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This weekend, I lost my best canine friend of 9 years, only four months after we lost our cat of umpteen years.  Watching them pass - one by stroke and the other by the hand of the vet - are things I wish I could erase from my memory. 
There is a Sunday School song that includes the line "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see." 
What things have you seen that  cannot be unremembered?  What Lovecraftian horror might drive the view insane?  Share your deepest regrets and darkest fears -  or just some silly or gross image you could have done without seeing.

Guest Judge: Jack Horne

Jack  Horne lives in Plymouth, England, where he works for the local theatre. Quite a number of his poems, short stories and articles have been published, with some also broadcast on the radio. A collection of his short plays has just been printed and a novel and a co-written poetry book are scheduled to be published soon

In "Raquel's Photograph", Jack considers David Soul's classic "Don't Give Up On Us Baby" and pondered what might happen if the hero failed to get his love back.  Find out what happens in Song Stories: Volume 1.

The Prompt

If I could [erase/change/forget] one memory...

*Bracketed words can be replaced with any comparable word or phrase.

The Rules

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  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the
    first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an unexpected genre will get you more brownie points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST0
  5. If your story would be rated R or NC-17 in a movie, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  6. The winner of each week's competition will win a kindle copy of "Song Stories: Volume I"
  7. The winner and runner-ups will be entered into a drawing to win a beautiful paperback edition of song stories
  8. Have fun!

4/8/2013 01:02:23 am

Not Forgotten, by Benjamin Fricker-Muller

If I could lose one memory what would it be?
Does that seem like a bizarre question to ask myself as I sit here, beside this road, bleeding out?
Maybe such philosophical ramblings are common from the minds of dying men.
We need to know what we’ve left behind, what we’ve done.
So we’ll think we’ve mattered.

Gods know I’ve done things I regret. I’ve smelt the cordite on my clothes and had blood under my fingernails. No man’s sleep survives the war.
I’ve had wives scream, and weep and leave.
I’ve had daughters refuse to see me.
And sons spit my name.
I know I deserved their punishments.

All this pain, felt by so many over such a great and tired land- we try to forget.
I’ve begged the gods at shrines before.
Taken hoodoo brews that made me forget my name and place in time for a spell.
And of course the cliché solace of the bottle.

The forgetting becomes all consuming and defining. The question of forgetting, you see, becomes the question of “can I live with myself?”
And that leads to you to introspection and obsessions like lead weights on a diver’s leg.

I remember when I was a boy. Our cat was playing with a mouse.
I shewed it away and picked up the mouse. It was calm or maybe frozen from fear, black eyes of animal innocence.
It had a gash running down it’s abdomen that you could just see through the fur.
I knew I had to kill it to save it from pain.
So I tried to break it’s neck but succeeded only in pushing it’s guts from it’s belly.
It convulsed (like many humans that I would later see).
I crushed it’s head with a rock, cried until my grandfather told me to stop and never forgot it.

I realised that we don’t lose the pain when we live in the past, it just expands and takes everything good from the other memories.

After trying to forget, I tried to atone. So I dropped the drink and potions, and took my apologies to the houses that would hear me.
But that isn’t atonement. Maybe this counts toward that.

Have I been a ‘good’ man? Does it make this more meaningful or less painful if I think I was? If it does maybe it would be good to forget.

The thing I would forget would be her with another man. Then I could’ve forgiven her- loved her again. I wouldn’t have been so hard on her and our children.

….

I can see patterns, they engulf each other then divide; mayflies, mitosing cells, spiral galaxies.

An infinite number of coalescing possibilities in life and love, and yet just one loaned to me for a little while. The debt that can’t be forgotten.


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4/9/2013 07:04:31 am

The mood of this is so very poignant. I especially loved the line "the forgetting becomes all-consuming and defining". Nicely done!

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Robin Abess
4/8/2013 03:12:53 am

The Change

If I could erase one memory from her mind, it would be of what she witnessed that night. In the midnight hours, as the screech owls gave their eerie cries and the loons on the lake answered back, her world changed, and it was my fault.

