There was a sort of contagion, a sort of mass hysteria event that rippled through the village after the war. A group of women, all aligned neatly in a row, hanged themselves at the same time. The son of another and I — both orphaned and banished to live with our grandparents — were inseparable ever since. We watched the police from the dusty cracked windows, methodically and with sterile precision, cut the ropes from left to right like you read a book. Each woman’s body splatted on the ground like fish, heavy and wet.
I lived between the land and sea, among the cliffs, on the edge, in my own contrived corner of this perfectly rounded earth. I always tried to congeal my memories as they were happening, always immanently resting in the past, present, and future. I felt my future self glaring into the muck of the now-existing present, indignantly and exhaustively squishing the once-hardened clay, soaked by tears and sweat and spit in between my fingers. I believed I would live forever if I just learned to remember better; I could live forever if I just hardened the miracle of sensation and held it tightly in my fist so as to never lose it. I loved my mother so much that I mostly forgot her; the sound of her voice and her smell weakened with each reiteration of memory. My grandmother, boasting one glass eye and another with miraculously clear vision, was gradually slipping into the murky waters of dementia. She always reassured me that my parents “went away so I could be,” serving as cow shit or dead fish to plants, or Jesus Christ to the entire world, but I liked to imagine them as Jesus rather than shit.