My younger brother has a mind like a steel trap. He remembers everything. He won't let you forget it either. I'm STILL paying for the time I yelled at him not to come into my bedroom. He was four. We look very much alike, he and I. We came from different Fathers, but you'd never be able to tell just by looking at us. We were each born with a tiny flesh-colored birthmark on the apple of our right cheek. We have the same large front teeth and dirty blond hair that always looks wet. We even sound alike. But I was not built with the same memory. Day to day occurrences don't stick to my brain like fly paper. I can't even tell you what I wore on Monday.
What I remember are the details that everyone else's brains deem too trivial to keep. I remember how things smell and taste and sound just by thinking about them. Sometimes I don't even have to do that much. I'll be driving along and suddenly I'll smell my classroom from third grade. I'll be reading a book and recall the sound my Dad's alarm clock used to make. This afternoon I was getting a cup of coffee and suddenly I remembered the black trash bags my friend's crazy aunt used to throw out her door every Wednesday... Ten years ago. There was nothing special about them. Except maybe for the fact that we thought they contained dead bodies.
Her name was Dot. Crazy Aunt Dot to the two fifteen year old girls who watched her. Dot was a recluse. She never left her trailer at the u-bend of K's parents' driveway. She just threw her trash out every Wednesday for us to retrieve. "What do you think she does in there?" K asked me one morning as we smoked our cigarettes, waiting for our ride. "Maybe she sneaks out at night and kills people!" That's where it started. Poor Dot. We'd look through her windows when we thought she was sleeping. When she died, no one noticed until trash day came and there wasn't anything flung outside her doorway. That was all I knew about Dot. I forgot it just as quickly as it came.
Four years later, K moved into that trailer. Neither of us must have remembered Dot, because we didn't question any of the spots on the carpet. Instead, we got out paintbrushes and drew murals on the trailer walls. I drew a gigantic fairy. Later, when the paint was covered with more respectable colors, that mural was left and a frame was added around it. I wonder if anyone asks who drew it anymore. Next door to K's was her Grandmother's house. I remember K telling me that her Grandma ate meat raw, and that's why they wouldn't let her into McDonald's anymore. I'm sure it was meant to be taken differently. But I couldn't look at the woman without being a little afraid after that.
I don't think I'll ever have a story that's interesting enough to tell. Not a whole story anyway, not one with a middle and a plot. But I could fill volumes with details. I could tell you about the pig skull we found when I was eight while building a fort out of corn husks. It rose out of the mud, white and full of teeth. My friends and I were so scared, we ran away and never came back. I could describe in perfect detail the way hot metal smells after it's been sautered, or bleach when it mixes with the sticky residue of ice cream. I could tell you how to make my "world famous" sundae exactly how I made it when I was six. But for the life of me, I can't remember what I wore last Monday.
Maybe I'll remember it four years from now...