I know how a kid becomes motivated to shoot up a school or commit suicide. ~From Reader
The author clearly draws distinctions between the abused and unabused, using the family lives of characters and drawing distinctions with the fake people or posers. ~From Review
This book changed my view of bullying and how society endorses oppression. ~From Reader
Memories of Emily is the story of the Man and his minions enforcing a system that rewards and elevates children based on physicality, affluence, and attractiveness while relegating the "less-thans" and "undesirables" to the lowest positions.
Memories of Emily is the tale of the Army of Simone de Beauvoir battling for freedom from a culture entrenched in homophobia.
Memories of Emily is an indictment of a capitalist-polluted education system, freewheeling in bureaucratic inertia.
Memories of Emily is literature's living memory founded on fragile truth strengthened or destroyed by beauty's power.
Memories of Emily is the story of salvation, even if she is just a dream.
Memories of Emily is the first novel in the Memories of Emily Hexalogy. You can read these books in any order.
Fragments of Memories of Emily
Sitting in bed on the hot September night, the nightmare slowly faded in growing awareness of the room’s stale, thick air. The prior week’s cold signaled winter, but my mother and stepfather’s mention of an Indian Summer during breakfast took root in the hot day and grew into the night.
Exiting the bed, I went to the window and lifted the sash, rushing fresh air into the room. The phrase “Indian Summer” turned in thought, watching the moonlit yards stretch, connect, and fill suburbia’s homes with darkness. The shadows pooled in the moonlight as a vacant questioning of Indian Summer’s origin yielded no understanding like a loose piece to a lost puzzle. The fascination of being part Indian once held special meaning as if possessing an ancient, noble clan membership, but the meaning of “Indian,” like many things, fell into the void of the forgotten.
The unknown heritage’s meaninglessness and the nightmare’s dissipating grind mixed with concern for starting seventh grade in two days. Her absence further weighted worry and caused hair pulling while staring into the dark neighborhood, made even lonelier than before our meeting. The lump burned and battled for my throat’s release, and amidst the war, my eyes caught a figure stepping between privacy trees lining the yard’s perimeter. Focusing on the movement revealed her.
The huntress stepped into the moonlight, letting her flowered sundress fall from shoulders, sinking in a pool of pitch at her feet. Darting from shadow to light, blending seamlessly to each, she moved towards the house camouflaged in sparse, manicured landscape patches and shadows they wrought, unhidden only to me.
Watching her tracking and playful peering, her form’s softness vied with symmetry for attention, inviting me as it had in the months prior. The warmth inside her haunted desire, recalling soft, shallow breath beyond the flower-scented hair that captured my grunts as her back’s smoothness slid and warmed my chest.
She emerged from darkness into the light a flawless, harmonious motion of limbs, stepping closer, revealing eyes welled with blackness: portals to a place absent of all beauty, love, and kindness. Torment, rage, and loneliness burned in that place forever fixed within this teenage vessel.
She smiled, slowly raising a pointing finger, whispering, “Close your eyes. Sleep.”
Commanded into life to protect the mortal domain, the first opening of eyes revealed my flexing hands, constructing into flesh as I whirled in a thermal draft formed in the dimensionless ether. Emily flew past in an intricate lattice of rays extending from the spinning ether, powering her into existence. Caught in the vortex and funneled into a portal, we emerged from an opening in the sky: thunder falling to earth.
Exiting the landing crater at the city’s edge, we walked onto a road stretching from the city to the horizon as the mortals fled in fear. Looking to Emily, she pointed to a girl fast approaching on a wave of fire, parting the earth behind her, upheaving the road before her. Her destructive approach halted, barred by us, revealing a radiant, sublime girl. The roaring flame, a loyal beast beneath, dissipated and gently released her barefoot step upon the dirt, then rose again gyrating and shrouding the hell-spawned beauty, whose hollow eyes blazed only indifference.
I shook my head, frowning. This is the danger the Gods felt worthy of summoning the Daughter of Nix and the Slayer of the AZ? A mere demon? We dealt with worse.
Emily stepped forward. “Demon, state your reason for entering this world.”
Head tilted sharp, speaking words sharper, “Deliver to me the deceiver Professor Holts so the Light Bringer’s flame may purge his sins. Do this, and you and the mortals shall live.”
Half-laughing, I demanded, “Who is the Demon so bold to risk destruction by the Gods?”
