MEMORIES • by Milan Smith

“In this boat, our son caught the biggest fish I’ve ever seen.”
“This boat?”

“On this pier I watched him make his first dive.”

“See that tree? The oak, I mean. He climbed it every summer. We finally built him that tree house.”
“I’m sure it was lovely.”

“I’m not much of a carpenter, I smashed my thumb more than a few times, but we did it.”
“You always did what you set out to do.”

“Remember how he looked when he returned from the army? So tall, so grown-up?”
“Yes dear, if you say so.”

“What’s that mean?”
“You already know.”

“Darling, how much longer will you keep doing this?”

“I don’t know. It’s not like we have much left anyway.”
“Yes, but why do you haunt yourself like this?”

“He haunts me. Our son haunts me. I don’t know, if we’d had more children, it might’ve been different.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t do that for you.”

“I wasn’t blaming you.”
“I know, but I still wish I could’ve done more.”

“I said it’s not your fault. It’s no one’s fault. It’s life.”
“So why do you do this to yourself?”

“Because he’s all I had. All I ever wanted was a son.”
“Yes, but why are you doing this?”

“We’re almost done now, memories are all we have left.”
“That’s what you’re calling them?”

“Why not?”
“Because they aren’t real, they’re lies.”

“What good’s the truth if it kills your soul?”
“Lies won’t save it.”

“What do you want from me?”
“I don’t know. Strength, maybe?”

“Strength? Well, I’m tired of being strong. We lost everything, lost it all, and I was strong. You were sick and we lost the house and all those years I stayed strong and what’d it get us? And now we’re old, what’s it matter anymore? What’s it matter now?”
“I’m sorry, darling.”

“Oh, don’t be, I’m not angry. I really don’t care anymore. It’s done and over.”
“All right.”

“It’s just — I’m just so damned tired now.”
“Let’s go home then.”

“Sometimes I think about everything we never had. In the past I always thought tomorrow would be better. But it never was, and now there’s no tomorrows left.”
“I know.”

“We were cheated.”

“We were cheated and it’s not fair. It’s just not fair, and oh dear god, I never even got to cut the cord.”
“I know, darling, I know. Here, do you want to sit down for a bit?”

“No, please don’t, just stop. I just — I think I just want to see the field where he used to play, and where he kissed his first girl. Just one more time.”
“All right, dear, you can show me on the way home. It’s not far, come on now. Lean on me.”

Milan Smith has published 30 short stories in various magazines, including Pear Noir, Every Day Fiction, Midnight Times, and Crimson Highway. After he got his B.S. degree in business from the University of Florida, he worked in the business world for two years, and hated it. Then he got job as a reporter for a year, and hated that. Finally, he decided to try writing, and now works part-time at night and writes during the mornings, and he loves it.

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