Malleable Memory

Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts:  in a clearing by a river, driving to San Francisco in the rain, under the bleachers, out of touch with the child I was, she is the only one who knew me, chased by a large creature

The first thing I remember is being chased by a large creature.   I wasn’t sure what it was but it sounded like a horse galloping, a horse with big heavy hooves and a massive head and a broad back.  I ran so fast; it was exhilarating really.  I was under the bleachers, dodging sprinkles, then I was out racing across the pitch in the driving rain.  The horse was still behind me, its feet rhythmic, drumming.

A stand of trees appeared, tall pines that smelled of vanilla.  I ran into the thick of them, never tiring.  I seemed only to get stronger.  Suddenly a clearing, flooded with sunlight, like a spotlight.  The rain stopped.  I could hear a river rushing.  Between me and the water was a thicket of berry vines, rangy and threatening, displaying their thorns like feline teeth and claws.  I dare you, the bushes said.  I dare you.

The hoof beats were getting louder, and the heart in my throat and hearts in my temples and in the soles of my feet were throbbing as I paused to look before me, too scared to look behind me.  It was then the foxes emerged, wiggling out from beneath the thorns, unperturbed by the fierceness fore and aft, merely presenting themselves as some sort of energy, red fur, slim legs, delicate feet and snouts.  Dozens of them, appearing like a flock of sheep, bunched together shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip.  They did not scare me.  Nor would they fight for me.  But they would welcome me in, subsume me in their sorority.  I’d been out of touch with the child I used to be, but they’d come, these foxes, to lead me back.  The gravel and dirt became as smooth as red marble and polished green jade, forming a bridge across the river.  Did they offer to carry me?  No, they were me, I was they.  A predator become prey, turning finally to see the horse, so beautiful and black, smaller than I’d imagined.  I recognized her now, she was the only one who ever truly knew me.  I reached out my hand.  I could touch her now.

Then the dreamscape changed.  I was driving to San Francisco in the rain with my mother to see the Christmas tree in the City of Paris Department Store.  It was long ago, a city filled with gold glitter, red ribbons, vendors in Union Square hawking pink roses in December.  A place of malleable memory where anything was possible.


Photo by Scott Walsh on Unsplashed.


I was surprised that no one in the my group remembered the City of Paris Department Store on Union Square in San Francisco, but a quick Google search confirmed that it’s been closed for over forty years.  Click here to view a few photos of its magnificent Christmas tree from days of yore!


Read more stories like this in my collection, Wild Imaginings, available for free download when you fill out the form on your right.


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