The sun was setting on the road in front of us and Clara was feeling nostalgic in the warm summer heat. She was reminiscing about life in earlier years. Other adventures from summers gone by. Friends that have come and then gone. Life. What she had taken for granted. What she still cherished today.
She turned to Gideon who was sitting with his head pressed up against the car window with his hands gently folded in his lap.
“Do you remember those days?” She asked the boy, and he was silent for a long time. The trees drifted past his window. The sunset lower in the sky.
Finally, he turned to his sister and said, quite plainly, as if he were tired of her rambling on about things, “Clara, I don’t remember ANYTHING about my childhood, okay?”
She doubled over laughing and put a hand on his shoulder as she crumpled into him. “Surely you remember something. You’re still in your childhood. So, ANY memory you have is from your childhood.”
He took a deep breath and stared up at the ceiling. “Okay,” he said after a few moments, “I remembered ONE thing. I remember the one time when you were upstairs and you had a knife and you were bringing it down the stairs and you fell and you nearly cut off my nose.” He nodded as if this was a fine memory and the recounting of it would appease his sister and make her stop asking him so many questions.
“What?” Clara sat up straight. “That never happened.”
He nodded again and turned back to the window. “Oh, it did. You did that. That’s what I remember about my childhood.”
“Gideon!” the girl protested. “That never happened. You don’t remember ANYTHING else? What about all of the fun things we have done together?”
He shook his head and rested it back against the glass. “No. Just the thing with the knife.” he closed his eyes to the passing trees and the setting sun and mumbled to himself softly, “…nearly cut off my nose.”
I glanced at Clara in the rearview mirror. She looked shocked. Her jaw worked up and down but no noise came out. Her eyes kept bouncing back and forth from her brother and then back at me. “That didn’t ever happen, right?”
I just smiled and looked at the road.
“He made that up, didn’t he, Dad?”
We drove on into the night. We pondered the nature of memory. We pondered the nature of time. We pondered the nature of knives, the nature of life.