In one night, in one fire, Roger Amarante’s life changed forever. He lost everything, and more importantly, everyone he ever loved.
But what he doesn’t remember can’t hurt him, right?
His seven-year stint at the Faja Rasa Retirement home has left him confused and empty to say the least. He doesn’t know why he’s there, who he is, or what has happened. He hates the nurses with a passion, and has not uttered a single word in the whole time he’s been there. When he meets an over achieving college student with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, his life once again changes forever.
Michael Ponte is searching for the heart he apparently lacks, so that he could achieve his childhood dream of becoming a Fire Fighter. When he crosses path’s with a disgruntled, beaten down mess of a man, his heart is tested.
Will they have the strength to conquer what they fear is impossible?
Some hurdles are harder than others to overcome.
I DOn’t REMEMBER will elicit a full circle of emotion that will spark hopefulness and hopelessness, and trigger thoughts you didn’t even know you had.
The sound of silence echoed over the city. For many, today would be like any other day. For others, today could be the beginning or the end; still to others, today might signify change, or commitment thereof. The silence heard on this glorious early morning was the soothing sensation both heavy and light sleepers could cling too. At three a.m., that silence is golden; it is blissful, and yet to some, maddening. Why do some people dream so big? And others lack ambition? Why are we told to aim high, but find ourselves settling for second best? We evolve
from phase to phase in this life, filling up on morals, values, ambitions, and ways of life; our parents instill their own philosophies into our brains, and it is up to us to descramble the good and leave behind the bad. But what is good and what is bad? Who lives right? Who lives wrong? How does our past haunt us in the future? Do we ever discover the answer? The meaning of life? The taste of satisfaction, the power of understanding? We are taught that life is about buyers and sellers. We buy products we don’t need, because it’ll make us prettier, or healthier, or richer. We work for money to gain social status; we hinder enjoying our life to save up for the rainy day. We spend 30 and 40 years at the same company, only to be given the loathed pink slip when things slow down. We stress, and stay up nights over analyzing things we don’t control, and
things we will never control. But, why? What’s it all about? Why do we do this to ourselves?
Roger looked at his computer screen, an arrogant satisfied look on his face. “Yeah, that is the perfect introduction to my novel,” he whispered to himself.
It had been seven years since he had been placed to this retirement home. The daily interruptions, the therapy, and the medications were a result of the night that changed his life, a night that he had little recollection of, it stopped these walls from feeling like home. He remembers a fire, and smoke, what he has seemed to block out of his mind is that his wife and two kids burned to death while he slept on the couch.
Firemen had spoken of the miracle that occurred, as he escaped the blistering heat and smoke still breathing. Roger had repressed all
memory of life from the day he met his wife to now. 25 plus years of marriage just erased.
He spent the better part of his days now, watching the wind move the trees outside his window. The nurses routinely visit his room with food and medication, but are never given eye contact. In the seven years he’s spent in, what he would call a prison, he had never once sounded a single syllable in their company.
The nurses hated him, not because he was disrespectful, or even any trouble at all. The hate stemmed from the insecurity that someone wasn’t giving them the attention they needed. The nurse’s attempts to connect with Roger failed miserably everyday.
Roger had always been exceptional. His charm and comedic approach to life left anyone with a pulse aching for more. He had hundreds of friends, and a nice big loving family. His wife,
Angela, had come into his life at the ripe young age of 16. She was a brilliant, beautiful woman, who considered herself the luckiest person in the world. They lived a fairy tale life. 25 years of marriage, and their love was just as fiery red hot as the day they met.
He would make her promises of retiring in the Azores, their native land. They had bought a house on the island of Sao Jorge; they were going to wait until their two kids were out of college to pursue their senior citizen vacation.
John, their oldest son, was 24 years old. He had just finished taking his final exams, the day of the tragic fire. His degree in Psychology, and Sociology, would not be used to change the world, as he had hoped. Natalia, their daughter, was 23 years old. She had been accepted into the nursing program, and was set to accomplish her
goals of helping sick people, in one short semester. They had both come home to celebrate the great news.
Dinner had run late, and afterwards they sat in the living room conversing until 11:00 p.m. Roger proposed they sleep over, “Wouldn’t want to fall asleep at the wheel on the way home, and die, on one of the best days of your lives—would you?” The tragic irony, in this question, will forever go unnoticed.
The friends he once had, no longer cared to socialize with him. He rarely ever asked himself for their reasoning. He was now finally completely comfortable being alone. Loneliness and depression had exited his body long ago, or so he thought. He felt like the same person he always was, but to those on the outside looking in, change was a massive understatement.
In retrospect, Roger, had unconsciously and unknowingly become
the utter opposite of the person he remembered being, both internally and externally. His vision of life, and mangled perspective of the other people surrounding him was deranged and extremely grotesque.
For reasons he could not explain, he had built an angry hatred for the nurses and aides who tried their hardest to help him everyday. The hatred came from deep inside, from parts he didn’t even know he had. He often dreamed of blowing up this retirement home, of dissecting the nurse’s brains, while they shrieked and cried for mercy. He would never admit to anyone he felt this way, in reality, he felt ashamed for wanting to commit these obscene crimes. Still, given the chance, he could not be positively sure he would turn away from such horror.
