I was nine when my grandmother first told me I was special, eleven when I started to believe in magic and thirteen when I became a memory keeper. But, I didn’t realize what a special gift this was until I was sixteen and the memories and cares of another rested on my shoulders.
My grandmother was my only connection to the world of memory keepers growing up. As a child, I watched her every move to learn more about my destiny. I was by her side as often as I could be, watching and learning. She never spoke about what she was doing. Instead, she would say that experience is the greatest teacher. I wouldn’t understand this until I was much older.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t my grandmother who made me see that magic was real. It was my mother who made me believe. We were sitting on the living room floor, watching one of those movies based on fairy tales. I commented that those things don’t happen in real life. She was quick to come back that fairy tales do come true – you just have to know where to find the magic. I giggled at the mention of magic and she raised an eyebrow. Within seconds, she was sharing several different stories of her past. At the center of each story was my grandmother, portrayed as the heroine of the tale. I was in awe.
I knew I would come into my abilities at age thirteen, but I didn’t realize the impact it would have on my life. A memory keeper is able to experience the memories of any given individual with simply a touch of her hand. With enough practice, this power can also be extended to inanimate objects, which hold more memories than any human. After years of watching my grandmother in action, I was well aware of the abilities I would be gaining. However, I wasn’t aware of the sacrifices I would have to make. My grandmother had made it look so easy.
The first person I touched was my best friend at the time. We were in middle school and things were rough. Girls were catty and boys were suddenly interested in the girls. Rumors flew on a daily basis and people were betrayed weekly. I was sitting in the cafeteria beside Anna, my best friend. We were in the midst of our lunch and I asked if she had a spare napkin and she passed one my way. Our fingers grazed for only a second, but that was all it took for every one of her memories to come flooding into my mind. It was a painful experience as my brain went into overdrive.
My body shook with the emotions of each memory and the people around me seemed to jump away. I don’t remember much after that because I passed out and woke up in the nurse’s office. The school called my mother, worried that I suffered from panic attacks or something. My grandmother was the one who met me in the office. She drove me home and we didn’t speak a word. My mind was reeling with something I had discovered in my best friend’s memories: betrayal and backstabbing that had been going on for months. Needless to say, that ended our friendship.
I isolated myself for months, avoiding everyone. I would immediately jump back if someone got too near and I refused to do any contact sports in gym. As a result, I ended up failing my first class that year. My separation increased when my grandmother passed away and I withdrew further into myself. My mother tried her best to pull me from my self-imposed isolation but nothing seemed to work.
I did eventually pull through and began to find new ways of avoiding people that were not as jumpy. However, I continued to avoid contact with others as much as possible. Burdens lie hidden in the memories of others. People can suppress these burdens and bury them deep within themselves. I experience all of a person’s memories when I touch them, even the ones that have been suppressed and forgotten. Nothing is kept from me and that is something that I must live with everyday.
The Memory Keepers by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.