Between the Spell of Forgetting and the Well of Memories
On the way I met the good fairy
– What will you ask for? She asked
– To remember. I spoke. And, to forget
– What would you like to forget? Asked the fairy
– And what would you like to remember?
– All the rest
– Say more about it, said the fairy (she studied group facilitation at the adult education school for fairies)
– The tremor just before the kiss. The moments they placed him and her on my bare bosom after birth. Walking together to the Chupa (the traditional canopy in Jewish weddings) to the sounds of music. My hand in my father’s hand on a Saturday morning walk. The taste of Grandma Luba’s cake.
– And what else would you like to remember? Asked the fairy, who is aware of the importance of repeated questioning.
– That which haunts me in my daydreaming
The fairy looked perplexed for a moment. But only for a moment. She understood.
Our stories are made of the things the mind seeks to remember and forget.
She pulled out of her magic bag a key, a blue vial, an apple, and a goldfish. Oh, and a small spoon. And disappeared, as is the way of fairies who always know exactly when to go, and do it in style.
I was left alone on the path leading up. Diligent cyclists who passed by me, panting, may have wondered if they had just seen a woman talking to herself.
I put the vial, key, apple, fish and small spoon in the bag and continued on my way. Hoping that I would know what to do with them. Maybe the little blue bottle contains a potion of oblivion? And maybe a bite from the apple will do the magic? And what if the little spoon is really a compass that will take me straight to the well of memories, and with its help I can retrieve only the good and comforting ones?
What do I have to lose? I pulled the spoon out of the bag and let it lead me to the well. A winding staircase, without a railing, led to its depths. I and my fear of heights began to descend into the depths of the well. Clinging to the right, as in the subway stations, to allow the brave and agile from me, to accelerate on their way.
With one hand I held the wall and with the other I continued to hold the small spoon. My knees began to tremble, and the bottom of the well was not to be seen. Then the spoon began to speak. She explained to me that I choose how deep to go down. And that if I was a little less terrified of the stairs, I could better see my memories, which had clung over the years to the walls of the well.
– And how do I know these are my memories, not someone else’s?
– If they are not yours, they will not stick with me, the spoon replied and returned to her silence.
Daylight has long since disappeared. The other rememberers who were there also disappeared. There was a deep silence in the well, and a smell I could hardly describe in words was in the air. It was made up of food scents, perfume and body odors and smell of stagnant water, probably of unclaimed memories.
The darkness inside the well sharpened the rest of the senses. I heard a baby crying and the sound of my own sobbing. I heard music that made the body move naughtily. The well walls were damp and dry to the touch, probably from new and old memories. The taste of Grandma’s yeast cake stood in my mouth, along with a bitter taste of heartbreak, apparently.
I did not reach the bottom of the well. I left it for next time. I returned to the path leading up, and further, to the house. There, in the small pond in the yard, I released the goldfish.
I wrote this short story with the help of story cards from a kit I purchased years ago at the Scottish Center for Storytelling, a small building located in the center of beautiful Edinburgh. It has cards of kings and queens, princes and princesses and also a dream keeper and magic mirror, healing magic, man on the moon and more. I opened it again this week, because sometimes it takes some magic, some moving away to the realms of the imagination, to gather the mind, strengthen it, and return to the path “that is still unfolding along,” as the poem puts it.
If you met on the way a good fairy who can cast a spell of forgetting, what would you ask to forget? If that good fairy had given you a small spoon that leads to the well of memories, what lost memories would you ask to retrieve?
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