Uploaded by James Gorgi

Fractured Memory

Fractured Memory
The fireplace-glowed-with an orange hue, while-gold embers occasionally danced
along with the dark wood. This radiating warmth was no match for the chilling rage of
the grey skies outside the home, drowning any possibilities for the chorus of wildlife
as the bitter cold threatened to seep into the house through the slightest gaps of the
windows and doors. It failed to be a nuisance for Chloe, who again, began to
unconsciously drift into oblivion – just another bothersome peculiarity of old age.
Despite this, an unknown item from her peripheral vision prevented her from doing so.
An unfamiliar, stained-glass box was perched behind her on the wooden dining table,
patiently awaiting someone to peruse its contents. Upon seeing it, Chloe regained her
alertness, turned and slowly shuffled towards the table. Immediately, the cold had
begun to remerge through her bones, while the warmth from the fire loyally remained
at her back. Weathered hands followed the stained-glass details. Just a mere, simple
box nothing special. And yet, curiosity- strong and fleeting – urged her to lift the lid,
exposing its contents.
A black and white photograph of an almost familiar teenage boy and girl. Her fragile
fingers traced their silhouettes, as she slowly remembered those toothy grins, and his
scruffy hair which matched her cascading brown hair.
With anxiety on one hand and fear on the other, Thomas reached for his new classroom
doorknob and opened it slowly. Without paying attention to everyone’s darted eyes to
him, he entered the room, and went straight to the teacher and asked if this was the right
With a soft voice he answered, “Yes.” His voice comforted him a little, as he
approached an empty seat next to a girl with chestnut eyes and delicate straightened
“Don’t worry Thomas. Everybody gets a little claustrophobic sometimes. Crowds
become cages. Walls of your own home mimic an iron maiden. Sometimes even silence
proves suffocating,” Chloe remarked.
Bright-eyed Chloe was acquainted with philosophy, her nose often buried in copious
volumes written by academics, happily burdened with the knowledge of existential
questions far beyond her years
Thomas always worked to maintain his deep interests in the creative arts, cocooning
himself in his passions for poetry and the literary works of Frost, Dickinson and
But Chloe was a new outlook, a sense of clarity within the numbing blur that was life,
a place he never found he fit in. “Don’t worry about what people think. They don’t do
it very often,” she would appraise.
The intellect and aesthete had finally found each other, a friend.
The old woman gazed. Stunned as she scrambled through her faded memories. Trapped
inside the empty walls which used to be her mind, completely bewildered by the
16y.o Chloe smiled back at her. Beside her stood Thomas, beaming through the faded
photograph. Something was tugging at her memory, disappearing before she could
quite reach out to it.
Chloe wondered what Thomas was doing right now. When was the last time he visited?
She can’t remember. Why can’t she remember? Trying to decipher even her recent
actions were a feeble attempt. Would Thomas be at home now? She thought to give
him back his magnifying glass she had borrowed. When was the last time she ever
spoke to him?
A knock at the door caused her neck to jolt.
“Chloe dear, could you please open the door?”
Outside, the leafless plants swayed as the rain had escalated into a brawl, pelting the
living room windows with small branches, howling and eerie as it travelled, warning
her… do not let the stranger in. As Chloe’s frail spine rattled, the blackening wood
behind her proved ineffective in masking the chill of the outside. A twist of the brass
doorknob meant the wooden door creaked inwards.
“How was your day?”
Chloe’s narrowed eyes gazed at the lofty man who had emerged. A man in a tweed
jacket, with silver hair and a briefcase in his left hand, his other, on his heart, all the
while recognising her confusion. His weathered smile peaked as she came to familiarise
herself with his brilliant eyes and froze.
She felt an emptiness inside of her, where there was no emotion, no pain, no fear, just
plain cold emptiness. All that she thought she knew now turned to dust. The altering
sickness was living and unsought in her very own head. Vicious and relentless, leaving
a blank canvas where memories were once stored, rotting her conscious mind of all
things once cherished. Her entire world felt as though it were made of glass, now
shattered into thousands of tiny pieces.
He wrapped his arms around her. He calmed her body, grown distressed by
uncontrollable sobs. In his arms, she remembered that her close was nearing, for her
mind was “ingenious” no longer – she had forgotten the man she had spent her life with,
who had and still continues to save her, the one who calms her with her favourite
melody, before it forever faded into a distant tune.
Outside, the storm had relaxed, and there, peeking through the hovering dark clouds
was the first ray of sunlight. As her delicate fingers sifted through the thin photos, some
memories of her husband had begun to resurface. Once again, she had reaccepted the
dwindling of her mind, the loss of her own ability to tell the time, read and write, her
own loss of identity. Her sobbing slowed as she was once again comforted by her best
friend’s embrace. “ Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and
not after he is dead”