This is part of our series called “Inspired by Sound,” where writers use a song as the muse for their story. This piece by Elissa Gray takes influence from “Arrival of the Birds” by the Cinematic Orchestra.
Do you remember?
I think about you a lot recently – in fact, I think way too much. You are there in the back of my mind, in classrooms, in footprints in the snow, in me. You are the shirt I button in the morning and the gloves I never wear, stuffed in the bottom of a forgotten drawer. I want you to stay beneath my feet and in the barren ground, but you seep into me like a tattoo, an ink I can’t erase.
Do you remember taking everything from me?
I try to forget because I can’t wrap my mind around the idea that once that was me with you. My skins feels different now – stronger, stiffer, no longer so malleable and intangible. I would close my eyes then and think only of a world where things were bearable and survivable. I close my eyes now and I see a future of bliss that shines and sparkles, that does not fade in an instant or feel so far away that I could never touch it.
Do you remember both the end and the beginning?
Sometimes I like to imagine you as a ladder that I tried to climb, but I could never reach the final rung. Each step cracked the wood a little bit more, until I came tumbling down without warning. And when I sat on the ground, back broken and body camouflaged in bruises, my eyes opened to the disaster I had built around me. Instead of sacrificing it all, I found my own path up the mountain. I found my way around. I found myself.
Do you remember at all?
“Remember” is a tricky word because what is stored in my memories is entirely different from what you keep locked away in yours. I’ve processed it all and I know my experiences – but you see everything from a lens you’ve constructed, from a world where things are black and white and I was just a stepping stone you took to the place you are now.
You hurt me, I admit that, and many days I wish I could hurt you back. But that isn’t who I want to be, and that is not what will make the concrete change I dream of. Instead, I fight your memory every day in ways you will never know about. I combat your bruises and break down your rungs so no one else will ever try to climb your ladder again.
You might not remember now, but I know one day you will. I will make sure of that.