Future Memories by Charles EJ Moulton
It reminded him of magnolia. Ludicrous, wasn’t it? After all this time, one little smell brought back memories he had thought long gone. He ached not to remember the smell and how it had aroused every sense in his body, his very soul. But the memory was there. Again. And all it took was the scent of a strange woman with the same perfume. It popped into his head now and then without warning. Magnolia and lilacs, kisses in the rain. The scent travelled from that strange woman standing just a few feet away up to his nose.
Magnolia. The smell of happiness, the smell of that blouse she had left him before he stepped on that boat. Now, some woman he didn’t know stood next to him in the subway station and he again turned into a lost puppy. One puppy that hoped that a miracle would save what had been destroyed.
He closed his eyes.
It couldn’t be, could it?
After all this time, it couldn’t be.
Even now, after a long day, one small hint sufficed to turn him into a ball of sensitivity. Andrew sighed, succumbing to that smell, letting the whiff enter his nostrils. Once again, he raised his eyebrows and closed his eyes and remembered favourite songs, favourite places, favourite TV-programmes.
Angry, he stepped away from that woman, grabbed into his bag and took out his book. Sitting down, he closed his eyes and tried to remember his own past. Carefree. Had he been carefree back then? Not really. Then why did he remember it so fondly how she caressed him? Opening his eyes, Andrew saw who had been producing the smell.
Blonde, yes, blue eyed, yes. Old, yes. Well, sixty-something.
He looked down on the book.
Memories are private, he thought to himself.
A thought shivered in his mind. It hung there like an empty sheet of paper dancing in the wind. Who was he to judge his own memories? Blame a strange woman for wearing his ex-girlfriend’s perfume? Was this pain? No. Not really. Memories long gone? Yes. Bad? No, just lost. Lost in action, real in spirit.
For a moment, Andrew glanced over at the woman as he stepped into his oncoming train.
The woman looked up, nodding at him, as if she knew what he was going through. But that was not possible, was it? The stinky subway stench rotting with old hamburger leftovers and littered with rats, drenched with numb boredom, for one moment shone in a strange light. The train doors not yet closed, the woman smiled at him. One wink. Small, to say the least.
“I am your memory,” her wink seemed to say.
The book still in Andrew’s hand, he looked over and saw his bag still on the chair where he had been sitting. Panic struck him, his heart skyrocketing into his head. Something seemed to rip away from his heart and bang against his eyelids. He saw money, telephones, keys, personal belongings, all gone, some burglar taking it all away and Andrew having to run into the night and call the police. The memories of thing yet to come brought on the dreaded feeling of having to call fifty people to avoid being completely fathomed with misery. The feeling of emptiness seemed to come from one bag left on a white metal bench in a silly subway alleyway. The memory of the woman’s perfume disintegrated.
Andrew jumped back onto the platform before the doors closed, grabbed the briefcase and picked it up. The familiar leather greeted him again and that feeling of emptiness filled up again and seemed to tell him that his soul clung to things. Just things. What were they? Things, no more than things. That other voice told him about reality, about keys to apartments and a smartphone filled with professional contacts.
Andrew grabbed the briefcase and ran back into the train, still there, patiently waiting for him to calm down and sit down. Sit down. Sit down.
As he sat down in the only free seat in the wagon, he closed his eyes again and remembered that ex-girlfriend and how she had smelled. Calmly, he succumbed to the lure of trying to imagine himself back in her arms. But he couldn’t. This time, the smell gone and the briefcase in his hand, the new smell took over. The smell of his own briefcase, his work in it, his life a new one, his goals different, his hope renewed, he went back to smell the memory of magnolia. The flower faded, he clung to a dream. The dream of a past that had changed into a present. A present that was different. Different. Better. Yes, my God, much better.
The train left the tunnel and shot out into a new world.
Street corners slowly filled up with angry salesmen and kissing lovers, impatient parents and barking dogs, honking cars and laughing bartenders, parked cars and nosepicking teenagers, yawning grandfathers and coughing cats, important businessmen and attractive brunettes, discussing twenty-somethings and disgusting thirty-somethings, persuasive forty-somethings and evasive fifty-somethings, admired sixty-somethings and tired seventy-somethings, wheelchaired eighty-somethings and deceased ninety-somethings.
The sun rose above the plains as the train left the city.
As he left the train, green grass met his eye. Blue sky seduced his spirit. The music of the wind caressing his cheek felt like a promise to renew his own strength.
There, on the platform, a little toddler came bouncing toward him.
“Papa,” the toddler chanted.
Dropping his briefcase onto the ground, into his arms he welcomed love.
A blonde woman slanted her head to the side, smiling, holding her arms out to her sides. The man smiled as the blonde woman affectionately morphed into his heart, producing a sigh. She wore that other perfume that he loved. One perfume that had nothing to do with magnolia. This one smelled of roses, discreet roses whose beauty rested truthfully within the palm of reality. One whose strength would outlast the eons.
The woman kissed his lips and smiled at him, lovingly:
“How was Paris?”
“Business meetings full of boring people,” Andrew shrugged. “Empty hotels, tasteless food, sterile airports.”
He looked at his briefcase, as it rested on the ground below.
“Paperwork, paper,” he sneered, “so full of little words so meaningless that I yawned myself through the night.”
Andrea smiled at him. “Meet anyone you knew?”
“Nah,” he said, truthfully. “I sat there in the hotel room ordering room service and looking at some old movie, wishing I was home with you two.”
Andrea closed her eyes, giving her head a seductive twitch that spoke of homemade cooking.
“You know, Andrew,” she said, sighing. “You could have that success you are so hungry for, if you take time to finish that book of yours. And I will give you the greatest meal of your life. Let’s go.”
The toddler called out a loud: “Da-dah!” as the family left the train station and heading for a car. In the oven, a vegetarian dish waited for a warm oven. On the wall, a familiar picture of a ship waited for a careful analysis. On the bookshelf, children’s books were waiting to be read. In the attic, paintings were waiting to be painted. In the computer, a book waited to be written. In the house, a wife waited to be kissed. In the garden, a lawn waited to be mowed. In the music room, a song waited to be composed. In his heart, a courageous heart waited to be leapt out of its hole and rediscovered.
And so, the family sat there, smiling, the toddler banging its blue plastic cup against a high-chair. The couple held hands and ate in silence.
Andrew realized, then and there, that he, after all, was the luckiest man in the world.
|Charles E.J. Moulton has been a stage performer since age eleven. His trilingual, artistic upbringing, as the son of Gun Kronzell and Herbert Moulton, lead to a hundred stage productions, countless cross-over concerts, work as a bandleader and as an acting teacher. Publications such as Idea Gems, Vocal Images, Pill Hill Press and Aquarius Atlanta have published his work. He is a tourguide, a voice-over-speaker, a translator, is married and has a daughter.|
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