Her lip curled into an alluring, precocious grin. “Be it so.” Hands outstretched in an instant: a blinding flash. Hurled backward, I glimpsed Emily tumble past, caught in the hellfire wall that slammed down trees, flipped cars, and uprooted lampposts, racing into the city. She disappeared from view as my body twisted, striking concrete, possibly a building, which collapsed and broke my motion. The firewall traveled a hundred yards further then detonated a quarter of the city, upending structures in a twisting shriek of steel that extinguished all life in the eruption’s radius. Winded and battered, I lifted my head, squinting through hot currents to find Emily. Suddenly, the epicenter’s shock wave lifted again and threw me an unknown distance onto a rubble pile. Stone, steel, and mangled, charred flesh rained upon me.
Witnessing buses ferry people along Riceberg Road constituted all my mass transit knowledge. The phone book provided Towson State University’s address, and this location combined with the schedule procured from a bus stop near the high school to form a travel itinerary. The trip required a mile walk south through suburbia to Riceberg Road to board the southeast-traveling number thirty-seven bus to downtown Baltimore. From there, a four-block walk to catch the northwest-bound thirty-four to Towson would take me near the university. Crafting a lie to escape plans with my girlfriend and travel planning took most of Friday afternoon to complete, which did not bring a restful sleep that night as Thursday’s conversations replayed.
Huddled under a jacket in front of my desk, Toni’s wild hair formed a scarf shrouding her face and hypnotic, brilliant eyes. “I think Miss Pried is a vampire. My mom has a book about vampires, and one of the ways you can tell a vampire is by their cold blood. This class is freezing, and Miss Pried doesn’t care at all. I think she likes it like this. It’s colder in here than when I leave swim practice with wet hair. That reminds me; this weekend, my swim meet is at Towson State University, which I like because I eat a bacon double-cheeseburger with my dad at Friendly’s in the mall afterward. My mom would be upset because of the whole vegan thing, but I need something after swimming. You know what I mean? Have you been there?”
“Yeah, I get hungry after martial arts. Have I been to Friendly’s?”
“No, dufus. There’s a Friendly’s right down the street. I mean the mall.”
“Yes, I think once. My parents stopped there a long time ago when they were looking for a house to buy. I don’t remember much.”
“Have you been to Towson State?”
I looked up from my notebook doodles, smirking and half-laughing, “I don’t like this school. Why would I want to visit another one?”
Her head slowly shook as she pulled my notebook, flipped to a blank sheet, and began drawing. “You’d like it. The college is big, and there’s a gym here and a lounge here. I’m hoping to get accepted there when I graduate. Oh, the pool is in this building; you walk down this path from the parking area to get to it.” She finished drawing and stared.
I stared back.
Her eyes rolled right. “Normally, my mom or my dad come to my meets, but this weekend they can’t make it because of work.”
“What about your boyfriend?”
“Brian never comes to my meets. He says they’re not exciting.”
I frowned. “That’s kind of shitty. I’d go if I didn’t have plans this weekend.”
She nodded and shrugged. “Yeah, I guess it’ll be cool with just the team. Where are you going?”
“I’m just hanging with some friends, and I started seeing this girl.”
She stared, and I stared.
The class wound to its end, and we parted with her joining a group of popular girls headed for the buses as I walked the other way to the abandoned houses. Entering the house, I found Spear sitting on the living room’s rotting carpet where a shaft of sunlight landed from the dirty window across the room, providing the light needed to fill dime bags of weed. I snagged a beer from the cooler next to him and sat. Helping seal the bags, I laughed, “You know, man, there’s this popular chick in my English class, and for some reason, we get along.”
“Is she hot?”
“Yeah, smokin’. She’s a swimmer and looks great.”
“What’s the problem?”
“No problem. It’s not like we’re dating or anything; I’m just surprised we talk, that’s all.”
“What do you talk about?”
I quickly related our conversation about her swim meet and pulled the notebook from my backpack to show him the drawing of the college. “It’s funny, that’s all. If she were any other popular person, I’d lose my shit for her talking to me and touching my stuff.”
Spear sat up and looked at me and brushed his mohawk with his hand thoughtfully. “Dude, you need to stop smoking weed.”
He laughed, “She drew you a fucking map. Do I need to draw you another one?”
