"Memory Memorials" by Matt Lee


On the first occasion, I was standing in line at a secondhand shop holding a threadbare beige sweater and an old dog-eared paperback book that I meant to purchase.  The elderly woman in front of me gripped the countertop for support, as she waited for the cashier to carefully wrap the dozen or so glass trinkets she had picked out. She was complaining to the cashier about her bad hips, which she described as “uneven.” I was watching a janitor clean along some shelves with a feather duster, when another employee approached me, a middle-aged woman. She stood directly in front of me, our foreheads nearly touching, her eyes studying my face. At first she was smiling, but when I blinked her face contorted into an expression of utter horror. She stumbled backwards and threw her hands up to defend herself. I gave her a puzzled look and she suddenly burst out laughing. 

“I’m sorry,” she said.  “I thought you were a.... How do you say it?” 

“On display,” I replied.

 “A mannequin, yes!  I thought you were a mannequin.” 

Then it was my turn to get rung up so she walked away.


On the second occasion, I was in an antique mall wandering around through the different booths. For a while I sorted through some old tools, but finding nothing useful I eventually moved on. At the back of the store, I came across a large framed day-glo poster depicting a cartoon couple engaged in various sex acts, on top, side-to-side, from behind, all the classics. It may have been a mild case of Stendhal Syndrome, for I felt so transfixed by the illustrations that I did not even notice the figure approaching from behind. I felt fingers gently brush my hair so I spun around to confront whoever had put their hands on me. I was faced with a large bald man who gasped at the sight of my pivot. He started apologizing profusely. 

“Man, I thought you was a statue.”

“Just another antique,” I replied. 

Then I pointed out the poster to him and we both shared a laugh.



After these two coincidences, I figured that I would give it a shot. Those people had seen something in me and I could no longer ignore it. Instead, I decided to commemorate myself. At the park I found a decent-sized clearing that overlooked a small pond. I planted my feet in the grass and struck a heroic pose. I stayed still until I became that way. My skin turned to stone and the weather eventually wore out my features. I became indistinct, a home for moss, target practice for pigeons, a canvas for vandals. I was a monument with a bronze plaque at my feet that I would never read. I got used to the view, solemnly taking it in, unblinking forever.