My brother and I had been fighting for days, over what exactly I can’t remember, but it would be over something that I wanted that he wouldn’t let me have. I screamed at him whilst he taunted me. We had moved from the backyard into the garage. My Dad must have been out as the car was not there. My rage was building to a point where I felt I was going to explode. My face felt hot and red, then suddenly, blood draining away a white rage took over. I picked up the axe which was lying against the garage wall, raised it as far as my seven-year old strength would allow me and brought it down on my brother’s toe.
Blood gushed in volumes from the wound. My brother screamed “You’ve cut my toe off.” My mother came running and bundled her beloved son in her arms and carried him into the house.
“Irene, go to the courtyard and stay there” my mother commanded as she left. The courtyard was a cement slab between the garage and the house. We didn’t use it for anything so it was bare of even a chair to sit on. Certainly there were no toys to play with and I was a child who was easily bored.
I don’t know what happened to my brother in the house. After an incredibly long time my mother came out to me, hairbrush in hand and I knew punishment was close at hand. Worse though, I was not permitted out of the courtyard for the rest of the afternoon. My loneliness was immense. I stood on my tip-toes at the door and stared, watching for any activity; attempting to remind them that I existed, being worried that as I was no longer loved I would soon be forgotten.
Truth in Memoir
The beauty of memoir is that your memory is your truth as long as you stay true to your memory. It is unlikely that any two people will have the same memory of an event. This becomes clear when comparing eye-witness statements.
This is the case in the above story. My mother has absolutely no recollection of this incident at all. My brother has only a vague memory of it. Where I thought I’d cut his toe off, the injury was obviously insignificant and forgettable. Does this make my memory invalid? I would argue that it does not. I have ownership of my memory and my memory is my reality. Does this therefore make a memoir sit somewhere between fiction and non-fiction?