Hannah Remembers

October 2015
Leonie Hauri

Hannah remembers the hands, remembers the way they so skillfully carved intricate figurines of wood. She remembers smiling and reaching for the fun, little trinkets they held. She remembers the way they stroked her hair just a bit as they handed her a new toy, remembers how she laughed, how she loved the way the hands made puppets and toys and carvings!

Even after the murder, the hands are still vaguely associated with fond memories, though those memories are now swirled with distress and confusion, for Hannah still isn't quite sure what happened. Sometimes she catches herself thinking about how fun it will be when Daddy gets back from his trip, and then she remembers vaguely that Daddy didn't go on a trip, but no one really explained anything. No one explained where Daddy went or when she will see him again. And maybe, just maybe, whether she will see him again, but that thought brings her distress, so she ignores it. She is just the poor girl with the nanny, the leftover. The one no one knows what to do with.

Still, she remembers those hands, and when the Question-People come and ask her what she remembers, she describes those hands down to perfect detail. "They were small and delicate, like a royal lady's," Hannah eagerly tells them. "They were smooth, with nails like Aunt Marigold's, all long and white." The men and woman in blue nod absentmindedly, wearing the look adults often do when listening to a small child.

They ask her if she remembers anything else, but Hannah just stares at them with wide, blue eyes and sucks her thumb. She stopped sucking her thumb when she was three, but now she's all confused, and they are asking so many questions. Questions that have answers, answers buried deep inside her mind. She doesn't want to think about the answers and what they might be. She isn't sure why. She just knows something's wrong when she starts thinking about what happened three days ago. Something's wrong with her. She is feeling a sort of emptiness and distress and pain, and she doesn't know why. Her mind won't let her know why. She can't think about it, and for some reason, she doesn't want to.

"But what do you remember? Did you recognize the murderer? How did the victim die? At what time did it happen? Who committed the crime?" Hannah knows somewhere in her mind what those words mean, but for now, she is sitting there, staring blankly, confronted with big words like "murder", "death", "crime", and that terrible word that keeps staring her in the face. "Victim". My father is a victim, she thinks numbly. She knows it is true, but her mind won't process quite what a victim is, so she isn't sure. She isn't sure of anything anymore.

Hannah feels something like when you want to cry but you can't quite cry. She wants so badly to cry, but she doesn't know what she is crying for. She feels only a raw sort of discomfort, and she knows it will be worse if she remembers. She doesn't know why. She just knows, so she does her best to forget, even if she's not sure what she's forgetting. She can't ignore the feeling, though. Not with the ones in blue asking questions, so many questions. Hannah stares vacantly. "They were white," she says vaguely. She hears more questions, but her mind can't comprehend them. She only knows one thing for sure, so she sticks to it with all her might, fearing what the unknown could mean. Fearing that, otherwise, she might find answers, and once she finds answers, she will never be the same again. Maybe, she wonders briefly, I will already never be the same again.

"They were white," Hannah repeats, her mind refusing to work, just revolving around and around in the same place. "They were white. White as snow."