The Triumph Of Memory
What are you doing? Scott asks.
Alissa’s cursor hovers over her inbox. She’s lost in thought with a half-filled glass of coconut water beside her. She’s been clinging to coconut water these days. Maine summers require them.
I’m contemplating whether or not I should ask Franny, Chris, and Justin over. Just to catch up, maybe see how their summers are going.
He studies his girlfriend’s face.
I’m confused, he matter-of-factly states. Scott always declares his confusion even though his facial expressions are transparent like the stars in the sky on a clear August night.
I thought that was over. I mean, hasn't it been years?
Yes, it has been, Alissa says succinctly. But I had a dream with all of them the other night. Probably because Justin is getting married next spring and the invitation arrived in the mail yesterday. I had this really normal dream that we were all sitting around the kitchen table playing a game of Monopoly. I’m not sure whether it was supposed to be years ago or the present.
Scott knows Alissa has more to say, but he lets her dream permeate the dry air. He wasn’t in the picture back then, back when she was heavily immersed in that friend group, that friend family, as she once deemed them. But he knows that she’s been looking to meet new people lately. He knows she’s been going to that writing group over in Portland, trying to latch onto something. Or trying to re-create something. Something that’s not here now because people get older and drift apart from each other.
And I just thought maybe it could be nice, Alissa continued. Like a reunion of sorts. With you there too, of course, she adds. They don’t really know you.
Scott opens the back door, briefly, only to be met with a humid mist. A storm is supposed to be coming.
Are you listening? Alissa asks. She knows he’s more apt to listen than respond, but she seeks out the reassurance anyway.
I’m listening, just checking the weather. He pauses. Look, why did you guys stop hanging out in the first place? Or why did you stop hanging out with them in the first place?
She toys with her cursor. Her cursor that’s still hovering over their names. It would’ve been second nature to send Chris a message four years ago. Hey, what’s up, are we all doing that bon fire tonight? Or Hey, congrats on that internship. Or Hey, sorry about your dad being in the hospital, I hope he pulls through. It would have been second nature to ignite one of those group chats where they discuss plans over an array of lols and emojis and various tangents that painfully bleed off topic.
Yeah, she echoes. That storm comes tonight.
She drinks a sip of coconut water and then thinks back to the fallout. It wasn’t like anyone did anything to anyone. It wasn’t like she couldn’t stand to be in the same room as any of them. It was more of the awareness that she no longer felt like she was part of the group. It was a connection thing. Which happens as life happens.
Well, I didn’t feel connected to them in the same way. They were there in the beginning when I needed them, though. You know how hard that breakup for me was — I won’t go into it again.
Alissa adds that last line for Scott’s benefit. She knows he’s less than thrilled when she discusses past romantic endeavors. She gets it. The thought of him with another girl makes her instantly squeamish.
But, Alissa, can I ask you something?
Here it comes. He’s about to unravel a thread she doesn’t want to acknowledge.
How come you’re allowing your memory to triumph over how things evolved? How things are now. What was there then can’t be tainted or erased, but how come your memory is glossing over what you just explained to me?
Her cursor moves over their names, slightly, before she gets up and walks away from the screen.
Alissa goes to the window, anticipating the darkened clouds, the heavy rain fall.
Maybe I’m lonely for it, she says.
You mean, lonely for them?
No, she clarifies.
I mean, I'm lonely for it.
Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Psych Central, Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her latest book, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” a collection of personal essays, can both be found on Amazon. She loves to be followed on Twitter @LaurenSuval and on Facebook @LaurenSuvalWriting.