from Vernon Anderson – Sudden Glory – 191-4
Cutbrush felt the man’s pulse and found it wanting. Active, sure, but weakened; far below operational, let alone optimum performance. So Cutbrush left him there, helping himself to a beaded pouch that was looped through the man’s belt, as he crawled over the failing body.
The sounds of war were dying as he caught the scent of a cook-fire, a stew bubbling somewhere nearby. He found a small clearing through a narrow gap in a thornbush and in it was a patched yellow tent and a woman with a baby sleeping in her arms.
“Would you help to feed my baby?” croaked the woman. She looked young enough for child-bearing but had the voice of a locked-up attic full of dust.
“You may take of my stew what you wish, also,” she added with a smile.
The baby seemed to look Cutbrush in the eye and offer a toothy grin, but when he blinked the baby was asleep again.
Cutbrush took a spoonful and found the stew a trickle of glorious joy, a burst of sensation that lit up the backs of his eyes.
“Don’t forget the baby.”
Cutbrush approached with shallow steps. “Why are you here, woman? There is war going on.”
“My baby is hungry,” was all she replied.
Cutbrush grimaced, fed a spoonful to the baby, who awoke with a start at the smell of the stew. The infant gulped it down and soon was swelling, gurgling, its throbbing limbs stretching. Soon it had grown to the size of an adult and thrashed onto the ground, kicking, swallowing its tongue.
Cutbrush rushed to its side and felt its pulse.
edit: artwork by Leslie Taylor
I have a make-believe memory of being a baby in the sink, being bathed by my aunt and mother. Apparently I peed right in my aunt’s eye, which seems somewhat incredible. What’s even more incredible is the idea that I might remember this at all, presuming it’s true. I mean, I was a little baby, a wrinkly wedge of flesh, small enough to fit into a standard stainless-steel kitchen sink. That doesn’t seem highly likely at all. If it’s true that I peed in my aunt’s eye – and both my aunt and my mother seem to enjoy reminding me of this, or at least referencing it on occasion – then it’s certainly not true that I remember it myself, but rather that I’m remembering hearing about it, and conjuring a “memory” from remembering hearing about it. This is all a little meta but it seems likely enough; the mind can invent this type of thing, reshape history into a memory, a false memory, really, that feels true enough. Babies don’t remember these sorts of things, our earliest memories come from around the age of three or older, maybe four, and for me it seems they don’t start until high school, with some fragments of elementary school thrown in to prove I wasn’t hatched from some vat. Of course, false memories could just as soon be implanted, as some high-level Scientologists believe.
I don’t know that I have any early memories. I certainly couldn’t fashion a story out of one if I did, with conflict, drama, characters experiencing difficulties and overcoming them or not. I have always enjoyed trying to keep a rain drop, say, or a small LED, within a frame of wires on the highway or two lines on a windshield. This often happens in cars, I guess, hence the imagery. When driving, or rather riding in the passenger seat, as I don’t much like to drive, and certainly didn’t at my “earliest memory” stage, I’d select a rain drop or light or other small smudge, and try to keep my position, adjusting my head in small increments, to keep the smudge or drop within the frame of whatever happened to be serving the purpose. This is something I still enjoy to this day, though the opportunities are fewer, as I am rarely a passenger in an automobile – the most recent time was the morning after Caleb and Lindsay’s stag and doe, when Heather and I raced through Toronto traffic to drop the rental off before the 1 o’clock deadline, at which point we would have to pay for another day. I still haven’t paid Heather back my half of the rental fee; this will go alongside the rent itself, I think. I know it will because I can’t have that hanging over my head even if she isn’t aware of it directly. And probably she is as she’s smart, knows what’s going on in her life.
This is to be page three of two or three. I think Novakovich has his answer that I cannot make a story out of my memories, despite trying. I certainly am imagining more than I remember. I could expand and rewrite in the third person, hm, that’s interesting. These memories are so deeply personal, touched by my adult self, that rewriting them for another person would be to lose all semblance of connection to reality. But I guess that’s what fiction is for, the whole purpose of the enterprise. Recast into a trance that which has been observed and experienced. I remember when my sister and I would play basketball in the long narrow driveway of our house on Kensington, she used to throw the basketball so it would hit me in the face. She had good aim, often enough, and my glasses were always at risk. I’ve had them for years but not forever, so this memory must have taken place at least after I was twelve years old, which is a good deal later than most people’s earliest memories generally take place. Has it been all the pot smoking of my youth and late-youth, that has disturbed and irrevocably damaged my access to my past? Or have I always been aloof, unconcerned with the nature of my reality, unquestioning of circumstances in which I find myself? Seems to be the latter, a personality defect rather than a dirty consequence of poor choices, but then, I don’t smoke as much as I used to.