A Piece of Memory
Summary: Fate brought her to him through the passion he did so wonderful. Photography was the key to his memory. And to his heart.
Rating/Genre: PG-13/ AU, Drama, Romance
How could one moment be so carefree and pleasant and then awful next? Could the misstep be avoided? She watched him fall, too shocked to even react, and saw him hitting his head first and his camera landing on the concrete floor next.
Oh, the camera. The camera he protected so, was now a few feet away from him, broken perhaps? She couldn’t tell, she only had one aim and it was to run to him.
“Oh, gosh, are you alright? Hey, open your eyes!” She shook him, of gentleness she knew needed and got nothing of a response. Fear trickled her, especially when he didn’t seem to breathe after. There was no rise or fall of his chest. Not even a twitch of his fingers. It was only his pained expression and his camera not within his reach.
To the nurse she ran for frantic help. She didn’t know what do.
She came back from the clinic, ushered out by the attendant and told her the patient needed rest. She complied, worried still, but this was only she could do.
Just by the stairs, the camera was still there. She didn’t notice the memory card next to it. No one seemed to see these lying around, unattended, either. Good thing it wasn’t taken.
“I have to return you to your owner. You’ll be missed if you don’t.” Though felt silly talking to an object, she popped the card right in and clutched it tightly. She knew of the camera’s importance, knew it for two years already. He was a popular photographer at school after all. Recruited to take shots of events, his works posted all over the place. From architectural detailing to abstraction, he was a magician with his lens and lights and angles. Perfectly capturing the moment, the breath of others. How she admired that of him.
But they were strangers. Of no relations, of no affinity. Not even an exchange of hi’s and hello’s.
That was no problem. She enjoyed watching him from afar; watching him did his magic. And she had to watch him fall earlier. That must have hurt so bad, she imagined, and stared the camera. He’d be back on his feet soon, she thought optimistically. He had to be.
Curiosity got ahead of her though. It was not every day you hold a special belonging of someone you liked. She flicked it Open, looked through images and saw moments… of him?
Him visiting the aquarium, attending a birthday of someone, him smiling next to a statue that was recently displayed. There were photos of him next to friends, him playing by the beach, the sun he looked at. There was him, sleeping soundly inside the library of what seemed like during sunset hours.
The last image was a blur. It was him, that was very much visible, but there was another someone in the background she couldn’t make of. Taken from the rooftop, the horizon beyond the campus and blue, blue skies she was very familiar with.
One too many shots of him still. Which was rather odd. Did he like picturing himself? Then again, there was no exhibit of interest in self-portraits. Even the images inside this camera she looked dated back years ago was all of him.
She shrugged, discarded the thought and tucked the camera in her arms. She wouldn’t know anything. No need to understand. They were strangers after all.
“Are you his friend?” The nurse asked when she came back. She was about to answer an honest, No, when the nurse continued, gulping, “I think he… just lost his memory.”
She gawked, wide eyes. “W-what…?”
“He can’t remember his name, the school’s name, even his home address.” The nurse sent a worried glance over her shoulders, towards the quiet boy who sat upright on the bed. “I thought he was only fooling around but… he doesn’t remember anything at all.”
“That’s impossible. How can he just lose–
..something so important so simply? She wanted to say but held her tongue and gripped the bag that held a memorabilia of his.
Suddenly, a thought struck her.
“Can I approach him?”
“Yes, please. I need to call his parents too. Stay with him. I’ll go through the directory.”
Like it was easier said than done. How could she approach him when they know nothing of each other, much less him remembering nothing at all? But she hoped, held on the idea that maybe he’d remember anything if he saw the photos inside his camera. It was all of him, all of his adventures, all of his smiles and laughs, all of his..
It was as if all his memory were transferred inside that memory card, she thought. Everything he did, every moment of him, in stored in a tiny card. Was that even possible?
“Hello, how are you?” She began, willing her shaky hands to still.
“My head hurts. I think I hit myself on something hard.” His hand found the back of his head, soothing the bump. “Were you the one who took me here?”
