Speaking of Change

From the knoll where she landed, Mneme watches a clutch of Chinese tourists gawk at the stones stretching like white stitching across the blanket of green. The tourist's interest needles her slightly...they have no connection to the names on the stones, no pride for the fallen, no memory of the conflicts.

"No memory. That's what stings."

The trees natter in the late October wind and gossip about the passing of time. Clouds trundle across the sky, obscuring the light and painting the field in shades of gray. Somewhere off to her right a mother watches over her daughter's shoulder as the child traces her fingers across the cold letters carved in her father's stone. It tastes like orange peel to Mneme.

"Bitter but bright."

She sighs and walks north, toward the heart of the cemetery where she expects to find an answer, or at least truth. She giggles.

"Truth seldom holds the answers."

Mneme passes the tourists, bundled against the afternoon chill, who give her diaphanous gown and bare feet a passing glance. She sets her chin and presses forward.

"Too late to change now."

She glimpses white marble through the dark trees, like the flash of white under an albatross' wing as it wheels across the sky. She picks up her pace, suddenly aware of the need to see it whole. As she breaks through the trees, the amphitheater grins at her with gleaming columns and arches that sing in her eyes. The weight of all that stone reassures her, like it's holding a part of the world in place despite a heavy wind trying to blow everything away. She reaches up and places a palm against one of the columns.

"Oh, but you make me homesick."

The column says nothing, and its quiet mass kisses her palm.

"I can't chat just now, but don't go anywhere."

She pats the stone and turns east, following the colonnade's curve to the portico, where a few more tourists mill about, taking pictures of themselves with their phones. Mneme frowns.

"Do any of you even try to remember anymore," she whispers, "or do you just leave that to your machines?"

With a huff, she sits on the top stair and watches the soldier marching back and forth in front of a tomb. He paces silently along a black mat, guarding two unidentified men and an empty vault, and his mute footfalls match the pace of her heartbeat. The tomb is an iron core of memory driven into the earth that makes her feel solid.

A young man wearing a tan sport coat and lilac tie sits down on the stair next to her. "You know," he says, "the guard wears special shoes so that he doesn't bob up and down when he walks."

"Is that true?"

"I wouldn't make it up." He looks her over and raises an eyebrow. "A bit under dressed aren't you?"

She thrusts her chin at his jacket. "Is camel hair back in fashion?"

He feigns offense. "My dear, camel hair is always in fashion."

"I suppose you would know."

"Nice to see you, Memory."

"You too, Aletheia."

"Always the old names with you, sister." He flicks a bit of dust from his sleeve. "I go by Truth these days."

"Always a new name with you, brother."

"Time changes everything. Even you."

"True." Mneme watches the soldier marching left to right like a slow pendulum. "Speaking of change...something's happening."

"Yes." He draws the word out and chews it for a moment. "Something significant."

"I don't like it."

"What do you propose we do?"

"We go to the garden, of course." Mneme jumps to her feet. "Where's your ride?"

The End

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