly pretentious, but I remember you were reticent about autobiographical detail. A few decent critics said a few decent things. One was rapt by the languor of your language and another was pulled in by your “embertine” energy.
The new pages stuck together so my first view was the dedication:
“I write so I don’t forget … I read to remember.”
For you … my constant memory.
Lying in bed, with the humidity and a hot body too close to mine, I cannot sleep. There is a breathy whir to the fan’s turning blade, a whispered pulse to the neighbor’s air conditioner. Let me rest. In the rush of remembrances, let me sink to the bottom, and forget.
Jessica Green was born in Philadelphia, but now lives in Chicago. She studied writing both as an undergraduate and graduate student. Currently, she and her husband are raising two young children in the balance between responsibilities and dreams.