Day 161 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about a photographic memory.
Erin: Everyone always thinks that having a photographic memory is convenient, but I find it to be the opposite. There is so much information in my brain to sort through. It is like trying to accomplish anything in a hoarder’s house at times. Plus, there are photographs I would like to burn.
Shannon: I remember everything I’ve ever witnessed in perfect detail, and sometimes I’m not sure if my gift is blessing or curse. Memories play in my head like movies filmed through the precision camera lenses of my eyes, and they can be so wonderful. I often like to replay them, but sometimes they get in the way.
I know when people are lying, and whenever something goes wrong I can go back and find the exact reasons why everything fell apart. I hate myself for doing it, but it just happens. Randomly I’ll be leading my brain through tangents, and suddenly my mind flashes though the past and pauses on a specific point in time where I had missed important details earlier. I go back and see the look of disappointment on someone’s face. I see the one awful statement that so easily slipped out of my mouth. I catch the glossy eyes right before a person’s head turns away.
I have access to all the answers, and I should be grateful, but I can’t help thinking my life would be a lot more enjoyable if I was in the dark like everyone else. Then my memories couldn’t ruin the present, and I could live without picking everything apart.
Write about an above average memory.
I was comfortably resting among a field of wildflowers at the peak of their bloom with a rainbow of spectacular, shifting shades gently waving in the heavy, warm breeze. Staring up into the brilliant blue sky, I breathed in the fragrance of a million flowers and a smile stretched my lips as a low laugh fell like rain from my tongue. With my fingers digging into the hot, silky dirt behind me, I leaned back further to stretch my sore back and neck. Slowly, I relaxed and lowered myself to the ground, letting feral grasses overtake my line of sight and the heat sunk deep into my skin. High above me, hanging in the heavens like a chandelier above the world, was a shivering summer sun that kissed my skin and brought out the buzzing insects.
“Scarlet?” a high, loud woman called through the stupor of a sunny summery day I was enjoying. Sighing deeply, I took the headphones from my ears, the soft narrator’s tone fading as the sharp edges of reality cut my eardrums with its harshness. I groggily rubbed my tired eyes before opening them and blinking into the sudden bright light and tall company. Glancing around awkwardly, the woman smiled minutely and spoke again at a normal volume level, “Hey, sorry, I just wanted to let you know that the orientation was going to start soon. I’m Lynn, your roommate; I just got here a few minutes ago. Haha, last ferry available tonight,” she blathered on as I committed her made-up face to memory.
I straightened on the mountain of pillows I was resting on and addressed her with as kind a smile as I could manage, “Uh, I prefer Cari, actually.” As her face fell, rosy blush burning her cheeks, I course corrected in a hurry, “Thanks for letting me know about the orientation, but I’m not going to attend it. I’ve read everything on the layout, traditions and have already made myself acquainted with some of the student body.” Finishing with a forced smile, I gripped my phone hard enough to feel the plastic case creak dangerously and eyed my winging headphones wearily; I didn’t want to think about school right now or talk to other students. I could recall everything I’d seen perfectly and in glittering colour, so a meeting with all students and faculty, the ones who’d drawn the short straw anyway, wasn’t going to teach me anything I hadn’t already gleaned from campus on my own.
After a few moments of ruffling through her things, Lynn left without another word to me, backpack swinging off her shoulder as though it didn’t want to go to orientation either. When the room was finally empty again I rubbed my temple and made my way to the door, ensuring it was actually locked before shutting the drapes carefully. I hadn’t really expected to have a roommate at all, but at least I seemed to have annoyed this one a decent amount; my hope was to have exasperated her enough to make our room an unpleasant place to be and she’d leave me to my own devices as often as possible.
Laying on my stomache, I scrounged around under my bedframe for a small, simply-crafted box and pulled it from the depths. When I sat back up, my spine still aching, I gently placed the container on the end of the bed and dove into the closet for candles. It took a few minutes to find them all as I’d thrown them haphazardly in the corner when an unwelcome welcoming committee member decided I was being antisocial and offered to help me meet new people. Eleven oddly shaped and coloured candles stood around the room when I was done, each with a gem of various materials nestled within them. When I flicked the light off and sat cross-legged in the pitch-dark center of the room I could practically feel the energies bouncing around within the field.
When I shut my eyes, imagining rage and heat rising within myself, a whoosh of air rushed past, warmth tickling my face and light glowing through my eyelids. For a few moments I let the comforting glow of the candles ease the ache that had spread throughout my body, but I knew the relaxation couldn’t last forever. Opening my lids slowly to suck every drop of comfort from the still air, I glanced around at the dancing flames and sighed at what I was capable of. In grade school I’d done a trick with a birthday candle that shocked everyone in school, including the teachers and councillor, but I hadn’t shown anyone else for a long time out of fear of ridicule or worse.
