Night Memory | By Leslie Houghton

Memory—tricky, slippery, fluid, changeable

Every remembering physically changing that memory in the very synapses of the brain

My brother recently said of my mother, she was always ready to laugh

I said, I can’t remember her laughing, ever

I have no memory of her laughing, I said

Then it came to me in the middle of the night—an image, a memory

I’d finally remembered my mother laughing

Riding in the car with my family a very long time ago

Traveling through the dark night together

Feeling of total safety

Total belonging

They gave that to us that night in our two-tone, faux “woody” station wagon

But it was illusion, that safety

No seat belts back then, in our hurtling tin can 

All the same, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real, it wasn’t true 

Or maybe it wasn’t true 

But it was real

Rushing forward through time and space 

A little space ship containing a universe 

Laughing, talking, making jokes, playing games

Dad driving, the steady captain of our little ship

Mom, the cruise director

I finally remembered 

Oldest brother in the highly coveted way-back of the station wagon, lying on sleeping bags and pillows, looking out the back window at the lights going by

Talking, talking, talking, holding court, holding forth 

The rest of us a captive, but mostly benign, audience

Ok, now everyone laugh hilariously at everything he says, she said, our cruise director 

Thinks he’s the king of comedy on a roll

Now, she said, don’t react or laugh at anything

Perfect complete silence 

Was that when he sensed something was up?

Or did it happen in the reverse?

Memory slips again

As I recall it, fallible synapses again at work, he redoubled his efforts 

Trying to recapture his audience

Until the game was revealed to peals of laughter 

Laughter filling the car that night 

And still sounding faintly in my ears 


Having fallen in love with reading and writing stories as a young child, Leslie is now able to spend much of her time indulging those passions. When not writing or rewriting, you will find her walking, making photomontages on Photoshop, doing yoga, or cavorting with her sprite grandson, River. She has recently completed writing her first novel, Morfphology.  
Leslie lives with her husband and their sweet Hawaiian rescue dog, Ono, in beautiful Eugene, Oregon—a university town that proudly still holds tie-dye in high regard.

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