“Y-yeah. You fell down.”
“So it would seem.” He sent her a full body once-over. “Do I know you?”
Not at all was the right answer but that would subject her to no affiliation with him completely. She still had an important task to finish. “I’m your… friend. Classmate, I mean. I came here to give you this.” And help you, take care of you.
She took out the camera, held it right in front of him.
“I own… this?” He stared, wary to even hold it. Never had she felt a bad mix of shock and distress. How could he not remember this? His very important camera? Something you hold so dearly, so whole-heartedly, you cannot possibly lose your memory of it, can you?
“Yes, yes you do. Here, look.” She opened it, and clicked through the images of him again. Everything of him. She could feel herself shaking with nervous but bit her lip, trying to comprehend the various expressions he was making. This had to work or else…
“I really don’t remember those.” He said, like finality and gently pushed the camera away. Alarm choked her. This was not supposed to happen, him losing his passion.
It was then two adults ran through the door – his parents, it would seem – and flocked over him. She stood behind, quiet, lost of what to do but held the object close to her.
Before he left, his mother holding his arm and his father talking with the nurse, he sent her a glance.
“Hey, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to remember. Keep the camera and we’ll see each other tomorrow, okay? You need to remind of everything I lost. You said you were my friend, right? Then you’d know everything I’ve been, what I’ve seen and maybe experienced.”
This was beyond imagination, she gulped. One moment they were strangers and now she was playing an important role for him? She had to make him remember his memories, but how could she? She wasn’t present to everything he did, non-existent to his life before this. How can you make someone remember when you yourself know nothing of the person?
The camera was with her, and in it were pieces of him. If she could understand those staggering number of shots, relive the moments of his bit by bit, and then maybe this would help?
She supposed the Fate brought her to him through the passion he did so wonderful. Photography was the key to his memory. And to his heart.
Every day was a fête with him. The places they had been were not as close by as she thought. They went to everything the photos had shown, even did the photos told them to do. Eat ice cream, visit the arcade, went to the park and before she knew it, he was laughing delightfully.
“Oh, yeah. I’ve been here a few times before. How can I forget? I fell from the slides!” He pointed the steep play thing and grinned. “Wanna go for a go?”
Well, why not. If he’d remember more, the better. She smiled and snuggled the camera into her bag. “Sure.”
This would have been a date if not for the fact that it wasn’t. She was there to make him remember and nothing else. But it didn’t mean that she wouldn’t enjoy the activity with him along the way. This happiness was short-lived, she understood and braced.
“I think I stayed by the swings when I think deep thoughts.” He told her as they sat on the bench, breathing a little labored and tired from all the playing.
“Deep thoughts like?” She asked, trying to help him piecing out the lost fragments.
“I… think it was about someone. If I remember right, I don’t normally do that but I did a few times before.”
“Do you remember the person?” She ventured on, the heart ache growing a little slow but it was controlled.
He just shrugged and stood, taking her hand in his.
“I don’t. Anyway, where next, my memory-reminder friend?”
There was the aquarium, the beach, the library and the roof top and a lot more in between. She was positive they wouldn’t able to relive anything in just a day and threaded in slow pace with him. There was no rush to make him remember, to remind him of his prized craft. All would fall into place with little steps.
And with his hand, warm next to her, she couldn’t possibly want this all the end so quickly.
Seventh week had come by and he improved significantly. He finally remembered bits of pieces of everything the camera held and she couldn’t be happier for him. It was like he never missed anything because he was already hanging out with his crowd and he was shining like he did before.
The only missing was his interest in photography.
“Did you know,” she started while leafing through an archive of events and awards that had photos in it. Meeting inside the library was already a norm for the both of them and every time class ended for him, he’d be running to the library quick to see her. “That you do photography and very good at it? Your shots are featured everywhere around the campus.”
“I can’t imagine.” He said thoughtfully, looking a little uninterested whilst staring the book she held. “If I really liked photography, why did I forget?”
“I’m not sure myself.” Because it was really a mystery. “Here, look, you took this and this. There’s your name, and the date.”
