November ’93

I can’t help but feel it all began around the time I found that damn tape.

It was one month ago, I was looking through boxes in the attic and found an old dusty VHS cassette case. I blew the dust off to read the label, November ‘93, the time I was born. How curious, I thought, and it had a tape inside. I took it to my room and played it on the VHS player I had hooked up to my TV. It was radio static until 33 seconds in, when it showed old black and white footage of a beautiful pregnant lady smiling, only to cut back out to the sound of static. After 8 seconds of this, it became disturbing. It cut to a close up of a lady lying peacefully in a coffin dressed nicely and decorated in flowers. Her face was covered in a veil and in black and white you couldn’t make out who she was. After about 3 seconds, it switches back to the smiling lady; only this time she was lying down motionless and the camera drops to the ground. Once again, it switches back to the lady in the coffin, only more zoomed out, this time with the sound of people sobbing in the background. Suddenly the tape ends.

It was two sets of different footage taped over each other and that’s all I could make of it. My parents had always been honest, open people, so the day I came home to see them acting nervous like they were trying to hide something was unsettling. I went to my room and the tape was gone. I asked them about it but they denied knowing anything. I knew they were lying, after all, I was their child and who would know them better than me. I couldn’t be fooled that easy so I persisted in asking until my mother snapped and sent me to my room. I haven’t seen the tape since.

Mum packed her things and left dad and me that night and she didn’t even say goodbye. It was so strange, they had always been so happy together; we had always been a happy family, why would she just leave like that? Things became even scarier when it dawned on me that every trace of my mother in the house that I ever had known was missing. Photos of her, appointments on calendars, awards, all vanished. There only remained a few photos of her and dad from long ago, before I had known them. She had taken everything with her. Why? Come to think of it, she had taken everything of me with her as well. My father just didn’t stop crying. I never saw him crying, but it’s all heard anymore. He became so distant after mum left, never speaking to me and just avoiding me altogether. About 3 days later he committed suicide. There was just an empty noose in the attic as his body had been removed before I ever had to witness it. The noose looked so old. My world started slowly fading before me. Dad must have gotten rid of any recent photos of himself as well, just leaving the old ones of him and mum. The house we had lived in our whole lives began to fall apart. The timber stairs were collapsing, dust and cobwebs covered all the furniture in the house so quickly… The tears were uncontrollable now; they wouldn’t stop streaming down my face.

I can’t help but feel it all began around the time I found that damn tape.

I needed answers. Sobbing, I returned to the attic, to the place where I felt like this all began. The tape was back where I originally found it. In fact, it was still covered in dust as if I had never found it to begin with. My world began collapsing around me like everything else before it. A sudden realisation shot through me, my consciousness was shifting, stopping my tears, along with everything else I thought I knew. My reality– a swirling mass of chemicals mixing together to form an illusion of memories of a future -that never even existed. I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear that familiar sound of someone sobbing begin to reach my ears. It was my father. He was speaking to my mother from outside of the darkness I was held within. “Please get up, I love you. I can’t lose you. Not now, not ever. Not with or our baby inside you…” Suddenly, I realised. Suddenly, there was nothing.

  • Sarita Tinsley King

    This was actually pretty well written and sad. I loved it.

  • Elizabeth

    Very well written , loved it