Memento

by Designated Username
My name is Valentine Moon. No, I’m not a girl, I’m a boy. When I was younger and questioned my mother about why I had been given a girl’s name, she explained to me that St. Valentine, the person who inspired the holiday we celebrate every year on 14 February, was a man.
“...He was a good man, I might add and that’s what I want you to grow up to be – a good man!”
I was twelve when she told me this. I had asked her after I had suffered years of torment about my name from my peers and also from my teachers that all laughed when they first met me. Armed with the knowledge of the inspiration for it, I carried it proudly for a while. When someone made fun of me because of my name, I simply repeated the words that my mother had said to me. This unfortunately did not stop people from teasing me.
When I was thirteen, I asked my father this time why I had been given a girl’s name. I knew the story. I had heard it from my mother and I had recited it to hundreds of people over the past year. I wanted my father to tell it to me now because it was uplifting to hear it from someone else.
“Son, we named you Valentine because we decided long before you were born that that would be the name we gave our first child – girl or boy.”
I didn’t like my father’s version of how I acquired my name. I however couldn’t help but believe that that was the actual reason I got it. On that same day, I swore to change it to Valentino the second I was legally allowed to. It’s been a year since my eighteenth birthday but my name is still Valentine Moon.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. Being a writer had always seemed to me the correct blend of creativity and intellect. I grew up reading the works of Fitzgerald and Hemingway and dreaming of having my name be among those someday in the future for some sad, lonely aspiring writer sitting in front of his computer (or whatever they’ll be called then).
Unfortunately I don’t have anything to say. I’ve also learned that I’m not very talented either. Most discouraging is that I’m not very interesting. Fitzgerald for example, was a drunk that cheated on his rich wife with dozens of women. He never had the stability that my middle-class, suburban upbringing affords me – at least not in his writing years. His tumultuous life was the source of some of the twentieth century’s most beautiful literature for which he will always be remembered. My life is the stuff that yawns are made of - nothing! “Surely not all authors have led interesting lives,” you might tell me. They probably haven’t. They are however blessed with the level of creativity that I cannot fathom to comprehend.
“Fathom” – I do that sometimes. I use big words or words that are no longer part of the English language (or at least sound like they shouldn’t be) because it’s the only thing that keeps me from being completely invisible. In this world of social structure and conventions, I am the anomaly that prevents the perfect balance. I am that pre-school child sitting on his own while the others chase each other around the yard; I am the teenage shut-in on Friday nights and I am the forty-year-old virgin.
I’ve never been interesting or rather; people have never found me interesting. I have lied to myself and kept the idea that it’s my opinion of myself that I hold that matters most. This concept has withered in the supposedly fertile ground that is my mind. I have super-powers but because no one else knows about them, I may as well not.
I was ten years old when I discovered my powers. I was watching the cricket on TV when my mother asked me to take the trash out. There were only six balls to go until the end of the game when my mother asked me in that tone of hers that meant I should do it immediately. I remember wishing that time would stop as I quickly did what I was sent to do.
As I stood up, the players on the screen froze as though the pause button had been pushed on them. In the kitchen, my mother stood with her hand on the refrigerator door but seemingly with no intention of opening it – she was simply still. Her eyes did not turn to me as I stared at her. She did not respond when I called her. Instead, she stayed in that position, her hand on the fridge, her eyes forward. When I walked outside, I saw a bird, static in the air. The neighbour lady had her right hand up with her palm facing the car that seemed to be parked on the road. She had probably been waving at the driver as he was meant to be driving past when the world stopped.
It was eerie! There was either no sound or I had gone deaf. The static nature of my world though initially fascinating started to scare me. I feared never hearing my mother’s voice again, never having her kiss me on the cheek which I loved despite always wiping her saliva off with my hand. I feared she would “statue” in the kitchen forever, being one of the obstacles I’d have to face daily before I could eat. As I walked into the living room and saw the picture I had left the room with on the TV screen, I feared eternal boredom.
I started first with sobbing then unashamedly crying out loud. I then realised I wasn’t deaf and from that small comfort I regained some of my composure. I felt, however, that I was in that most horrible of nightmares that plague the mind of every child - I was all alone! I had no one to run to when the thought of monsters consumed me. The stillness of the quiet had me on edge, expectant of a horrible noise from a horrible being to shock me into submission.
