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Memento

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Sarah sat on get bed, her legs crossed, staring at get blank notebook. The pages throughout were filled with whatever gabber and anecdotal information you could think of, but she struggled this evening for something to write or doodle about. This had been happening more and more frequently lately. She had found herself at a loss for words, which rarely ever happened. Well, ever since she had begun silently, horribly pining for Will Crick. It'd been three months, three very strange months. She switched positions on her bed so that she was sitting on her knees. He took the pen she had been absentmindedly twirling through her fingers and placed it between her braced teeth.

Will Crick was one of her best friends. Bitingly sarcastic, self-deprecating, kind of obnoxious. But she longed for him in the most inexplicable of ways. Infatuation was like that, she had realized. What was perhaps different was that he knew about it. The inside jokes they had shared, the playing around, and the fun, hilarious conversations disappeared before her. Just as he had found out, things began changing. She would wake every morning, with that same sense of burning desire and desperate hopelessness, and she would try to mentally grasp all of those memories that were, as time was going on, beginning to evade her completely. Even though the memories were fading, the wound, the slice in her heart, the tear in her soul she would feel after each secret gaze, never would.

She finally thought of something to write down, and began writing a quote from a writer her friend Anne Braddock enjoyed. She and Anne were inseparable and maintained the rarest and closest of relationships where nothing was taboo. The concept of taboo was foreign to them.

Sarah brushed her unkempt black hair to the side, and as she put pen to paper, there was that old familiar pain in her chest that began to subtly throb.

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”
— Neil Gaiman

This one, terrible, cynical, depressing quote was the culmination of a painful loss that she couldn’t control. Her heart began beating faster for a moment, and she rolled her eyes back and shut them, catching the burning tears that were close to languidly falling down her cheeks.

She knew something had been wrong for weeks, and she knew that she could at least attempt to do something about it. If you could say one thing about Sarah Vance, she was determined when it came to certain things. But all of her attempts to salvage things with him were for naught. He stopped talking to her, barely making small talk. He distanced himself, but she continued to try to grab his attention in any way she could that didn’t seem outwardly blatant or desperate. She wrote him notes, messaged him online, she did everything she could think of. She wrote him an exhaustive letter that was everything in her hearty and in her head and everything she wanted to say to him but couldn’t, but she didn’t give it to him, lest it make the situation eve worse. She didn’t know how out had it had gotten and she couldn’t understand how it got that way.

William Harold Crick was of the mild mannered sort, someone who was often indecisive and didn’t often speak his mind. He wrote often, somewhat notorious for his essays, but he seemed rather fragile. It was this gentle fragility and subtle layer that had attracted her to him. He always wore the same watch, the same dress shirt, jacket, and tan khaki pants, and he acted by routine. The last relationship he had had was in the first grade. He was like clockwork and enjoyed the entire concept of routine. And he was relentless.

She had no idea what had come over herself. She, Sarah Catherine Vance, who had, up to this point, been perfectly sane, sound, calm, cool, collected and everything else had been struck unwillingly and in the most terrible fashion by none other than infatuation. She’d never under any circumstance think she’d fall for him. Him! Will Crick! That which she trusted, in, confided in. Him. They had maintained a fairly close friendship in retrospect. And all of it was falling away, like when a flower dies. You remember it being vivid, soft and beautiful, but it dies and wisps away and finally crumbles out of memory and out of being. It was this sort of crumbling that got her the most. She though it meant more. But he would just not listen. He, being the male that he was, was selfish, stuck up, egotistical, and stubborn. He was obstinate and it drove her mad. Nothing seemed to perturb him and that worried her.

“Sarah, dinner’s ready!” her mother screamed. “I’ll be right down,” she called back. She jotted down a little note and got up from her bed. It creaked as she lifted herself from it. She set her bare feet on the soft carpet and began walking to her door, but she took a moment and paused to look in the mirror. Her brown eyes were red with drowsiness and she showed signs of sleep deprivation, her nose was stuffy, her glasses were askew. In other words, she thanked God she wasn’t leaving the house tonight. She fixed her hair a little bit and made her way down to dinner.

Sarah returned to her room after dinner, after a rather dull and unexciting conversation at the table. It involved nothing more intrusive than questions about her personal life and school work and whatever else she had no desire whatsoever to talk about. She ate her food and returned to her room quietly. She needed to get Will’s attention, if only to tell him that she missed him. That’s all she wanted. As much as she wanted to be with him, just having Will in her life was enough. She had expressed that to their close friends almost incessantly, to a point of annoyance, but he still showed no interest. So she began a small project in her room.

