January 25, 2010 in M
She had always loved having a photographic memory. She never needed to write lists, never forgot appointments and could carry incredible amounts of information in her head. She learnt entire languages in a weekend and never forgot a face.
Marrying Mike had revealed her gift’s entertainment possibilities. Mike was obsessed with animation, nowadays he spent his working hours producing films for a Hollywood company but his first love involved the more basic methods- flip books and stop gap animation.
The day after they moved into their married home he set up some of his old toys on shelf by the front door along with some plasticine figures and props he’d made from cardboard. Underneath was a hand-drawn sign: “Don’t touch!” She asked him about it that night. He refused to tell her anything: “You’ll see.” The next day as she left for work she looked at the shelf again, it looked identical but when she recalled her memory from the day before she detected subtle movements: the stormtrooper’s arm, the cowgirl’s leg, the horse’s head.
Every day for the next 26 years he moved the figures before he went to bed. Slight movements, never more than a centimeter or two. Every morning before she left for work she memorized the scene. In dull meetings she could play the memories back in her head one at a time- her own private animated film 26 years in the making. The adventures of Stormtrooper and cowgirl, an epic film whose narrative somehow mirrored their own lives. Cowgirl’s three birth’s coincided with the arrivals of their children, the horse left the scene when their dog died but was replaced by a camel when they purchased a golden retriever.
Not long after their 26th anniversary she realised something that had never struck her before. Every morning Mike bounded out of bed when the alarm went and opened the curtains. He stood naked in the sunlight in the same place in the room. Without meaning to she had taken a daily memory of this moment. It was the second animated film she held in her head, also 26 years in the making. If she ran it from the first memory through to the last it began with a man of 25 and ended with the same figure in his early 50′s. She could watch his hair recede and grey, his muscles sag and his belly gradually grow.
When this second film played in her head she would always hit the mental stop button and play selected scenes from Stormtrooper and Cowgirl, it always made her smile. His body might age but she knew his mind was always 14 years old, playing with his flipbooks and his toys.
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