by Kimberly Russell
I was 10 when the police found me in the loft of that abandoned farm, after a 5 year search. I was scared, dirty and hungry, when a police officer unlocked my cage and stretched out her hand for me.
“Derrik?” She said “It’s okay, I’m a police officer, come to take you home.”
I took her hand and she led me outside to an ambulance surrounded by a million police lights. After a week in the hospital, I was released to my parents with a clean bill of health. Nobody knew about the new and growing scar that lived inside me.
Nobody could see it.
My parents must have been in denial and thought I was fine and I was, for the most part, but I carried the scar. I saw it every time I looked in the mirror.
As time went on the scar grew and emerged each time I tried to form a bond with someone. A girlfriend. A friend. A colleague. The scar ended it for good and I never talked about my childhood, not with anyone. Come to think of it, maybe that was part of the problem.
The only thing I came to count on in my sad life was that the scar would always be with me. It had become my best friend and my worst enemy.
At 33, I had enough and I was desperate to erase the scar. I traveled all over the world, as far as I could afford, to seek the help of medicine men of all kinds. Despite my efforts, the scar remained. It always remained.
Three months later there was a knock at my door.
On the porch stood an older man with a long pointed black beard that ended at his chest. He wore dark red robes and he bowed his head while I stared at him through the peephole.
I opened the door.
“Yes?” I held my foot firm on the other side of the door in case he rushed me.
“The memories you do not need to keep.” His eyes were piercing through me. I turned around to see who he could be looking at. He smelled of incense.
“I received word you have been seeking help to no avail. I can offer you a solution.” He lifted his right arm and revealed the wand tucked in his sleeve.
Pfft. I slammed the door in his face. Magic. Really? Wands? Harry Potter, anyone? I flung open the door and he was standing right where I left him, as if he knew I would come back.
“I don’t claim to be Albus Dumbledore.” He said with a grin. “My name is Gaenor Lauf and I am a true wizard, although I understand your disbelief.”
It’s like he’s reading my mind, I thought.
“I am.” He said. “I know it’s rude and I try to stop, but it comes so natural to me, I find it difficult.”
Curious, I opened the door and let him in.
He explained to me how he could remove my memory.
“But there are consequences.” He said.
I didn’t care, to be honest. What I was living with was far worse than any consequence I would have to pay.
“The first thing you must do is remember.” He held his wand up to the side of my head and I could see out of the corner of my eye that it started to glow.
I spent so many years trying to forget, the thought of remembering caused me physical pain, but I did it anyway.
I remembered all the pain. All the degradation. All the horrid things done to me. All the people who did them. The barn. The cage. Everything.
“Good. Good. Keep going.” He said as he closed his eyes.
Gaenor touched the wand to my head and tugged. A milky white stream ran from the wand to what must have been my head.
“It’s working.” I smiled.
He kept pulling. I could feel the hold the memory had on my brain. I thought some more, he tugged some more and he finally won. Attached to his wand was a swirling galaxy of thought.
He took a dark wooden box from inside his robe and locked the galaxy of nightmares inside. Then he left without saying a word and disappeared before I could say thank you.
Three years went by without the scar and I was happy for the first time. Then I came across a little girl walking down the street. Something about her face was familiar.
“Hi.” I bent down to her height to get a better look at her face to see where I knew her from and it was like I looked in a mirror. Memories of the cage came flooding ack. Somehow she had my memories.
I had to find the wizard.
I thought about when I first met him and how desperate I was. I sent messages to him with my thoughts, hoping he could hear me. Three days later, he came to my door.
“You wanted to see me.” He said with certainty.
“What happened to my scar?” I didn’t want the answer.
“I spoke of consequences.”
“Do you still have the box?” I scanned his robes.
“Yes, I have the box, but it’s empty. The box is only a temporary home. I must release all memories within 24 hours of extraction.”
“So, where does it go when you release it?” After seeing the girl, I was sure of the answer.
“It becomes someone else’s memory. They bear the burden of your scar.”
“So, the girl?”
“Yes, she now owns your scar. She doesn’t know where it came from, but she has to live with it. There must be balance in the world.”
I didn’t know what to do with that knowledge. I decided to try and forget what I learned from the wizard. It was sad, sure, but it was somebody else’s turn. I paid my dues.
Three years later, I ran into the girl again. She was living on the street. Her eyes were sunken in, she was skeleton thin, her hair was in mattes, and her clothes were dirty and torn.
She was me. The old me. I saw her pain. My pain.
That night, I summoned the wizard once more for help.
“Give it back to me. Give me the scar. I will bear it.” I closed my eyes and leaned my head toward him.
Gaenor opened his robes and took out the same dark wooden box as before. My scar was inside.
“Are you certain?” The wizard held the box up to my brain.
I thought of the girl, nodded my head and the scar returned. The burden was mine and I learned to live with it.