House of Detachment
Sebnem E. Sanders
When the memory police knocked on my door, I knew I would be in trouble.
"Hi," I said in the most pleasant voice, trying to hide the painful recollections that had invaded my mind a few minutes ago.
"May we come in?"
Despite my unwillingness, I had to let them into my flat. In my untidy lounge, neglected due to the thoughts I had been compelled to write instead of doing housework, we sat facing each other. One of the officers coughed and explained the reason for their visit.
"Too many bad vibes are coming out of your house. It's polluting the environment, and we need to stop this."
"But I'm not harming anyone. Only myself, with my surplus of memories."
"You're transmitting negative thoughts and sorrow into the area. We have measured it. You're also harming yourself, recalling past events that cause tears, excessive drinking to drown them, or the other way around, which eventually has become a health hazard for you."
"How do you know all this?"
"We have ways of monitoring all our citizens."
"We're here to offer a solution. There are two ways. We can erase your memories, or you can go to the Shelter for Redundant Memories and work on eliminating them until you're free."
I asked if a partial erasure was possible. They said this method was only experimental, and as the human memory bank was so complex and multi-layered, could offer no guarantee to protect those I wanted to keep. My inherent distrust of doctors and hospitals, towards any interference with my physical body, compelled me to go for the Shelter option, as I wasn't inclined to let the authorities mess with my mind. They also said I wasn't allowed to bring any personal effects, but all my memories and belongings would be highlighted in holograms which were capable of creating high definition physical contact, should the need arise. They added that alcohol wasn't permitted, either, and the process would also cure this addiction, automatically, preventing any further bodily harm.
When I asked them whether the negative vibes from my memories at the Shelter would affect the environment, they said it was insulated with an invisible dome that self-cleaned.
My first night at the Shelter was filled with nightmares. I chased my memories from room to room, cried, and slouched against the wall, catatonic, my arms wrapped around myself, desperate for a drink. In the morning, I decided to deal with the problem, beginning with the easy approach. I went through my virtual wardrobes and rooms, tossing the clothes and knick-knacks into big sacks, not thinking what would become of them, or who the recipients would be.
Each morning the sacks disappeared from my front door. By the end of my first week, I was left without any personal effects to remind me of the past. Naturally, their memories remained.
I compartmentalized my sad recollections and decided to work on the most painful one. Him. The authorities allowed me to virtually dump my memories into the oversized hessian bags. It took me a month of hard work to eliminate all memories related to Him. On the second month, when I thought of Him, my mind bleeped and an empty hologram of pale colours appeared on the screen.
Next, I worked on any disappointments, frustrations and pain associated with Work, Death, Finances, and Separation. After Him, this was easy. The big sacks kept disappearing and the holograms turned into a rainbow of pastel-coloured emptiness. The mirror, not sure whether real or virtual, reflected a happy person, with an eternal smile on my face, creasing out the worry lines and brightening my eyes.
The caveat was I could not leave the Shelter if a single unhappy memory or a memento remained. I no longer had nightmares or the desire to drink. Plain water was good enough. In fact, I could get drunk on it. So I asked for a test to verify my accomplishment. Wired to a monitor for an entire day, I answered countless questions, and passed all the difficult hurdles.
In the end, they said I could leave.
I stepped inside my empty home. Going from room to room, I wondered why I needed such a big place.
So I sold it and moved into a single room hut by the seaside, waiting for my imminent death, with a silly smile plastered across my face.
From time to time, a thought crossed my mind. Perhaps I should try to buy one of those invisible domes in my next life.
This story first appeared in SickLit Magazine, then was published in Ripples on the Pond.
Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have appeared in the Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Spelk Fiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, CarpeArte Journal, Yellow Mama Webzine, and Punk Noir Magazine, as well as two anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child. Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work: