Burning Memories This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

June 16, 2012
Damn it.<i> Goddamn it.</i>

This is the third that’s slipped from my thin and weathering fingers. <i>Third.</i> Goddamn it, I thought I was better. I thought she was better.

My eyes feel caked and dry and I can’t breathe—

She was the third. The <i>third.</i>

Was. I hate past tense. I hate it so much. It makes it sound like a distant memory, so intangible, a remembrance that some things will never repeat itself again. That some things will fade away and that some things will be buried under the earth along with the hundreds of rotting bodies in over-garnished wooden boxes.

One day I will grow old and forget her. I'm so afraid of forgetting her. She was—goddamn it, <i>she is and forever will be</i>—a free spirited beautiful fedora-loving soul. I don’t <i>want</i> to ever forget her and—

I still can’t believe she did it.

God, I can’t. I just can’t imagine her lifeless limp body never laughing again. I can’t imagine her stuck under a muck of muddy terrain. I can’t imagine going on with my work like it never happened.

I should’ve seen the signs. I should’ve. I underwent through all the training and they showed me the goddamn signs. She was good at covering her thoughts up, but still I should’ve know I should’veshould’veshould’ve.

But I didn’t.

I became shrouded in this thought that she was slowly emerging. She started smiling, talking, laughing. I thought I was winning. I thought I was helping her.

But I killed her.

I can already imagine my other psychiatrist friends who will do their psychoanalysis s*** with meeven though I’m one of them and they’ll pat my back and reassure me that it wasn’t my fault and who else could’ve known and oh-you-poor-baby and they’ll rub my back. They’ll tell me that I’ve saved so many lives and this one was out of reach and darling-it’ll-all-be-okay like regular psychiatrist protocol.

I don’t believe in anything anymore. I came into this business thinking that I could be a silent superman, saving the world from one depressed kid to another, thinking how difficult could this possibly be? I thought it would be easy: comfort, empathize, listen.

The day before she died, she told me she trusted me and she gushed to me all her thoughts. Everything. Everything about her life that sucked, and all the good stuff in between. We went overtime by four hours, but I thought it was worth it.

God, I let myself believe that it meant she was healed.

No one ever really heals though. Not completely. But stupid goddamn immature me didn’t know any better.

<i>I killed her.</i>

No one else would’ve known, but that’s what I was supposed to be here for. And I ended up failing her and her family and her friends. I ended up failing <i>myself.</i>

I used to imagine I was this wonderful, magnificent person, making the society a better place one person at a time. Then the first one left, and the second. I used to think I could actually help people, but instead, they kept dying. Now the third will never open her black raven eyes again and grin with her crooked, imperfect teeth and shed her translucent tears and piggy snort with her five year old laugh and never joke about sex or boys or life.

Before she left, she handed me her fedora. I should’ve known. But I convinced myself that it was because she was thanking me for finally letting her release her soul.

I didn’t realize it would be so literal.

And so now I’m crying and tears are dripping and I really can’t see anything except for her stupid goddamn fedora that she left. It’s so ugly and brown and plain and so… <i>her. </i>

I miss her. Already, this twisting, burning feeling within me. I don’t deserve to live. I killed three lives and I don’t deserve to f**king live, but in the twisted feeling of mine, I’m scared to let go. I am a sick, sick disgusting human being.

So instead I run to a local gasoline station and buy a tank of gas and a lighter the color of blood. Once I finish dumping all the contents of my carton along the wooden floors, I flick the lighter into flames and toss it into the oil-soaked stack of papers.

For a few seconds, I wait for the entire house, the office, the torture chamber, whatever I should call it, to catch on fire. Slowly, the flames consume the place, devouring through my grandmotherly loveseat bloomed with red hideous flowers, the rows and rows of books on psychology, the years of notes of my former patients and my current. The flame hisses and breathes to life, and the entire house erupts into a dizzying blaze, slowly withering everything into blackened ashes.

I am still wearing her fedora as I turn around and never look back to the burning fortress of godforsaken memories.





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