Pasatiempo

THE PURSUED MEMORY

Luke Garcia, 17, Santa Fe

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I don’t remember my past, or anything about my childhood. It’s ... strange, emotions overtake me when I try to conjure up memories: a faint image will form and quickly fizzle out, leaving only an array of color. I’ll laugh, other times, I’ll cry. Then even the color fades. It’s always the same.

I. Can’t. Remember.

Every time I’d try to recollect, I’d dig myself further into a hole. My muscles would tense, and my hair would stand on edge until I couldn’t take it anymore and screamed in the middle of the night. Why can’t I remember? I had to take a flight to my hometown, which I only knew from the secondhand account of my parents, in the hopes some sort of memory would trigger. As I went, I couldn’t sleep; this gnawing anxiety had to end.

When I arrived, it was mid-fall. I left my bags in my room and walked through the eastern countrysid­e. The stars were out, and the moon glowed with ageless beauty. I couldn’t help but admire it. And soon after came the western wind; it continued all throughout the night.

For now, it was cold and comforting, and I felt the need to take a rest, so I did. My breath quickened, and I felt dizzy. Like a giant tide, a wave rushed over me and left me speechless. The scenery was the same; had I ever seen this view before? I had to believe so, but could not be sure. So I continued on as the wind grew more intense. Neverthele­ss, I had to continue forward.

Along the path I met a strange man. He wore a fine suit and carried himself with pride. He kept his distance for quite some time, and I didn’t know why. Yet, he decided (or did he desire?) to talk after some time. He spoke in a quiet voice that was hard to pick up when the wind blew. The man treated me like a friend, and I did the same. He talked to me about many things: the sciences, literature, and history. Eventually, it came time to talk about ourselves. Although he was reserved about himself, he wouldn’t shy away from asking about me.

“Where do you come from, sir?” he asked.

“Here,” I said.

“That seems correct.” He adjusted his tie (which looked as if it was choking him) and looked at the time on his plain watch. He wouldn’t say why, nor would he say where he was from, and the conversati­on continued on. He asked what brought me back (how he knew I left I did not know). “Something must have guided you here.”

I could not answer. I felt that same anxiety I get when I try to remember. There was a hill just in view, and past it I knew there was a vast meadow. How I knew, I did not know; but a spiritual force told me to go forth. How could I deny it?

My pace quickened, as did the man’s. I sensed he shared my same eagerness. The wind pelted our faces and pushed us back; the ground grew uneven, and although it was a relatively small hill, we were out of breath. We trudged on, we had to see what lay beyond.

“What have we found on this silent night?” the man asked as we reached the top.

I couldn’t answer him just yet.

The moon encompasse­d everything around us: the flowers sparkled in its rays, and the few birds that soared through the sky gave off an air of majesty. I felt the urge to reach my hand out and grab the white orb; I believed I could grab it. Then my head throbbed and felt as if it would split. My legs gave out, and I fell on my head. A kaleidosco­pe of colors clouded my vision as I became entranced in the confusion.

Beautiful, lyrical prose. Reads like poetry … I love the metaphor. The words reach beyond his years.

— CAROLYN GRAHAM, FICTION JUDGE

I fell through a void and never reached an end. Somewhere, I flailed around and caught hold of something: a memory.

I was a child playing in the hills, but they were different back then; just miles and miles of an empty expanse. The sight was enticing; from the wastes I thought I could build an entire city. I wondered what else I’d find, and who I would become. That day, I promised myself that I’d go out and see the world.

But that’s not what happened. I left my home, found a place, and quietly settled. My spirit was snuffed out by my own circumstan­ces, and I forgot. My memories slipped away from my grasp as everything changed into a never-ending day. I was a prisoner kept in a cold cell, begging to see the light. The throbbing pain stopped, and I looked around; the man was standing over me. I forgot he had even existed.

He helped me to my feet. “Did you find your answers?”

I nodded, “I found myself.”

He smiled and shook my hand, “The moon is beautiful tonight, its dim rays illuminate but a speck of what’s hidden in the dark: beautiful and horrifying secrets. We will always be drawn to them, you and I; we have nowhere to hide and can only hope to find ourselves through whatever we grasp.”

Just then, the wind screeched and the flowers were almost ripped from the ground; little creatures I could not see scattered as if threatened by something. Time stood still, and the Earth felt as if it would open right then and there. That didn’t happen. I stood triumphant­ly in the dim light. My prize was humble for sure, but it was all I cared for.

The man walked away soon after his final speech, adjusting his tie closer to his neck as he vanished from sight. I never saw him again, but his presence left an impression on me, one which I can’t shake away. I thought about him as I walked home, the wind now hastened rather than hindered me as I exited the countrysid­e. I looked upon the moon for the final time that night, its beauty only amplified now.

 ?? ?? Luke Garcia is a senior at St. Michael’s High School and is a lifelong resident of Santa Fe, with a heritage of more than 12 generation­s living in New Mexico. He plans to pursue a degree in biomedical engineerin­g at New Mexico Tech. He is also a recipient of the College Board National Hispanic Recognitio­n Award. In his free time, he is either training in the martial arts, writing, reading, hiking, or spending time with his beloved family (mother, father, brother, and two dogs).
Luke Garcia is a senior at St. Michael’s High School and is a lifelong resident of Santa Fe, with a heritage of more than 12 generation­s living in New Mexico. He plans to pursue a degree in biomedical engineerin­g at New Mexico Tech. He is also a recipient of the College Board National Hispanic Recognitio­n Award. In his free time, he is either training in the martial arts, writing, reading, hiking, or spending time with his beloved family (mother, father, brother, and two dogs).

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