To Remember Not
Christian Linville


I could see them, the ships—blots in the bay through slivers of buildings—in all their might, rolling into the bay and heading for ports. I pictured all the men on board, dirty faces, hopping to their stations, anxious to be home. If they were true, like I wished to be coming back to Mobile, they’d be singing; they’d sing along with the horns blowing steam in the cold January evening. Covering the sun setting in the distance, a blanket of clouds was floating toward town, turning purple with time as it moved overhead.

“Did you hear me, Jerry?” Mariam asked. “Should we go a few blocks somewhere else?”

“This place is fine. Do you like it?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “I think its fine.”

Hearing her voice was sweet and familiar, what I’d longed for in Colorado. “It’s been so long. I thought it was nicer than what I remember,” I said.

“It isn’ as nice as when we used to come here. We could have sat inside if it was’n so crowded. I knew it’d be busy. Everywhere is busy this time a year.”

“Aren’t you cold?”

“I have a jacket.”

“I don’t want you to be cold. We can go somewhere else.”

“No. I’ll order a coffee with whiskey. We’ll be fine.”

On the streets below, lamps were flickering on, and people were decorated with Mardi Gras masks, all different colors, no one the same. A chilly wind came through the patio, hitting Mariam, blowing her black hair like the purple and green beads strung in the trees. I pictured her wearing one of the purple masks, too, getting up, walking away from me to join the revelers. She was beautiful, like I remembered. I pictured it clear.

“Mobile seems so small now,” Mariam said.

“It’s someplace to settle.”

“That’s easy to say, since you’ve been gone, don’ you know? I was settled long before you left.”

“But you see I’ve come back.”

“Yes, I see, but that does’n do anything for me. I’m still here gettin’ old.”

A man and woman came outside, sitting at the far covered end of the patio.

“We’re both getting old,” I said.

“Let’s not talk so down on us,” said Mariam. “We’re makin’ it all sound like we’re ol’ timers.”

“Freer days were ten years ago.”

“Maybe for you, but not to me.” She smiled, squinting her soft green eyes that I saw to be distanced and older and burdened. But within her dark hair and soft accent I tried to feel what I thought still to be alive, the Mariam I met in times before.

“Have you seen Rachael since you’ve been back?” she asked.

“No. She stopped talking to me after Jillian was born.” I waved off memories of Rachael in my head.

“I did’n know that. People are that way. Don’ you want to see your baby?”

“What do you mean?”

“They get what they want from you then they’re satisfied, done hurting you, or gone.”

“I suppose.”

“I’m thinkin’ about Roger and I should’n be. I know you don’ want to hear it. I’m sorry.”

I nodded, picturing times before of Roger sitting by Mariam across from me, pushing away memories again of Rachael who had sat beside me.

“Oh, you can tell me I was wrong for it all and how I’m not how I was and that I’ve changed. I know you think it. Don’ you think I was wrong, or am wrong? I know you.”

I saw the man with his woman glance at us, and I knew I should be embarrassed by Mariam’s loud words, but I only felt tired and restless from her talk.

“You can tell me so, Jerry. I know I should feel wrong, but I don’. I’ve wondered if I don’ ‘cause my baby, ‘cause my abortion, if that’s what is makin’ me feel alright with myself when I should feel wrong. But I believe, I believe it was’n right ‘bout Roger tying me down outside town, makin’ me to give up a career and practically a degree, all I had worked for at that time.”

“Maybe that’s right.”

“I think I believe it is, even if you don’ think so, I think so.”

A waiter came out. He tried to take my order but I refused, I didn’t feel like drinking, but he got a coffee with whiskey for Mariam. He paid special attention to her, and I was feeling sorry for the man. He talked with a strong Alabama accent, loose, like water. He stumbled over himself, trembling with the coffee and whiskey when he brought it back, trying to blame it on the cold, but I saw Mariam made him nervous.

“Does Scott’s wife know?” I asked after the waiter left.

“I did’n ask. Prolly not. Would you tell yours?”

I nodded.

“I’d hate to know what he really is thinkin’ ‘bout me nowa-days. I feel I still care a little bit ‘bout him. I find myself thinkin’ all the time,” she said.

“Have you talked to him lately?”

“No.” She swirled her coffee and whiskey. “Well, he called me once. Last week, I think.”

“What’s he doing?”

“Visitin’ family in Arizona. He said he’s not comin’ back to Mobile.”


“Oh . . .” She glanced around, playing with her hair. “I don’ know. I told him how the procedure has made me feel and all,” she said, pausing to take a sip, “but he did’n say too much. I suppose he don’ care. I suppose even him being a jerk, he was reason for divorcin’ Roger.”

“How are you feeling about the baby?”

“They gave me pills, but they haven’t really helped. I have a paper sayin’ what symptoms to expect after the procedure. I don’ think there’s anything you can really do. I wish I knew someone else who has done it, so maybe I’d ask.” She sighed deeply. “You know, I’m goin’ back to Louisiana for certain, I think.” Her greens eyes looked to me. “I’ve got family there.”

“Did you know the sex?”

“Does it matter?”

“I’d hate to see you leave.” I knew I only spoke to sound familiar, unchanged, like I wanted.

“I know. But I don’ think you’d be happy seein’ me anymore. It would’n be like ol’ days and before you left.” She glanced to the people below on the streets, playing bugles and horns, and the big oaks draped with Spanish moss. “That’s a sad thing to say.”

I nodded and felt a pinch rising through my stomach to my chest, slowly and warmly. The man and woman were still sitting at the other end of the patio, laughing and having a good time. The man met my eyes. He looked like a fisherman. His beer belly was big and round, bulging beneath his crimson Polo, and he wore a thick mustache.

The waiter came back on the patio. “How are we doing?” he asked, looking to Mariam.

“Fine.” I told him. “Can I have a beer, please? Draft. Quick.”

“Would you like another?” he asked Mariam, pointing to her coffee and whiskey.

She shook her head without looking. He smiled at me and walked back inside. It was almost dark now.

“I did’n know you still drank?” Mariam asked.

“Not as much as I did in college, but it’s hard giving up old things.”

I felt her staring at me, but turned to watch the Mardi Gras crowd, believing her then a memory passed as the faint evening clouds rolled in.


Christian Linville is a short story writer from Oklahoma living in Texas. He will be attending Thomas Edison State College in the near future, majoring in English. He is pleased to have Corium Magazine as his first publication.