Forget: A man alone in his room, without even his memories. Murmurings without about danger, a mindwipe. Who is Simon Baker really, and why has he forgotten? First published in Allegory Vol 13 (4), September 2010. (PG)
Back in the first semester of 2011, I had the priviledge of being asked to speak at the Litlinks 2010 Awards ceremony in my capacity as a short story author. It was an awesome experience, and as part of it I was asked to present one of my short stories. I chose Forget, because not only is it a nice, convenient length for reading out at presentations, it’s also one of my favourites.
I wrote this story when I was on my second teaching prac during my year of studying-to-be-a-teacher. It grew out of some of the issues we had discussed at university, and was prodded onwards by a particular project that a year 12 English student was doing – exploring ideas of memory and morality, culpability and truth.
Forget is part of a much larger story, which I hope to one day be able to share with you. It will be a series of connected short stories, set in the same world and with an over-arching plot. Below is first of all the audio recording from the Litlinks ceremony (listen to my weird accent, yay!), and second of all an excerpt from another of the stories in the Powers cycle.
Yes, this is still drafty and subject to change. And no, the MC doesn’t have a name o.O 🙂
He stood watching, remembering dimly how months ago he’d seen the last Power, a man with eyes and soul too old for his ancient body, carted away through these very doors. Now, the doctors stood in front of the swinging, shining metal that mirrored the coal and snow and proclaimed the last Power dead. He’d wasted away, they said, forgotten who he was. Lost himself in a fog of age and mental decline.
And although he held his head high, and cheered with the rest of the crowd, he couldn’t pretend he didn’t feel just the tiniest seed of anguish. Though the Powers had wracked the world for all of living record, they kept the balance, there was that much to be said for them.
Not that everyone agreed with that, of course. Why have a War, they all said, if you have a Peace? Why should Peace not triumph and, if she can’t, what good is she?
But they missed the fundamental point, he felt. He reached into his coat pocket for a cigarette and lit it, a small glow of warmth to fight the freeze of winter.
In front of him, a girl turned – a pretty girl, with eyes of flame and hair of burnished copper.
Something about the description registered in his conscious, and he looked again – but no, she was just an ordinary girl, brown eyes, brown hair, average height, average build.
Average. That’s what the world was consigned to be, now that they were gone. Just average. Because wasn’t that the point of the Powers, after all? To add life to an otherwise dying world?
The crowd jostled him, and he shrugged away. What good was it, standing here, anyway? He’d got the story, seen them cart old Simon into the ‘farewell wing’, hands cuffed behind his back and eyes covered. Silver eyes, if he remembered correctly, which was more difficult these days. The silver sheen of age and wisdom, so appropriate for the Power whose name was Memory.
And now he’d witnessed the official press commentary, and all the loose ends were tied up. Yes. He stomped his feet to wake them. He had his story. Time to leave.
He tossed his cigarette to the ground, not bothering to put it out – the trampling feet of the onlookers would do that well enough – and turned to leave.
He didn’t see the average woman turn and watch him go, nor did he see her pick up his cigarette butt, blow on it gently to keep it alight, and cradle it in her hands. If he had, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference.
She was a Power, after all.