Memory Reconstruction

I blink, hard, and begin to remember.
They had told us to get ready, this could take a while. Our eyes held shut with old bandanas that smelled like sweat, we gripped each others hands and sat on the cold and dusty concrete as the triangle was constructed around us. Reilly and Corinne likely stood back, clipboards in one hand water bottles in the other, smiling, and informed us of our challenge. We could only imagine what she was doing from the sounds of their voices, ambiguous scuffling, and giggling. We were in the triangle, we could get up and feel around. Plastic chairs, wooden beams, tape, and gaps. We had to get out somehow, but we couldn’t go over, or under, or break through it, given only the reassurance that we could ask them for things we might need.

My socks glared with a taunting mantra: “You’ve got this!” I was reminded of that after kicking off my shoes and was grateful for my blindfold. My first thought was to ask for a spoon, as if the feeble structure were a prison I needed to dig out of. They amusedly asked if that was really what I needed. It wasn’t; I couldn’t picture anything that could get me out. It was hard to even reconstruct my immediate surroundings with my eyes shut that tight. I felt dizzy. I became reliant on the comfort of holding my fellow inmate Virginia's hand and knowing we were in this together. The blindfold bound my eyes shut both painfully and blissfully as I drifted between frustrating confusion and appreciation for this moment we spent together.

We. The shift from we to I was sudden. They incessantly asked “What do you need?” and although I have no idea why, when my counterpart mumbled, “a giant...” we felt it together. Corinne threw an orange peel at me and and we, disoriented, laughed. About an hour in, Reilly stepped in and held our hands and we could hear her crying softly, feeling with us. But sometime, when our bodies were not linked in an embrace nor even our hands holding tight to each other, I felt her go. I called for her and after a couple sinking moments it was revealed, coldly, “Virginia has left the triangle.” I fell to the ground, physically and mentally exhausted, and utterly alone and in the dark. How?

The ceaseless “What do you need” continued, but now with a sense of urgency. They were worried about me. Chairs were stepped over, arms were wrapped around my figure on the ground, tears were shed, mine and theirs. I didn’t know what would get me out, but I knew I couldn't figure it out alone. Reluctantly I found the words: “I need help,” afraid to disappoint them with this weakness. I felt a tugging behind my head. The blindfold fell away and light flooded to reveal Corinne’s smiling face and the strained teary eyes of all. Tears ran down my cheeks, now free from their bind.

Author's Note: My largest influence is Margaret Atwood and her ability to manipulate sentence length to convey deeper meaning. I exemplify this with “We. The shift from we to I was sudden.” where the narrator has the ability to be detached and reflect on the memory and inject their current feelings. I then shift to descriptive listing sentences to set the scene, a technique often used in flashbacks in The Handmaid’s Tale. I accompanied my piece with a blindfold because of the extreme intensity of the sensory experience without sight.