Once, I Lived With Your Past

After escaping your memory, your college-years self asks me to take her in.

Never having been on bad terms with her, I welcome her back into my life.

She fills the closet of the guest bedroom with her new wardrobe and gets to work on the projects that you abandoned, that you came to dismiss as “beautifully impractical.”

As my new house-guest/roommate settles in, ambivalence takes up residence in my psyche. I am caught between being supportive of this younger, idealistic self of yours and being an honest friend to you, her super-pragmatic successor. Though I hold you in higher esteem, I have such joyous moments with her, and she needs me more than you do.

Without even trying, she soon wins the invisible, inaudible tug of war upon my loyalties, and the spoils of this conflict—the bulk of my sympathies and attention—are bestowed upon her. So, although perhaps I should, I never mention her when I see you, content to silently feel an asymmetric awkwardness around you. I also keep mum about her around our mutual friends and refer to her only as “a visiting friend” when talking about my weekend and evening activities with coworkers.

After a few months of this new normal, serendipity strikes. One of her avant-garde projects attracts the support of an (improbably) intellectually sympathetic and financially generous patron, which invigorates her to work with even more diligence, until even I, as a total outsider to her field, can recognize the final product to be a brilliant articulation of cognitive ecology.

This achievement equips her with the confidence she needs to head off toward more ambitious pursuits, those that may coincide with a greater destiny. And with chest-crushing hugs, she departs and leaves me the little rainbow that has been perched above her shoulder ever since I met her.

This chapter of my life has closed as suddenly as it opened.

But for you, it is just a mundane continuation of the previous chapter. That will be how the story of my recent life is recorded in your mind. That narrative, however, will change. One day, I will tell you about how who you once were became who you could have become. When I am certain that our relationship will survive the revelation of this secret that I must harbor until then.

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About the Author

Soramimi Hanarejima is the author of Visits to the Confabulatorium, a fanciful story collection that Jack Cheng said, "captures moonlight in Ziploc bags." Soramimi’s work recent work can be found in The Best Asian Speculative Fiction, STORGY Magazine, and KYSO Flash.