I am my memories. They define me. The make me who I am.
When I hunt back over my memories, they wash over me. They come quickly in jerks and jitters. My mind skips from one to the next.
Sometimes, I pause and linger over a single experience. Something punctuated by an intense physical moment.
The pain of a needle in my ear. The quick escalation of pain that plateaus. I find relief not because the pain has stopped, but because it is not getting worse and I am strong enough to bear it.
I feel powerful because my best friend sees that I am strong. So strong that I can tell him to stop holding back and push harder.
We laugh. It’s the absurdity of the situation that catches us in the light. What are we doing? It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time, but we realize now how little we thought things through.
It’s just a pierced ear. Practically everyone has one. But not everyone has a memory to go along with it.
A bottle of vodka on the table. Both to sterilize the skin and also to calm the nerves. Did I need it? I don’t think so. He ships off to the army the next day and it’s not like I was going to stop halfway through.
The army is death. That’s practically it’s entire purpose. Bullets are their tradecraft. Blood is their output. Am I foolish to be afraid?
The trickle of blood that rolls down my earlobe is a tiny little piece of reality. We both ignore it as it falls on the floor. An insignificant detail.
The blood will wash free. It always does. I am alive. I have my pain, my friend, my memory.
Edit: Some have asked, so let me clarify that the friend I'm referring to in the story is Travis Sorensen, who is alive and well. This took place circa 2002.