I knew better. I shouldn’t have taken the chance, but I loved her so dearly, I couldn’t let go. Not even for one weekend. We’d only been together two months then, although I had known her longer, as a friend. I brought her with me to the cabin. I remember how childlike she was, clapping her hands at the sight of the cozy structure nestled comfortably amongst the tall trees. I’d never brought anyone there before, and it seemed perfect. It would’ve been too, if I’d kept track and paid attention better, to the month and time of year. I was so besotted, I simply forgot. By the time I realized, it was simply too late.

It was spring, and everything was in bloom. The smell of pine and daffodils combined wafted through the windows I’d opened, perfuming our love nest. She came to me with open arms and willing lips, her eyes shining with love. We lay together afterwards, basking in the late afternoon sun spilling through the window and holding one another. We had dinner, made a fire in the fireplace and talked of future plans. It was only when night came on that I suddenly remembered and swore aloud. She asked what was wrong, and as I opened my mouth to make some excuse, I felt the pull and turned away.

I heard her move toward me, and I ran from her. She called my name, hurt making her voice tremble. Wanting to get as far away from her as I could, I moved into the woods, but in my worry over putting distance between us, I slipped, twisting my ankle badly. Cursing, I rose to my feet, but I could hear her following me, continuing to call me. Then it was too late.

The light hit me, spreading around my body, transforming me. The last mortal thing I remembered was her wide frightened eyes as she witnessed the change, and her scream. The next thing I knew it was morning and we both lay on the ground beneath the trees. I rose, but she didn’t. When I went to her, her eyes were still wide, but blank. I spoke to her, and she made no response. Knowing there was no other way, I lifted her, closing my eyes, muttering the correct words for the portal.

Now, I watch her as she moves around the room gracefully, trying out her new wings. She is no longer capable of loving and she is no longer mine. She’ll exist to procreate for the race, and in a few short years she’ll die, with no memory of human life or love. And I will never forget. Such is the life of the fey.

499 words {not including title}
@Angelique_Rider

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4/8/2013 03:21:35 am

Like all the best stories, leaves me with more questions then resolutions. Nice twists, both at the end and how you dealt with the prompt. Love that last paragraph. Where can I find more on the life of the fey?

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Robin Abess
4/8/2013 05:29:21 am

Thank you so much! Right now, just in my head, actually as far as this story goes, but I'm certain there are plenty of books on the fey out there. I have a few I love myself.

Really liked your tale as well!

4/9/2013 07:00:23 am

Wow. That's so sad! Tragic! I'm almost surprised that he did whatever he did to turn her into whatever it was...no longer able to love... Unexpected, for sure. Nice set up! :)

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4/8/2013 09:37:39 am

Unrequited by Wakefield Mahon
If I could erase one memory, I wouldn’t know where to start.
I remember three years ago, it seemed too good to be true. My friends all told me she was out of my league. Even my mother said so: a beauty queen playing games with a nerd with a good job. Their words fell on deaf ears. That’s ironic in retrospect. The light in her eyes said all I needed to hear. I was hers and she was mine forever.
I remember a year ago when she got down on one knee and asked me to marry her. She laughed at my dumbfounded expression and told me she knew about the diamond ring in my pocket. Even after she let me do my proposal properly she still acted like I’d placed the world on her ring finger. She held me so tight I thought I’d pass out, but I never wanted her to let go.
I remember six months ago, when her obsessive ex-boyfriend, the professional football player, interrupted our dinner and she told him off. She yelled at him to stop following her around. Then she lowered her voice and took my hand telling him we were happy together. She explained he wasn’t an ex at all but an overly protective cousin, Benji.
I remember yesterday morning, looking out in the church and seeing her ex, I’m sorry cousin. I fully expected him to stand up and object, but he grinned at me with annoyingly perfect teeth. The tears in his eyes, the oddly respectful distance he stood away when he bowed to her, the bone-crushing handshake he offered me as he offered his congratulations: an insecure part of me thought we’d be seeing him again.
I remember last night after we’d said our vows. We could finally be together, but we were so tired after all of the celebrations that all we wanted to do was sleep nestled in loving arms. Every jealous bone in my body melted like the piece of cake we forgot to put in the freezer.
I remember this morning, this perfect stupid morning when I thought we’d start our wedded bliss in the chateau I’d rented for our honeymoon.
I remember the red light, the semi, the gentle way she looked up at me, begging me with her last gasp not to blame myself.
I remember Benji’s voice calling for an ambulance and then silence. I awoke in this bed to the sound of Benji crying inconsolably and my mother telling him she would watch over me a while. I knew my mother’s voice but it wasn’t until my permanent darkness that I remembered Benjamin from my high school.
I can’t acknowledge either of them, I’m trapped alone with my memories of her love in a body that won’t respond.
“It’s not fair, now I can’t be mad at her” he says kissing my forehead. “She got to you first. I never got to tell you I was in love with you.”
500 ineligible words
@WakefieldMahon

