KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Flash Fiction: 623 words

Remembrance of Things Past

by Roberta Beary

I tell people that I’ve read all of Proust. But that may be a lie. Because I can only remember Swann’s Way. My Proust fixation goes way back. Starting when my mom’s two-volume Remembrance of Things Past followed me from the living room bookcase into my dorm room. I don’t know how my mom and I had Proust in common. I only ever saw her reading Regency romances.

Will, the boy I say I almost married, was my first and only Proust lover. We met in the honors seminar. I knew we wouldn’t last. That first Thanksgiving Will brought me home to meet his family. Will’s father was a surgeon. Who looked down on my Irish Catholic quirks, to use his term. Once when his wife had to rush to Indiana for a family crisis, he asked me what confession was like. Sometimes when I tell that story I say that I stood up to him. I didn’t. I started crying.

Will had a younger brother, Mason, who had the biggest eyes, green and empty. Looking into them was like sneaking into your neighbor’s pool at dawn and doing the deadman’s float. Mason loved to sing. Back then I didn’t know what was wrong with him. That was before autism became a word. One day when Will and I were back at school, Mason started singing to himself while making circles with his hands. The way I heard the story, Mason’s mother tried to get him to settle down. A mistake. She wound up locking herself in the master bathroom. It had a pink princess phone which I’d only ever seen on TV. I didn’t know real people had them. Anyway, she used it to call her husband’s nurse, saying her son Mason had tried to kill her. The doc cancelled his surgery and came home to rescue his wife. He gave her a few gin and tonics and thought all was well. But it wasn’t. By the time I heard about it, everything had been decided. Mason was gone.

I didn’t want any kids like Mason. That’s why I knew I’d never marry Will. Even though I say I came close to marrying him. That’s a lie. Sure we talked about it, even talked about a ring. It was just talk. Words that didn’t mean anything.

Everything was different then. Today Mason would be living at home, going to special classes, singing whatever songs he liked. Christmas carols in July if that suited him. He’d be diagnosed as on the spectrum. His mother would be understanding and kind. She’d learn about trigger words and how to calm him down. She wouldn’t interrupt his rocking or make him sleep in the attic when the dad was off at one of his conferences.

Poor Mason. I think about him sometimes. What kind of life he had. Locked up in the tower they parked him in. I even do random searches but all I get is zero hits. Today I found the mother’s obit online. There was a bit about Will, how happy she was when her son found his calling as an Episcopal priest. Now it’s too late for me to tell her. About the priest who raped Will, the one his mother said was a good influence. I could call Will and ask him if he ever told her. I know how to find him. He’s working in a home for wayward boys as their spiritual advisor. Maybe he’s raping them. Maybe not. I don’t want to know. And anyway, I don’t think he’d tell me anything about Mason. But maybe I will call him. One of these days. A guy who reads Proust is hard to find.



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