“Since years ago? I must be that amazing.”
Too amazing in fact but she just smiled and shoved his shoulder. “Well, there’s no denying that. But you remain so humble and nice, you know?”
“Well, YOU’D know because you’ve been with me the whole time, right?” He grinned a clowny grin and ruffled her hair. A gesture she became so familiar with but knew she shouldn’t. She fell in deeper more than she could allow herself to. Getting out would be a problem and could only be painful. What if he remembered everything and went on with his life without her?
But she couldn’t help it. No one could. She’d help him until the end.
“You know I’m right!” He laughed a little loudly and the librarian shushed them. Quickly, they left with sniggers and went to the usual spot above. The rooftop.
She looked at the images again, seeing everything they did was exactly what was taken. Only there were no more shots of him and only the activity, the environment being recorded. It was as if the previous images were fading, being restored inside his head because he finally remembered.
But there was still one shot that was like a puzzle piece. The last shot of him and a blurred someone. An image that won’t go away because they couldn’t relive the moment.
“Remember our conversation before? About someone you always think of? Do you remember anything now?” She asked as they walked up the stairs.
“I’m not sure. It’s like a nagging feeling at the back of head really. I think I know but I need another something to make me remember.” He sighed; his hands inside his pockets and kicking the invisible rock.
When they finally opened the door, they were greeted with the sun high up on the sky and the breeze cold and crisp.
She liked the roof top, actually. She’d be here, sometimes during lunch hours or when it was time to go home. She loved the way she’d stay by the rail and see the students down below doing things. Sometimes, when there was no one around, she’d practice her singing here when the air would guide her and the sun would spotlight her.
She left the bag and camera by the door, running towards the rail and saw the horizon before her. This was the time of the day where everything was crystal clear. And how she wished his memory would be too.
The camera was only within his reach, watching a familiar view he couldn’t put his finger on. He couldn’t remember liking photography before, he once claimed after the accident, but when he opened the camera, looked through the view finder that was aimed towards her, he almost dropped it.
The sound called her and made her turn to him. “What’s wrong?” she asked from where she stood, a little far, and the wind played with her hair. And how pretty she looked.
“You. You’re that.. I can’t believe..” he began stammering; his hands shook but his grip tightened around the camera. “Stand back! Stay where you are!”
“What?” she asked, looking quite worried now but followed. She stood close to the rail and watched him in question. Her heart jumping in irregular rhythm.
“Turn around!” He hollered; his fingers moving so quickly around knobs and switches of the camera. Like it was second nature to him.
And when she finally did turn around, he pressed the button.
“What’s going??” she said, not turning around and felt anxious all of sudden. The horizon before her did not soothe her, nor did it provide answers she was suddenly seeking. When she finally turned, what she saw surprised her: he was holding his camera now. Tightly gripped and poised.
Did it mean anything? Did he finally remember the last piece he forgot?
There was weight on her shoulder, found him leaning close and his arms on her and holding the camera right in front of her. His breathing stirred her hair, her heart but she remained calmed. She was used to this – these gestures of his.
“Look.” He said, operating the camera and showing what had caught her breath and her hand covering her mouth.
It was no longer blur, not a mystery anymore. The previous shot taken from the rooftop and the unidentified person in the picture was her. She was her the whole time and she couldn’t not mistake the way the wind that blew her hair and the skyline and the horizon.
“I think I know who that person is now.” He said, in a whisper that tickled her heart. She was close to tears, couldn’t believe this was all happening, all happening real. “There’s a girl I always see here in the rooftop. I don’t know her, don’t know her name. All I know that she’s always here, sometimes singing and I couldn’t help taking a shot of her. I think she’s very beautiful.”
He made the camera facing them; him leaning his face even closer to her and she could only sink back in embarrassment. His finger found the button and adjusting the angle towards them both.
“For a new memory and a memory that would last a lifetime, say cheese!”
The picture of them both found its way to his and her wallet… and a spot on his most beautiful shots on the wall.
(originally written on January 2011)