Memory lies, and memory moves the goalposts around. How else to explain that I have two separate-but-equal memories of the same incident?
It happened in class. No, it was on the bus. Definitely the bus, because I remember the slotted grooves of the bus steps working as a sluice. But a female teacher (?) uttered the famous line that left me traumatized for life, and that would have been in a class…
Psychosomatic nausea. This is the ultimate result, no matter the setting.
She was a trailer park girl. My bus made a special loop through the park to pick her up. Without a word said, she and all her trailer park classmates were automatically marked as “different” because of this special detour. She could be a circuit judge now for all I know, but all I remember is her stringy, dirty blond hair and slightly-more-worn-in clothes.
On the day in question, whatever the setting, she was wearing a tank green dress with daisies. Of this I am certain.
Of the rest, not so much. I remember her standing by the front steps of the bus, with the vomit streaming through her dirty blond hair and down the steps of the bus. But then I remember a female adult – our bus driver was a man, thus putting us back in a classroom – saying, “Everybody knows she had
eggs for breakfast.” And I remember staring at the daisies on her tank green dress, and the sick running down her hair, and the daisies turning into eggs and a lifelong nausea being born…
The pertinent details remain, but the background shifts as the years go by. Memory lies and obscures the truth, but it holds on to the sickening truths
and plays them on infinite repeat.