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4/9/2013 06:57:33 am

I liked this one! The progression was well done. I was slightly confused at the end...is he in a coma? dying? just paralyzed?

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4/9/2013 08:23:57 am

He is in a coma from which the doctors do not expect him to awaken. I wish I had more than 500 words. ;)

4/8/2013 10:20:25 am

OLD HEROES

If I could erase one memory it would be the caldera battle—a story carved clearly into my flesh. They say we glorious few stemmed the tide of destruction and saved the world, at terrible personal cost. I didn’t just lose my hand, my eye, or my friends. What you actually lose in a sweltering hopeless slaughter like that is an esoteric essence known only to old heroes.

Coming to the brasserie for frosty ale was a mistake. I put in public appearances when I can. I’m a symbol to the people—I remind them of those things they cherish in themselves, even though most days I have none for myself.

The raging burn of my right stump makes me truculent and ill inclined toward pleasantries. It’s time to return to my demesne, soak my keloids and imagine asking the smith to forge a sheath that didn’t rub so much.


150 words
@DavidALudwig

Hopefully okay that I also posted this for Monday Mixer on my site, didn't have time to write two stories.

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4/8/2013 03:17:07 pm

“If I could forget one memory? Why do I have to pick one?”

“It’s a question designed to force you to order your memories and determine your priorities and such. It’s like picking your favorite color or something.”

“Why would I want to forget my favorite color?”

“I said ‘it’s like’…it’s a simile…nevermind. Maybe you can think about it like an anti-favorite. Choose an anti-favorite memory. One you want to forget.”

“Well that’s just stupid. I can’t just choose to forget a memory.”

“It’s a philosophical question, Randy, there’s no need to get peevish.”

“Philosophical? You want philosophical? If I pick one memory, then that changes all the other memories! All of them! We live a life in sequence, you know, all those butterfly-flapping-their-wings-across-the-world-changes-everything stuff.”

“I’m not asking you to decide something never happened, I just wondered if you ever wanted to not remember anything in particular.”

“Oh. Well, no. Even if something’s unpleasant, it teaches you something. If I were to forget it, then I’d be doomed to repeat it, right? That’s how the saying goes Charlene.”

“You know too many sayings… Okay, what about your worst memory? What’s that?”

“When my Dad died. That question was easy.”

“Well, wouldn’t you like to forget that? All that pain?”

“That would be awkward. Me walking around not remembering my Dad was dead. I don’t think that would go over well.”

“Good point. That would be problematic. Ooooh! What about your most embarrassing memory?”

“Nope. Not telling. But I’m not forgetting either. It reminds me to have some humility.”

“There has to be something you don’t want to remember.”

“Charlene, you’re the one who wants to get all philosophical. Fine. I’m a product of my memories, the good and the bad. They’re what make me who I am, and I’m good with that. Sure, I’ve made mistakes, but I’d like to think I’ve learned from them. I’d like to think I’ve done the best I could with what I’ve been given.”

