The Torn Manuscript

Tiny shreds of my shatter past still cling to the spine, but before me lies a blank page. all the memories were removed, for my protection, they say. All the memories, the celebration, laughter, fun, even the sad times... All of them have been deleted by eager hands.

The Christmas bells ring outside, chiming the hour. There are people downstairs, dancing to the music playing on the local radio station. I'm tired and my head is pounding. I came into my room, looking for some peace and quiet after the festival, but the empty book on my bed was a gift I was not ready for. It was placed on my pillow, with a small note attached.

“Fill this book with new, precious memories,” the note said. So, I was supposed to forget about my old life, while writing new chapters in a book that not only had pages obviously torn from it, but also had the inscription on the cover, written by my mother over twenty years ago. So, I'm supposed to write memories while staring at that inscription, never to return to those days ever again?

I wondered if this was their plan. Was this the work of a sadistic antiChristmas asshole who had nothing better to do with their time? I can't imagine any of the elders would really go to such lengths and expect me to do the same. I can't erase a past that taught me so much about the future. Where would I go from here? How do I reminisce on a holiday that isn't even mine anymore? How do I look back at a shadowless void that follows me everywhere I go, taunting me with little shards of memories floating by, and attempt to enjoy a festive celebration?

I slip the broken book under my bed. I tried concentrating on the memories that still clung to the edges of my mind. I wanted to write them down, but on sheets of paper that wouldn't be added to my books. With trembling hands, I pull my notebook out of my backpack and begin to write frantically. I'll try and replace as many memories as I can find, but I know I'll have to hide it. The elders will surely discover this, and I wasn't going to let them take away what memories I had left.

A steady knocking on my door pulled me from my thoughts.

“who's there,” I called out.

The door opened, and my sister Linda stood there, her hair still wet from her shower and clinging to her like a protective shield around her back and arms. She still wore her bath robe, and clutched a cup of what looked like coffee in her hands. “You coming downstairs? It's time for breakfast?”

“No thanks. I'm not hungry,” I reply, without looking up from my notebook.

“what are you doing?” She asks.

“Just writing down some stuff,” I say. I briefly look over my shoulder and notice she's walking toward my bed, a curious gleam in her eye.

“Oh come on, tell me. Most of what Julia writes is super boring, but you know how to write. Your stories always have me hooked.” She sits down on the bed and taps me on the arm. “Hey, where's your life story,” she says matter of factly.

“I put it away,” I say, putting my supplies back in my bag. “I'm not in the mood to read it right now.”

“Read what?” She said darkly. “There's nothing in my life story either. The elders ripped up all our books, even yours. I saw Maria with your book earlier. She almost looked pained when she tore off all the pages. It was so sad.”

“Linda, please go enjoy your breakfast and have a great Christmas. tell Maria I'm not hungry. I'll come down later.”

“Are you not feeling well?” Her brow creased with concern. “Want me to have Maria call a doctor up here?”

“No thanks, just go enjoy breakfast. I promise I'll be down for the main feast later.”

She jingerly slid off the bed and quietly walked to the door. She paused, then turned to me. “You know, you could start writing new things in your life story. The elders tell us our old memories do us more harm than good. Perhaps there will be time to make more?”

“Just please, get out,” I say, climbing back under the covers. “I just need to stay here for a while. Please go.”

Without a word, Linda closed the door. I knew she meant well. I just didn't want to talk about our story books. These were projects that were close to our hearts. Linda's talk about the books, and her unwavering devotion to the elders wouldn't only made her attempt to cheer me up seem sadistic.

A couple hours and ten pages later, I'd written down a few more memories. I contemplated talking about some of the christmas I spent at my uncle John's house. He always threw the best Christmas parties, but Uncle John is no longer with us. Thinking about him and my Aunt K made the tears fall. There would be no more preserving memories today.

I thought about how memories could and should be preserved. Should we waste our time writing down all the bad ones? Maybe we would be wasting time if those memories taught us nothing, but my own mind had little to fall back on when it came to memories that actually taught me important life lessons. I tried thinking about how I learned lessons, from the most basic to the most conplex I could imagine. When you're only twelve, there aren't many experiences to draw from. If only we could have read the book one last time, to really grasp the impact of each new memory as it was read and reread. There'd be more clarity, and I could have tried to duplicate the book before giving it to the elders to edit with their monstrous fingers. Oh well. I guess... There's nothing left to do but keep on writing. Maybe the stories for the next year will help us forget about the missing pieces less and less, although I doubted it.

Thank you for visiting. be safe and healthy. Warmest regards, Elena Waverly