Sunday, December 23, 2012

Life Lessons 8: Memory

Nickel was enthralled with the book he held in his hands. It had sat on a shelf in their house for as long as he could remember, but he'd never felt the slightest bit of curiousity as to what was inside of it. Then, earlier that night he'd been bored. Haymitch was over for dinner, and Dani was spending the night at a friend's house. This meant Nickel had to find a way to occupy time while his parents and Haymitch discussed boring adult things he had no interest in. He'd been wandering around the house in search of some form of amusement when his eyes landed on the book.

It was out in the open, but Nickel had been unsure whether or not he should pick it up without permission from his parents. Once he thought about it, it seemed a bit odd that it was there. It was the only book on display in the house except the plant book that Nickel and Dani had been permitted to flip through many times before. Nickel suddenly became curious as to why his parents had never shown him this one before.

After debating with himself a few minutes Nickel decided it couldn't be that off limits if it was left out in the open. He grabbed the book off the shelf. It almost left his hands after he underestimated it's heaviness. He set it gingerly on the table after that. Right away he could tell this was homemade, just like the plant book. His curiousity was at an all time high as he flipped to the first page.

Nickel hadn't been sure what to expect, but it certainly wasn't pictures of people he'd never seen before. He looked closely at the picture of the blonde girl on the first page. She seemed to be a year or two older than Dani. The picture seemed to have been drawn by his father, and the girl resembled him in a way. Her blonde hair and blue eyes were just like his dad. His sister had inherited the same blue eyes, and he had gotten the blonde hair.

After looking more closely at the words written in a familiar handwriting Nickel discovered the girl's name was Prim. He'd only heard the name a handful of times, but he knew it belonged to his deceased aunt. Nickel didn't know much about her except she'd been young when she died and his mother seemed to become sad whenever her name was mentioned. Nickel assumed he probably could know more if he'd ever bothered to ask, but he'd never thought to. Looking at this now, he finally became curious about what happened to this girl.

He knew before he began reading that her death could probably be contributed to the war, but skimming the page, he realized he'd have to ask his parents to confirm that as nothing about her death was written on the page except a date. A date that Nickel was surprised to see was exactly fifteen years before Dani's birth. Dani was born on the fifteenth anniversary of their aunt's death. Nickel had never suspected that.

Nickel quickly became immersed in the things his mother had written about her sister. They were such small things, things that were needed to completely picture someone in your mind. Nickel looked at the picture his father had drawn and thought about the various things he now knew about his aunt. Nickel thought he could picture her clearly in his mind. From the vivid picture he now had of her, he knew it was a shame that he would never get to meet her. It sounded like she would have been a nice aunt. Besides that, she could have given him cousins. He had always wanted another boy in the family.

A lot of time passed before Nickel remembered there was more to this book than just the first page. The man looking up from the page reminded Nickel of his mother immediately. When he noticed the last name Everdeen written underneath he knew this had to be one of his grandfathers. He took his time to take in all of the information on the page. All the while he couldn't help but dream about what it would have been like to know the man. Then, he turned the page and found another picture of a man, this one resembling his father. Nickel's eyes scanned the page just as eagerly as it had the previous ones.

It wasn't long before Nickel had worked his way through the entire book. With each page he got a little less invested as the people became less familiar and the stories went back farther. When he was finished reading, he found himself in a bit of a daze. Not one page had made a mention to death, but Nickel could still tell what this book was by the death date included on every single page right next to a birthdate or a note saying the date of birth was unknown. Nickel had heard of many of these people before. His parents often told stories of the people he'd seen on the beginning pages, but there was something that saw it written down in a book full of other deceased that made Nickel feel a bit odd. He didn't have much experience with death. In fact, he wasn't sure if his seven-year-old mind could completely grasp it. All he knew was that the feeling he was getting in his stomach was unpleasant.

Nickel knew he wouldn't be able to hide his new knowledge from his parents. He'd let it slip like usual. Nickel glanced towards the kitchen where he could still hear his parents and Haymitch conversing. After a few moments of thought, Nickel headed for the kitchen, book in hand. There was a slight moment of hesitation when he actually laid eyes on them around the table, but he continued walking until he stood between his parents.

Katniss and Peeta's eyes immediately fell on the book. There was a moment of silence as everyone looked at the book, unsure of what to say. Finally, Nickel spoke in a soft voice, "I was bored, and I found this on the shelf." He looked up at his parents nervously.

Katniss sighed before pulling him up onto her lap, something she hadn't done since he declared himself too old for it a year earlier. He didn't complain though as he sunk into his mother's embrace. If there was a time he needed a bit of comforting, it was now.

Peeta picked up the old book and began to flip through it even though he knew exactly what he would see. Nickel figured his dad was trying to figure out just how much of the book Nickel had read. Nickel turned to look at Haymitch to see the old man watching the scene awkwardly. Nickel half expected him to bolt out the door at any minute.

Nickel found himself being the one to break the silence once again. "They seemed like good people. All of them." It seemed like such a generic, simple thing to say, but Nickel wasn't sure what else to do and didn't like the silence. When he got the courage to look at the adults again, he thought he saw tears being held back in all of their eyes.

"They were," Katniss whispered in his ear. The silence returned and this time Nickel didn't break it. He just sat there on his mom's lap, while his father continued to flip through the book and Haymitch sat in silence. It wasn't until about half an hour later that Haymitch announced he needed to be heading back to feed his geese. From the slur of his words, Nickel could guess the geese shouldn't be getting their hopes up for a meal tonight.

Things returned to normal as his parents saw Haymitch off, making sure he made it to his door as usual. There was no more mention of the book that night or even in the next week, month, or year. The book didn't need words. It spoke for itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment