Neither Thought Nor Memory
by Keren Ziv

Veronica checks her car twice before
she enters. Under, because in middle
school her health teacher told her about girls
getting their legs slashed in grocery store
parking lots (then: rape). She imagines them
sometimes. They cannot run, and the blood pools
in their shoes. Inside, because -- well. Because.

She tells herself that a real phobia
would immobilize her. This is simply
a mild case of PTSD (or, what
are they calling it these days? certainly
not the good ol' shell shock of World War II).
If Veronica carries an extra
cell phone in her bag for emergencies,
it's only because her carrier has
the nifty five dollar a month charge
for her family plan, and who doesn't
take advantage of a steal like that?

Lying in her purse next to a sharpened
nail file, she's got two flashlights (brand new, and
she changes the batteries every month,
whether she used them or not). She admits:
that might be a little over the top.
Who needs two flashlights in their purse, anyway?
One used to do her fine. Times, they do change.

She doesn't get rid of the second, though.
Just in case (it might be an OCD).

At night, after her father has fallen
asleep and she's lain in bed quietly
for as long as she thinks she can, she tries
to find the fragments and pieces of her
(self) and the person who she used to be.
There's a trick to it: Veronica holds
her breath and wraps her arms around her soul,
clutching tight fistfuls of it when she can.
Veronica's afraid she might lose it
any other way. Now it isn't safe
to breathe anymore. She stays very still
until she bursts out a great gush of air.
She gasps and labors for the next breath and --

Obviously, she must keep it inside
(again). How else will she live? Her Lilly's
abandoned her now, and she's forgotten
how to exist without her in the back
of her thoughts. Veronica's terrified
that soon there will be an entire day with
neither thought nor memory of Lilly.

Maybe that'd be okay for the dead girl,
but the one still alive can't allow it.

"You need to see a therapist," he says,
tossing a couple of socks in the air.

"I thought you were supposed to support me
when I unloaded." And Veronica
doesn't meet his eyes but stares at the floor.

"Well, this stuff is messed up, Veronica.
How do you function with all of it up
there in your head racing about like that?"

"That," she says, "is the sixty-four thousand
dollar question." Conversation over.

(Only that doesn't happen, because she
has seen in her mind's eye how exactly
her confidant will freak, and she can't deal
with it going like that. She can't handle
him telling her to visit a damn shrink
when all she really needs is just this thing:
to never, ever forget Lilly Kane --
and how can Veronica find someone
to remember Lilly quite like she will?)

Veronica watches old home movies
to save Lilly, because she's the only
one who's trying to keep her anymore.
And, maybe, saving Lilly, she can save


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