Memory Museum

By , Shelby Twp, MI
In the morning, she’d wake up slick with slimy sweat, a consequence of forgetting to turn off the space heater. Her hoodies would still smell of smoke. Her hair would frizz, her head would pound, and her back would ache from the camper’s awful mattress. Lake Michigan would crash onto the beach just past the hill and 300 feet down. The trees would gossip together about the night before. It might be chilly—it was September, after all. She’d have to pack up, hook up the Palomino to her truck, and drive through fog and mist and turning leaves for five hours. The previous night, the emotions, and the campsite would all be removed from the front of her consciousness and be escorted into a grand museum. That’s where it would stay; at least, until she returned to it, inviting it up to relive.

The memory was small at first glance. Upon further inspection by any curious visitor, many different facets can be found, like a brilliant diamond reflecting various images. Much of the memory was outshined by the scarlet, flickering light of a dying fire deep within. Brown, bespectacled eyes can be seen at one other angle. At another, the gem seemed to melt into an inky sky, with specks of light representing stars. The Milky Way can be seen a split second before, like changing channels, a face appears.

The tourist can pick the memory up—it was not a nitpicky, you-can-look-but-you-can’t-touch museum. With the jewel in hand, she can feel warmth envelop her fingers. Then, stickiness, as if from a melted marshmallow roasted over a fire. A rough blanket can be felt next. The diamond might grow cool, and a nighttime breeze might pick up in the museum, rustling other emeralds and sapphires. Abruptly, it could warm enough to feel as if one is lying adjacent to another body, close and snug.
The visitor can press the memory to her ear, and with every turn, listen to a multitude of sounds from the night: an owl “Whoo”ing loudly from the trees; a chorus of crickets and other insects praising in the dark; the waves, softly lapping at the sand below the hills; the grasses and trees, hushing the giggling couple; and whispers. The words are indiscernible, but they sounded happy, conversational. The visitor doesn’t know, but every topic under the sun had been talked about: classes, sports, faith, and government.
By now the museum visitor might feel her curiosity taking control. She can lightly touch the memory to her lips if she wanted to. What she’d feel then is two warm lips pressing themselves to her own and picking up speed, and then taste an oddly delicious combination of mint gum and s’mores.
The tourist would think the museum ticket was well worth the price, and leave content, but not much more. When the girl originally had the memory, however, that was the last feeling she’d felt. That night started with a surprise at seeing such an old friend grow attractive over the year. Joy had come next when they found both of them had same interests. Relaxation, arousal, exhaustion, happiness, peace.
Perhaps, once in a great while, she could drive to the museum and visit her memory, like the others, she could look, touch, and hear it. Yes, a tourist could do all that. Be that as it may, only the true owner can feel the memory and smile knowing that while she left him behind, she was left with the memory of the night.





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