Who have we forgotten and why? The historical record stretches so long it seems there remains no room for all the remembrances. Family history fades or ends abruptly. Memory brings its own struggles. Yet truths of who we are as humans emerge to remind us that we are like those we have forgotten.
Writers were challenged to recall to the page the unremembered. A daunting task, full of unexpected interpretations, discoveries, and forgotten stories.
The following are based on the September 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about someone unremembered.
PART I (10-minute read)
Noted by Liz Husebye Hartmann
I dreamt last night of snow.
A thin blanket over vibrant late summer.
Silent white, still as death,
Satisfying in its containment.
Not part of the scene,
Hovered just above and north,
Invisible and unremembered in this moment’s lapse,
Accepting that all is as it should be.
It lingered, this stillness, this moment
Before the alarm pierces the darkness and eyes shutter open to snap the shot before the rushing flow of sunlight and voices, the river of everyday that roars and twists and pulls me along,
A red leaf-spin noted in everyone else’s emergency.
Unremembered by Donna Armistead
She appears only in the occasional census record and once, fleetingly, on an 1862 list as wife of a Southern soldier, entitled to low-cost salt for preservation of her family’s meager stores: my great-grandmother Mary. If she wrote letters to her absent husband, chasing Yankees across ravaged northern Virginia, they do not survive. More likely, the rigors of keeping a farm and feeding her children consumed all her time.
She lies somewhere in a Georgia Baptist cemetery, her grave unmarked, her daily toil unremembered. Money – and the attendant spirit of commemoration – were scarce commodities in the wake of Sherman’s devastation.
Unremembered by Norah Colvin
A recluse, unremarkable and forgotten in life and unremembered in death, she’d lived in her own world hidden behind overhanging branches and overgrown gardens. Unseen for so long, newcomers didn’t know she existed, thinking it was simply undeveloped land.
One day, developers came and pushed down the trees and cleared the undergrowth. They paused at the sight of the tiny wooden structure their work revealed. Unsure how to proceed, they investigated. Though not art enthusiasts, they knew that what they discovered was something special. When the work was curated and exhibited in galleries worldwide, she was never unremembered again.
Unremembered by Anita Dawes
I cannot think of anyone forgotten to me
I am sure if I walk around my local graveyard
There would be so many forgotten souls
With no living relatives to lay flowers
I will lay a flower on a few bare graves
as I pass through to show they’re remembered
I asked a Jewish neighbour years ago
Why no flowers on their graves?
They don’t like to kill anything
They leave a stone to say someone has visited
I thought I might like to do that
Find a bare headstone, take a small pebble
Place it there with love…
A Lost Love by Sadje
The light was playing tricks. She was sure that it wasn’t him. How could it be him, after all those years. And she was sure that if she did see him today, after fifteen years, she wouldn’t be able to recognize him. He would have changed just as much as she had. They weren’t thirteen anymore.
As the man drew near, he gave a crooked smile just like Sam and looked at her quizzically. “Are you Sally Hepworth by any chance?” She was unable to say anything, so great was her amazement. She just nodded her head in affirmative.
Hello! How Are You? by Di @ pensitivity101
There were warm smiles and hugs all round, general chit chat and catching up over a period of about fifteen minutes.
It was so lovely to see them, they said so.
It had been such a long time, and how were the family, the dog, the new house?
How was their health, were they enjoying retirement?
Parting company, any familiarity faded and frowns replaced their polite smiles. They knew so much, yet they couldn’t be placed.
It’s the old story. Minds are searched, family faces summoned from the deepest depths. Who were they exactly? Damned if I could remember.
Yearbook Photo by Denise DeVries
Bitty sat on her faded sofa next to Grace in her tailored suit and silk stockings. “Here’s our high school yearbook.” She flipped through the pages and pointed. “There you are.”
Grace leaned in, her sprayed hair brushing Bitty’s cheek. “Who’s that boy? I don’t remember him.” She touched the photo with a manicured nail and laughed. “That hair! So out of style!”
Bitty read, “Pierce Langley Davis. The name doesn’t ring a bell. Look at his angry eyebrows.”
Grace leaned even closer. “Wait a minute… Hmm. Isn’t that Fierce Pierce?… I think I went to Homecoming with him.”
Sad To Be Forgotten by Susan Zutautas
Talking to her aunt about Sunday dinner Meg was a little concerned about her grandmother because Aunt Jenny told her she wasn’t herself lately.
Sunday arrived and Meg was a few minutes late.
Grandma was there and seated at the dinner table. Meg thought she looked perfectly fine and maybe her aunt had been mistaken. Meg greeted her with a hug and then sat down at the table.
