#42 The Fool

by Barry Charman

He was haunted by the idea. The idea he had not been able to shake, or convince himself was not true.

He had had the idea that his child, only ten, would one day forget the first ten years of her life, as he himself had done.

There was no reason to believe this would happen.

But if it did, wouldn’t that mean his little girl would never have existed? Or exist only in his memories, like a dream, or a derangement? The child who had made him forget the grind - made him young again - gone. Erased.

The realisation made a mockery of them both.

An entire childhood, with all its simple enchantments and joy and breathless hugs, reduced to flat photographs, blank stares and the apathy of shrugs.

It devalued all the hope that was left.

His own youth was like a whisper, something frail that had scattered against the blunt weight of the present. It seemed as if everything that should have been cherished, had withered, meaninglessly, to dust.

He imagined her footprints on a beach, beside his own, and the tide roaring near.

He sat up at night. Downstairs. In darkness. Turning the idea over and over in his mind. Grieving, almost. He haunted himself into this corner, so much so he forgot her eleventh birthday.

She asked him why he’d forgotten, and he didn’t waste time explaining. She’d only forget.

Wrapped in echoes. Mummified. He sat in the dark.

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