Well, here I am. An old man, sitting on his sofa, making like a couch potato as I try to drink away all my memories. It’s funny how memories work, isn’t it? How we remember all the things that could have been, or might have been, if we’d have made a different decision at some point. How, the longer we live, the more such decisions we collect. How those decisions come out at night, when we sleep, when we dream, and totally wreck us.
I’d had another night of such dreams. The kind of dreams you don’t want to remember, but you can’t seem to forget, and they always replay in your visual cortex when you close your eyes. So you try not to even blink. But you fail.
And there that dream is, in full high dynamic resolution color, playing out in your head, and you can’t shut the damn thing off.
Just like that, there I was again, an arrogant 8 year old, with his 6 year old brother, playing games with the window fan that was in the hallway of the house that had no air conditioning. The house where you slept during the spring and summer with no sheet on at night, and the windows wide open, and still woke up coated in sweat, the sheets of the bed being soaked, and your hair being glued to your head. That fan helped. It moved air. Air that moved felt cooler than air that didn’t move.
We both knew not to do what we were doing. Mom and Dad had told us, “Don’t play with the fan. It’s dangerous. It can hurt you. Stay away from it.”
If you know anything about boys, you know damn well when you tell them such things, they’re going to do those very things. And there we were, playing with the fan, feeling the breeze it created. Laughing at how its blades chopped up the sound of our voices as we spoke into it.
I was an arrogant little bastard. I was. My little brother went behind the fan, where we weren’t supposed to go, and played with the air currents back there. I can still hear him talking about how strong the suction was, and how it wanted to pull his hand into the fan.
In typical 8 year old fashion, being sure I was way stronger than my little brother, I went behind that fan to check the suction out for myself. “This will be so easy. I won’t even have to try.” Arrogant little bastard that I was, I held up my hand, extended my arm, and the suction from the fan grabbed it, and pulled my hand right in.
It didn’t hurt. I pulled my hand back, and stared at it. There were three deep cuts on my hand. Two on the knuckles, and one on a finger. They weren’t even bleeding yet, but I knew looking at them, they were the worst cuts I’d ever had.
Not wanting to relive the rest of the experience, having seen it countless times in the past day, I pour myself another drink, and make a toast to myself, “To regrets and memories of my stupid past.”
It doesn’t work. The drink burns my throat as I swallow it, and that makes me close my eyes. Just like that, there’s another dream, from another regret. One I didn’t understand at the time. One that took years to figure out.
There we were, standing around a bed in the neighbors house. Somehow, the neighbor’s boy, who was my age, convinced us to play doctor with his little sister. He’d shut the door to the room, and before I knew what was going on, he’d stripped her down to her underwear. “I told you, girls are different from boys. Here’s what I mean.”
His little sister was crying, and his big sister, who could beat the stuffing out of both of us at the same time, heard her, and came to investigate. And lit into use. She screamed at us, about how what we were doing was wrong, and not to be tolerated, and how if we ever did it again, she’d beat us to pulps.
It wasn’t until I learned what women looked like when they were naked that I finally understood what had happened. That was years later, when I snuck a peak at a copy of Dad’s Playboy Magazine, and saw that women aren’t built like men. They have different parts.
Parts I wasn’t supposed to see without permission.
“God damned movies in my head.” I pour another shot, and drink it, in my effort to clear away the memories. Knowing damn well that if I cleared those away, other memories would take their place.
I think I’ll just sit here, on my sofa, like a couch potato. And finish off the bottle. One shot at a time. I don’t know. Maybe if I see all the regrets of my life play out in my head, and drink a toast to each of them, they’ll go away, and leave me alone.
A bunch of words
Written for Week 280 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them.