April 18th, 2152
the tube of chapstick I was wearing
“-and they were taken for granite,” Ty finished, reading off of his Writer tablet.
“You mean granted,” I laughed at him.
“These aren’t three wishes from a genie, Tess.”
“Well it’s not a countertop either,” I quipped. I pressed my thumb to the fingerprint reader on his Writer making it delete the word and fill in the empty space with my correction.
“Okay, well on that note, I’m done with my English essay.”
“What? No you’re not, we just started twenty minutes ago and this has to get done. It’s like thirty percent of your first semester grade.” He shrugged and gave me a mischievous grin.
“Guess we deserve a twenty minute break then.” Tossing his Writer to the side, he quickly leaned over to steal a kiss… or, maybe two. His hand held the back of my head to press my lips even further into his. I laughed into the kiss,
“You are impossible.” When he pulled away with a pout I explain that it’s a godsend,
“Nothing good is ever easy.”
December 26th, 2152
a sequin off the couch pillow
“It’s called speakeasies.”
“Someone told you they were selling a speakeasy? Who were you talking to? A twentieth century grandma?” He rolled his eyes at me.
“No, no, not that kind of speakeasy.” He pulled a tiny plastic bag out of his pocket filled with seven small lilac colored tablets. I sat up off the couch and moved the decorative pillow from my lap.
“Are those pills?” I asked. He nodded,
“Yeah, I looked ‘em up, they’re really cool. See, the government used them on prisoners of war to like get them to talk and stuff, but I guess like the U.N. found out and they got outlawed. So then they just like had a bunch of ‘em and nothing to do with-”
“Are you fucking crazy?” I punctuated every word with such disgust he couldn’t help but sit in shock for a moment, blinking blankly in my direction.
“You’re kidding me, right? Like actually kidding me. You did not seriously buy pills and expect me to take them with you, did you?” He tried to collect himself, but clearly this was not the reaction he was expecting.
“Well, I don’t know. I just thought it could be fun, you told me you were bored of our normal shit so I just-”
“That is not what I meant when I said I was bored of partying.”
“You’re not even letting me explain.”
“Explain what?” I scoffed. He shook his head and pushed the plastic baggie back into his pocket.
“Just forget it.”
“No, no, might as well explain to me what the hell you were thinking so I don’t just blame it on utter stupidity.” He hung his head so low he had to look up through his eyebrow hairs to see me. He let out a heavy breath.
“I just thought we could try it. You know we haven’t been talking like we used to and they don’t get you high or anything. All they do is make you tell the truth, no matter how hard you try to lie it just comes out as what you actually want to say.”
“Ha! You don’t want to hear a single thing I have to say right now.” He nodded dejectedly as we sat in silence. I took laboring breaths through my nose as my anger is overwhelmed by grief for the relationship we used to have.
“Why is this always how you try to fix things,” I murmured, voice shaking like hands that have been out in the cold too long.
“No, no, it’s not--,” he cupped my cheeks, “it’s not like that. I promise.”
“Then what’s it like Ty, please, tell me what it’s like,” I cried.
“I feel like I’m losing you. You’re better than me in every aspect of your life, and please, for once don’t try to tell me you’re not. You are the most amazing person I have ever met Tess, and I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning knowing I don’t have you to confide in, or kiss, or do fucking homework with. I don’t know what I was thinking. I knew you would hate this, but I also know you’re just as crazy as I am and somewhere deep down inside of you I know you want to take one. You’re just scared to be vulnerable, and I’m scared I do it too much. I don’t want to lose you Tess, you mean the whole world to me.”
As he finished I could feel my heartbeat in my throat. Holding my breath I said,
“Give me the bag.” He smiled and nodded, quickly fumbling in his pocket to give me the crumpled plastic. I held it and counted the pills in my head. One, two, three… I laughed. There were seven.
“You bought eight didn’t you.” His face fell as I threw the bag at his chest and stormed out of the house. He didn’t deserve the chance for explanation this time.
December 31st, 2152
a piece of a red plastic solo cup
“Tess, where’s Ty?” Allen tried to yell over the music but it was up so high it sounded like he was talking underwater.
“I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him since Thursday.” I danced with my hands above my head, swaying to the music. He pushed his head forward and furrowed his brows.
“Did you say Thursday?” he tried to clarify. I nodded once, utterly uninterested.
