When I was growing up houses became sentimental, but only passingly, as we moved frequently. I still remember them fondly, but I wonder if perhaps my ghost in them is that much more ethereal. The temporal quality of our sojourn means I could not hope to see myself in them any longer. But that’s not true for most people whose memories are rooted in place as much as time.
All the same, as the narrator writes in Nicholas Gonzales’ “Emma’s House Revisited” such recollection is often “a memory constructed mostly of imagination.” The mind references itself before the outside world.
And as much as we moon for the past, it is for ourselves that we truly yearn.
I’m getting low on stories. Certainly you want to continue reading these lovely, short works. I do too. And without you there are no stories to read. Send them in to [email protected].
Don’t forget about those six-word stories like this famous one attributed to Ernest Hemingway. For sale: baby shoes, never worn. The idea is that you’re able to imply a story. Again to paraphrase Hemingway, a story is like an iceberg with most of it being underwater or unsaid. The story above hints at the rising action and climax. We’re only given the aftermath. Try it yourself. I’d like to get some good ones for a Flash Fiction post. — Lyle Rosdahl
“Emma’s House Revisted” by Nicolas Gonzales
i still look at your old house on ogden when i pass in hopes that i may see myself outside your door. i wasn’t so much a young man, then, but younger, still, than today and full of the hope i promised you at 3 a.m. on the cool pavement of your porch, or barefooted in the soft, green blades out back, or with the warm whisper of our bodies in your sleeping house. the childish confessions i made to you will haunt that little place; the fears that i admitted to will hang like dusty curtains across the windows.
the apology you needed at the end of it all is forming on my lips now, and yet, it’s not for you. when i was young, i ignored the sweet, wild wind, the taste of honeysuckle in my grandpa’s yard, and the melon smell of summer, but somehow, i know that they existed. it was that way with you. a peripheral experience with you, always just beyond my full attention.
but this apology is not for you.
i am that person now. i am the soft suckle of a sweet flower hardly remembered. i am the bearer of broken promises; the harbinger of heartache. i am the meals you cooked that i didn’t want to eat, and the pavement i covered running to your house on summer days. i am left behind. not completely, but enough to feel out of touch; a memory constructed mostly of imagination.
but it is my apology: for the memories i restored with half-truths, for the warm breath in my mouth that i could not hold, and for the bitter taste of summer. for letting myself down.
and it’s always this way.
i wake up some nights from fretful sleep and wonder if my travels end in comfort or despair. i wonder if you’re waiting there for me, vigilant and faithful to the feelings i inspired in you. or am i waiting there for me, heavy and brooding?
i still hope to see myself outside your door, not to undo the things i’ve done, but to touch my face with a smile that asserts the world is not entirely unkind.
and so i still look at your old house on ogden when i pass. •
Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the Flash Fiction blog at blogs.sacurrent.com and the Current’s best of flash fiction monthly print column. He created, facilitates, and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings, and writing, at lylerosdahl.com. Send your flash to [email protected].