I Try to Imagine You

I Try to Imagine You

by Rasmenia Massoud

I tried to imagine you at thirty. In bed, I curl up in a fetal position, closing my eyes in the fog between wakefulness and sleep, working to conjure an image of a more mature you.

Each time, you were different. I’ve never been able to create an imaginary version of you the same way twice.

But, every time, you’re still broken.

Every time, you still die.

When I try to imagine the man who might have been, it hits me. It’s easier to think up pretend versions of a live, future you than it is to remember you at twenty. The pale, waxy mannequin face you wore at your funeral has blurred.

Two decades, I’ve been mourning a stranger.

I try to imagine you at forty. It’s been a long time. Now I hate you too much to dream up a flattering future for you. I think it’s because I hear so many versions of “I hate you” each day. Our daughter, she’s the same age you were when you…well, you know.

She’s creative, but not in any useful sort of way.

She inherited your kind of creativity. I learn about the drugs she’s doing by checking the urban dictionary online.

You’ll never know what that is.

Our drugs were simple. Remember when you dropped those hits of blue blotter in my beer? I was furious, but after it kicked in, we ran to the elementary school and pushed one another on the playground swings.

That night created the before and after. It drew the line between ‘what if’ and ‘what the fuck have I done’.

Some fathers leave. Others can’t help it when they die. You did both. Overdoing it, don’t you think?

Last week, she gave me some photos of herself. “In case I disappear,” she said.

This is the person we created. The person we’re still creating.

I don’t know how to make her better. I try to picture myself as a decent human; to create a good, future version of me.

Nothing comes to mind.

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Rasmenia Massoud
Rasmenia Massoud is from Colorado, but after a few weird turns, ended up spending several years in France. Once she learned all she could about cheese and macarons, she found herself in England, where she writes about what she struggles most to understand: human beings. She is the author of the short story collections Human Detritus and Broken Abroad. Some of her other work has appeared in places like The Foundling Review, The Lowestoft Chronicle, Literary Orphans, Metazen, Full of Crow, Flash Fiction Offensive and Underground Voices. You can visit her at: http://www.rasmenia.com/

7 thoughts on “I Try to Imagine You

  1. This is such a beautiful piece about surviving the death of a loved one. For me, the line that gave me that punch in the gut was, “Two decades, I’ve been mourning a stranger.”

  2. Hard hitting indeed. The emotional impact, the hurt reflected in and generated by this piece, is such that the literary praise it deserves seems somehow inappropriate. I agree with Mandie as well. The anguish of loss doubled by the inability to hold on to the reality of the lost loved one is awful. The only other writer I know that has been able to allude to this tragic element is C. S. Lewis in A Grief Observed. AGB

    1. Not so much a reply to myself as a further thought. I found myself continuing to think about the piece, evidence of its power. The thoughts came to remark on the desolation, not just of the losses of the lover and of his memorial recall, but the on-going losing of the daughter and erosion of any sense of worth in the protagonist. Quadruple distilled essence of depression—I wish for a stronger word. AGB

  3. I went and mowed the lawn before I decided to comment on this. The sadness stayed with me, is still with me. Made me think of those in my life who have left.

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