Cousin Sandy sat next to Meg and during dinner, grandma spoke up asking, “Sandy, is this your new boyfriend?”
“No, it’s Meg, your granddaughter, you remember.”
Grandma sat there looking confused.
Ruby by Lisa Williams
Geoff always woke promptly without an alarm clock and immediately mourned for the one he married. He rose and she stared up at him. Smiling. Not a care in the world. From their wedding photo, taken exactly forty years ago to the day. He washed, dressed. Thinking that they could be celebrating today. A big family party in a balloon filled hall. Happiness. After a lifetime of shared bliss. He sighed and took her up a cup of tea in bed. Hoping today would be a reasonable day for her. And that she’d at least recognise who he was.
A Mere Image by Bill Engleson
She lifts the arm.
“There, Mr. Sam, that’s right, draw it down your right cheek. Through the foam.”
The razor in the right hand slides along the stranger’s face.
There is a scent. Peppermint?
“That’s right. Careful not to nick.”
The hand jerks. A gash. Blood mingles with the foam.
She grabs a tissue, dabs the face. “That’s not so bad. You have to be more careful. Perhaps I should finish it for you.”
Her hand embraces the razor, shaves slowly, bypasses the pinkish tissue, finishes, wipes the face with a warm cloth.
Her hand caresses the face.
Widow’s Weeds by Kerry E.B. Black
Beatrice shifted framed photos on her entry table, the only remaining piece of her prized furniture. Rooms in the senior care facility didn’t accommodate much. Her deceased husband smiled from a silver frame, dashing as the day they married. From others grinned their children, three strapping boys and a diminutive girl with a shy smile. They all lived afar, scattered like shrapnel after the explosion of her husband’s death. Purposeful misunderstandings fueled fevered departures. None looked back to notice Beatrice, alone, grieving, and with little to support her ailing heart.
Yet she proudly displayed her family in sparkling frames.
Nelson Finds His Namesake (from Snowflake) by Anne Goodwin
What a racket! Unpatriotic to cry while the rest of the nursery slept. Nelson grabbed the traitor from its cot, ready to shake it and scream at it to stop.
The name stamped on the baby’s bib almost made him drop it. The infant was a Nelson too. The revelation brought a yearning that threatened to swallow the pair of them, a hollowness from before memory began.
He wanted to run. He wanted to crush the tiny skull. But he made a cradle of his arms and rocked his namesake. Soothing his unremembered anguish as he lulled the child.
Unremembered by Pete Fanning
I barreled into the school parking lot, tires screeching, thumping across the speed bump. Amelia sat slumped on a bench, one sock up, one sagging to her shoe. A teacher stood by her.
I left the car running. “I’m sorry baby, I—”
“You forgot me. I can’t believe you forgot me!”
Three kids, one me. But now, seeing my youngest, face glazed with tears, how even her sock had given up on her. I was a terrible parent.
She flung herself into me, part hug, part tackle. Like her socks, my daughter was let down, yet resilient.
Father Figured by JulesPaige
Each with their own thoughts, maybe they remembered? But they chose not to share. That created blank spaces in Harper’s young mind. He couldn’t even remember what story they might have told as to why his father wasn’t coming home. Did they even try to say that the man had gone with angels to heaven?
Harper only had a hole in his heart. Questions weren’t asked because no one else brought up his father’s name or even showed old photographs. He would remember whatever he could.
a life ends early
grave hours pass without telling;
their stories are lost
Unremembered by clfalcone*
The nine-year old stood beneath the light post, the State Fair was stifling hot with no shade. He thought about food as insects buzzed around his crewcut. Lord, how he had to pee.
He only bent down to tie his shoe and then they were gone.
Five hours, still no one came for him.
It was getting dark next to the Haunted House, pictures of people being gored as shish kebabs, sliced like juicy steaks scared him, his stomach growled.
He sat in the dirt, whimpering. He was getting a real solid beating tonight, for sure.
So he cried.
Unremembered by tracey
I was nine when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, eleven when she died. My memories of being ten are ragged, filled with holes.
I remember crying. Hospital visits. Coming home to an empty house, devoid of the smells of baking and lemon Pledge. The panicky feeling as I opened the door, what if this was the day she died and I just didn’t know it yet?
Surely people were kind to me during this difficult time?
But no acts of kindness remain in my memory. I can’t remember anyone but my mother and myself during that horrific year.