“Randy, I just need to know what type of memory you’d like to forget so that I can check it off on my survey for psychology class!”

“Ah. Well, could we just forget this conversation ever happened?”

“So, ‘awkward interaction with an acquaintance’ it is. Thanks.”

@lissajean7
376 words

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4/8/2013 10:14:11 pm

hahahahaa! that's great.

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4/8/2013 10:44:26 pm

Inescapable Logic

If I could erase one memory, pluck a single synaptic strand from the near-infinite complexity that is the human mind and banish it to oblivion, then don’t you think I would? Don’t you imagine, had I the power to do so, that I would use it to excise the specific engrams that represent she who was the only being in all of the billions of this world who cared for me…who understood me…who loved me? The query is both moot and rhetorical for the response is self-evident. I do not do such for the simple reason that I cannot.

Do not suppose my failure has its basis in any dearth of knowledge. My life’s work has been to chart every pathway through the human mind with from its inception to its terminus. The affirmation of my colleagues and even my detractors has confirmed my success in this endeavor. There is no electrochemical response I cannot, with full confidence, chart the progress of, interrupt, route or redirect. In this I have no peer and, most assuredly, no superior.

Have no delusion there is a technological barrier preventing such from succeeding. I hold sole patent to the Annular Laser-Driven Encephalon Neutralizer or A.L.D.E. N. By means of this, I can disrupt a memory engram at its most basic level, dissipating it into harmless bioelectrical energy that is, in short order, absorbed into the field already emanated by all human beings. While clinical trials of the hardware have, in deference to small thinkers, been considerably limited, no negative side effects have been associated with this process in any documented instance. In synopsis, the technology required to affect the erasure is without flaw.

It galls me, a man acknowledged to be of superior intellect and reason, to admit the true reason I have been unable to remove her memory from my, otherwise, uncluttered mind. I have compromised my intellectual integrity, my academic repute and my professional standing for reasons no more valid than rank emotion. To banish her from my mind would be to deny the depth of my love for her in a most cruel fashion. To create, by artificial means, a world wherein she not only does not but never has existed would constitute an intolerable environment for me to continue to function within.

While the conundrum appears insoluble, my intellect refuses to credit such as plausible. In a century of continuous scientific endeavor, I have never encountered a challenge that could not be surmounted through application of analytical deduction and logical process. This case can be treated no differently.

If removal of the single memory will not resolve the equation then removal of all memories is the logical conclusion. To that end, I shall immediately program A.L.D.E.N to run continuous sweeps of my brain until the desired state is achieved. I wonder I have consumed so much time documenting this situation as, within 17.25 hours by my calculations, I shall no longer have any frame of reference to appreciate said notes.

500 words @klingorengi

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4/9/2013 06:53:38 am

Wow...That's logic for you! :)

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4/9/2013 02:04:01 am

“If I could dispense with just one memory—” He stared dully at the bottle. At the body. Back at the bottle. If only he could drink, deep and long, and let the memories of her skitter away into the dark corners of the world, drive emptiness like nails into the fractured pieces of his heart until even the pieces crumbled into dust, then nothing.

But it wouldn’t work like that, would it? This bottle was an impassive judge, jury, and executioner. There was no plea he could make to change its offer, no tears it had not already witnessed a hundred times before. One memory alone could not be chosen. No: he must remember all or nothing.

Her lips were cold to his touch, a sprinkle of mercy on his fiery pain.

Ahhh. Perhaps the bottle knew more than he had guessed. Perhaps nothing would be good; perhaps nothing could cure his desperate everything.

Shoulders back, jaw firm, he poured the draught down his throat in a single movement.

“O true apothecary!” he said in a flash of joy. “Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.”

190 words, the final few appropriated from The Bard
@postupak

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4/9/2013 06:54:56 am

Hahaha! Nice, Romeo... I actually feel a bit more sympathy for him in this rendition... ;)

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