“I write my memories on little pieces of old yellow paper,” she said into the silence. He turned to look at her.
Blue met brown.
“So that you can remember them?” he asked.
“And I write the ones that hurt the most on heavy pieces of white paper,” she continued. And she looked down prompting him to follow her gaze. Her hands laid splayed and on them tiny cuts on her fingertips. Tiny, irrelevant, paper cuts.
“They hurt so bad sometimes,” she whispered, her voice a ghost, cracking and breaking. He took her hands in his and smoothed out each digit with painstaking delicacy as if gentleness was a salve.
“A heavy burden,” he agreed, bringing slender hands to soothing lips.
“And where do you keep these memories? The heavy and the old.” he said, breath and lips moving against her fingertips.
With her free hand she reached inside her chest pocket and pulled out a wad. A tumbling mass of secrets and laughter and tears, joy, craze, lust, and anger spilled out, kept neatly in small square crinkling papers, some hard, thick and white, and others delicate, soft and yellowed.
He released her and began the task of separating them.
The yellow ones he placed back inside her chest pocket and pressed them down against her chest until he could feel her heartbeat’s pulse grazing his fingertips. “For your heart: every beautiful melody you’ve ever heard, every walk on the beach, every kiss you’ve received, every night we’ve shared, every laugh that shook you, every touch that moved you. All these you keep.”
She watched him pick up the heavy pieces of white paper and saw him splay open his hands. Quickly he cut them into his fingers so that his papercuts matched hers.
“And these you let me help you carry. Every tear, every mote of pain, every deception, every disappointment, every death, every disillusionment. All these you let me carry for you.”
He ripped them up, broke souls into pieces, and gave their blood and inked stained hides to the wind.
She looked at him in disbelief as the first tears welled up in her eyes.
Brown met blue.
He leaned forward and smiled brightly.
“Don’t cry, love. We pick the weeds but we keep the flowers.”
Joy Inneh is a Nigerian-American born and raised in Sacramento, California. She is an avid student of biology and a fervent writer and hopes to reconcile the two passions in her life somehow.
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