The following is an excerpt from my work-in-progress. I would love to hear what you think of it!
“Sunday, September 9
Sometimes, I awaken in the middle of the night and wonder where I am. I wonder what is real, what is imagined. My dreams chase me through the night, and I tremble when I recall a dream especially vivid beyond memory or anything I ever experienced before. I purchased a book on dream interpretation a couple of days ago. The pages crinkled at my touch like dried rose petals. Quinn only made me pay a quarter for it. It was tattered, and the first few pages were stained with a splatter of tea. If you held it close to your nose, you not only smelled the musty pages, but you could smell a hint of hibiscus in the first few pages. None of the words puddled or rose to the surface like bloated fish. The book survived several decades, and it showed signs of age. The leather of the spine cracked, and the stitching began to show along the binding. Alongside of the printed text was penmanship spun in cursive like spider webs. It was a thin script that appeared as though somebody’s grandmother wrote inside of the book.
My grandmother never scrawled her name on a scrap of paper for me nor wrote me a loving message inside of a birthday card. If she remembered to celebrate the day I was born, I would be surprised. My own mother’s image is like a Polaroid photograph before light touches the photo paper. It comes and goes in flashes, little glimmers of memory before they fade. If given enough time, an image comes to the surface, and I can catch an outline of memory. My memories were insubstantial, as gauzy as silk scarves, as light as smoke. At times, they feel like illusions of reality conjured to life by a benevolent magician. Like flowers cut of newspapers or a coin appearing from inside your ear.
Other children had memories could recite their memories like fairy tales they were trained to know. They could talk endlessly about the white twinkle lights and popcorn they strung around a pine tree at Christmas or the smell of turkey wafting through their noses at Thanksgiving. I had fragments of memory, little bits here and there. My mother’s eyes. My father’s laugh. I have fought all my life to have memory like paperweights that keep me tethered. I wanted the type of memory that kept me from floating away.
(from the journals of Aisling McHale)”