Short Story | Fiction

Letting Go, Moving On, and Why Forgetting Doesn’t Work

This is a fictional story. And like most fictional stories, it mimics and hides a real story, but not necessarily mine. Thus, any similarity to actual incidents or person is a lapse of judgment and I have the right to deny or remain silent or tell you to just keep on reading.

I’m not a big fan of music— contemporary music nowadays, at least. I’ve preferred the 70s to the 90s, Air Supply and Chicago and Bread and all those awesome bands with awesome lyrics that are simply awe-inspiring. Today’s music sucks are awful. Or at least, most of them are.

Still, I found myself listening to a song for several days already— not an unusual habit, but something I haven’t done for quite a long while. I listened to it to the point where I’ve memorized the lyrics, could hum out the entire song from intro to instrumental. I’m crazy that way, and to think I’m not crazy about music at all.

And then, it just died on me. I still loved the song. I still loved singing it horribly. I still loved how the words spoke to my heart, twisting and wrenching and wrecking it with each beautiful line and melody. But I just learned to let it go, move on, and let it simply fade among the endless playlist of my mind.

Just like you.

Or not.

“It’s so hard trying to forget her!” complained Mark, on his third mugful of black coffee, drunk on caffeine and hyperdilated emotionality. I sipped slowly on my Earl Grey, simply because I can only afford a single order, and as much as it tastes exquisite, the beverage was designed by God to be terrible when gulped down.

I waited for Mark to add more to his coffee shop rant. Because frankly, I’m tired of patting his back and telling him it’s going to be fine, he’ll forget about her eventually, life and the world goes on. Because frankly, I’m out of words, ideas, textbook advises and contemporary philosophies to make him feel better. I just sat there, listening and hoping that God would create a miracle and turn his coffee to wine so he can just plonk on the table and I can carry him to his home— then I can go back to reading or watching TV series. Yeah, I’m that kind of an awesome friend.

I’m that kind of a liar, too.

“It’s so hard trying to forget her.” I felt annoyed, the question haunted me like some monster from my childhood. A monster that stole away my heart and ripped it in shreds, then left me alive— alive with a heart too broken. Believe me, I tried: dating someone else, trying a new hobby, even found religion. I loved that— finding God, after getting shattered romantically. I managed to pick up the pieces— the ones I stepped on, anyway. But years passed, and I still kept stepping on more shards and slivers that pierced a painful reminiscence of her. God knows how many times I cried at night, asking Him to help me forget her. I wonder if He’s been eating popcorn as I entertained Him with all my drama.

And now, this.

I felt the urge to check my drawers again, my photo albums— only to remember that I’ve already thrown away, torn apart, burnt, deleted all the photographs we had together. I sighed: in frustration, in regret, and in relief. God knows how much I don’t need to torture myself again for hours looking at those…

Chat messages. I still have our chat messages.

The urge was overwhelming. I was almost typing her name in the search bar. READ IT! The other me screamed. READ IT!

I hurled my smartphone as forcefully as I can. Towards the bed. I aimed at the pillow, and thankfully, my arm was good— my cheap device bounced off harmlessly.

I had forgotten about her. And I’ve already learnt to let go of our memories. But why does it feel like I’m still missing something?

That night, I cried over her again.

That night, I deleted our entire chat conversation, emails, and a wayward greeting card that I’ve used once as a bookmark and was forgotten.

Forgotten.

Why is it that we easily get forgotten, but find it so difficult to forget someone?

Months passed by; what once was an intimate rant session with Mark became a comfortable crowd as he introduced his new girlfriend— she was nice, actually. Nice enough not to be annoying by asking about my own lovelife.

Clearly, he already forgot about Diane. Curiously, I just had to ask.

“So, Mark— man, you sure hit the jackpot with Cindy!”

“Yeah, she’s amazing, Dan. I really hope she’s the one.”

“Guess you finally got over Diane, huh?” Yeah, I’m a jerk that way, selfish enough to tactlessly ask. Because I had to know.

“Hmm. I don’t know. I still do remember her. I kinda miss her, too.”

Uh-oh. That sounds wrong, bro. You already have a new girlfriend.

“—but, it’s just that: memories. I don’t feel bad remembering about our past anymore. I just am glad I’ve met her, and learned from our mistakes. I’m happy for her, and I hope she’ll be happy for me, too.”

I waited for Mark to add more to his coffee shop confessions. Because frankly, I’m tired of telling everyone I’m fine, that I’ve forgotten about her and moved on. Because frankly, there’s so many things I wanted to say, so many thoughts and questions I wanted to spill out and be heard. But I just sat there, because as I listened, somehow God was teaching me something, reminding me something.

I guess the fact that we can forget something also means we can remember something— you and I know that well. We can go on through days, weeks, years of forgetting someone, something. Then BAM! A song digs up a memory. A scene reminds us of an experience. A scent stirs, a touch resonates, a dish disturbs the sediments of our past.

But maybe that’s it. Maybe more than forgetting, we should remember more. Maybe letting go isn’t about simply cutting ties, removing mnemonic triggers. Maybe moving on isn’t about leaving people behind. Maybe there’s more to forgiveness than just forgetfulness— maybe letting go isn’t about simply removing chains and setting the memories free; maybe it’s about letting go of the door knob and padlocks and let the memories back in. Maybe moving on isn’t about throwing out the unwanted memories, but about carefully tucking them in, folding them properly and neatly in the traveling bag of life— no longer as excess baggage, but as memorabilia, souvenirs and trinkets to pass along in your spiritual and emotional wanderlust. Maybe we do need to forget— not them, not others, not even our own selves. We need to forget the monsters we’ve painted of people, and see the wonderful creatures that we all truly are beneath this beastly façade of our humanity.

Mark got up to get a third mugful of coffee. Cindy leaned towards me, and with a twinkle, asked: “I’m sorry, but I can’t help it… Mark told me about your ex.”

I swallowed my lukewarm cup of tea nervously.

She grinned shyly and said: “She was… a college friend.”

I silently groaned, as I slowly sipped my Earl Grey. Very slowly, because I could only afford one order of it, and I think this is going to be another long night.

Still, I was curious.

[ END ]

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