The Memory

I was taking the final turn to the top of the mountain when the motorbike suddenly slipped and fell away from under me. For a moment I watched myself fly through the heavy rain - and then the muddy gravel came up crashing into me. All I could do was try and keep my head back so that the rushing ground wouldn't tear my face off. I wasn't seriously injured, even though in retrospect I must have slid through quite a distance. But either way, I was in no condition to care: I was desperate for time.

She was standing in the rain a little further ahead, framed by the radio antennas in the distance. She was soaked by the drenching rain which was literally pouring off her. Her arms were outstretched as if she was reaching for the clouds, or casting some sort of spell. "Cathy!" I shouted, trying to get her attention, "what the hell are you doing at the top of a mountain in this weather? We're going to get fried by lightning!" Despite her strange trance-like pose, her eyes were focused and aware. Her expression was more akin to a person trying to decode an IKEA instruction leaflet than someone in the midst of a mystical ritual.

Despite the fact that I had just called out to her, she did not look at me. I waved my hands above my head, like a man on a desert island trying to signal an airplane. "Hello!? Hey! Let's go sweetie, we're going to get fried by lightning up here OK? Look at me sweetie, we have to go now, OK?"

"I am trying to change the universe, go away" she said with a dismissive gesture. "And take that bike to a repair shop when you get down from here, it's going to be a mess after that fall." She paused for a moment, as if doing an internal double-take. "What are you doing up here anyway?"

"Oh me, I was just passing by on the way to the 7-11" I said, pointedly making up a story to try and lighten the mood, "and I noticed that you're sitting there playing lightning rod, and well, I just wanted to ask if you would like some pot noodles."

"No, no pot noodles, thanks" she said in a distracted tone, oblivious to my attempt at humour, "I told you, I'm trying to change the universe right now." Just then, a bolt of lightning hit one of the nearby radio antennas. It could not have been more than 100 meters away. The flash was blinding and the roar was ear-shattering. I instinctively fell on the ground, eyes firmly shut, with my arms wrapped around my head and froze there. Cathy giggled at my reaction. She had not moved a millimeter - she looked completely unaffected by the lightning strike.

Just then, I lost it: "You crazy fucked up bitch, I'm trying to help you and you're prancing around on top of mountains in thunderstorms acting like the queen of the universe." I took a deep breath, realizing that I was starting to feel desperate. "Look, come down with me and we can at least talk. You can still talk to me you know, no matter what. Don't you know that? Please, let's talk!"

"I don't need to talk anymore," she said, "I know the secret of time travel. I'll fix the past instead. I'll fix your life too, you'll see, you'll have such a happy past in a little while. Look!" she said, focusing her stare on the space just in front of her. She slapped her palms above her head, interlocked her fingers and seemed to press hard. She then slowly pulled them apart again, and a small bubble had formed between her palms. There were sparks glittering and bouncing inside it. It floated out and downwards from her palms and began to expand. It grew to be wider and taller than her. It just sat there, as tranquil as a science experiment, completely unaffected by the downpour and wind.

With two quick steps she walked inside it. It split, slid and resealed around her, enveloping her completely. "Don't you find it funny that in a little while you won't even remember this?" she said, "I'll fix everything now, you'll see, it's all going to be like it ought to have been for both of us"

"Wait a second", I said, not quite sure of what I was going to say but stalling for time, "God knows we've both had a strange time of things and life can be weird and hard at times but what is done is done, we can both have a great future. You can't go back sweetie, no matter what magic you summon, it can't be done. Come with me and we'll fix the future and everything will be all right, I promise!"

"Don't be ridiculous" she said, as if I had suggested that she ought to study advanced quantum physics "it's all so clear now." She looked up towards the sky and began to cast her spell.

"Cathy, don't!", I implored her while she chanted, "there's no such thing as time travel, it's just a dream that you can't let go of, I know it hurts, but don't you see, it's just a dream, you can never go back, please don't do this!"

She finished her spell casting and looked at me with a sad smile. And suddenly I knew that it was too late. "No, wait! WAIT!" I shouted in vain, knowing that she could not stop it now even if she wanted to. All I could do is stare into her sad eyes for those last few seconds that we had left, and try to burn their memory into my brain as hard as I could.

The lightning struck again, this time right on her bubble. A wave of light and sound hit me like a nuke. Everything went white. I remember the feeling of being ripped in two like a strip of bandage, being shaken so hard that I feared my spine would snap, feeling everything swirl violently. And all the while I kept concentrating and thinking "Remember!","Remember!!" until the terrible roar pushed even that out of my head.

I can't remember if I passed out or not. The next thing I do remember was rolling my smashed bike down the mountain road through the storm, its steering all twisted, my head spinning, my palms and knees scratched and bleeding into the downpour.

I'm sure I once knew who Cathy was, how we met, if we were relatives, friends, lovers, or who knows. But that knowledge is not there anymore. I can't remember Cathy in any other place or any other time apart from that mountain top that day. I know that she had been very important to me from the agony that I had felt during those last minutes, but I don't know how or why.

Sometimes I make up stories about Cathy, I play them out like scripts in my head. How we might have met. What her home might have looked like. What we might have talked about. I do it to fill my need for memories about her. I need those memories, even if I know they are my creations, because I need to justify all the loss and pain that I have felt since that day... and which I can't explain any other way.

As far as I can prove, I might as well have had a fall while riding with my bike, hit my head, blacked out, and had a weird dream. Because try as I might, I can't recall ever actually seeing, meeting or knowing that woman. I have asked and looked for her everywhere. She never existed.