March 12th, 1968 (Short Story)

Tuesday, March 12th, 1968–three and a half years after the accident

I can’t seem to remember much that happened after the accident, just what people tell me. I know, at least intellectually, that these people who tell me about my life are my family. They tell me I had a wife but she died in the wreck–the wreck I can never remember. I don’t want to remember but I can’t stop trying. My days are consumed with trying to remember. It’s like a splinter that I just can’t dig out-I pick at it non stop. Festering. Bleeding.

These people who call themselves my family stop by from time to time. I suffer them politely but they are strangers to me despite the intimate details they reveal about me which I suspect must be true. They have to be true, I tell myself, thinking that the more I try the more likely I’ll jar something familiar loose. Open some crack that lets the memories flow back in.

I write things down. I worry that if I don’t, the identity I’ve constructed for myself will slip away. I can’t bear that. I like who I’ve become since my “birth.” That’s what I call it, the day I woke up after the wreck. It’s a frightening yet liberating notion to form yourself into who you want to be.

This strange and beautiful woman who calls herself my daughter stops by from time to time. She never stays long. And although I want to remember her, I can’t. It makes me terribly sad. Her too. Last week she brought a small child with her. She said it was my granddaughter. I wanted to believe her.

I’m thinking of leaving this town and moving somewhere else where these people can’t find me. Where the reminders won’t knock on the door on a weekly basis. I think it would be easier for everyone. It would also be easy because they paid me a lot of money after the wreck. The guy was drunk. Drunk and the CEO of a pharmaceutical company. What he paid me barely affected his lifestyle but it changed mine forever. It sounds like a pretty sweet deal but mostly I’m bored. I’ve indulged just about every hobby and whim I’ve ever fancied. It seems when the challenge of achieving something is removed, the satisfaction is gone. I tried religion but it didn’t work. Sex, same thing. Alcohol. I still like it but it hasn’t helped. Drugs never had any appeal.

I’m not completely without hope but I’ve been close on several occasions. I won’t end my life because, one: I think it’s a ridiculous notion reserved for the weak and, two: it’s just so damned cliche. ‘Accident Victim Loses Memory and Takes His Own Life,’ the headline would read. Abhorrent.

I look in the mirror and the first thing, often the only thing, I see is the thin white scar that runs across my forehead and down my right cheek. I think that somewhere along that gash, whatever I was, seeped away. I sometimes think that somewhere along that road there exists everything that I was and if I could collect it somehow, I would be whole again. I went there once but all I found were a few pieces of mirror which may or may not have been from my car. I still have those pieces. I keep them in my pants pocket. Occasionally, when people visit, I reach into my pocket and squeeze until my palms bleed. I don’t know why.

I enjoy a good cigar. It is a simple pleasure, really. A simple thing. A counterpoint to a hard day during which every victory is hard won, or not won at all. I am smoking a cigar as I write this. I’m told that I didn’t smoke before the accident, that I hated it and would virtually explode into a tirade when the topic of smoking was brought up. I ran every day and ate healthy too. I smoke most every day now and the thought of running seems ridiculous. There is something about the thick braid of smoke, the crisp, acrid scent of cedar and burning leaves that seems indispensable. I know that it isn’t good for me but, whatever.

My neighbor used to stop by from time to time. She was a nice middle-aged woman, recently divorced, who I suspect fancied me. I attempted to indulge her but her conversation was, to be painfully honest, drivel. She made excellent pies though. I miss those pies. She occupies a special place. She was my first.

For a few months, a home healthcare nurse would stop by each week to check on my progress. I had some mobility issues she helped with. She was such a pretty girl. What was her name? Kristen? I can’t remember. I’ll have to check my other journals.

Who else was there? An Aunt? Marge or Margie, maybe? I wish I could remember them all but there were so many of them–even a mailman once. His name was, Henry. He always told such corny jokes. The only guy. Every thing is worth trying once, I guess…

I never did anything to the children. I love children. People who hurt children are sick fucks. I’m no sick fuck. That reminds me, there was a girl who was selling cookies with her mom once. I bought four boxes–there is still one box in the freezer. Debra was her name, the mom that is. Tricky, tricky Debra. She worked at the school up the road, she said. What she didn’t say was that she had mace in her purse. She and her family lived two streets over. A husband, Lincoln, I think, and a dog.

The others. I can see their faces but I don’t remember their names. Some were pretty. Some, not so much. Thin. Heavy. One or two, I would even call glamorous but most were average. They all left their mark on me in one way or another. Each helped to complete the puzzle. They helped form the tapestry. I was born anew through them as strange as it may sound. I guess it sounds strange to me too. To think that so many others, complete strangers really, helped me to become who I now am and so many others will continue to help me maintain who I am. I can feel them within me. Their vitality joins mine…

I need to go. Someone is knocking at the door…


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