The Only Memory

By Abrahim Harb

Grappling—holding onto remnants of our lives—is the only thing containing our sanity. Becoming unhinged is unpreventable—even necessary. He begins to throw around photos—cussing at them, as if the photos could respond. Nurses rush in...and I’m asked to remain where I am. It’s like clockwork. I mumble, “Where is there to go?” and I stare at the unpreventable chaos. He is taken away and put in a secluded room. That is how they treat the residents when we “misbehave”—and are removed once we have finished. I personally don’t like it—I can commend the home though. It works—instead of letting the person have a spurt of insanity that triggers others—next thing you know, the entire 2nd floor of the home is singing in non-uniform insanity.
I begin to clean up the mess created—pick up his cup of milk and call for a cleanup—of course, the home hasn’t learned by now how to handle the after effects of his annual event. The same staff, the same thing. “Jeez” I think, mumbling “I should be running this place”.
*           *           *           *
Cory and I have been roommates for about 7 years. He was once mentally stable—these days, anything sets him off—I’m just a person to him. The good old days of joking, playing cards and going to bingo are only remembered by me. We would sit in the back and holler at the number reader for going too fast. I would howl so loudly and Cory’s cackle would disrupt Bingo. We often were asked by the home attendant present to calm down or told to take our pranks elsewhere. That poor 20-something volunteer each week would be petrified, at our expense—except that one kid. The one with the long hair—he would turn around and laugh. He would occasionally keep us company after Bingo and offer to escort Cory and I back to our room. I always hoped he would stick around for longer than a few months—but like all the volunteers, they would either be forced to do it or move onto the next community project. But I digress—
Cory loses his cool every year on this day—the day of Nick, his youngest son’s death—it’s been about 4 years since he began losing his sanity and memory—the only memory that he has is that day. He can’t recall his birthday or anything else important—or maybe he doesn’t want to—
My eyes tear up and I look up to the sky. “Til next year—I bid you adieu Nick”—making the sign of the cross. I pick up the dated family photo placed on the nightstand by his deceased wife years ago. It was knocked over in the chaos.
* "The Only Memory" was published in the November 12, 2013 edition of the SEEDS Corner for the Independent at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) under a pen name A.i. Herv. It is part of the "SEEDS Corner" series, by SEEDS Literary & Visual Arts Journal in the Independent.

Note: I was the Editor-in-Chief of SEEDS at the time, I submitted under a pen name.