Reconstruction of Memory - Ariana Flores

There were really loud sounds coming from outside, so I scrambled from my favorite hiding place to look for my family. Bursting through the front door, I walked up next to my dad on the sidewalk. I craned my neck really far up, and I saw really bright orange flowers in the sky, but they were really loud flowers. They were there and then gone in an instant. I was in awe yet very afraid, so I hid behind my dad’s leg, which I had believed was the equivalent of an impenetrable barrier back then. With each pop that punctured the air, I jumped, gripping the bottom of his jeans tighter and tighter until I could feel my nails pierce my palms through the fabric. Apparently, my father perceived this as me wanting to get closer to the action because he lifted me up two stories, until I was the same height as him. I had a front row seat to something I didn’t want to see. I tried squeezing my eyelids shut, but the random pops were more terrifying when I couldn’t anticipate them, so I faced these mysteries with my eyes open, and when I did I was speechless. I turned around to make sure my father was seeing what I seeing, but now his face appears warped, as if time ran his features through a blender. I clench the hospital blanket in my hand tighter and tighter until I can feel my nails pierce my palms, willing myself to remember my parents’ faces, but the monotonous beeping is all that echoes through the room. I focus on the stark hospital lights as my blood inches through my veins. I know it's time for me to go, but a small naive part of me still wants to cling to life, for even 5 more minutes... I can see him clearer than ever before. His short, thin, curly strands, the valleys that gather at his eyes when he smiles, his tanned skin. He's wearing the same black jacket and jeans he did then. He takes my hand in his and the canons in his palms are so familiar. As we walk away, I can see how fleeting it was, much like those orange flowers in the sky.

Author’s Note:

In this piece, I specifically chose to blur the lines between the past and the present, so that the repetition of phrases had more impact. Alexander Chee’s advice and metaphors, such as the monster in the corner of his mind, were the main inspiration for my piece. I incorporated both a great fear of mine (forgetting) and one of the most important memories of mine that I can remember from my early childhood. A stylistic choice Atwood incorporated was making one aspect of Offreds’ memory super clear and the rest a bit fuzzy. I tried to do my best to emulate this with the phrase about gripping my dad’s jeans really tight because I was so afraid. I accompanied this piece with Adeline by Alt J, which encapsulates the wonder and the somber tone of this piece.

Comments (4)

Colin Taylor-McGrane (Student 2019)
Colin Taylor-McGrane

I like the metaphors and imagery used in this piece. I particularly liked your description of your dad's leg as an impenetrable barrier. I also liked that you left many of the details rather ambiguous, accurately depicting what it is like to remember moments from your early childhood.

Sofia Powers (Student 2019)
Sofia Powers

The piece flows very well from past to present with the use of the common fear and sensory experience. The shift was so unexpected which had a great impact on me as the reader. It works to build up the relationship between characters and then present their current deterioration. Im still thinking about the deeper connections this leads me to make, like the fear of the fireworks and the father as the protector and the fear of losing the father with no protector. Lines like "I had a front row seat to something I didn’t want to see" and "as if time ran his features through a blender" are my favorites.

Leah Bradstreet (Student 2019)
Leah Bradstreet
  1. This piece definitely succeeded in conveying the emotions you wanted in addition to the fears and memory.
  2. I am still wondering why you chose that specific memory. What was the point of that one moment?
Rebecca Snyder (Student 2019)
Rebecca Snyder

I think your piece succeeded in many ways. I appreciate the careful use of description and choosing where heavy description was wanted. I also appreciate the stylistic choice of blurring the lines between past and present, it's made clear in the piece and creates a stronger voice for the memory.