I walked to my parents’ bedroom and there sat my father. His legs were flat on the bed while his torso was at a one-hundred-and-thirty-five degree angle from them. He seemed to be either getting up from bed or easing into it when he froze. I tried to shake him out of it but he wouldn’t budge. It was then that I wished time hadn’t stopped when my father leaned forward and sat erect. His back was now at a ninety degree angle, showing the glory of his perfect posture.
After a quick, startled look, he righted himself and said that he hadn’t seen me walk in. I hugged him and told him the trauma I had experienced when time stopped.
“It was just a bad dream, son. You can’t stop time! Time doesn’t stop for anyone,” he said, patting me on the head.
“Val!” my mom called, summoning me. “I asked you to take out the trash, honey.”
My mom had this strange quality to her. On the surface, she gave her requests non-threateningly but one was compelled to do as asked. Maybe it was because of her eyes. My mother was a beautiful, happy woman but her eyes always seemed odd. They were small and narrow and shot through that on which they were cast. They struck fear even though the rest of her body didn’t. Her voice was curious as well. There seemed to be an underlying depth to her otherwise sweet voice that threatened one even though her choice of words didn’t.
As I went to take the trash out I wondered if I had indeed had a surreal dream. Even with my mind having been exposed to the wonders of the world of fantasy through reading and watching the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises, my ten-year –old self didn’t believe in powers and the idea of wishes coming true.
I stupidly tried to convince myself that it must have been a dream but of course I couldn’t. I had seen the world stop before my very eyes. There was a physical manifestation of this apparently impossible event. I traced back my thoughts to the moments before it happened, trying to find a trigger for it.
“A wish!” I exclaimed.
I had wished that time would stop so I could watch the last few balls of the cricket after I had taken out the trash. It suddenly hit me that I had missed those last few balls anyway but this did not stay with me for too long. I had stumbled upon a discovery! My will had caused the time and hence the world to stop.
My dog, Sparky, scurried past me when I waved for him to come.
“Sit Sparky!” I commanded.
The small, white-furred dog sat it’s backside on the ground and looked at me with its large, loving eyes. Again, as I had before, I wished that time would stop and it appeared that it did. Except for the sounds that I made, the world was exceptionally still. Sparky was still looking up at me as he sat. I tapped my hands against my thighs but nothing happened. Usually, Sparky would come running to me but he didn’t then. In my head, again, I wished that things would go back to normal and immediately, I heard the chirping of the birds and the dancing of the trees in the wind. I tapped my hands to my thighs and this time Sparky ran towards me and jumped into my lap.
I beamed a smile I had never beamed before. I believed that I could wish for anything and it would come true. The first thing I wished for was the new Playstation. I had expected it to somehow end up either in my hands or in my vicinity but I did not get it. I closed my eyes this time and made the same wish again; still nothing. Finally, I closed my eyes, stretched my arms out and moved them in a flowing motion as if on the verge of conjuring a spell and said out loud that I wished for the new Playstation. It didn’t work. My disappointment was cut by a pang of embarrassment as I heard my sixteen-year-old neighbour laugh at me in her annoyingly angelic voice.
I moved to the other side of the yard, away from the slightest bit of an audience and continued with my attempts to establish the full extent of my power. I wished for a car, another dog, a packet of sweets, a pair of socks but nothing! It occurred to me that I could not wish for material things. Perhaps I would have better success with the intangible?
I started off by wishing for the ability to fly. I strongly considered climbing up a tree and jumping off it, hoping that I would stay in the air but I decided against it. Instead, I raised my right hand and curled my fingers into a strong fist. I bent my knees and gave myself a jumping start but I only made it a few centimetres above the ground before gravity pulled me down.
I wished for super-speed (I still couldn’t outrun Sparky), the ability to shoot lasers out of my eyes (I couldn’t shoot lasers out of my eyes) and super-strength (I failed in my attempt to push down a tree). I was just about to give up when I wished that I could stop time and it did. I wished for the world to get back to normal and when it did, my belief in my having powers was restored.
I wished I had Spiderman’s powers but nothing happened when I pressed my two middle fingers against the lower end of my palm. I finally wished I was invisible but when I could still see myself, I concluded that the only power I had was the ability to stop time and to have it come back to normal.
I walked back to the house in defeat and found my father sitting with my mother watching the big football match. I wanted to sit at the chair across from the television but I knew my dad would yell at me for blocking his view for those few seconds. There was a chair available right next to me but I liked the one across from the TV a lot better. I decided to take his wrath for the few seconds that it would last but I was pleasantly surprised. He didn’t say anything when I walked past. I turned to him to see if he was ok and he was. He was fully engaged with the game which made the fact that he didn’t say anything more surprising.
