Shore Bound Gramophone
(A farewell to Memory Lane)
There is no degree of sorrow that can completely overshadow the beauty of the stars. When I awoke that night, I was still laying on the pavement in the middle of the cul-de-sac. Memory Lane was just as it had been this morning, just as cold and unwelcoming. My suit had seen better days, and there were stains all over my white button up. To where my tie had flown off, I hadn’t the slightest idea.
The time for lying on the ground was coming to a close. It took a few minutes, but I finally picked myself up and headed back down the street. I didn’t think while I walked, I just let my feet carry me along. There was nothing left to think. My insides felt raw, like a fresh wound, as though the snails had eviscerated my internal organs as I passed through them. As I approached my house I began to feel a strange sensation near my chest. There was a warmth that shouldn’t have been there, a little ember. Reaching up, I patted my chest and felt the lump of warm energy.
Standing in the middle of my street, my house stood to my left and the forbidden place on my right. I looked from one house to the other. In the end, there really wasn’t much of a choice. No matter what was on the other side of that door, it was better than spending another day stuck on Memory Lane. I walked up the pathway to the front door, and stood on the porch.
Only now did I remember the first time that I came here. It was on the day I moved in so many long years ago. I’d walked up to the door and knocked. There wasn’t a reply, but when I placed my ear to the door I heard noises. There was a little whispering sound, saying things that I couldn’t make out. Again I knocked but there was no response. Still, when I placed my ear to the door, I could just barely make out the whispering.
It had scared me, the whispering, perhaps more than it should have. I ran back to my house after that and I ransacked it looking for something to lock the door with. I finally found a lock. The key for said lock was nowhere to be found, and at the time, that suited me fine. I ran back to the house and latched the door, telling myself that I’d never venture inside. After a year I came to regret my decision, as I realized that any sort of company would’ve been good company. Alas, the lock remained without a key that I knew of, and no matter how hard I searched my home, I couldn’t find one. So I told myself that only bad things could be behind that door, and it wasn’t long before the house became forbidden.
Now I stood on the doorstep, and the fear was gone. I didn’t believe that there was anything worse in there than anything I’d already seen today, and if there was, I didn’t care. I reached into my jacket and pulled out the envelope from Mailman. Breaking the seal, I dug inside and pulled out a rusty brass key. It fit the lock perfectly.
I opened the door and stepped out onto a beach.
I was framed by dunes on either side. In front of me stretched the ocean, running on infinitely in either direction. There were clouds in the sky, and while the climate was a lot warmer here, a soft breeze blew salty air across my face, cooling me down. I could hear the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, and then gently retreating again.
Also, I could hear the whispering.
The source was an ancient gramophone resting upon a wooden stand. The old horn let out a sound that carried downwind to my ears about fifty meters away. It wasn’t music that was playing, or at least, that’s not what it sounded like anyway. More like a voice, like a recording of a phone call being played.
As I walked towards it, I picked out some of the words that were being said. It seemed like the record was stuck, repeating one line over and over.
“David, I just want you to know that- David, I just want you to know that- David, I just want you to know that-”
It was the voice of William.
I ran the rest of the way to the gramophone. Picking up the needle, I lifted the disk and wiped off some sand that had gotten over the record. Replacing the record, I played it from the beginning.
I want you to know that I remember.
I remember all the times we spent together as kids growing up.
I remember how you were always there to go along with the adventures. Even when we got older and the stakes got higher, I could always count on you.
I remember the good times and the bad times. Even when we fought, I knew you’d still be there for me when I needed you most.
I remember how much you cared, no matter how bad I fucked up.
I remember how you never said a word against me.
And while I remember the bad things too, I need you to know something.
David, I just want you to know that you’ll always be my best friend and that I forgive you for how it ended.
Through the tears it was hard to see the world around me. I was on my knees with my head still pressing on the side of the stand. Though, once I cleared my eyes I could see that it wasn’t a stand anymore, but a table leg. My knees weren’t in the sand anymore, but on cheap carpet.
Around me I could hear voices.
“David, are you okay?” Thomas asked.
I looked up into his eyes. I couldn’t believe where I was. There was no way.
I smiled and started to laugh. I laughed and I laughed, until I could barely breathe. Thomas took me home after that, against my insistences that I really was okay. In fact, I told him, I was feeling better than I’d felt in a very, very long while.
As he dropped me off, he asked what it was that I was laughing about so hard back at the party. I told him that it was a joke that I used to myself.
“Well, what was it then?”
I smiled back at him.