By Lex Shramko
“So, after Poland, where did you go next?”
My mother blinks rapidly.
“What are you—the stasi?”
I stop breathing. Shit, I went too far. “I’m sorry. We can stop—”
“I’m tired. Too much. It crosses over itself—” my mother gestures abstractly with her hands. I want to soothe the frustration in her movements, but I am frozen in my chair across the table.
“I’m sorry. It’s ok. You don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want—”
“Time isn’t linear. I can’t give you the details in the order you want them—”
She stands up from the table and leaves the kitchen. I hold the disjointed memories in my hands, minutely scribed notes on a folded sheet of paper. It is a list of her memories, the ones spoken out loud. Inside the fold, I have written the dates of the four historic German-Soviet battles for Kharkiv. If I could just tie one of these battles to her memories, then I could braid together known history with fragmented memories and create a timeline of her years during the war. I could make an anchor, where the vertical plane is the spirit world and the horizontal plane is the material world, and find the intersection where she exists. Her memories would fill time, instead of creating holes in time.
I look at the paper in my hand, with her memories on one side, and history on the other side. Separate. Hauntingly un-braidable. Un-anchorable.
Lex Shramko is a recovering philosopher living in the DC area. She is currently working on a World War II fairy tale braided from memoir and biography, set in both the past and present, about a child orphan who discovers existence as an 85 year-old-woman. When she is not writing, she teaches philosophy and feminism. Otherwise, she is always on an adventure of traveling, biking, or scuba diving, or checking out the latest coffee shop. Preferably with a resident cat or dog.