by Ella Higgins, aged 13
I‘m the memory collector. I’ve met you, but you haven’t met me.
I was once like you, living, breathing, warm. I’d play with my friends on the beach, in the park, I’d laugh, talk, I‘d enjoy life.
Well, I did.
I collect the memories of everyone, even those who cease to exist. I wander over flooded lands, watching the memories of lost ones in the pools of murky water. I reach out and scoop them up in my cupped hands. They’re liquid velvet on my skin. I tiptoe over the charred remains of forests and houses, breathing in the memories hidden in the smoke. They smell sharp, and make my nose burn.
I have no body, no soul, no entity. I’m not living, yet I’m not dead. I’m only a conscience. I can walk down busy streets and nobody notices me. I can stretch out my arms and people walk through me. All they feel is a breeze on their face.
Have you ever walked down streets and wondered what other people’s lives are like? What they do, what they’re thinking? I don’t have to. All I need to do is reach out, touch them, connect with them. I know all of it, their feelings, who they love, who they hate.
I’m not interested in any of that.
As I said, I’m a memory collector; I’m only interested in the memories of you. They are what I thrive on, what I consume to stay in this state, and to not drift away into a state of nothingness.
I take the memories in. I don’t actually keep them; well, most of the time anyway, it’s more like I’m running my fingers through them, combing them. They all have a unique flavour, a unique feel. I like happy memories; they taste of sunshine and sparkle as I breathe them in. Sad memories are interesting, the flavour depends on the type of the memory, so physical pain causes the memory to have a salty taste, whereas mental pain causes a sharper feel, more like lemon and sugar, bittersweet.
There’s one particular memory that I love the most – a memory that tastes of rosewater and honey, a memory that smells of fresh baking – this memory comes from one special girl, a girl who sits at her bedroom window every evening and gazes out at the night sky. I sit with her, she can’t see me but she knows I’m there – senses me – she smiles at me and closes her eyes. I reach out, combing the memories from her silky hair, a memory of two girls playing in the meadows behind her house, our house, picking flowers in the sun.
The girl sighs and closes her window, but there on her windowsill, lies a tiny blue flower, and a note; I will never forget you.
I reach out and touch the forget-me-not, sending it spinning away with a gust of wind and watching it disappear, a lifeboat, bobbing on the ocean of the evening breeze.