I waved my hand in front of the TV, intentionally trying to shield some parts of the fifty-inch screen from him but he didn’t respond. Instead of being somewhat grateful, I found it mildly annoying. I moved my whole body to his line of view to the TV. I stood right in front of it, spreading my arms to make sure he saw as little of the screen as possible. My father then jumped in excitement when the sounds of celebration made their way from behind me. His team had scored a goal and in his joy, he tried to explain to my mother who was sitting next to him why it was the best goal he had seen all year. My mother pretended to be interested as she did on the few occasions when my father forgot that she couldn’t possibly care less about sports.
I slowly realised that my father had literally seen through me. I wasn’t blocking his view because I was invisible! He couldn’t see me! I tip-toed to the next room, trying my best not to make a sound so as not to startle my parents. When I got there, I wished I could be seen again. When I walked back into the TV room, my father enthusiastically explained to me the build up to the goal and how well the finish had been taken. I was genuinely happy just as he was in that moment. I hadn’t heard all the details he had given but I didn’t care. I was happy because I discovered I had two super-powers!
On my thirteenth birthday, my father sat me down and told me that I was entering the most important phase of my life. He said it was the phase that would determine the man I was going to be when I grew up.
“Son, you’re a teenager now. This is gonna be the most exciting time of your life but I want you to enjoy it responsibly, like you will this one day,” he held up a glass of liquor as he said this. I think he was having a scotch.
“Are you talking about drugs? I’ve seen kids at school doing them but I swear, dad, I don’t and I never will.”
“I trust you but you’ve been a little weird lately. You don’t talk to your mom and I as much as you used to,” he looked forward and then looked at me again as he continued, “You’re going through some changes. It’s a confusing time, I know but I want you to remember one thing; your sense of right and wrong. I’d like to think your mother and I have helped you establish a moral compass and that’s what I want to be your guide, in everything,” he patted me on the head as he left me to digest his words.
He was right, I had been different – I was growing up. I didn’t call my parents “mother” and “father” as often as I did when I was younger. They were more often than not “mom” and “dad” now. The biggest change, of course, was the discovery of my powers three years prior to then. I had tried to explain to my parents the special abilities it appeared I had been blessed with but I was never able to convince them.
When my poorly developed communication skills failed me, I decided to prove to my parents that I had powers by showing them I did. I was still ten when this happened. I called them into my room one morning, looking to demonstrate my abilities.
“Mother, father, thank you for coming,” I said in that high-pitched voice I had before it broke into a baritone.
“Do you think it’s about the powers again?” my mom whispered to my dad, before elbowing him in the ribs when he didn’t acknowledge her.
“Ouch!” he exclaimed, rubbing the side of his rib cage.
“Yes, it’s about the powers,” I broke in. “Since I can’t convince you I have them, I’m going to demonstrate them to you.”
I wished that time would stop and as always, it did. My parents stood facing me, each of them with their arms folded, their middle-aged faces trying to conceal a growing irritation with this subject. They stood in that pose for less than a minute when I realised that I wasn’t proving anything. I unfroze them.
“Ok darling, show us your powers,” my mother said.
Both my parents were not aware that just seconds before, I had frozen them along with the rest of the world and time. I then wished myself invisible which I was certain would get me across.
“Don’t freak out. It’s me, I’m safe and I’m right by your side,” I said.
My father looked confused. My mother looked confused. I got the impression that I had finally gotten to them. I touched my father’s shoulder believing that I was comforting him. He looked the more confused of the two.
“That’s my hand on your shoulder. I’m here even if you might not see me now.”
“What are you doing, son?”
“Don’t be scared!”
“I’m not scared; I’m just not sure what’s going on.”
“Can you see me right now?”
“Yes, I can. Am I not supposed to be seeing you?”
“Mother, can you see me?”
“Of course I can, sweetie! I’m not sure what you’re going for here.”
“I don’t know why it’s not working! I can make myself invisible, I promise!”
I couldn’t convince them and thus stopped trying. I’ve since learned that no one is to know about my powers. Every attempt I’ve made to have people see that I can go invisible has failed miserably. The “stopping time one” I haven’t been able to prove to anyone else for obvious reasons.
It was initially frustrating until I started using my powers in my everyday life. I’ve never cheated on a test but I have been afforded extra time to finish them due to my “abilities.” I had always been a decent student but I was now the best there was. There were obvious suspicions as to the source of my suddenly much-improved academic prowess but no leads were found.
