Beside Broken Memories
It was a chilly day in the depths of winter, made even colder by the mist that rose from the banks of the nearby river. I liked mornings like this, the calmness of them, the even tone that seemed to ruminate through each breeze. Even here in the country, where this was an entirely average January day, there seemed to be something special about it. I saw it in the way the grass held itself, frost clinging to it. And in the way the birds swooped throughout the air, as if it wasn’t there at all. It was almost something you can touch. That elusive force that holds all things together, from the highest reaches of the sky, to the depths of our freezing river. I’m not talking about gravity, or dark matter – nothing like that. But, something less defined, something that doesn’t have numerical values, or written rules to abide by. A malleable effect, constantly changing to the shape of the world. It’s strange that, isn’t it?
“Frederich, here!” I shouted, as Frederich, my little Spaniel launched himself into the freezing water.
He ran over to me, soaking wet, muddy, and panting. “Yeah, yeah, I get it, you like water.”
I walk and shout for him to follow. He does what’s asked of him… most of the time. Anna had him trained up well, she was always good with animals like that. It’s funny what people are gifted with – what they are meant to do if they so desire. Myself… well, whoever did the gifting, seemed to pass over my spirit in the process, because well, I wasn’t very good at anything.
Frederich knew where we were going. We walked this way many times a week. It had been ingrained into his mind, as much as it had my own.
Just beside the river stood a large Oak, and beneath it, a thick fallen branch laid perpendicular to the river. It had been Anna’s favourite place. I hadn’t fully understood why, there wasn’t ever anything extraordinary about it. The river looked nice. The hills looked nice. It summer it was very nice. But, it was just nice, it had never been anything more to me, despite the amount of times I’d come here with her, despite the endless sunsets we’d stared into.
Until afterwards, of course. Afterwards, it came to mean everything.
Frederich sat between my legs, I ran my hand through the course hair on his back. He always sat with me like that, no matter how warm or cold it was, no matter the season, the weather. I figured he wanted to be close, to feel something other than the absence of Anna. I understood that. I wanted that too.
My back tickled. I remembered the way she used to run her smooth fingers over it. The way she would lay there, tracing her index finger around and around in circles. Warm and soft. I didn’t think anything of that in those times. Afterwards, I had come to think too much of it, sat there, beside the river. The way she licked her lips, wetting them slightly before we kissed – as we greeted, and as we departed. It’s those images that never leave. Bitter, and sweet; on different days. I’d always underestimated the power of loved memories. Especially those that offered things that could never be experiences again.
I often asked myself: was the pain worse than the glow of good times? Would my life be easier if I had never met her? If she and I had never curled up, skin to skin, impossibly in love?
Would I be happier?