A MEMORY MAKES ITSELF KNOWN

There is a room. The sun sits at its center. Burning through all borders. A memory hides in the light of the morning. A morning lost but now remembered. 

A boy blonde like the rays of the sun, bleaching white the sky – dissolving into the sea.

A game, imagined, original is being played with friends, also blonde – Children of the Corn raised in the iris of suburbia. 

Shielded in their imaginations. A noise, birthed beyond their age is to become introduced into their vocabulary. Too old. Wrong. They laugh because they have no language to describe that wordless emotion. Death knighted by pleasure. Drowning in a shark’s mouth, swallowed into divinity. They shout. Tell them to get a room (we don’t know what that means) – perverts – weirdos – pedos – whatever shite they’d heard the older kids say. 

A door opens, a white-haired man in a bathrobe (?), white like the belly of a killer whale.  The other two know him. To the boy he is a stranger. He calls him and says we shouldn’t be peeping Toms. What right do you have to spy on my affairs? Come here, all of you. The boy doesn’t want to go. The other two heed his demands. Traitors. He’s a friend of our parents, they justify limply.  They march in. He  wants to run, but he worries about their fate. Some moral decree whispers from his granddad just dead. He follows. 

The house is dark, minus the light creaking in through the back windows. The features, items, colors will be forgotten. The feeling will not.  They are shouted at. He is obviously drunk. The movement of his mouth, beard and moustache as his shouts break into screams, makes the boy more uncomfortable, more than the ferocity of his words. A woman appears on the stairs. She is noticeably younger than the man is. She is pleasant to look at. But there is something wrong with her eyes. She looks dead. She looks like his granddad did on the hospital bed in the living room, staring at the boy, not uttering a word.

The other two are dismissed after being told he will have a word with their parents. As they leave they exchange glances. Traitors. He feels a deep pang of dread. He is alone. The woman goes upstairs. He is told to follow her. He hesitates. The man comes up behind him and pressures him upstairs. He doesn’t know if the man’s locked the door. He follows her into the bedroom. He knows intrinsically that this is wrong. All his sorrows and fears well up inside him, threatening to escape via his eyes or the mouth. He clenches his jaw tighter than his father does when he’s disappointed in him. He won’t cry. Crying is for cowards. 

Something bad is going to happen. Something beyond his experience is going to be introduced. A flick is switched, the lightning is dimmed, his mind goes black. In the darkness an image of his granddad rises from his bed before he disappears.  The bedroom door is shut. There is no lock. The man gets in his face. You’re disgusting. A boy your age should know better. If his parents knew what you had done, you’d never see the light of day again. He stepped back and turned to face the opposite wall. But he wouldn’t tell as long as the boy learned his lesson. 

The boy didn’t feel like himself. 

The woman lay on the bed of red in her black nightdress with a glass of red wine in her hand. He was told to take off his t-shirt. The man stood above him. He glanced at the closed door. Every second symbolized a finality. He took off his t-shirt. He had never felt like this. What a good specimen you are, the man commented as he stroked his chest. The boy turned to the woman. This woman was nothing like his mum. There was no sanctuary hidden in her regard. Now take off your pants.  The boy still can’t remember if he did this or not. There is a block. The man moved over to the bed. Take your pants off he said firmly and join us. We’ll give you something to laugh at.  The woman opened her legs. She had no underwear on. The man removed his robe. The boy sees everything then looks at the ceiling. His heart beats fast. They begin to kiss; he sees her hand move below the man’s waist. 

The boy pulled up his pants (?) and ran, there were shouts, some insults he couldn’t remember. He hurriedly put his t-shirt on as he ran down the stairs.  The front door was locked. He remembered the light of the back windows. The back door opened and he ran as if death shadowed every step. He opened the gate and ran past the front door. It opened as he passed. He could see the man struggling to run in his slippers and robe. He shouted, but the boy was at full speed. No old man could catch him. He ran straight home. The door was open, his dad was in the garage. He slammed the door and went straight to his room. Tears ran down his cheeks. He nearly vomited on the dull carpet that came with the house eight years ago.

He looked out of the window. His mum was in the back garden, sunbathing with a glass of gin and tonic in her hand. He felt stuck. He couldn’t go to her. He swallowed his feelings and drowned them in a deep place in his belly. Nothing would make this right. They bubbled up to the surface once more. He drowned the memories in the silence of his mind. He was a peeping Tom, a pervert, disgusting. The sky was full of his emptiness.

Sixteen years later he would be taking a bath with his girlfriend. Tears would roll down his cheeks and he would begin to remember.

— David Hay was inspired to write after discovering the Romantics, particularly Keats and Shelley, as well as the works of Woolf and Kerouac. He has currently been accepted for publication in Dreich, Abridged, Acumen, The Honest Ulsterman, The Dawntreader, The Babel Tower Notice Board Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Lake, Selcouth Station, GreenInk Poetry, Dodging the Rain, Seventh Quarry and Expat Press, among others. His debut publication is the Brexit-inspired prose-poem Doctor Lazarus published by Alien Buddha Press 2021.