When I was twelve, I discovered a more magnetic attraction to girls than I had known before. Their chests were bigger and their hips appeared wider than they had been. I was incredibly tempted to touch them – girls that is. They didn’t look like us boys anymore. Ashley James for example, had the same length hair as I did. I had previously heard jokes about her being a boy but she certainly wasn’t. Her body was curvy, suggesting a flexibility that I had accustomed with women. Her breasts popped out of her top once and that inspired an obsession I still hold to this day.
That same year (age twelve), Ashley walked towards me and I felt time slow down. Her sizeable breasts bounced with every step she took. She waved at me as she got closer and in that moment, I was enamoured. It was one of the most beautiful sights of my life at that point. I stopped time and allowed myself to bask in the glory of that it.
I moved closer to her and looked at her face for the first time. I realised then that the jokes about her looking like a boy were attributed completely to the length of her hair. She definitely was a girl. Her deep, brown eyes against her caramel skin were a thing to behold. There was a twinkle in her eyes brought about by the beaming smile on her face directed at me. I had found an alternate use for my hand and genitals to the thought of this girl over the course of the year but in that moment, I fell in love with her.
I had previously had the sick thought of freezing time merely for the chance to fondle her breasts. This was a desire brought on by the new appetites I acquired moving into the phase of my life that my father would later sit me down and advise me about. I had the opportunity to do so at this moment but I wasn’t going to. Ashley, in that moment became an ideal. She was someone I wanted to pursue one day and hopefully have her consent to achieve my previously lust-filled dream. That was my twelve-year-old self’s idea of love.
Moving into high school, I still had not gotten the girl of my dreams. She had her hair longer now and the other members of my species developed the interest in her that I had harboured for years. In our final year of high school, she was dating a much better-looking fellow than me, Diego Oliver. They seemed happy as well which cemented an inevitability that I had chosen to ignore – I needed to move on. I needed to show an interest in another girl and hopefully have her share one in me too.
Notice how my view of what love is changed over the years. It was initially fuelled by an intense attraction to a girl. The day I fell in love with Ashley was not the day I learned she was beautiful – I had always known that. I fell in love with her because she showed an interest in me. She was nice to me for what she meant to be a few seconds back when I was twelve and her twelve-year-old self waved at me.
The absence of friends in this entry is not an intentional omission but more so an appropriate representation of my life. I fell more in love with Ashley because she was the one person outside my family who tried with me. No girl has since made as big an impression on me as she has and I know for a fact now that that will never change.
I am nineteen years old now and will soon leave this earth at that tender age because that is the cruel fate that I was meant to suffer. It’s no loss for this world, believe me! I have always been invisible, even before I got my powers. I am ruled by a constant fear which has pulled me back all the days of my life.
I woke up to a woman in my university dorm room this morning. She was in a white tight-fitting dress that gave an impression of elegance as opposed to her being promiscuous. She had long, flowing, shoulder-length hair and stood at about an inch shorter than me. Considering my healthy height of just over six feet, she was tall, especially compared to the girls I had grown up seeing over which I towered. She was a stunning woman! My ten-year-old self would have confused the feelings she stirred as I looked at her for love.
It became apparent to me that as all these thoughts were going through my mind she had not said anything. She was simply standing, waiting for me to engage her. She obviously did not know me. I rarely engaged anyone or started conversations. On the few occasions that I tried I was woefully inconsistent.
I have tried to show an interest in girls other than Ashley this year. Her being in a university five hundred kilometres has made that transition slightly easier. Society, being unaware of my particular brand of persona remains expectant of me as the male to walk up to girls. It is a rare source of pride in me that I have mustered the courage to try on a few occasions. However, it has only served to reinforce that I am not very interesting. I have made decent first impressions with some girls but the second bite at the cherry has revealed my true colours to them.
Now I had a woman in my room, seemingly expectant of me to carry a conversation with her. Me, with my horrendous track record! I decided to be unconventional. Of course, I was the definition of unconventional but I looked to achieve it in a sense that the world might find charming.
“Did we sleep together?” I asked. I knew we hadn’t but I couldn’t stop myself from asking anyway.
“Excuse me?” the woman said. Her voice was hoarse and slightly mannish. I found it weirdly arousing.
“Nothing!” I waved away my earlier question. I asked a more relevant one: “Do I know you?”
“No, you don’t,” she said matter-of-factly.
“I don’t mean to be rude but may I ask who you are?”
“I am your guardian.”
She was being annoyingly withholding. Your average person would try to explain themselves for breaking in to someone else’s place if they had no intention of fleeing. I would honestly have been at greater ease had she pulled a gun on me and demanded my valuables.
