My mind could not conjure up the notion that the word, the name, meant something. A-n-n-a. I looked. I looked: she stared back the same. Unknowing, unfamiliar. I wanted to remember, I wanted to.
7 a.m, in the crawlspace underneath the house, flashlight grasped in my hand, sweat from my forehead plastering my hair against it. It smelled like dust. I inched forward on my stomach, writhing as a worm. My body seizing against dirt and webs. I yelled out her name. Just to see. Just to test if my mouth still knew how to speak.
There. In the corner. I flicked my light against a box with tape on the side and her name written on over it in marker. I whispered it to make sure. Anna. One more time. Anna. I sunk my face into the ground. My breath, soft from my lips but coarse in form, disrupt the filth, made me cough. I crawled over to her with ease, as if the bones in my body were pushing me, the muscles guiding me; these pulsing veins, telling me.
When I opened the box, the first thing I saw was her, smiling back at me in the form of a memory. July 1996, our wedding framed around sanded wood, with splinters etching at the sides, aching for a hold on them. And I cradled her, despite this. Despite my skin giving in.
I almost forgot.
My head was hurting again. I blamed it on the suffocating of the casket underground enveloping me, not the staples buried into the skin of my skull, not the remembrance that underneath piles of dirt, her body was just a stack of old bones with only a stone to tag her as proof she was once living.
Anna. My Anna. I cradled the picture against my chest. I clung to her.
My light began to flicker, a spider crawled across my finger. Anna was diminishing, like a ghost, like a gentle sweep of navigating headlights turning a corner, creeping away, and suddenly gone.
Anna. A-n-n-a. I shut my eyes. I could finally remember.
moments descend on me.