Chosen Memories

An elderly woman's last memories.

     She sat in the wicker chair on the grand white porch, as she always did, with her floral-print dress swaying slightly in the light breeze. A hand was lost in her long, gray hair, and her glasses were perched at the edge of her nose as she gingerly held onto a paperback. 

I open the screen door to the rackety old house turned elderly home, where the residents are just as aged as the walls, and she looks up with a smile. And even though her hands are ridden with arthritis, and her back is permanently hunched, her frame thin and frail, you can still see the life she lived beneath the lids of her eyes.

     "You are late!" She notes sarcastically in her thin, wiry voice. It is my turn to smile at her as I shuffle over with her tall glass of lemonade, "the usual", as she calls it. The meetings held past corporate bedtime are my favorite. There's something magical about the time when the sky turns from it's blue hue to wildfire, the acrid smell of dusk on the air as her voice carries on through the whistling of wind through the willow branches sitting on the gentle horizon. They have become a habit, these meetings, filled with questions of life and love.

It is here, on this old plantation porch, that she shared with me the story of her entire life. And it is where I truly began mine. You see, stories can only go on for so long, and after wrenching every detail from her own eternity, the conversations began to dwindle. The magic faded slightly, as if it had worn its welcome, until she asked me the question that changed me forever. "What memories do you cherish?"

     And I, being middle-aged, but with nothing to show for it save for a few gray strands of hair, could come up with nothing. Not one passionate summer night, no friends who I clung to in nights of teenaged terror that did not happen. I was, above all else, boring. After a few moments of silence, she looked at me wistfully, a small smirk upon her features. "Or rather," she added, "what memories do you want?" Instantly, my mind was filled with novels, fiction and not, that I had spent my life drooling over. A small supernova of activity flourished within my head. It seemed I could not come up with ideas fast enough. I came up with an entirely new life, a life I was proud of, and for an instant, I felt complete bliss. When I finished and finally took a breath and looked at her again. This time, a melancholy appearance shaded her eyes. 

     "Now, dear," she said, "if you had done all of that, you wouldn't be here. And now I ask you: which life would you rather live?" 


The End

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