The Close Match by Sally Cronin
Isobel held her mother’s hand tightly as the door to the café opened, and a man walked in and looked around. It had been an emotional few weeks since the DNA close match had been found on the genealogy database. Her mother, abandoned as a toddler on the doorstep of an orphanage, had no memories of her family, long giving up hope of finding them. The man looked over to their table and her mother gasped as she saw his shock of red hair and green eyes. His face lit up and smiling he hurried towards them, twins reunited.
Trissente by Saifun Hassam
As a marine archeologist, Pierre loved to explore Trissente Sea and its unusual shores. The coastline was relatively recent. Some millennia ago catastrophic ecological deluges had washed away the previous shorelines and limestone and sandy cliffs that must have extended a mile or so inland.
There were legends of an ancient coastal people and their immense temple, and ruins of a hidden monastery in the Diamante Mountains. Stories lingered of a long ago learned scholar, his name forgotten. Pierre planned to explore the mountain. He was intrigued: who was this scholar, these ancient coastal people, long vanished, the unremembered.
Unremembered by Robbie Eaton Cheadle
The unexpected sight of the frozen tableau inside the shrine caused the team of archaeologists to gasp in shock. The faces of the three Incan children, who had been sacrificed five hundred years earlier, were peaceful. The oldest, a girl they nicknamed the Maiden, had a half smile playing around the corners of her mouth.
Analysis of hair samples from the frozen mummies found entombed in a subterranean chamber, revealed that the children had all been drugged with coca leaves and alcoholic beverages.
This historical discovery ensured that the Maiden, Llullaillaco Boy and Lightning Girl, would not be forgotten.
A Dead Dark God Grumbles by Joanne Fisher
I was once powerful. More powerful than anything seen before. I had many followers and was feared by everyone. Impregnable was my black fortress, unscalable were my defences, unassailable were my lands, undefeatable were my armies. Yet one day I was overthrown. My body was destroyed and my spirit was hurled into the darkness. And now no one remembers me. Nameless I have now become. A disembodied voice crying out in the void.
One day I’ll find a way to return and everyone will again quake with fear when they hear my name, and the world will be mine.
Visit by Joshua G. J. Insole
Gusts of wind moaned through the skeletal trees, scattering the burnt-orange leaves across the graves.
“That time of year again, Frank?”
“Same as last year?”
“Same as every year, Harry.”
The wind wailed between the headstones, shrieking like a ghoul.
Harry cleared his throat. “Well… maybe they forgot?”
“Twenty-seven years in a row?”
“I—well, maybe not…”
“Yeah, maybe not.”
The gale was picking up speed now. The town’s citizens would be battening down the hatches.
Frank was changing, too. Becoming. Tattered skin and rotten flesh were stitching themselves together again.
“This year,” he said, “they’ll remember.”
PART II (10-minute read)
Unremembered by Susan Budig
Esther’s eyes opened into blackness. No morning light yet broke through the small window. Her body, clad in a thread-bare shift, pressed into the splintered board. A wool blanket, shared with three other women rested on top of her. Rainwater dripped through the ceiling, splashing droplets onto her shaved head.
“Claude,” she murmured, “my beloved.” May your memory be a blessing involuntarily flitted through her thoughts. She scolded herself for thinking them. A dead sleep overtook her until the blockführer’s screams roused them.
Over in the men’s barracks, no one remained to give Claude even a passing thought.
Unremembered by Padre of Padre’s Ramblings
It was late summer and a refreshing summer breeze gently blew. The Roma family sat near a clearing at the roadside, their piebald pony munching grass as they themselves ate breakfast. They did not hear the approach of the SS patrol from the forest, nor expect the burst of automatic fire. They could not know of the burning of their wagon home, or that their precious pony would become the property of a Ukrainian peasant after the beast had bolted. No more laughter or music would flow from their campfires, nor would any ever again lovingly call their names.
Did I Dream It by Susan Sleggs
We hoped for more soldiers to arrive, not so we could go on R&R, but so there would be enough men to fight back when the next firefight happened. The night was quiet. I got about four hours sleep. When I woke, there was a replacement guy sitting three feet from me. I was about to introduce myself when bullets started flying. We both went flat to the ground. When the shooting stopped, he was dead and I wasn’t. I never learned his name so can only remember that he was there. I don’t think it was a dream.
Not Forgotten by Sascha Darlington
A ragged man, he panhandled holding a cardboard sign between gnarled fingers. He got pneumonia once during a bitterly cold, snowy winter. That’s how I found him then he disappeared again.
“I’m nothing to you,” he’d said to me, his only son.
Mom’s only comment: “Damn war took him away twice.”
He lived in a cardboard box in woods behind the grocery until they tore it down and made him leave. I left food with him, gave him money and warm clothes.
Strangers tried to help. One told me, “He’s always got a joke.”
