“Memories”

It’s been six hours, twenty two minutes and thirty seven seconds since Avi started this work. It was frustrating, nerve wracking and honestly it was putting him closer to that invisible edge between sanity and insanity.

But it would be worth it. He could feel it this time. He would crack it. He would make it.

The phone rang, for perhaps the tenth time that hour, and frustrated he switched it off. Damn Z. She didn’t understand.

Code. Translate. Repeat. Code, translate, repeat. Repeat…repeat…occasionally Avi would get excited and run to the lock, only to realise in dismay that a pattern was missing, a number was out of place, or he was flat out wrong.

Why did his mother have to close this so well? It had what he needed, and she told him he had the means to get it. Then why couldn’t he?

The incessant banging on the door breaks him from his desperate thoughts and he looks at the lock.

“A lifetime of happiness,” she had said, “I will lock a lifetime of happiness so that one day when we return here, we’ll have all that happiness and more.”

He heard the sound of a door being broken down. He didn’t care. He sat where he was, on the ground, among thousands of different patterns and locks and codes, most of his mother’s work: cryptology was her life, mythology had been her fascination.

“Why. In the world. Aren’t you picking up your phone?” Z demanded, walking in. She stopped suddenly, noticing him. The papers. Finally, the lock.

“Oh, sweetheart.”

He doesn’t respond, he can’t bring himself to. Two years he’d searched. Two years since she’d given up. He needed this. She didn’t understand.

“Are you ok?” Z asked, kneeling in front of him. He stayed silent.

“I need you to listen to me, ok? You can’t do this to yourself. You have a life, Avi, one you need to get back to. You can’t stay here forever, searching for something that doesn’t exist.”

“How do you know it doesn’t exist?” The words flew out of his mouth. All his anger and frustration had pooled into a puddle of sadness.

“You said so yourself! You said it when your mom told you about it, you joked when our teacher told us about it. There’s no way to bring her back, Avi.”

“There is.” He hissed getting up off the floor. He would show her. He trusted his mom. He knew it, he absolutely did, his mom had found it. A way to bring back the people they had lost.

“Avi.” He didn’t respond, piling his papers and setting to work again.

“I know you miss her, Avi. But there’s no way to bring her back. She wouldn’t want this, you know? She wouldn’t want you to waste your life away searching for this.”

“She wouldn’t leave me this room then.” He said, huffing from exertion of moving the piles of books away, and staring, once again, at his mom’s journal.

“It is not a way for you to defy the laws of nature! She would tell you to stop. She would tell you not to defy science because those who did ended up dead, or worse, Avi.”

“That was her myth talking. She had science here. She told me. She promised.”

“Your mom is gone, Avi. She’s not coming back.”

A sharp inhale. Then, like a madman he jumped up. There it was! It was always here! And it was so simple. The code was right there.

He rushed over to the lock. Punched in the numbers. Turned the levers. And waited for the room, the one his mother had built, to open.

“You..opened it…” Z followed him in as he went down a corridor, narrow and tall enough for perhaps his mom.

When he reached though. His excitement ebbed away. The room had no treasure, no secret compartment, no way to bring back the dead. Just lots, and lots, and lots of photos.

Him. His mom. His dad, before he was killed in war. Z was there too. There were a couple of school plays. Trophies. Books and journals and clothes and toys, all the things he thought he had lost when they moved, refugees in a war they couldn’t have won.

A lifetime of happiness. That’s what this was. A lifetime of memories, memories of a time before, memories of when he had two parents instead of one and now none, memories of a time when he had loved and laughed and lived like there was no consequence to life.

Life before his mom had become an alcoholic, desperate for some way to bring back his dad. Life before they were brandished to poverty because she wasn’t allowed to work in her field because she was a woman.

Avi broke down, finally allowing him to feel these feelings he had kept buried. Grief. Desperate, desperate grief.

Z hugged him, and held him close.

“This was what she had said then,” he sniffled into her shoulder, “memories. Not the person.”

Z held him closer as he cried, and he felt a weight lift off him as he accepted his parents’ deaths.

_Aarya R.K.

Author’s note: Hey! I know I haven’t written in a long, long time, but it’s because my schedule has made it worse than ever for me to get any time for writing. In fact, I’m here on borrowed time right now 😂

Regardless, I will try my best to keep posting more. Thanks for reading!

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