© Copyright 2011
All work is property of Leah Crichton, any duplication or reproduction of all or part of the work without explicit permission by the author is illegal.
The thing about your memories is that you can’t escape them. No matter how much you wish you could, how hard you try. There’s no running from them even if you were in a full out, record breaking sprint. They’ll always find you. If a memory could be associated with a single criminal characteristic, it’d be stalking.
Harassment, unwanted attention, they share so many of the same traits; I’ve seriously debated just throwing in the towel and calling my memories stalkers. But I can’t because even though they are so similar, in so many ways, it just won’t fit. It’s not like I can say, Pardon me, I need a moment, this stalker is just too painful.
Nope. That just doesn’t work.
They have no delete buttons, nothing to make them go away. Only pause, so it’s like a photograph permanently etched on my brain, or rewind, because they seem to repeat themselves at the most inopportune times.
Mine always do.
Like when I eat, sleep or even breathe.
This will never change.
I sit against the locker, knees tucked to my chin hoping to make myself smaller somehow, wishing I could disappear. My eyes are closed and hands cover my ears. I just want the humming to stop. None of this makes any difference at all. It’s like my head has picked up every radio frequency in a hundred mile radius. My skin is cold and practically crawling, as if it’s trying to leave.
Cooper, my boyfriend is crouched down in front of me, trying to assess the damage. He speaks in a low, hushed tone. “Soph, everything is okay. Can you look at me?”
I pop my eyes open in his direction, more for his benefit than for mine. I can’t actually see him. Every time this happens my world turns from clear images to a blur of painted brushstrokes. I stare blankly at the precise location where I know his face should be, because he’ll worry less this way. I know eventually I’ll be able to focus on his face, his eyes, and maybe then I’ll be able to breathe again.
“Hey.” This time I can detect the smallest hint of a smile in his voice, probably because he’s conquered step one; my eyes are open, which to him, must feel like he’s won the lottery. “It’s okay,” he continues. “How about you just take a big deep breath okay.”
It’s not until he says it that I realize I haven’t even exhaled for a while now. It’s common knowledge that can’t be good, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t get the breath out. So I just shake my head from side to side.
Ava, my best friend for all intents and purposes rushes up behind. I can’t see her either, but I recognize the distinctive sound of the rubber soles from her combat boots as they fly down the hallway. “Here. Water,” she’s breathless as she shoves what I can only assume is the water she speaks of at Cooper. She has never been one to remain calm. Especially in dire circumstances like this one. The shadow of her tall frame folds in half and I think her hand is on my knee. “Sophia, are you okay?”
Cooper’s face is started to piece itself back together like pixels on a computer screen. His eyes are clear now, clearer than anything else and I can’t stop looking at them. The buzzing in my head is becoming more of a murmur, my skin is starting to feel like it’s my own. It’s like his gaze is the only thing keeping me glued to any semblance of reality that’s left.
“Coop, is she gonna be okay?” Ava is still waiting for an answer.
“She’s okay,” Cooper replies, tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “She just needs a minute.”
Reflexively, I cringe at the word minute. My stomach revolts, jerks my insides, twisting and pulling them in a thousand different directions. I open my mouth to gasp but start to sweat and shake instead. It takes mere seconds for Cooper to notice the error of his ways. Even Ava knows what he’s done. He jumps up, pulling me to stand with him, tucking the water bottle in the crook of his arm. “C’mon. I’m going to make it better.”