Home : Archive : TSV 21-30 : TSV 28 : Fiction

Memory's Echo

By Phillip J. Gray

The scene was like that from a child's picture book.

A small, attractive woman with laughing eyes and a careworn face strolled gently through a large and carefully tended garden. In the distance a large house could be discerned, dominated by steep gables and white walls, upon which climbed untidy wallflowers and scarlet roses. The woman trailed her hands wistfully through a small avenue of willows, seeming to caress the weeping foliage.

With an almost inaudible sigh the woman moved away from the picturesque bower towards a small and exotic plant that stood alone, separated from the careful preciseness of the hedgerows and flower beds by its alien nature. The plant had verdant serrated leaves which encircled a tiny magenta blossom. In many ways, the woman thought, this plant symbolised her life; a plant different to the others, something exotic, caught for the eternity of a moment in the controlled order of those around it.

The woman wandered a little further, to where she had placed a small wicker chair. She carried the chair over to the plant and set it down. Seating herself in it, she closed her eyes and turned her thoughts inward.

Her mind wandered far away from the peaceful tranquillity of her surroundings, to what seemed an entire lifetime away. The woman stirred, and then sank again into the quagmire of her past. Her mind descended into a whirlpool of memories that threatened to overwhelm the fragility of the present. Images formed deep in her consciousness like a stone disturbing the surface of a seemingly bottomless pool. A welter of faces and experiences rose like a tidal swell through her mind and then receded.

She thought about him last of all. He had been such an influence on her; she had looked upon him as a surrogate father. The woman felt a curiously strong sense of longing. Her youthtime had seemed to hold so many attractions for her. And yet, of all the faces and images she remembered it was he who was etched indelibly upon her memory. It was over two decades since he had exercised his mesmerising spell over her and she had not thought about him for a long time.

Again, she stirred as uneasy memories superseded the more familiar faces conjured up by her tangled spiders web of memories. She remembered the dark presence of his nemesis and the host of grotesque adversaries she had encountered while at his side. Kaleidoscope visions of obscene visages thrust their way forward. Cold, featureless masks were replaced by gaunt, proud sea-green reptilian features. Eyes stared at her, certain in the knowledge of their superiority to the intruder known as Man. Slowly these faded into the recesses of her mind, obliterated suddenly by a vision that struck a chilling chord of terror through her consciousness. The thrashing aquatic forms that had always terrified her the most loomed abruptly in the uppermost of her thoughts. She gripped the arms of the chair in apprehensive fear, feeling the sting of harsh salt water against her cheek and hearing the keening wail of the beast searching for its prey.

A harsh grating sound penetrated her thoughts. Her mind recoiled as the hideous apparition receded, driven away by the intrusive and yet strangely familiar sound. It was like a distant memory that haunts you for the rest of your life.

Her eyes flickered open, alighting on the tiny magenta blossom. The woman rose and turned with a sudden urgency and found... nothing. The wheezing, groaning sound seemed to dissipate with the gentle rustle of the bushes. She took a deep breath and dismissed the sound as an echo of a distant memory.

With a more determined stride, the woman began to wend her way back through the intricate gardens towards the solidity of the present. The past disseminated behind her.

This item appeared in TSV 28 (April 1992).

Index nodes: Fiction