She grabbed her sea green laptop and logged onto the internet. For the next few hours, she scoured the internet in search of…something. In search of something meaningful or something that might move him in the slightest way. And then she began her work.

The next time she and Will saw each other was at a party he was throwing. A rather small gathering for those interested in the films of Christopher Nolan, the 9 or so people that were there had arrived already when she walked in the door. He was a fairly generous host and he had food out on the table. They had not begun the movie yet, and everyone was seated in the living room around the large television. The group chatted animatedly about their lives and what had been going on recently. A few of her friends were there and greeted her warmly. She found a place to sit, next to Anne, and Will was grabbing drinks for everyone as if he had been become a bartender. When everyone had their drinks and was ready for the show to begin, he pressed play and Memento came on the screen.

She found it mildly ironic that he would play this film, about a man who has no short term memory. All of her memories were getting harder and harder to hold on to. But everything she did remember was either joyful or painful. She had mentally prepared for this day for a couple of weeks. Really, ever since she had been invited. She was honestly surprised she would get an invite, and she speculated various theories in her head about why she’d been invited after what had happened. After all, the two barely spoke to each other anymore. She went over what she was going to say, what little there was to say, over and over again in her head. She wanted it to be perfect, only because she knew something, just something would go wrong.

About an hour into the film, she got up from her place and tapped Will on the shoulder, who was rather attentive to the film. She whispered in his ear and he followed her to the kitchen, out of ear shot from the others who had, naturally, turned their heads in curiosity. She took out a manila envelope she had tucked between her arms and handed it to him. She said, “If you won’t listen to the words I say, maybe you can listen to these words.” He opened the envelope and out poured mounds of cut up pieces. He began looking at them and realized what they were. Inside the thick packet was everything she wanted to say to him. Hundreds of quotes, pictures, film quotes, music lyrics, screen captures, poems, excerpts from books. Inside that packet was her heart, the only way she could express it to him now when he wouldn’t listen to her own voice. She just had to use someone else’s.

She shifted her feet back and forth and unconsciously played with her hands as he just stared at the packet. Will looked at her for a brief moment, and walked away from her to the table. He poured all of the clippings onto the table and began arranging them into neat piles. And then, one by one, he began reading them. But Sarah couldn’t handle such suspense and such tension. She had stopped breathing, and her heart was throbbing against her chest in an unbearable way.
Her eyes were red and stinging, as if they had been sprayed with salt water, and she walked back into the room with everyone watching the film. Everyone stared at her while she sat down. She wasn’t paying attention to them or to the screen, she was merely trying not to think. And then a pang of regret hit her in the chest and she took a deep breath, practically a gasp had it not been as silent as possible. Maybe I shouldn’t have given it to him. This was stupid. He’ll never understand. I should just give up and stop trying. He’ll never know how I feel about him, so it’s not even worth it. All that I worked for these past few months was for nothing.
Anne had her arm around Sarah and, knowing intuitively that she didn’t want to talk about it, just whispered words only friends will understand. “I love you.” That bond meant more to Sarah at that moment than anything could, within the realm of reality. Sarah took her hands and clutched her heart under the jacket she was wearing, and she just wished everything were over. She knew she couldn’t change anything between them anymore and that nothing would be the same, so she just wished it were all done. And most of all, she wished that she could finally let go of him as easily as he had let go of her.
Anne tapped Sarah on the shoulder after Will had signaled to her that he was done. Sarah, on the verge of tears, walked slowly back to him, not knowing what was going to happen. She wasn’t prepared. He was standing there by the table, the clippings replaced and neatly arranged. He stood very straight, very expressionless, with his right thumb in his pocket. She stopped about two three feet from him and stood there silently. He walked toward her, closer and closer. He took his right hand and slowly, gently brushed it across her left cheek. And then he took his hand and brushed her bangs out of her face, and gently pressed his soft lips to her cheek.
It soft, and light, and her heart stopped for a moment. She would have never guessed that this happened. She could not be elated at this moment because she was not even sure it was happening. She leaned in again, and whispered in her ear softly, “I think I know how much you mean to me now. But I want to tell you and show you myself.” Their lips brushed together momentarily, like soft velvet, and he kissed her other cheek and said to her, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” And they embraced each other warmly, walking back to the table and looking over all of the clippings, so they could share the mementos together.





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