“Tess… that’s four days,” I pursed my lips and nodded harder, dipping my hips lower, trying to make it obvious I did not want to speak on the subject. Allen didn’t take the hint and I don't know why I expected any less. Grabbing my raised arm, he pulled me from the dance floor, or rather a living room with all the furniture pushed to the sides, dragging me behind him until we were in the front lawn. I kicked around empty plastic cups and a torn bra laying at my feet.
“Well?” he questioned. I knew he wanted an explanation, but I just didn’t know how to give it to him.
“It’s really not your business, Allen.” He gasped in shock, covering his open mouth with a perfectly poised palm. I sighed, already tired of his never ending theatrics.
“How could you ever say that. You both tell me I’m your best friend; you literally have to tell me. It’s like, the law, or something.” I gave in, too tired and fed up with it all to even care at this point.
“He just does what he wants, and hears what he wants, and I’m done trying to protect him from his own fucking decisions. I’m not his mother.” I could tell he understood. Allen took a deep breath.
“I know, Tess. But you’ve made those decisions at one point or another too. You’re really just gonna shut him out like that after everything you guys have been through?”
“Well, yeah,” a rowdy group of friends stumbled out of the booming house, “I’m just done killing myself to try and help him. I can’t do it anymore. I just… can’t.” One of the girls had her arm wrapped tightly around a boy’s waist. She leaned up to kiss him and tangles her own feet together in the process. He caught her as they both laughed loudly about their incoherency. I looked away, questioning why I even came.
“Let’s get out of here.”
August 23rd, 2152
the entry ticket to the museum
“Well maybe we’re just not looking at it from the same angle.” I tilted my head to the side, trying to get a better look but I still couldn’t see it.
“No Ty, I’m telling you, it’s a screaming cat.” He threw his head back and groaned probably a little too loudly for nine on a Sunday morning. I giggled.
“Absolutely no way you don’t see a flaming race car. Look, look, the black part right here are the flames coming out the tailpipe, and this curve- the hood of the car… You really don’t see it?” I shook my head and gave him a pouty lip.
“Tabby cat with its mouth open.” He huffed and looked around the brilliantly white showroom of the museum. His focus landed on the older woman who had just strolled in. Eyes darting back to mine, he smirked and I already knew what was going to happen.
“No!” I whisper-yelled to him, but he acted like he didn’t hear me. He began walking towards her, calling out,
“Excuse me, miss, I’m so sorry to bother you, but my girlfriend and I were having some trouble figuring out this painting and we were wondering if you could give us your opinion?” Ty gestured to me and I sheepishly waved to the woman. Talking to strangers was never really my strong suit, but just like with everything else I couldn’t help but admire how effortlessly he excelled at it.
“Of course, dear,” she said happily, smiling widely at Ty and I. He lead her to the painting as she delved into conversation about the artist. He followed along as she pointed out the important parts of the artwork: a brush stroke here, the elongation of the shape there. I knew he had no idea what she was talking about, and quite frankly neither did I, but he entertained her observations anyway. Clearly she wanted someone to talk with about it, and he had given that to her. Nodding along to her analysis and asking simple questions, he wasn’t knowledgeable about the topic, and I know he just wanted to know if she thought it looked like a racecar or not, but he genuinely listened to her.
He followed her arthritic fingers as they pointed at shade changes, and I followed his lips as they both laughed at something I was too preoccupied to hear. But I smiled along anyway, intoxicated by his confidence and ability to make anyone he met feel safe. To onlookers the two probably appeared like family members, a boy and his grandma perhaps, but anyone who knows Ty would know the woman was nothing more than yet another stranger he had charmed into conversation.
“What do you think it is?” she asked me. I blink, quickly trying to regain my focus.
“Me? Oh, well I thought it looked like a cat.” She nodded,
“See, that’s what I always thought, but my husband insists it’s a racecar. He’s usually better at this sort of stuff than I am so I think he’s probably right,” she said.
“No way, it’s definitely a cat,” Ty insisted, curling his arm around my waist and giving me a squeeze.
“You think?” she asked hopefully. He kissed my forehead as she smiled softly at the painting.
“No doubt in my mind.”
November 7th, 2152
the cap from the whiskey bottle
Ty’s face glowed pink under the Christmas lights holograph being projected in his neighbor’s lawn. We sat silently in my car outside of his house. New tears bubbled over as I wiped the wet streaks from his cheeks. I looked into his brown eyes, the soft light making gems appear in their corners, but he didn’t look back. I kept looking anyway; his eyes always seemed bigger when he was sad.
