Charlie locked his bedroom door. There was no need, Mum was down stairs watching her television and she never came in without knocking. He had managed to train her in that at last. Anyway, turning the key and dropping it into his pocket was all part of the experience, part of the build up.
He drew the faded, rose covered curtains and flicked the switch on his bedside light. Ready now he opened the old wardrobe and recovered the white cardboard shoebox from the top shelf. Carefully placing it on the candlewick bedspread he knelt on the floor beside his bed, he held what was almost a position of prayer; he lifted the lid.
There they were, his memories, the little mementoes. He felt the tingle of excitement start way down in his toes. It was pure physical pleasure, better than masturbating over the magazines he kept in the other box, better than anything. A delicious sense of anticipation overwhelmed him. He only allowed himself to look at his souvenirs once a week. Discipline was his watchword. He could take them out every day if he wanted to, he could leave them around his room to gaze at whenever he wished but no, he had to be strict about it, ration his exposure to the treasures, keep them special. Pulling on the thin surgical gloves he closed his eyes briefly and took a deep breath, he bowed his head, again all part of the ritual.
After carefully removing the tissue from the top of the box he reached in for the thin pink scarf. It was pale and flimsy, tiny little rosebuds around the edge and a silky fringe on the ends that slid through his fingers. He lifted it and floated it across his face, over his eyes, across his lips, delicious. It still held a faint perfume, Anais Anais he thought, though it was fading now. He knew that he could keep the scent stronger if he wrapped this scarf in a plastic bag but he hated that idea that would make it look like something he had bought, something new with no history. No, he would sacrifice the perfume in order to be able to plunge his hand into the soft silk on top of his box.
Darling Melanie, she was so sweet, the beautiful golden hair, her shining blue eyes and smooth pale skin. She was his dream girl she really was. Reverently he laid aside the scarf and reached into the cardboard again, his hand closing around soft leather. He lifted out a small purse, brown with a zip around it. He tutted as he rubbed at the mark on the front. It was such a shame that there was that nasty dark blob spoiling the front of the purse, he so wished it wasn’t there. Sighing he remembered the other things, the handkerchief with a lace edge and the key ring with a fluffy toy on it, they had all been spoilt, stained and sticky and they’d had to go, what a waste.
Next he took out the bracelet. Gold links and a tiny heart shaped charm, he wished that he had bought this. If he had been looking for a present for his girl, this is the sort of thing that he would buy. For sure Melanie was worth it, he wondered again who had bought it for her. A tiny disappointment crept in, he hadn’t bought this, he hadn’t bought the scarf which was losing its perfume and he hadn’t bought the purse which was stained and really quite spoilt. Tears sprung to his eyes, it was happening again, the pleasure was tainted, he had so looked forward to this but it felt wrong and his head started to throb with tension. His fists clenched and he had to grind his teeth together to stop himself crying out in anger.
He dipped into his treasure trove again. A ribbon this time, blue with a frilled edge but starting to fade he noticed. This had been in the box a long time, how long he mused. Must be about ten years. Charlotte, dark hair, shining brown eyes and delicious full lips. There was only the ribbon to remind him of Charlotte and now it was fading, he was swept by deep sadness.
With an angry jerk of his arm he thrust aside the box, flying across the bed it thwacked onto the floor under the window. Charlie stood up. Sweat beaded his forehead, a pulse throbbed at his temple. Holding out his hands in front of him he saw that they trembled and shook like those of an old man with palsy. He was so angry; why did this keep happening. Okay after Charlotte he had accepted that there had to be Melanie but now look, even Melanie had let him down, that nasty stain on her purse and the diminishing perfume.
“Well, you know what this means don’t you” he railed at the empty silence of his room. “You realise don’t you, this is your fault. All your fault stupid, stupid, stupid.” He shook his head in disappointment, now he would have to do it all again. With a sigh he went back to the wardrobe. He stood on the little stool so that he could reach to the very back of the topmost shelf and drew out the metal box. He threw it onto the bed. No ritual this time, he was so angry. He didn’t want to do this. This wasn’t his choice but it was unavoidable. Opening the box he took out a small parcel and unwrapped the towel to gaze down on the butcher’s knife. He tutted when he noticed the blood staining the bottom of the blade. Well, he would have to give that a polish. It was time now, tonight, it would have to be tonight. He was going out as soon as it was dark to make another memory.
Banner Image:By How can I recycle this (shoebox) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
13 thoughts on “Memories are Made of This by Diane M Dickson”
I enjoyed how this story gradually invoked a steady realisation of the situation. Particularly as the evidence accumulated leading the reader along to the inevitable conclusion,and knowing there was no twist – therefore we guessed correctly. A very well controlled piece of writing giving a satisfactory ending. (Not that I am agreeing with this character actions or his incessant hobby).
Thanks James,I always love to hear what you think and when it’s one of my own and it gets some approval that’s icing on the battenberg.
This held me all the way through, from the opening where I thought it was a sentimental piece about childhood innocence to growing realisation it was much darker. Personally, as a fan of inviting the reader to work with you on the story, I’d have eliminated the reveal at the end. I’d guessed it before I got there.
thank you. yes, I see how it would have worked without the reveal. Good point, then again I don’t think there was a lot of doubt where it was going was there. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
Gripping story! I feel sorry for his mother. I think she knows and has to live with it. She is conflicted but after noticing teletale signs of unrest, she just might decide to contact the police when he leaves the house. But is it too late? Best wishes, June
Poor mother – you are right June – how could she not know
It certainly gives new meaning to “a kiss is but a kiss.” It also invokes that wonderful creepiness that Shirley Jackson did so well. Excellent piece. Damn, there’s someone at the door calling out for Melanie. I’m sure this will work out well.
Hello – hellooooo – darn it
Diane, this quick slide from sentimental reflections to evil personified is a great read and wonderfully written. Thanks for the trip.
I have always enjoyed stories that go full circle. From the beginning to the end line we then come back to the title.
This was all about the build up and the twisted logic.
Just come by to have another look at the thing. Charlie gets a little “odder” every time he sees me.
Wow, what a creep. The weird thing is, part of you feels sorry for the sicko. I worked in the Forensics area. Many of the knife users said it was very hard to kill someone. They’d all been caught after the first, too much evidence. “He just didn’t wanna die,” was the refrain. After reading this, I felt like going out immediately and cuffing this thrill killer sicko. That is true, most of them say “it wasn’t my choice, I had to do it,” and they give their reasons, like they were acting on autopilot.
Thank you so much for your comment. It’s weird and pleasing in equal measure that I may have got some things about this character correct. dd