Garden of Remembrance

[flash prose]


There is a stranger at my door. He won’t stop knocking, won’t stop peering through the windows. He swears that he once knew me. I could remember, he says, if I’d just look at him. I shut the blinds.

*     *     *


There are no longer any mirrors in my house. Those reflections tell a story in my handwriting, one that I don’t remember making. There is a tension in my veins. I think my sense of self is losing circulation. Pinpricks tingle in my head, itching to crawl out.

Maybe my memory fell asleep.

*     *     *


I catch a glimpse of the person at the door. He is still waiting for an answer, sleeping under my welcome mat each night. He’s tall, slender, and deliberate, just like a boy I used to know. For a moment, there is something familiar in his silhouette. But as the nighttime swallows his shadow, my train of thought leaves without me. I can’t help but feel as if I’ve forgotten something. Maybe I’ve just misplaced my keys.

*     *     *


I hear that knocking in my dreams. Even in sleep, I don’t open the door. My memory of him is a pill burrowed in my throat. It’s always present, never moving—something I know I must have taken but just can’t seem to swallow.

*     *     *


On this day, I am able to forget. I’m too busy digging tunnels in my backyard, ripping bones and teeth from the ground. When the letters start arriving, people asking where I’ve gone, I tell them I am building dinosaurs.

*     *     *


Through the peephole, the stranger lurks. The glass melts his face into a fishbowl, distorted to fit my point of view. He tells me to stop digging up the past, that everyone knows erosion can’t be reversed. He says that time is sandpaper on old wounds, and scar tissue is what we’re made of. This is healing, and I need to learn to let dead things rot. I laugh and laugh, but he doesn’t get the joke.

*     *     *

I can’t remember what day it is.

The boy has gotten into my house. Did I let him in? Has he been here before?

I don’t remember when he stopped being a stranger.

“Why are you here?” I finally ask. “Why do you keep coming back?”

Now, it is his turn to laugh. He says to let him go, then. Fossils can’t move, this isn’t Jurassic Park. You can’t resurrect joy or crucify pain. He tells me I don’t deserve to play god.

I tell him he is knocking at a graveyard.


Ephie Hauck lives in Nashville, TN. She won second place in the 2018 Belmont University Poetry Contest and was a semifinalist in the Nashville Youth Poet Laureate competition twice. She loves writing poetry and fiction, and has not been previously published.