He died there, not forgotten.
The Coffee Cup by Donna Matthews
The first order of business when arriving at the office is a hot cup of coffee — the fresh, earthy smell of roasted grounds greet my sleepy brain. Years past, often being the first one in, I’d pull out the filters, dump the Folgers, and brew an entire pot. Now, I stand in front of the Keurig, waiting for my single brew to finish. Decades before me, women were not only expected to make the coffee but to fix and hand-deliver to the men of the office. This morning, I stand here, coffee cup in hand, on their shoulders.
Getting the Point by Chris Hewitt
“You forget yourself, sir!” she said, slapping him hard.
He rubbed his cheek, an evil smirk played across his lips. “That’ll cost you.”
“Maybe, but it’ll cost you more,” she taunted.
“You should have said,” he grinned, reaching into his pocket.
She stopped his hand, smiled at him sweetly and pushed him into the chair.
“See, that wasn’t so hard was it.”
“Not at all,” she said, removing the long pin from her hair, long locks cascaded.
Leaning in, she breathed gently on his neck and skilfully jammed the pin precisely into his amygdala.
“You’ll forget yourself,” she whispered.
unremembered by joem18b
I was prospecting in the asteroid belt when I attached to an iron-and-nickle specimen tumbling slowly through space in a throng of its brothers and sisters. When I climbed out to inspect its surface, clomping around in my magnetized boots, I came upon an individual in a spacesuit sitting in a chair bolted down next to a hatch leading into the asteroid’s interior.
“Who are are you?” I asked, using my communicator.
The person looked away from the sparkling void of space, at me.
“I … I don’t remember.”
“Who knows you’re here?” I said.
“Nobody,” he or she said.
Patient Zero by Nobbinmaug
“I’m ready. Who am I killing?”
“He was patient zero.”
“My great-grandfather is responsible for Extraterrestrial Xenotropic Disease? How can you know that?”
“It was his breakthrough that made intergalactic space travel possible. He was on that first mission that brought back E.X.D., causing the Great Plague.”
“If I kill him before his breakthrough, I can stop the plague and the deformities that followed.”
“And the collapse of civilization. You can make humanity Earth’s dominant species again.”
“Will I cease to exist?”
“We may all cease to exist. The world of 1989 could look completely different.”
Freedom by Ruchira
Sammy was standing in the cool breeze with her eyes shut.
Her hair blew across the eyes that she tucked back now and then.
The grass and the leaves were also celebrating this special day by rustling, “Celebrations!” into her ear.
She had a dreamy smile as she took a deep inhalation and smelled the flowers that opened and released their floral scents.
She got the goosebumps as she murmured, “Thanks to my unremembered ancestors who fought for our freedom that I can enjoy this warmth seeping into my skin or else I would be caved somewhere in fear.”
In the Shadows of Time by Bill Engleson
Who do we remember?
What comes to mind
when we think of the lost ones?
Not the main actors on the stage of life.
Perhaps the stagehands?
The lighting technicians?
The audience members far up in the gallery?
Was this the message Ford was getting at?
The Man Who Shot…?
The Confederate General on his marble steed?
Sir John A.?
Our George Washington.
We remember who we see.
We remember the stars.
There are those we forget:
a lost love among many,
a slight fancy,
a memory somewhat out of sync
The Night After Lake Superior Swallowed the Hudson by Charli Mills
“And she rolled over like a lapdog!” First-mate of the Eagle River Life-Saving Station hooted. He slapped Charles on the back, blowing pipe smoke in his face.
Charles coughed; his lungs weak from a bout of pneumonia after attempting to reach a floundering fishing boat last month. “Saw it, I did.” He glowered at their jovial faces and stalked off, rounding the dark corner of the station, nearly colliding with the white-bearded keeper.
“Wreckage will rise, Charles. The teasing will cease. Let them laugh for tonight. It’s the best they can do for those unremembered beneath this cold-hearted sea.”
Scorned by D. Avery
I just stopped. Our arguing raged like the gale winds that pummeled us broadside. How could he? How could he have a fiancé waiting in port? I refused to move unless he forswore that woman. For hadn’t he already chosen a life on the waters? Wasn’t he wed to me?
He had his engineers doing all they could but I refused to respond, for his desperation was to make it to land- to her. No. Let her be unremembered.
High rolling waves consummated our vows. Now every September we celebrate our anniversary. He and I will never be forgotten.
A Life Through A Lens by Keith Burdon
I know that he sees me, but he doesn’t know me, not now, not ever again. His eyes see, his beautiful blue eyes, with that “thing” as he used to call it.
