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There is only one night I can’t forget, mostly. We were in your bed I think, or maybe we were in that gas station/Mexican restaurant by the highway, the one with the server who says sweetcakes when she brings out the food. And you said to me it’s funny how we won’t remember nights like this. Right now this means so much, but soon it’ll just be another night. And I said that you were wrong, that of course I would remember because you were the best thing that ever happened to me. I meant that, then.
You didn’t know what to title the project. You said you were bad at titles. I said no way josé, having never seen any of your titles. The project: a painting, you as a fifth grader, a bit translucent, imposed over massive depictions of slides, monkey bars, etc. You said it’s about memory. About how when something is far enough in the past we think about it in a sort of distant 3rd person, whereas if I think about putting peanut butter on my sandwich for lunch I probably imagine it through my eyes. You said you went back to your elementary school and the slides, monkey bars, etc. etc. were not as large as you had remembered them. Wasn’t that funny, you said. I didn’t know what to title the piece. I don’t remember what you decided to call it.
My Uncle likes to tell this story at family gatherings: I’m a toddler and he’s watching over me in the playroom. He says I can get one toy out of the box, but every time I go to the toy box I grab a shitload of toys and toss them around the room. And each time he puts them back I’ve grabbed more and more toys out of the box. I don’t recall this memory. I don’t think it really sounds like me. But whether it happened or not, I have the clearest picture of it in my mind because he’s told it so many times. I can almost feel it, the rough carpet turning my young knees red, the smell of his return from a smoke.
You asked me if I remembered the day we walked through the abandoned church. It was such a wonderful day, you said. You said that you made me go through every door first and you wanted to take the silverware we found as a memento, the forks with little flowers etched in the handles, but didn’t want to get haunted. And did I remember how gross the couch we dry humped on was. And didn’t we hear something while we were dry humping. And wasn’t that maybe the best day we had together. When you told me this I imagined it like I was watching a movie. I told you I thought we were haunted anyway because of the whole couch dry humping situation which by the way left some unspeakable stains on my jeans. You laughed. I appreciated that even if you didn’t mean it. I told you I thought it was a school though. No, you said, it was a church. Okay, I said, and I wished you told me more stories about us, because I didn’t think that was the best day we had together, but I liked the idea that in your world, it was. And for a moment, that world, your world, was mine too, and it felt good to share something together again, but you asked me how I was doing, and I said I was doing okay.
You called me one night so drunk that I heard you throw up on the other end of the line. You were in your roommate’s bed. You told me you fucked up, that you still loved me. I said I did too because I knew you wouldn't remember anything in the morning. You called me the next day. Asked me to tell you what you said the night before. I did not tell you that you said you still loved me. I told you I heard you throw up. And we laughed. And I asked how you were doing. And you said you were doing okay.
Julia Shea (@jshea_art) is an illustrator from Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ studying English and Studio Art at Amherst College. She is in the process of writing a graphic novel based on cat stories in Celtic mythology, as well as preparing to graduate and become a proper grown-up. Follow her work @jshea_art and Julia-Shea.com!
Zane Austill (@zaneaustill99) is a junior at Fordham University studying filmmaking. He concentrated in creative writing at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and was recognized as a Youngarts Finalist for his fiction. He’s about to begin work on his thesis film. In the meantime, he’ll be stressing about Liverpool Football Club and trying to eat more vegetables.