Mistakes to erase, into a fireplace
The words of the wise old man at the boat shop haunted me again.
“My guess is that you kids are in an unusual bit of trouble now. I always find myself wishing I could go back and erase my mistakes when I’m in trouble. Unfortunately, I can’t do that.”
Erasing mistakes. He couldn’t, but maybe I could!
Your black binder with all of its ugly ideas for the future. You always wrote in pencil. I could see a pencil sitting there, right in the fuzz of your lime green rug. All I had to do was reach forward. But, even though you always saw the best in me, I had many flaws.
One of the biggest ones was cowardice.
That’s why I fight when I get hurt, not because I’m brave, but because I’m afraid I’ll get hurt again if I don’t show the person who wronged me a lesson. This is the memory I’m thinking of. I know you see the agonized look on my face when I’m remembering it. Which is all the time. I will never forgive myself for this one moment, this one second, this single question.
“Amy, I think if you erase the predictions, it will be like they never happened. I’m afraid. Will you give it a try?” I asked. And Amy, oh Amy! She valiantly took the pencil that I had extended toward her.
In this part of my memory, I always imagine flames around her as she held that pencil in a stiff, hardened, warrior pose. Of course the only thing behind her was your bed, your yellow wall, and your window with the night sky displayed. She flipped the pencil upside down in one fluid movement. She found the part about you turning into a dog named Such. She put the eraser down to the page and erased that sentence thoroughly.
She lifted the eraser away from the paper turned to grin at me and oh…
The words she had erased reappeared on the paper, only this time in light. The light was faint at first, but then got brighter and brighter. Amy must have seen its reflection in my eyes, because she looked startled, turned around… and the whole thing blew up.
I’m crying now, yes I’m crying for a fourth time in as many days, as I tell this story to you in your hospital bed and I see tears in your eyes too. You remember Amy, I know you do. The explosion of pure energy enveloped Amy, incinerating her. Her ashes fell upon your green rug, staining it gray. She just burned up.
Amy was gone.
Amy, who used to cry with no sound. Amy, who used to smile at anything and everything. Amy, who could have saved herself and everyone, if she had just convinced you to write about winning the lottery.
My tears cascaded down my face like the water in the road, dripped off my nose and created a shiny diamond on the yellow paint of the pencil which I had somehow caught out of the explosion. It had not burned up. I stared at the graphite point, dreading what I knew was right; what I had to do, cowardice or not. I took a deep breath, and set my eraser to the paper.
The last thing I saw before I was hit by the wall of light was Amy’s absence. And I felt it in me like an abysmal hole.
When I came to, I saw sky. Pure, blue sky. I then saw I was in your room. I felt happy. I could hear you breathing. I looked down and saw you.
Then the whole thing came back to me in one stunning blow. The rubber trees. The boat. Paul. You. Amy. My gut wrenched, Amy. I looked at your rug, sick to my stomach. Her ashes were still there, strangely sparkly, as if they still retained the light from the explosion. Hot tears welled up in my eyes. I never cry, why do I keep crying? They spilled over onto my shirt that was caked with soot. I looked back at you and managed the faintest of smiles.
You weren’t a dog.
You weren’t dead.
You were you. You were barely breathing and I saw blood all over your face arms and hands.
Especially your hands.
In your left hand, you grasped a bloody pencil. In your right, a bloody, crumpled note. The blood sickened me, but I saw my name on the note. I slowly eased it out of your hand, not wanting to make your injuries worse. I slowly opened the note, afraid at what I might find.
When I fell off the boat, I lost all hope of ever seeing you again. I was determined, however, to get to you again.
I whimpered at another boat until they picked me up and put me on a yard that was dry. I ran and ran, and you don’t know how good it felt, until I got to my street. I was about to dog paddle across, when I saw a huge flash of light come from my window. I knew you were in there.
Then I began to sense something else. I was changing. I was slowly turning back into a human. When the long and painful ordeal was over with, I swam across the road river. I saw another flash and I went twice as fast. It wasn’t easy, because the water seemed to be going more rapidly up here, but I made it.I found that the door was unlocked.
I ran up to my room, two steps at a time, no broken leg, and found my room, with ash in the air, and you unconscious on the floor, covered with burn marks and blood. I found my binder open, and I saw a big white space in the place where I had written.
I saw the eraser shavings on the page and knew what I had to do. I started erasing. I felt a stab of pain in my hands and my head. I realized that I was erasing my own thoughts, and altering what changes I had made to the world.
Because my thoughts had had such a huge impact on the world, it wouldn’t be easy to erase them. Because I saw what happened, it was too hard to forget. My hands were straining against the effort of erasing the truth, and started to bleed. ‘I must finish the job’ I thought to myself, but the pain in my head felt like a knife being plunged through my brain for every stroke of the eraser.
When I finally got the last evil marking off, I threw the entire binder into my fireplace. It burned black. I hardly had the strength to write this letter, and I can feel myself fainting as I write. I knew I would remember very little, if anything, of this adventure, and I knew you would want to know. All of the physical effects from last night will stay the same; frogs will remain frogs, buildings crushed and flooded will remain crushed and water-damaged. But all the excess water is gone, all the boats returned to cars, whether they work or not is another story. How I know this, I do not know...
And that’s where you trailed off, leaving a trail of pencil hanging down in a stripe across your bloody paper.
I called your parents but I got a message that the number had been changed. Then I called the hospital. The ambulance was there in ten minutes, which was pretty impressive considering the state of the roads and all the probable injuries of everyone else. I rode with you all the way there because, although I hadn’t noticed, I had huge burn marks on my body. They took us to the hospital where you got your cast. They kept us apart for weeks, and neither my parents, nor yours came. Then I heard mine suffered worse injuries than me, and that they weren’t letting anyone into town.
Now I have finished my story that I had vowed to write. I ask you to remember me once again. You blink, and then slowly begin to nod and smile.
You whisper my name, the first word you have spoken since you got here.
Then I lean forward to embrace you, and all I can think is ‘You remember. You remember!’