Before I met him, I never knew what coloboma was. He was embarrassed by it. I told him it was the most beautiful thing in the world. That he was the most beautiful thing in the world. In my eyes.
His eyes see but they do not know. I am the person that he sees but now is unremembered. I almost wish my eyes could not see.
Unremembered by FloridaBorne
Somewhere in an unremembered past, lying in a grave without a tombstone, my grandfather’s grandmother becomes part of the soil, her bones all that remain.
I am one percent Native American, one percent Cameroon, and imagine her to be the daughter of an escaped slave that joined a tribe. Did a French trapper in Canada need a wife, choosing a suitable one to wander the forests with him, bear his children, and die alone?
Your grandson spoke not of his mother, and married a wealthy man’s daughter. Your children may not know who you were, but your genes remember.
I Don’t Want an Epitaph by Reena Saxena
“I don’t want an epitaph on my grave.”
“All my life, I’ve felt misunderstood or not understood by family and friends. I prefer being unremembered rather than being mis-remembered.”
“Do you feel your life has been wasted?” My coach instincts are sharpened. There is something in here, which will give a clue to other stated issues.
“Not really. My readers understand me. My work is likely to remain online for some time, and that is my authentic self. An epitaph will not do justice.”
I struggle to frame the next question, as I see the enormity of loneliness.
A Rose Like No Other by Sherri Matthews
‘Look at this…’ Barbara handed the photograph to her son. ‘Remember Rose, our neighbour with the lemon tree, when you were little?
‘I do…nice lady,’ smiled Nick. ‘Still in touch?’
Barbara shook her head and sighed. ‘She was ill, years ago. I wrote but never heard back. I’m not sure she’d remember us now…’
A letter arrived one morning from America. Rose’s daughter, who had tracked Barbara down, to tell her of Rose’s passing.
‘Mom talked of you often, how much she loved your letters even when she couldn’t reply.’
Barbara, like Rose, would remember their friendship forever.
Remembering My Forgotten Man by Jo Hawk
The best pieces were auctioned first. The hammer fell, the winning bidders paid, and scurried home clutching their new, old treasures. I stayed to the bitter end, bidding on lots no one else wanted. My prizes cost me a dollar, and the auctioneer tossed in other unsold items.
At home, I uncovered an antique trove. Pictures of a long-forgotten gentleman. My finger outlined his sepia-toned face, and I wondered about his life. Was he a good man? A brute? A devoted son? A cruel father? Whatever happened, the photos chronicled his lost legacy, unremembered, in my bargain auction finds.
Who, Exactly was Yvette Bouchard by TN Kerr
Yvette accepted the post-coital Cohiba offered by the bearded writer from La Plaza Vieja. He was writing his memoir. She tucked the bed linens around her waist, leaned back against the worn headboard, and told him about France, her life before la Habana. Before coming to Cuba.
He listened carefully as she smoked and wove her tale, “… But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”
A Case of Big Amy by Annette Rochelle Aben
Magic was in the air, as the blushing bride was dressed for her big day. As Amy’s fingers traced the intricate bead work creating hearts on the bodice of her gown, she closed her eyes as if to make time stand still.
The guests seated in the sanctuary chattered excitedly; soon they would witness the event many thought would never happen. After all, the bride had waited so long to find the right mate!
The man with sad eyes fought tears. He knew he had to speak or forever hold his peace. Legally, she was still married to him.
Never Forget the Soap by Chelsea Owens
“It happened again.”
“The door of the laundry room.”
*Sigh* “It hit me on the way out again.”
“Oh…” “Well…” “It’s just a door.”
“It doesn’t hit me every time.”
“I know! -Look, maybe you’re just jumping to conclusions.”
“Like, you know, that… say, air currents from a different door or whatever sometimes close that one.”
“Never on you.”
“Never on anyone else.”
“And only when I start a load at midnight.”
“Yeah! -wait; why are you starting laundry at -”
“And only when I can also hear whispering…”
Rodeo Shift by D. Avery
“What’sa matter, Kid?”
“Dang it all, Pal, I jist wanted the rodeo ta be somethin’ ‘memberable. But Pepe’s smellavision never caught air. An’ now Ernie an’ Pepe’s laid up so there won’t be any food concessions. Feelin’ bad, Pal. Wish some a these wild ideas could be unremembered. That bean cloud jeopardized the Ranch’s safety.”
“Calm yersef Kid. The Ranch was never in danger. Carrot Ranch’s always a safe place.”
“Even durin’ the rodeo?”
“Yep. Gotta play ta win, but yer a winner fer playin’.”
“I still wanna hep out.”
“See thet shovel?”
“Jist do yer shift, Kid.”