Looking at her sloppy college map, I shook my head, laughing, “Oh no, man, she don’t want nothing to do with me like that. She’s a popular girl.”
Spear leaned back and took a drink of beer. “Are you sure?”
“That she’s one of them.”
“Well, she hangs with the popular people.”
He sat his beer down and began filling bags with weed again. “Look, man. I’m the first person to call out a poser or throw down with a jock, but not all them motherfuckers want to be preppies, even I know that.” He held a dime bag up to the light beaming from the window, measuring the quantity. “The Man makes everyone a prisoner. You didn’t ask for your shitty parents, and neither did I. I didn’t choose to be poor, and neither did millions of other people. Maybe she’s a preppy because that’s what the Man dictated her to be. Maybe she accepts and likes being a preppy; I don’t know, but-” His knuckles fell tapping the map on the carpet. “She don’t accept something about the life the Man dictated her.”
Toni and Spear’s words faded in a dreamy cloud of sleep that ended with an early rise and walk to the bus stop. Taking the early bus proved wise, saving me from lateness after almost becoming lost twice while finding the transfer stop in the city. Her ink-scrawled map also proved difficult to follow, walking me around the campus in a large circle to find the pool near where I entered.
The building and pool crowded with people, leaving only some seats near the top of the bleachers. A quick climb brought the realization of not understanding the competition for knowing nothing of the sport. I began a scan of swimmers, revealing her peering from a hoodie, shaking hands and feet to stay loose.
She stared with a determined look at the competition in the pool, and the noise fell to a murmur as she raised fists issuing cheers. Her gaze steadily followed swimmers in the water but stopped, shifting my direction. Her eyes fixed on me as if she suddenly knew my presence and location. The surprise of feeling caught churned doubts of her map’s intention and Spear’s conversation. My stomach tightened as she crinkled her nose and upper lip like she did in class when she laughed or poked fun. She shifted attention back to the meet, reacting to the loudspeaker’s voice.
Removing her hoodie made apparent her muscular form etched with a swimmer’s tone as she positioned to compete. Her cap and goggles produced a strange reflection of the girl from English class, a life fragment unknown to those surrounding her at Fradkin. Something beautiful, defining, and unique unveiled in her stance: a piece of her, revealing a new dimension.
She launched in a fearless glide appearing natural and fluent as though constructed for this action. The swimmer’s chop held no resistance and carried her to the pool’s end, where a flip forward touched the wall with feet propelling in perfect, effortless grace to complete the lap. She exited the pool and smiled, looking my direction, which brought a realization of not knowing if she even won.
She stood with teammates talking and watching until the event ended. Exiting the bleachers, the crowd filled the floor surrounding the pool slowly in all directions. Standing across the pool, she spoke to a man whose resemblance dictated her father. She looked around as she gathered her bag and belongings, but the large group blinded me to her.
Caught in the barely moving crowd incited a sudden nervous grind for knowing I didn’t belong, eroding any desire to attend the meet and see her. Though not at Fradkin, the nameless, faceless people formed the same rejection trap known too well and too long. Intruding in their world begged for trouble, demanding departure before some jock or preppy recognized I didn’t belong. She probably wasn’t looking at me anyway: more likely, she saw her late-arriving dad.
The popularity throng made glimpsing her impossible on the way out, and exiting the building began a hurried walk to the bus stop. That night and Sunday, I drank beer with fellow punks at the abandoned house and went looking for a job on Monday after school, but our approaching Tuesday’s English class haunted me with worry that she would reveal her true, popular-girl form and say something terrible. It was stupid going there. I almost hooked school Tuesday but felt compelled to see her.
When English class started, I entered the classroom and took my seat behind her. She turned, faced my desk, and stared.
She folded her arms, fighting the cold. “My dad made it to my meet.”
I nodded. “Did you eat a cheeseburger?”
“You’re a really good swimmer.”
“Thanks.” She pulled her jacket over her shoulders. “It’s freezing in here. Let’s work on this assignment.” Her ankles locked with mine, sending an electrical sensation through me as her wild hair fell on the notebook she hovered over, producing an ethereal allure. “Miss Pried is definitely a vampire, but she’s probably not a bad one.”
I looked up and frowned.
She caught my stare and shrugged. “It may not be her fault. You can’t hold it against someone for getting bit by a vampire. She didn’t ask to become one.”