I sit up in my bed after a good night’s sleep, my old bones cracking all over, struggling to find my glasses. I put my feet into my slippers and stand up, cracking every bone that didn’t have their turn yet. I remember getting those slippers quite clearly, it was a Tuesday morning in June, the 25th. No, wait. It was the 24th. The 25th was a sunny day, the 24th was rainy, how could I forget. No matter, my tea is waiting.
While sipping my tea, I read the newspaper, faithfully delivered to me every morning. The postman was someone I’d never seen before. Oh, but of course, old Pete finally got to retire. It was his final day, he told me so yesterday. I invited him in for a drink after all. Of all the time I’ve lived here, Pete only missed out on delivering twice. Once for the birth of his daughter, sweet little Lucy, the other time because he ate something he shouldn’t have. As far as I know, he never took a day off, and I’m never mistaken. Well, almost never. I’ve noticed I’ve been misremembering more frequently. Just a few days ago, I was sure I left the drawer open that held my tools, needing to repair a loose bolt in one of the doors. When I wanted to return the screwdriver, the drawer was closed. I must have closed it immediately after taking the tool after all. A small thing, you might say, but it’s telling for someone who can otherwise remember everything.
I return upstairs to my bedroom, wanting to change into my daily clothes. When I enter, I notice my bed was already made. Oh no, did I forget I already made it as well? But I can’t have, I’ve only been downstairs, taking my breakfast. Or did I just do it right after getting up? That’s not my habit. Do I start losing those too? I sit down on the freshly made bed, looking at the picture frame on my end table. My sweet Eleanor. Then I notice the picture isn’t where I put it yesterday. It’s too much to the right. I start to doubt myself again. And the dust I was bothered by is gone too. What is going on with me? Oh, Eleanor, if only you were still with us. If I needed for anyone to fill in my blanks, I wanted it to be you. I’d rather not have the blanks at all, but that’s part of getting old after all, even for me.
It was a rather cold day when I met Eleanor. She was wearing a blue and white dress, her golden hair draped around her face, looking everything like an angel. I remember every detail of that dress, from the mud pattern splattered on it by a passing car, to the slight crease in the upper right sleeve. But of course I remember her eyes the best. A bright green with little specks of gold, flickering in the winter sun. She actually spoke to me first, asking if I liked the view. I shook myself out of my trance, realizing I’ve been staring at her quite intently. So I said that I did like it very much, thank you, and asked if she would like some tea. She did, as long as it had lots of honey to go with it.
Our first dinner together was in Tommaso’s place. She had the baked potatoes with steak with a blueberry muffin for dessert. The steak was slightly overcooked, but she didn’t mind. She liked my stories and made sure she had plenty of time to hear more of them. We got married on the second warmest day of the next year, July 17. It was a tiring day, I’m not one for festivities, but I have to admit it was the best day of my life. My thoughts pause. That’s odd, it doesn’t feel right when I say that.
I put on my clothes and go down to my office. Surrounded by books, I start another chapter in the book I might never finish, but a writer doesn’t retire. My hands have gotten less precise but the words are still legible enough if it ever found its way to the press. It’s easier to remember all the events that happened in a story that you made yourself. Every character, everything that happened to them, even if I haven’t written that down yet. It’s all in my head, but I fear for the growing cobwebs and dust in there. These pages are meant to hold all those stories, I just need enough time now to write it all down.
Then I notice something to my left. A book isn’t where it’s supposed to be. ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is to the right of ‘Robinson Crusoe’, it should be the other way around. This cannot be. I would never put it in the wrong order. I feel fear coming up, crawling all over my nerves. Maybe I’m not forgetting I’ve done things after all. The picture, the dust, my bed. The drawer with my tools, back when the newspaper was already on the table, not remembering I collected it from Pete. This is an old house, with lots of history. What if it’s haunted?
I start to look around some more, going through room by room. I start to notice little things. Objects out of place, with memories linked to them I remember clear as day. But I’ve never touched the objects themselves at all … Did I? I even see some things missing, surely that is not my doing. What is going on? Then my heart skips a beat. A noise comes from upstairs. Old houses have creaky floors all the time, but this was something else. Something is up there. A burglar, it must be, it explains the missing pieces. I take the iron poker next to the hearth and slowly make my way upstairs. I hear lots of ruffling in one of the rooms. Someone is going through the drawers! The door is slightly ajar, so I swing it open, ready to strike.
The figure jumps up, startled. The sunlight pouring in from the window blinds me for a second. When my eyes have adjusted, there is an angel in front of me. Eleanor. Those green eyes with golden spots. The fair hair, slightly shorter than I remember. No, it’s not her. The nose isn’t quite the same. The eyebrows are slightly thicker too. They’re like… Mine. You’re such a fool, old man. Haunted, pfah, you stupid senile bastard. You absolute moron. I sink down on my knees, the poker falling from my powerless hands and I start to cry. Of all the things I could forget. How couldn’t I remember the most wonderful day of my life? Darkness of the mind, you can take everything. All my thoughts, have them! But why did you have to take the memory of the brightest ray of sunshine I have left in my final days. Between my sobs, while she is already down on the ground with me, hugging and whispering that it’s ok, I manage to say “I’m sorry, Alice. I’m so sorry.” And I have the final horrifying realization that this is not the first time I had forgotten about my daughter.
This blog was brought to you by: Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Over the Rainbow & What a Wonderful World