Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 30
Autumn, 2018

Featured video, Micro Asemic Film 4 by Federico Federici.

Mileva Anastasiadou

How Would You Call Me If You Forgot My Name?

"We were clouds back then," I tell him. He nods tenderly, looking me in the eye, watching the movie that's been playing in my mind. I stare back at him, to let him see the film. I wish I could put it into words, what I'm trying to say, yet language skills have long abandoned me. My mind only works in images and feelings. So, he does most of the talking.
"Trilogy within a day," he says. That's our favorite game nowadays, the name of the film. We talk about the past as if it's still here. We sometimes even pretend we still live in it. I can't remember what I ate last night, yet I remember the past.

Back when we were clouds. When we jumped into trains or onto ships and traveled, 'cause we'd had enough of where we'd been. We trained ourselves to become useful, yet it didn't really bother us that we weren't. We swallowed pills that kept us high although we didn't need to. "Nothing ever happens," we sang. Everything happened back then, yet we were too bored or impatient to recognize it. We used to slide through the seasons effortlessly. We used the plane only for regular trips. We didn't drive back then, yet we could ride motorbikes. We jumped into the backseat embracing the rider. We almost fell in love with the rider, although he wasn't a permanent companion. Nothing seemed permanent back then, yet we fell in love sometimes with places and people, thinking they're the one for us. Deep down we knew they weren't. So when it ended, we cried. Not for long, just for a couple of days, until the next trip.
Until the next person came along.

"Clouds," I repeat in all seriousness, without really remembering what I was talking about.
He caresses my hair and offers me some water. I pretend to go on with the conversation, yet I can't fool him. Not anymore. He knows me too well to believe I'm still on track, yet he also feigns absent-mindedness as if he's also forgotten the topic.
"Rain," I tell him, certain we'd been talking about the weather. He doesn't mind at all. He stands beside me, holding my hand, enjoying the moment while it lasts. I recognize him; my soul-mate standing next to me is the person I will forget last, I swear. Yet I forget his name. He reassures me it's not that important. He's what I want him to be. The doctor suggested I should trust his eyes more than mine. When hallucinations appear he's the one to tell me what's real and what's not. So I now call him "eyes."
He drinks a sip of water from my glass. He takes a napkin to wipe my mouth, his eyes fixed on mine, as if the movie's still playing for him to watch.

We then transformed into grown-ups. Our trips were always scheduled, the hotels booked. We had regular useful jobs, contributing our share to society. We payed bills to keep warm in winter and cool in summer. We were still clouds. The yarns connecting us to the ground were still unseen. We still couldn't detect the roots that spread into the ground. Those roots were still too flexible to notice. We swallowed pills that kept us working, ticking, grounded. We took those pills to remain calm in the face of adversities.
We were too busy still floating in the air to notice; life was not much of an adventure anymore. The world wasn't our playground.
Our life seemed more permanent then, yet we didn't mind. That was a life-goal achieved. We weren't kids anymore so we didn't mind anyway.

"Nothing ever happens," I mumble. He starts singing that old tune we both like. I sing along. I'm not sure how I still remember the lyrics, yet the doctor has mentioned it could happen. He said I'd have my ups and downs. He advised me to enjoy the ups while they last and ignore the downs when they happen.
My mind is stuck on this song, as if all meaning of life is hidden in it. I repeat it over and over. We now hold each other with both hands, facing one another, singing, until he suddenly stops, as if he's just remembered something important.
"Keep singing," he says and heads to the kitchen.
He brings a pill and another glass of water. I spit the pill the moment he places it into my mouth. I'm angry at him for spoiling the moment. He can't possibly know how important these moments are to me. I try to raise myself, yet my limbs feel heavy. What has happened to me? He embraces me to keep me still, yet his embrace now feels like prison. I look deep into his eyes, begging him to let me go.

Silently we fell from the clouds and into the place we call reality. Without even noticing. Our roots dragged us down. We still take pills, which keep our blood pressure steady, our cholesterol levels low, our brain working. It's always too hot, too dry or too cold. We don't travel at all. We remain still, guarding what we already have. We appreciate people while we have them around, the air we breathe, our beating hearts while they still beat, all those things we took for granted have now transformed into precious treasures.
We're almost trapped now, in a hole in the ground we call home, running around it, with guns, protecting it from invaders.
We have transformed into trees.
Growing up is loss. "Nothing ever happens", our favorite song, is not a complaint anymore. It's turned into a wish; we only wish nothing happened. We pray for things to remain the same, or even go back to how they used to be.

"How would you call me if your forgot my name?" I ask. He's "eyes". He's still useful to me. When I don't remember the word chair, I describe it as the thing we sit on. Food is the thing we eat to stay alive. The car is what serves to transfer us. Who would I be if my name was forgotten? I was a wife, a mother, a successful teacher, yet what am I now?
"I'd call you my love."
He's my eyes now, so I believe him. Truth be told, he's always been my eyes.
"We were clouds back then," I repeat.
"At least those yarns led us both here," he says.
At least, we're trees standing side by side, our roots entangled, in a forest of trees, watching the clouds above us.
At least we're not deserted islands or soulless rocks.

Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist. Her work can be found in many journals, such as The Molotov Cocktail, Maudlin house, Jellyfish Review, Asymmetry fiction, the Sunlight Press and others.