“I’m sorry I’m like this, I’m so fucking sorry.” I had been hearing that for months now but when he can’t see straight I can’t think straight.
“It’s okay.” He shook his head, curling in on himself, arms lacing together around his tucked in knees, but I think it was more to hide from me than to comfort himself.
“I can’t lose you, I just can’t,” his big sobs pushing the smell of whiskey on his breath towards me. I look away from him to the image of a lighted robotic reindeer in the lawn one house over. It shifts its head methodically: right, left, right, left…
“You won’t,” I promised. We locked gazes before he nodded and leaned over the center console, wrapping me in his arms and burying his head into my chest. My hand ran up and down his back as the last of his emotion dripped onto my shirt. Looking out into the yard, I told him there was nothing we couldn’t overcome if we did it together, the glowing deer’s motion unaltered.
April 9th, 2152
“Allen, shut up, I already said I wanted to.” His protests were starting to make me question myself and I was getting nervous. He opened his mouth to protest for what seemed like nearly the tenth time, but finally threw in the towel and closed it again without a word.
“Thank you, Jesus. Okay, so what do I do again?” Ty and his friends sat in front of me with almost devious grins and I couldn’t help but smile back.
“Okay sweetheart, we’ll do everything. All you have to do is breath in through your nose when I tell you too, alright?” I nodded, almost shivering with anticipation.
“Okay, just close your eyes.” I did as I was told. The flick of someone’s lighter making me catch my breath as Ty’s cool hand came to rest on the back of my neck. He pressed a warm cloth under my nose.
“Now.” I breathed in as deeply as possible. It smelled like honeysuckle and ash.
“Keep your eyes closed; tell us what you see.” I really tried to. I tried to explain the kaleidoscope of colors dancing behind my eyelids. How they were so vibrant it was like they were three dimensional. I tried to tell them how the colors curled up and around themselves, gliding what seemed like miles above the ground just to crash down and form the inside of the gazebo in my backyard. I told them about how gloomy it all seemed despite the single alluring daisy impossibly sprouting from the middle of the wood. But I didn’t tell them how the wood appeared to have dracunculiasis; its clear sealing coat bubbling up into a blister as a single white worm emerges from the crack. I didn’t tell them how I watched its small all consuming mouth envelop the stem of the flower, slowly taking it in one bite at a time. I didn’t tell them about the bloodhound that appeared to eat the worm, or how it seemed so pleased to look at me with the wilting daisy dangling from its jowls. I didn’t tell them why it’s brown eyes looked so familiar.
I opened my eyes to find four pairs staring back at me. Allen, unlike the others, sat with his arms crossed looking at the floor.
“So,” questioned Ty, “how was it?” I looked around at eager faces and tried not to make my smile look forced.
“I guess it’s just not my thing.”
December 21st, 2158
I sat on the floor of my empty living room, legs criss-crossed on the cold wood. I was alone with my Memory Mirror and a small plastic box labeled “T”. A circular blue light glowed around the top of the cylindrical machine.
“Memory Mirror, off,” I commanded. The blue light around the small black platform shut off, and the projection faded until I was left staring at the stark wall. I began carefully taking the items from the top of the Memory Mirror and placing them back into the box: a tube of chapstick, a sequin, a piece of a red plastic, a museum ticket, and a whiskey bottle cap. I snapped the lid into place as I heard the front door open.
“Any last minute boxes, baby? The trucks are loaded up and just about ready to- hey, why didn’t you pack your Memory Mirror? And what’s in that little box?” I turned towards Malcolm, reaching to hold his left hand and rubbing his platinum engagement ring with my thumb.
“Nothing I want to remember anymore,” I sighed. He took my hands in his, helping me to my feet.
“I’ll put the Memory Mirror on my lap in the car; I’ll be down in a second. Can I just have a minute to say goodbye to my apartment?” I asked.
“Of course lovey, ready whenever you are. I’ll meet you downstairs,” he said, kissing my forehead before bounding towards the door. I don’t think I’d ever seen him as happy as he was today; I smiled at him as he left. I picked up the Memory Mirror from off the floor and looked around, everything already packed up and gone-- barren.
I tracked my feet on the floorboards until I got to the entryway. Turning around, I looked at my vacant apartment, the only thing left the small plastic box against the wall. I closed the door and locked it behind me. Walking down the stairs of my building I slipped the key into my pocket, hearing it clink against the lighter with “T2” inside of a heart etched into the side.