How do I keep this memory at bay? by Deborah Koche


I have a thing. Sometimes I cannot remember what happened 10 minutes ago. My train of thought diminishes until it’s nothing and so I try to start from my earliest memory.

The one I dubbed “The Indelible.” The flashes usually start from his sickening hands on me, but what happened after that? Another flash comes and he is lifting my dress. I am only five years old, but I know that this feels wrong.

I can remember that my mother arrived at that particular moment. I can remember how grateful I was that she did. I cannot remember what happened after, or that least that’s a lie I tell myself. The truth is, I do not want to remember what happened after, it is a memory filled with pain.

The kind of pain that haunts my dreams now that I am 20. It has been 15 years of torture, of pretending not to remember, and yet, and yet.

Today I am in a room, entangled in crisp white sheets with the most beautiful woman; her body is warm, she smells so fruity and I want to lay here forever, inhaling her, feeling at home but I cannot.

I wonder if she knows that I do not want to be here, that I am struggling to breathe. Does she know I only got into this bed with her because this thing we do makes me remember that I exist? That the intentional touch of her fingers in my hair reminds me that other people can see me.

I eventually find the courage to leave her and battle these thoughts behind the locked doors of the bathroom because I have convinced myself that I can do this alone. I can overcome this feeling.

My memories are once again haunting me in the daytime, they have infiltrated the clouds and the sun. My day has become sour and dark.

I am struggling to breathe in the bathroom and I hear her hitting the door, she wants to hold me, she wants to be here for me but she cannot help me.

I need to do this myself, (another lie) I yell at her to let me be and she does, I’m scared that I have hurt her, but I need to overcome this.

I am a coward, I cannot overcome this myself and so I call him. The man I was in the sheets with the night before, and several nights before that. I have a meaningless affiliation with him but when he picks up the phone I am finally breathing, but hard. I am gasping for air and taking it in all at once.

Tears are streaming down my face and he can tell I am having a panic attack, he asks me what he can do, he pleads with me to be okay. This is the second time I am calling him when I am experiencing this so he should know better, I am once again needing too much from one person, especially one with a meaningless connection.

I do not need him to ask me questions, I need his lies, the ones he speaks of so freely. I need him to tell me that he loves me, that he will always pick up when I call, to say he will listen to the entire discography of Jacob Banks so that he can hum the songs with me to calm me down. I know he will never listen, he hates soul music, he doesn’t care enough to try.

I know that he enjoys lying, he relishes in the fact that I need his lies. I can hear her return to the door as she pleads with me to unlock it so she can be here for me.

I know that if I told her what was really going on with me she would understand, being with her would even guarantee these memories stay at bay for a while.

His lies would be her truths and that is what scares me; I would one day be a disappointment to her and that if she sees me as I am, her truths would turn to lies, she would make herself want to love me out of pity, out of fear of my self destruction.

So I take the easy way out, I keep the doors locked and the coward I am continues to find comfort in the man’s lies at the other end of the phone.

Song rec: “Stockholmsvy” by Hannes and waterbaby

About the author


Add Comment

By clarajack


Get in touch

Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine was founded in 2017 by Clara Jack to be a home for African writers, asking them to come as they are and giving them room for growth. The publication aims to give back to the Nigerian Literary scene for the things it has given us.