The Repentance of Memory | Teen Ink

The Repentance of Memory

January 30, 2018
By ZeynepOzkaya BRONZE, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
ZeynepOzkaya BRONZE, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2 articles 1 photo 0 comments

The child was playing in the yard as the woman sat inside watching her, hidden behind the curtains, toying with a necklace that hung around her neck. The child seemed to be playing an odd game. Under the looming shade of the tall pine trees, she was digging a hole in the ground, a game reminiscent of an excavation of ruins, intrusive, yet intriguing. The woman stood up from her post, watchful eyes searching her subject—they stopped, resting on her: the girl. She was foreign to the woman, with white blonde hair that seemed to blend with her skin, resembling nothing but the shock of hair possessed by a mad scientist. The only color on the girls face was derived from a fading scar running from her temple to the bottom of her jaw, obtained from a recent accident.

The woman had a vehement resentment for the girl for reasons unknown. They occupied the same barren house together for hours until the husband returned to relieve the woman of her misery. This house was composed of dark empty halls that spoke of past glories, and ominous rooms with old furniture, and dust, and if one listened closely they could hear the soft tune of a song long forgotten. Tall portraits adorned the walls of the house, but were indistinguishable to anyone but the woman. The house was all the girl had known, and all this woman would come to know, and she resented every bit of this truth.


It wasn’t always like this. The dark halls were once illuminated by the joyous revelry of the house. There was no resentment, and the girl lacked the scar. This was before the accident. The woman remembered it so distinctly that she felt like she was reliving that night over and over to no end. The rain was falling to a point where she couldn’t see what was in front of her as she was driving in a car, the girl in the back. Suddenly, a force large enough to move even the tallest of mountains swept the car off the road like a wave breaking the shore, transporting them to adjacent hospital beds housed by stark white walls with doctors sweeping in and out, their primary focus being the girl. They stayed there for weeks and when hen all the hope had run out, the two were released, but the girl had left a stranger, with no memories of past or future.


The piercing sound of the shovel hitting something jerked the woman back into reality. She shifted from one foot to another watching the girl as she removed her prize from the ground. It was an old red box with an intricate gold detailing and a small keyhole, almost like a portal to years past. The woman focused on the box, and a look of recognition crossed her face.

“That’s not yours” She shouted, abandoning the comfort of secrecy and storming outside, leaving a trail of crushed flowers in her wake.

“That is not yours” she repeated with growing intensity. The dislodged flowers observed the scene with trepidation that matched that of the girl’s, as she stood there silent and powerless to the woman’s authoritative rage. The woman grabbed the box out of the small hands of the helpless girl, clinging to it as if was her life, her only source of happiness, and went back into the house, trampling the flowers once more, squashing any chance of recovery.

Once she was protected by the dark walls of the house, the woman set the box down as if it was on the verge of breaking, shattering like broken glass, or evaporating into the cold air. With shaking hands the woman removed the necklace from around her neck. There was a single pendant on the necklace: a key. And as she unlocked the box, the faint music of the house escalated to a raging symphony, spitting out the height of Beethoven’s range. She carefully lifted the lid to reveal a photograph of a baby girl with tufts of hair as brilliant as fresh fallen, soon tears filled the box like a reservoir, and inside the as the woman crumbled into little pieces of her soul, outside the girl continued to dig as if she had forgotten everything—the fight, the box, and the woman herself.

The author's comments:

I was inspired to write this piece by a creative writing activity in my English class. It tells the story of a women struggling with her daughter's memory loss, and I hope people will be able to feel the loss and sadness felt by the women while reading this piece. 

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