“The End of Tomorrow” / A Memorable Fancy #096

Today is Memories Day. It comes once a year and we know, from bitter memory, how this day will go.

Marie comes down to breakfast, a face of despair. She sits wordless, doesn’t eat her eggs.

Our children, Anne and Helene, stumble in from their bedrooms, swathed in tears. I try to comfort them. Since they are four and six years old (Anne the older), they will forget by the end of tomorrow. But Marie and I will not forget who we are.

Since I’m the daddy I must be strong, not feel what the others feel. I know that’s not how it’s supposed to be these days, but I can’t get it out of my head so easily. Today’s authorities tell me it’s all right for us men to admit weakness, and I must agree. But my soul, if I have a soul, does not agree, no matter how thoroughly my mind has been convinced.

On this day we remember everything that happened: our good deeds, our foul. Somehow, the things we love about ourselves seem small, self-serving, base on this day; while the bad things we have done shout our pettiness, our greed, our various nastiness. The traditions of this day say that morning is for grieving. Afternoon is for knowing that grieving only makes the memories worse. Evening is for knowing that nothing can mend the past.

Marie and I talked it over with Anne and Helene on All-Memories Eve last night; we tried to steel them for today. Perhaps that helped. Perhaps it did not.

Marie remembers – what? She says something about a lover whom she tired of, ridiculed, turned from the only career he could have done well in. But I know there is more to her grief than that.

And me? I had a son, long before I met Marie. I do not know where he is or what has happened to him. He is perhaps thirty years old now. He called me, five years ago, in tears and desperation. I hung up on him.

And we all, neighbors and countrymen: there were others among us here. Like us, but – just different enough. We remember, on this day, why they are not among us anymore.

Tomorrow morning we will go to the shores of Lethe: Marie, Anne, Helene, and me. We will walk there, or take the train. In great sorrow we will dip ourselves in its lulling waters, and forget as best we can. By the end of tomorrow we will be safe until Memories Day next year. We will go on with our lives, just as desperately as we have been doing for so long.

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