Friday, August 19, 2016


     "Confabulation," Tim says, locking his eyes on me from across the table. "That's what they call it you know, I read it on Snopes. Or they also call it the Mandela effect. It’s when everyone misremembers an event or a moment in time. "
      I know that when I go to tell someone about this I will remember that he looked intense. Like he was using all of his energy to make sure he was pushing against every object in the room. His feet bowing the stool in which he sat and his voice rattling the dusty stained glass shade that hung over our head. Even his forearms painfully grinded against the edge of the table in front of us, pinching the fibers that were sandwiched between the damp wood and his boney arms. With each emphatic movement he made, from his seat, his entire body clicked and crackled like a raging fire.
     “I mean think about this," Tim says pushing his eyebrows toward his forehead. "Have you ever heard a plane fly overhead and you look around the sky, but you can’t find it? You know you hear it, but you just can’t see it? Well, maybe it wasn’t there to begin with?” While he is speaking, Tim's hands are moving in unison, seemingly keeping rhythm with every utterance, rolling the tips of his fingers into his callused palms. With each rotation the skin stretching from his wrist like an over-worked rubber band.
     "That moment when you don't know any of the Blink songs. Or you are unsure that there was even a band named Blink 182. Blink? That is ironic...or coincidence? Maybe both,” letting out a noise that was one-part sigh and one-part laugh.
     He is speaking with a kind of feverish certainty, like a researcher on the cusp of a breakthrough, so sure of his results but unable to trust how to get there, or even how he got here. 
     Meanwhile, I am trying to remember what this building used to look like before the owners updated it. I remember the wall of dart boards, but I can't remember how many dart boards there were or even which wall they were on. My eyes scan the bar, occasionally catching one of the faces that lurch and bob from different corners of room.
      I can see that Tim is looking around as well, following my gaze and crawling into the different resting points my eyes land on. On top of the table he is still circling his fingers into his hands with a tight concentricity. 
      He says, “I know it sounds crazy, but now I can’t stop thinking about that band. Why can’t I
  remember any of these songs? Did I hear them in the first place?”
       Tim takes a moment to collect himself and to take a drink from the sweaty beer that had been soaking into the table in front of us. He continues, "Now it has me thinking, if everyone could remember something into existence, can we remember things OUT of it? What I mean is, is it possible to remember or make a memory that someone was never there? That we all remembered it with someone else, somewhere else, and at some other time…"
     Right then, the distractions of the dimly lit bar began to fade and my attention settled into the beat of his story.
      “Maybe we can’t see that plane because it isn’t there anymore?"
      We sat in silence for a few minutes, exchanging nods and sips of beer, while his hypothesis took root and began choking out thirty years of growth. Like kudzu, it climbed around everything I knew, wrapping itself around the branches of the things I learned, and suffocated what I believed.
      What if he is right and that plane is just gone? Gone with a blink. Taken from the present, moved into the past, and pushed deep into a place where it is no longer there. And that noise still echoing near us, somewhere deep in the horizon, is just a ripple. That whoosh we hear is the wake from some other memory. An old, distant, long gone memory, from when 300 people and a thousand tons of moving metal pushed against the sky and tried to let us know that it…is…was…still here.
      His hands are continuing to roll, moving just fast enough to remind himself that he is still in front of me. Any slower he would lose the pattern, any harder he might rub the ripples right off his skin.
     I broke the silence, "I'm still here and so are you."

     All-at-once he leapt across the high-top table, sprawling over a lifetime of water rings and etched hieroglyphics left by past parishioners; grabbing my shoulders, he shook.
     It was like he saw something I didn’t see, a fading or dimming. And so he shook, like he was trying to get better reception or clear the snow from a fuzzy screen. His fingertips dug into both of my shoulders with the force of several months of exercised muscle memory. 

     He cried out, "I promise I won't forget as long as you don't either."

                                            His eyes widened and were just starting to water.
                                                                                                   He was fighting the urge to blink.


     A man. About thirty. Took a sip from a sweaty beer at a spongy table in a dimly lit bar. The stool bowed under his feet and a stained glass shade swung above him, like a rope-swing knotted to a tree that was pushed by a gust of wind. Occasionally, the lamp landed on the man putting him on spotlight at the empty table. 
     If I had to give him a name it would be a single syllable, maybe "Tim" or "Pat."

     Here is where his story began...