In the orange glow of the flames, though, I couldn’t help but smile at the restorative properties that a circle like this was capable of. As I meditated, I went over my schedule and how to reach every classroom in the shortest amount of time possible, while not appearing too knowledgeable about the school. Some things made other kids remember just how strange you were; unfortunately knowing too much was one such attribute that others would tease one about. Whenever my mind wandered to the past, bringing forth images of stony faces or flames licking the sides of my elementary school’s walls, I was forced to begin my breathing exercises anew. With the help of a chant I used to channel my energy and keep my levels high enough for normal human interaction, I felt joy returning to my entire being almost instantly.
By the time Lynn returned to the dorm room, nearly four hours later and drenched in freezing rain, I was almost at full alertness with all my magickal things put safely away. Sketching a few plants I observed in the far greenhouses in perfect detail, I almost didn’t notice when Lynn snuck in without her backpack and collapsed on her neatly-made bed. After our first meeting I had switched to listening to rock music quietly screaming from my tiny, tinny speaker to avoid a repeat of our awkward encounter.
A few moments after she arrived, I called cheerfully over to Lynn in as welcoming a tone as I could, which was much better than my previous attempts, “Hey, how was orientation?” When she didn’t respond, I turned my chair around from the desk and fixed a skeptical eye on her ragdoll figure. Her hair was in a tangled mess, the hems of her pants were sopping a few inches above the floor, her shoes were leaking pools of water on the carpet and her shirt was torn in a few places; all in all, I would have expected she just ran a race through the forest in the dark. Though I didn’t think that a university orientation could be so dangerous, this school hid secrets that would make your hair curl, so I wouldn’t put it past them. “You alright, Lynn?” I asked, inching closer.
Groaning, my roommate heaved herself onto her side, mascara making dark rivers through her thick makeup, and blinked wearily. “Well, as it turns out, there’s a lot more physical aspects of being shown around school than I expected. See, it was like a scavenger hunt where you only got information if you made it to these checkpoints.” She gasped, holding, triumphantly, what appeared to be a small deck of playing cards. After a few difficult moments spent plucking some nasty burrs out of her denim pants, she sat at the end of her bed and shuffled them a few times. “These are secrets and tips for life around campus that I managed to get on the hunt. There’s a secret café that only returning students know about, but now I do, too!” she squealed, waving the card in my direction as though it were made of solid gold.
“Well, I guess you had a good, productive evening, too,” she stated, tucking the cards into her pillowcase and hunting around for something warm and dry to put on in the neatly-sorted closet. Turning to look at me, she grinned, “Guess you just had a headache, eh? Those first-day jitters?” I was planning to drown her out with thoughts about something, anything in the world, when I noticed the edges of her shirt begin to turn frosty white with ice. Across the room, I felt a tingle of wind whispering through the dorm and rubbed my normally-warm arm to heat up. The air before me was so cold that a tiny cloud formed and hovered for a moment when I breathed out, rising to the ceiling like a ghost.
Teeth chattering, I blew on my hands and spoke through freezing lips, “Uh, Lynn, would you mind shutting off the AC? It’s a little cold in here,” I added to the oblivious girl, who twirled nervously on her heel to face my frostbitten fingers. With a little screech of horror, she breathed a sigh into the room and the ice melted almost instantly.
It took her a few long, awkward moments to regain her voice, even then it was little louder than a mouse, “Sorry, uh, I don’t know how that, uh, how that happened.” High-pitched laughter bubbled from her lips like icicles shattering on cement and she rocked back and forth on the spot, completely mortified.
Through the whole ordeal, I attempted to keep a stoic expression on my face, not betraying a whit of emotion, but I felt the façade begin to crack. Letting the mask fall to pieces, I grinned widely at Lynn and held out a closed hand, waiting until I thought she might pass out from holding onto the breath. As a tiny fire licked the inside of my fingers playfully, I uncurled my digits to reveal the flame to my roommate, who exhaled gratefully. “Well, I guess they didn’t know they were sticking someone with ice powers in with the pyro,” I joked, watching the shock on Lynn’s face fade slowly to relief. Blowing out the fire, I stood up and crossed the room lightly, meaning to shake her hand in truce. Instead of shaking my hand, though, I was suddenly in the bony embrace of a blubbering woman getting frozen tears on my best hoody.
We stood there for a long minutes before letting go. “I’m sorry, Cari, I just haven’t met anyone else who can do, can do this kinda thing,” she waved her hands about as she spoke, tears smashing on the floor and dissolving into little puddles on the carpet. She blew her nose on a tissue and continued the search for clean clothes, now whistling, off-tune, to my inaudible music.
I was just getting back to my drawing of a strange flower whose tendrils had searched the area around its pot for anything too small and weak to get away from its grip when a light knock came on the door. Finishing a last detail on the edge of a tri-coloured petal, I glanced at Lynn before heading for the door. When I unlocked it, there was a rush of air and heavy boots outside, and when I swung the panelled door open the hall was empty. Even peering around the corners, there was no one to be seen; as though whoever had knocked was invisible, but for all I knew, they could be.
