“Can you tell me again why I’m here?” I searched the eyes of the white-bearded man perched next to me on the rotted log.
He sighed. “Child, I tell ya ev’ry day. Perhaps it’s me fate… I’ll tell ya again.” He shifted his weight and winced, rubbing his lower back. “Thirteen years plus thirteen days ago, I found ya sittin’ on this here log.
“How did I get here?”
“Gittin’ to it.”
He expelled a series of phlegmy coughs that made my insides shiver.
“You leant on this log. So I ask ya, ‘girlie, what’s yer name?’ Ya said nothing. Then, I seen the amulet around yer neck.” He lifted a polished arrowhead dangling from a leather cord. “It’s just like mine, ‘cept yers has ribbon, too.”
I felt for my necklace and rubbed the arrowhead between my thumb and index finger.
“I knew then, ya seen Nukpana.” He cleared his throat. “Fer centuries, she’s granted wishes, an cast spells. Yer grateful at first… til misery sets in.”
I furrowed my brow. “How did she find us?”
“We invite her. All it takes is tears an repeatin’ our heart’s desire three times.” He frowned. “Cain’t resist the evil lure of makin’ pain go away.”
“What was my wish?”
He stared at me for several seconds before turning his attention toward his hands. He rubbed his finger over his ridged thumbnail. “Ya wanted to forget.”
He shrugged. “Don’t know. Only one person knew; an’ she asked to forget.”
I looked at my hands- miniscule compared to the giant, rugged hands of the man next to me. “Did I look the same thirteen years ago?”
“Haven’t aged a bit ‘cause ya can’t ‘member the worries that set in wrinkles.”
I studied the heavy lines creasing his forehead and weighting his eyelids. My gaze followed those lines down his cheeks; the same path that pulled his smile toward the ground. His spine curved like the arch of a bow. “How old are you?”
I placed my hand on top of his hand. “What was your wish?”
His eyes narrowed. “Ya never asked me that before.”
“It was to remember, wasn’t it?”
His eyes glistened with tears he refused to shed. “De-ment-ya made Gramma forget me. Then, I made me wish.”
“Can you un-wish it?”
He shook his head. “Crazy talk.”
“Have you tried?”
Several raspy breaths filled the silence. “Don’t s’pose so.”
“What would you wish for?”
His lips pressed into a thin line. “Guess I’d wish for nuthin’.” He exhaled a ragged sigh. “Got enough trouble from the first un.”
“Do you want to know a secret, Earl?”
His eyes widened. “Ya know me name?”
I smiled. “I can’t remember anything from my life before I got here, but I know the history you taught me.”
“Why ya ask ‘bout it ev’ry day then?”
“I think I’m supposed to make sure you always remember. Maybe it’s my fate.”
“Hmph. Ya try to un-wish it?”
I shook my head. “I don’t know where I’d end up, so I just stay here.”
Earl’s shoulders slumped with mine. “Jus’ stay here,” he echoed.
So October was supposed to be a month of creepy fiction for me. October 31st is the ultimate day of creepy, and I think the pressure of living up to that much scary may have gotten to me, because as of Thursday morning I had nothing. I nixed every idea before they even got to paper. I thought I’d have to skip a story, but then I decided to go a different route.
I jotted down a few things that scare me: apathy, remembering, forgetting, being lost, failure, success (or rather, living up to that standard, should I reach it.)
I noticed that some of the fears were mirrors (remembering/forgetting, failure/success,) so I thought it would be interesting to expand on that. I found it ironic that they had opposite wishes, but were just as miserable, and had completely surrendered to apathy. (I also thought of how this relates to what sometimes happens real life – how we think we know what we want and hope for just that- only to find it was an empty achievement.) The accelerated aging of the man who remembered everything was countered by the stunted growth process of the girl who forgot all… in my mind, this further illustrates that we don’t always know what we want, and maybe it’s not so bad to have a balance of remembering and forgetting – even if they both can be a burden at times.
No, it’s not the traditional Halloween scare, but it will have to do 🙂
Have a wonderfully spooky Halloween. Hope to see you back around here in November!