Prologue: Everything is Relative to Everything Else

Someone once told me history often repeats itself. I, on the other hand, prefer to believe humans are capable of realizing their mistakes and changing. But the past is everything.

Actions of the present may affect the future, but every action today is guided by yesterday. Childhood love can foster happiness. Hatred can foster bitterness. Suffering can foster endurance. And as the past is important, then memories are important too. Memories are the glue binding everybody together—the connective tissue between two people and their entangling fates. Like the past, memories are everything.

You must find me presumptuous to talk in such a way, but I assure you I am not. Or at least, I don't think so. But my character does not matter. What matters is who I am.

I am not a person of the future nor am I one of the present. I am a person of the past, living in the memories, thriving on memories, and acting only on memories. I am the Memory Holder.

"Close your eyes my bonny love, close your eyes and dream. Be true my bonny love, be true and dream. Live your life my bonny love, live your life and dream."

My song rang softly in the air. Though the heavy pattering of the rain would have drowned out any voice, somehow it harmonized with me. My heart swelled knowing I could be heard, that maybe I could make an impression. Luck was giving me a hand and I strained my vocal chords, trying to gain the most from it. The melancholy tone of the music blended into the rain's sad story. Barrenness weighed my heart down again; past memories lay bared and bitter. But my growling stomach muted the pain. All that mattered was that I be heard by the passersby.

I coughed slightly, interrupting my song for a brief moment. But I continued with renewed vigor, my eyes following the people around me, beseeching them to take pity and spare me a penni. My voice squeaked and quivered as I tried to hit high notes beyond my vocal range. My body shook under the cold; I buttoned up my waistcoat hoping to cure the chill. My nose crinkled as I took in the musty scent of the rain. Still I sang. It was the only way to survive.

I closed my eyes and tried to convey the right emotions. I remembered Mother's wistful voice as she sang the lullaby. Those were happier times when I was sheltered and innocent. Tears welled up in my eyes as I recalled how everything went wrong; the sadness burst forth.

"I know the days are hard. I know the sun won't shine. But please always remember my words. Close your eyes my bonny love, close your eyes and dream."

Somebody grasped my hand and I pulled away from the unexpected touch. A young girl, just a few years younger than me, stared with uncertain green eyes. I relaxed. A child—the citadel of innocence. Nobody of concern. My change washed the uncertainty from her face. She approached me with a cautious step. Dropping something into my hand, she cast another glance and nudged her head towards the object in my possession.

A gold coin, worth at least fifty rubles. It was no stingy gift. A coin like mine would pay for three meals if used wisely. I looked up at the girl, who was now toying with her auburn hair. My mouth opened and I searched for a reply to the charitable gesture, only to be interrupted by someone else.

"Seriste, your family must be waiting for you by now!"

An older boy across the street gazed at the girl with a sense of urgency, and she, hearing his words, ran back without another glance at me. The boy grabbed one of her hands, and the two continued home.

My eyes followed the two and I thought about the recent events. I wondered if I would meet her again one day. I hoped I did. Maybe I would be more successful and could repay her kind gesture. A smile flitted on my face at the idea and my muscles, long used to frowning, ached at the exertion. My attention returned to the coin.

I lifted it up towards the sky. Though there was no light, I could imagine seeing one hit the gold surface setting off a gleam. I dropped it into my apron pocket, listening to the thump and puffing my chest up in pride. Here I was, alone for the first time in the world, and already I was successful.

It seemed as if I was going to get to eat dinner today after all.

Revised: 11/11/2012