Just as I was shutting the heavy door, though, something on the floor caught my eye and I paused. There, lying on the spotted grey carpeting was a dingy letter with a bright red seal in the center. For a moment I just stared at it with a mixture of suspicion and confusion playing tag in my mind, before I plucked it from the ground and returned to the room. Making sure to lock the door carefully, I flipped the parchment around in my fingers for a minute, feeling the weight of it, before cracking the seal and dropping my eyes to the letter itself. “Missus Scarlet (Cari) and Lynn,” it began.
I don’t know if this counts for photographic memory, but Heather’s memory is vivid after gaining the serum. Like, she can recall a lot of things she’s seen, even before gaining the serum. (Like when Steve saw a memory in Winter Soldier.)
Heather watches as Sammy bounds over the lawn, barking as August throws a stick for him. Heather watches the full grown golden retriever, remembering the first day she saw him as clearly as the wind.
Heather wasn’t sure about getting a puppy. She figured it was one of the tries to cheer her up after Kate. She loves Blaze, but she can’t see how an animal can replace her best friend in the same way. No one could replace Kate.
But her father still pulls up to the house a few towns away. They had paid for the puppy already. Today, all the puppies were old enough to leave their mother. Colin gets out of the car, and Heather slowly follows. Her father doesn’t coax her to move faster.
They knock and a middle aged woman answers the door. “Mr. Morse, welcome back.” The woman shakes Colin’s hand, then turns to Heather. “And you must be Ms. Morse. Are you excited to pick out your puppy?”
Heather shrugs, not meeting the lady’s eyes. The woman looks to Colin with sympathy. If anyone asked Heather, she’d call it pity. The two are ushered inside.
“The puppies are in their pen, this way. Their house trained, except for a couple of them…” The woman rambles on as she leads them to the kitchen. Heather keeps her eyes on the floor. Once the door opens, she hears yips overlapping each other. She looks up. The adults part and Heather can see five fluffy bodies tumbling over each other inside a white pen. Heather walks forward, resting her hands on the plastic.
Colin crouches next to Heather, despite how that makes her taller than him, “Go on and pick one out, Princess.” He only stands up once Heather gives him a subtle nod. He turns to the lady and asks, “where are the parents?”
“Out back. I figured they’d be too rambunctious for…” Heather gets they are probably looking at her. She doesn’t say anything, just watches the puppies. One catches her eye. He walks over a couple of his siblings, only to roll when he steps over one of the larger ones. He isn’t the smallest, though. Heather feels a giggle bubble up. A couple puppies look at her. One of which is the one that instigated it.
Heather looks at the adults. Then she turns back and steps over the fence. She carefully walks around the puppies. She stops at the one that just finished rolling onto his belly. Heather crouches and carefully strokes his back. The other puppies notice this and crowd around her. She chuckles a little, petting the small puddle of puppies.
She counts four, then looks around. The same puppy from before isn’t with them. Heather abandons the siblings. She pets him. Before the other puppies can crowd again, Heather scoops the puppy up under his front legs. He hangs there as she watches the puppies scurry around her legs.
“Sweetie, don’t hold him like that,” the lady says. Heather starts, almost dropping the puppy. The lady is next to her, on the other side of the fence. She adjusts the puppy in Heather’s arms, so she’s holding his back paws in one hand and her other arm is under his belly. “There.”
Heather uses the free hand over his back to stroke his fur more. The puppy wriggles a bit, yipping. Heather laughs at the antics. She looks at the other puppies, then back at the one in her arms. A smile breaks out onto her face.
“Is this the one?” Colin asks.
“This is one of the boys,” the lady says. She starts talking about something, but Heather blocks her out, focusing on the puppy.
Heather looks up at her dad, “Yeah. This is the one.”
“Do you have a name?” The lady asks.
Heather steps over the fence with the puppy. “…Sammy.” They are given Sammy’s leash and they go back to the car. Heather holds Sammy in her lap, though he’d rather explore the new surroundings.
She turns to look at her dad.
“We know Sammy can’t replace Kate, but understand that…” Colin pauses, “you need someone. We won’t force you to make friends with peers at your school, but Sammy is the one you can talk to, who will always be there.”
Heather pets Sammy’s head.
“Dogs are a source of unconditional love. They are loyal, especially golden retrievers.” Heather smiles a little as her dad adds, “God put them on Earth to be man’s best friend. And woman’s best friend.”
Heather’s smile drops a little, remembering her best friend. Sammy puts his paws on her chest. She looks at him right as he licks her cheek and nose. She giggles, figuring Kate wouldn’t want her to fall apart. ‘Maybe Kate asked God to give me Sammy,’ Heather thinks to herself.
“Heather! Why don’t you join us!” August calls out. Sammy turns his head, stick in mouth. He finds her on the porch, drops the stick, and races to her side. She has to sit down before Sammy knocks her over. He nudges his muzzle into her lap. She pets his head, then transfers her hands to his back. His tail thumps against the bench and swing. August joins them, “You okay? You zoned out.”
“Just… remembering,” Heather answers.
August looks a little worried, “Remembering?”
Heather leans her head on his shoulder. “Good things.” Sammy looks at her, his mouth open wide in a puppy’s grin. “Very good things.”