“Excuse me? Did you say you’re my guardian?”
“I did.”
“Look lady, I’m gonna have to call the police if you don’t start making sense.”
“I know you have powers, Valentine. I have been your conscience regarding their use. Every spec of doubt you’ve had before you used them, you got from me.”
“Why am I only meeting you now?” I somehow managed to ask over the shock.
“You have used your powers selfishly and for that I have been sent to take them from you.”
Apart from the academic merit that my powers warranted me, I didn’t use them much. Not since the early years of my life when I discovered them did I find them to be a source of joy. The ability to stop time I admit I could have used to gain some popularity. I could have found an advantageous use for them in sport and been a jock. I decided against doing this because for the most part, I considered myself fair and strove to keep to my moral compass as my dad had advised me. It was thus a source of great irony that this woman now saw my restrained use of this power reckless and deserving of punishment.
The ability to make myself invisible was a cruel joke. I did not need a super-power to achieve that. It was a natural talent. Again, due to my moral compass suggesting I use my powers as sparingly as possible, I did not use this power to rob a bank or sneak into the girls’ locker rooms.
My powers were for the most part not a big part of my life. I would have greater difficulty in academics but I could live as comfortably as I had managed to do without them. I liked the options they gave me and my insistence on not using them to cheat my way through life in a more drastic manner than I had made me believe that despite my baggage, I was a good person.
“Do I have any say in this?” I asked, concerning if I could do anything to keep my “gifts”.
“I’m afraid you do not. I also fear your punishment does not end there. I have to erase you from this planet’s record. Every trace of your existence, including your life, I will have to take. I will also take away everyone’s memory of you.”
“Just because I bought myself some extra time on tests?” I asked, feeling incredibly hard done by.
Her poker face broke for the first time since I had seen her. She was finally acting as I hoped my guardian would. Her eyes became softer and a comforting smile threatened to break from her face. She moved closer and embraced me before she started explaining again.
“I have to erase you because you were never meant to get your powers. No one on this planet is supposed to have powers of any sort. Having you here creates a cosmic imbalance that can only be corrected by your disappearance.”
“Why did I get them in the first place?”
“I honestly don’t know,” she said painfully. She started sobbing.
She was obviously aware of the injustice she was meant to deal. I felt sorry for her. The full implications of the scenario I hadn’t grasped but for some reason, I identified with her being forced into something that wasn’t her will. I didn’t know what being she was (surely guardians are not mere humans), I didn’t even know her name. I did however see that she was powerless and at the mercy of an order, or a force bigger than her. Maybe that is what I connected with in that moment.
“It’s ok,” I tried to comfort her. “Do what you have to do. I request one wish before you let me go for good.”
Her face brightened slightly at the chance to have my last moments on this planet as happy as they could possibly be.
“I ask to leave behind one memento of my being on this planet. I am going to write down the highlights of my life and leave them on this table, right here,” I said, referring to the table in my room.
I saw that she was going to disapprove of my request which is why I continued talking in an effort to convince her.
“I always wanted to be a writer. For the first time in my whole life, I know what I want to write about. I have something to work with here.”
“But no one will ever know you wrote it. You can wish for anything, right now. Maybe give yourself a few seconds to think it over.”
“I’ve made my decision,” I declared, smiling. “I want to leave my story behind.”
“Why is this so important?”
“I finally have something to say. I finally have something that makes me interesting. I can’t think of a better way to bow out from this world than by having whoever finds this engaged in my story. Engaged in me! It’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
She smiled and nodded her head. “I grant you this wish.”
The end
Let others and the author know if you liked it

Liked it alot?
Manahill Naik

Manahill Naik

July 25, 2015 - 18:05 heyyy this is really really well written :) even though its a little too long and not many ppl will go thru the whole thing but i swear i was hooked the whole time and made it to the very end cos ur words just speak to me so well.. loving it.. keep up and want more :D
Designated Username

Designated Username

July 25, 2015 - 18:13 Thank you, manahil naik! I really appreciate your comment and I'm glad you liked the story.
Manahill Naik

Manahill Naik

July 25, 2015 - 18:31 ofcourse... :) and wait heres a suggestion.. add line breaks for easy reading :)
Designated Username

Designated Username

July 25, 2015 - 20:09 I'll be sure to do that, thanks :)
Mahoobee

Mahoobee

July 26, 2015 - 09:12 I fully agree with Manahil naiks comment. You did a great job. :)
Designated Username

Designated Username

July 26, 2015 - 10:28 Thank you so much. I really appreciate the positive feedback :)

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