The Shelves

“It was right there!” she screamed. “What did you do to it?”

“What are you talking about? Woah, woah, calm down, Adeliya” tried Luc as Adeliya tore through the dirty living room couch. She started to throw the clothes off of it and continued digging furiously through the cushion. A red shirt whipped the coffee mug off the table; it hit the ground like a cymbal to her rage. “Hey! Careful!”

“I swear I left it right here!” She combed through the rest of the clothes on the couch and moved on to search the pillows. Her hands were cold and wet but the rest of her body was hot with sweat. She left the couch and began searching through the mess on the coffee table.

Luc grabbed Adeliya by her shoulders but she shook him off. “Hey, look at me,” said Luc gently.

“No, no, it has to be here! It was just here! I left it right here!” She threw a plate at the wall and it shattered. She collapsed.

Luc sat down on the floor next to her. “Hey, come on now.” He waited for her to lift her face out of her palms. Tears streamed down her cheek and he wiped them away with his thumb. “Tell me what you’re looking for. Maybe I can help.” Adeliya nuzzled into him.

“The memory,” she mumbled. “The one of mom at the ice cream shop. I can’t remember it anymore.”

Luc let out a quiet breath.

“I took it out from the shelf yesterday, I wanted to see it,” she sniffed, “but then Merritt and the rest of the girls came over and we stayed up late and…I think I forgot to put it back.”

“Oh, Deli,”

“I know. I know! This is all my fault and by the time I find it there will be nothing left.” Her eyes were big and the tears muddied her eyes into a deeper hazel. “I didn’t get a chance to watch it. I don’t remember it anymore, Luc.”

Luc hesitated. Every time a memory is removed from the shelf, it has the potential to change. It is affected by the viewer’s emotions and state of mind. If the viewer finds the memory sad, the memory will retain that feeling. If the viewer finds it funny, it will gather that information and save itself as “funnier”than it’s original capture. The more the memory is removed from the shelf, the greater the likelihood for distortion.

“I know we aren’t suppose to take the memories out of the shelves but I just…”

“It’s okay. I know you miss her. I do too.” He moved the hair out of his sister’s face and tucked it behind her ear. “But listen, those things on the shelves, those aren’t memories, Deli. Those are for everyone else, for the people who didn’t know her. They need the memories to see her, but you and I? We are connected to her.”

“How?”

“Here, stand up.” Luc stood up and offered her his hands but she stared at him questioningly. “Come on, just trust me,” he smiled. Luc got her up and they walked across the small apartment to the balcony window. “Here, stand here.” Luc positioned her in front of the glass. “Now what do you see?” It was hard to see anything in the darkness outside.

“It’s dark, I can’t see anything.” She said monotonously.

“Look harder,” Luc whispered.

Adeliya stared for another few seconds.”Look, this is dumb. I need to go find the memory.” It wasn’t hard for Luc to tell she was holding back her tears.

He held her steady. He took her hand and placed it close to the window; just barely touching. Adeliya watched the reflection of her hand mirror her. “See?” smiled Luc.

Adeliya moved forward and her reflection stepped up to the window. “Sometimes it’s hard to find those who are no longer here, but no one ever truly leaves us.” Then he added, “You have her eyes you know.”

A tear fell from Adeliya’s eye. She opened her mouth to speak, but she knew if she tried she would start crying.

“Sometimes the glass gets foggy, Deli, but that doesn’t mean she’s gone. You just have to wipe away the mist.”

“But I don’t remember what she said at the ice cream shop,”

“Do you remember how you felt?”

“Warm, happy, safe” Adeliya offered.

“Exactly. You know, we rarely remember what someone said to us, it’s the way they made us feel that sticks with us. I know you’re scared of forgetting mom, but trust me, that can never happen. I promise you. You won’t ever forget her warmth or her laugh. You won’t ever forget her, Deli. Those memories will stay with you forever; they are pure. You don’t need the shelves to hold onto them for you.”

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