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We Can Forget It For You

Written By Sara Roncero-Menendez
Cover Art by

Description

An experimental fiction story laid out as a medical form for memory erasure, filled out by a person who has just lost their husband in a tragic way that haunts them. Highlighting the power of grief and memory, with some light critique on the American medical system, the author hopes readers will find familiarity, empathy, and a little bit of horror in Alex’s ordeal and what they are willing to sacrifice.

Editors’ Note

Sara expertly captures the strange logic of grief and the ways we struggle to make sense of tragic events. What do you do with all the precious memories of a lost loved one, both good and bad? The Clementine Barish Memory Clinic has the answer. Never before has the hauntingly sterile format of a medical form made us want to laugh and cry at the same time. The true genius of flash fiction is when a writer can make you feel such a wide array of emotions in so little time.

APPLICATION FOR MEMORY ERASURE

Welcome to the Clementine Barish Memory Clinic! We specialize in memory recall, modification,  and erasure. In order to ensure we are able to meet your memory needs, please fill out the  following form and a memory specialist will reach out to you in order to schedule a consultation. 

Please be advised that memory erasure is permanent, and cannot be undone. While there will  be several check-ins with your specialist before your final procedure, please be sure to read up  on our memory modification procedure, which may be a better fit.

Name: Alex Goodwin 

Date of Birth: 9/16/1982 

Email: Nonsenseaddress @ hootmail . net 

Are you a new or existing patient? NEW

Have you had memory recall work done before? NO 

Have you had memory modification work done before? NO 

Have you had memory erasure work done before? NO

Please list all of your viable payment options, as highlighted in our Payment Guideline:

– Bank account  

– Family inheritance (future acquisition date unknown) 

– 2017 Toyota Corolla 

– The ability to taste cilantro as something other than soap 

– The ability to see the color orange 

– All of fifth grade 

– All of sixth grade 

– All of seventh grade 

– All of freshman year of college 

– The muscle memory associated with painting 

– Enjoyment of the taste of chocolate  

– 45 decibels of hearing 

– A kidney

Please explain which memory/memories you would like erased. Please start with the least  emotionally-resonant memory first. More deep-rooted memories can be difficult to cleanly  extract, though our technicians will do their best to remove as many as possible. 

Reminder: These should be memories that you want COMPLETELY ERASED.

– That episode from that stupid kid’s sitcom when the star gets fed zucchini and blows up  like a balloon, itching and choking the entire time. (Can you get rid of all memories of  shows with this plot line? Are they all connected or do I need to list them all out?) 

– The screaming fit I threw at that coffee shop when the barista poured dairy into a cup  that clearly said “almond milk” and then the person who ordered it was like “It’s not a big  deal” and the barista got mad at me for telling him how he might have really hurt  someone. Killed someone. 

– Crying in the grocery store when the manager had to walk me to the back cause I was  freaking out the customers.  

– Crying in the middle of my board meeting when Janine was presenting on the Q3 profits.  The looks of pity were like knives in my back, brutal betrayals of the carefully built  separation of the world and work.  

– Crying at my older sister’s birthday party when I found an epipen in her kitchen drawer. I  tried so hard not to ruin her big day, but even just sitting up in her room to calm down, I  know I had made it all about me again.  

– Not picking up the phone because I was “busy” when really, I was just mad we had a  fight and I wasn’t ready to get into it. He’d be back from lunch with Paul soon enough,  we’d duke it out later. Later. There was always going to be a later.  

– Walking into the hospital room and seeing him under that sheet. They said someone  used the epipen wrong, they said they didn’t get there in time. The EMTs did everything  they could, tried to keep the airway open, said I shouldn’t look under the sheet. The  words “horror show” were used more than once. When I held his cold hand, his fingers  were so swollen.  

– Driving down to the restaurant to scream at the manager about not labeling their  desserts properly. Who expects apple pie to have peanuts? Why wouldn’t you label  that? He says he’s sorry. He says the company is sorry. He says everything he’s  supposed to say. But unless he can bring back the dead, his apologies weren’t worth jackshit.  

– Looking under the sheet. 

– Calling his mom. All of it. Every single moment of it. 

– When I let him walk out the door without giving him a kiss goodbye. 

– Looking at him after the funeral parlor had cleaned him up, in that shitty suit from the  back of the closet. All stuffed and puffed up, skin still too tight everywhere. He wasn’t  him anymore. He wasn’t my husband. Lyle was gone.  

Memory erasure is often a complicated procedure, due to the way memories are often  entangled in one another, and some memories may be erased in the process. While we cannot guarantee the preservation of all associated memories, please list all potentially associated  memories you would like us to try and preserve.

– Our first date, which was at that restaurant. It was a different menu back then, and  obviously if I had known this was going to be the place that killed him, I would have  suggested we eat somewhere else, anywhere else.  

– Lyle’s whole department coming to clean the house and help get relatives to and from  the services. Preparing food and fielding questions. Even Caleb, that massive prick, was  helpful, bringing enough cases of wine to supply a vineyard.  

– Holding his mother’s hand at the funeral. Glenda and I never saw eye-to-eye, but in that  moment, she seemed to finally get that I really loved him. I just really need this one.

– Dr. Ramirez sitting with me next to Lyle’s bedside, rubbing my back while I cried, telling  me everything I was going to need and then writing it all down and giving me her number  in case I needed anything. She shared in my anger and ire in ways I hadn’t known I  needed at the time. I have drawn on her words a hundred times now. 

– The most important of those words: “Nothing will ever be enough, but hatred is as good  a place as any to start.” 

– The fight. I was a giant ass, acting like he was definitely coming back. I want to  remember it so I always know that my words to someone could be the last. And even  though he was mad, it was the last time he said I love you to me. That’s mine, that gets  to be mine forever. 

– Lyle. He has to stay, whole and complete. Whatever happens, you can’t let me forget the  way he breathlessly ate food or wheezed when he laughed or the feel of his cold hands  after working outside or the scrunch of his nose when he got mad or how he never, ever  separated his whites no matter how often I told him or the way he used to kick the tires  of his car every time everytime he got frustrated. Even the bad parts of Lyle have to stay.  All of him. The whole of him who walked out that door and who could come back, always  just on the other side. 

Is there anything your memory specialist should know before your consultation?

I was told I needed to wait twelve months from the last memory I want erased, and I figure by  the time the procedure is scheduled, it will be about the right time. I can’t sleep, I can’t bring  myself to eat. I can see the image of him in that awful coffin burned into my eyelids. Please, I  am begging you, I can’t live like this anymore. My last memory of him cannot be him lying in the  tacky oak box in a suit a size too small for him. If the payment isn’t enough, please let me know  and I can figure out something else. I can get loans, I can clean the clinic, whatever you need,  whatever it takes.

Your memory specialist will reach out within 1 to 2 business days in order to set up a  consultation. If you have any questions in the meantime, don’t hesitate to email us or call  our office. 

Thank you for choosing the Clementine Barish Memory Clinic!

Memory management you’ll never forget!

About The Author

Sara is a writer based in NY and has published stories and essays in several outlets, including Sad Girl Review, Roi Fainéant, and Miniskirt Magazine, as well as a poetry chapbook, Graveyard Heart.