Roger’s loneliness and depression had done wonders for his creative mind. Aside from the gruesome, murderous
alter ego who dreamed of killing everyone in sight, he also created some solid characters that would play instrumental parts through out his days. It was like he had a timer in his brain, and every few hours, another alter ego, or imaginary friend, would come out and play. Sometimes he could not distinguish which of the imaginary friends, were actually adaptations of himself, and which were just figments of his imagination. He spent hours conversing with himself, but in his mind, he was having heated debates, highly intellectual conversations, and of course, planning the demise of the evil nurses coalition.
When days turned to night, the emptiness would crawl back inside him, and he’d curl up into a ball, stare out into the dark night outside his window, and cry for dear life. He didn’t know why he cried, and often times was unable to recognize the faces that
passed through his brain and his heart while he cried. This always left him confused. Still, confusion was better than knowing what horrid act he had committed to be shunned by the world of friends he used to have.
Every night as the clock read 10:00 p.m., Roger’s head would gently lie on the tear soaked pillow, he would bring the red and yellow comforter, the same one he had been wrapped up in the night of the fire, up to his neck, close his eyes, and hope God would take him peacefully in his sleep.
“Whatever! Just wait ‘till your house’s on fire, see if I put that shit out” Michael was constantly defending his conscious decision to follow his childhood dream of becoming a fire fighter. Ever since he was eight years old he dreamt of one day sliding down those long poles, and racing to save people’s lives. He had endured endless amounts of negativity from his friends. But through all the trash talk many, if not all, secretly envied Michael for being strong enough to follow his heart.
Michael Ponte stood at six feet and one inches, dark complexion, although he was full-blooded Portuguese. His eyes a cool splash of green meshed well with his dark brown frizzy hair. His smile could melt a woman’s heart, and initiate fires in places unmentioned. An athletic build
that allowed him to reach for such a physical job. All in all, Michael was the stud every woman dreamed of when they envisioned the brave men who fight fires.
It was easy to describe this twenty two year olds physical attributes, but the gold, lied within. Aside from the normal characteristics: great personality, sense of humor, loyal, honest, the list goes on and on. The one thing that separated him from the rest of the male population was, a gene he carried. This gene is known, to some, as the nice guy gene.
The nice guy gene is the capability to look into a woman’s eyes, when she needs a friend, and with no ill intent, listen to her problems and not take advantage of her vulnerability. It’s the late night phone calls he sits through, listening to her complain about what asshole scumbags men are; all the while
actually giving her advice that would better her life and not his own chances of scoring. But perhaps the biggest attribute associated with this tragic, and yet heroic gene is the inability to say the word NO, when a friend or family member needs help. So many times Michael pushed his own priorities, his own ambitions, and his own deadlines aside in an endless effort to please his beloved friends and relatives.
He often, lay awake at night thinking about how his life was turning out. He questioned his accomplishments, and his productivity, and lack of successes; falling asleep with the foul stench of failure, and low scoring self esteem ripping what was left of his confidence.
As he pulled the covers over his body tonight, he began to analyze the day’s outings.
He had awoken this morning in the best mood, but as the end of his first
class drew near, Captain Moules, his professor, had sucked the goodness right out of him.
“ Damn it Michael. You are an outstanding student, Ace every test, follow directions well, and take criticism like a champ. But you have a big problem on your hands son; it isn’t enough to impress professor Moules. You have to impress Captain Moules, and until you realize who you are, and how great an asset you are to any fire station that hires you, you will never get anywhere near a fire truck, unless its to wash it. We can’t have an unsure pansy out there looking after our backs. We need to be sure you’re a leader. Someone who will bite the bullet and run into a fire, to back up his brothers. Do you understand me son?” those words cut into him like sharpened daggers.
Michael looked at his feet and mustered up “ yes sir, captain.” The
angry silence felt like the heat of a thousand suns on Michael’s face, he reluctantly looked up to meet the eyes of his respected teacher.
“ I fail to see a glitter of hope in you anymore. I don’t think you’re going to make it. On paper you’re flawless, but one look into those sorry excuses for eyes, and I guarantee nobody is going to take a chance on a confidence lacking, clown, who thinks that because he Aces a few tests he has what it takes to save lives. Look at me, look into my eyes boy.”
What happened next could possibly be the most pathetic thing anyone in this situation could have done. Michael, tears running down his cheeks, turned away from his captain and walked away. “ Look at me, damn it!” echoed the commanding officer, but to no avail, Michael had turned the corner and was now sprinting to his car. How could he be so fickle, to not be able
to scream at the top of his lungs how qualified he was for any position. In his heart he knew what he was capable of doing, but for some reason, tooting his own horn to the captain was not his style. He was unable to flaunt his countless characteristics; rather he needed to find a way to show them.
Aside from turning his back on his life long dream, today had also brought recurring thoughts of how he was living his life.
“I’m 22 years old, few years from now I’ll be 25. What do I have to show for my life? What have I accomplished?”
The similar anxiety that filled his chest and brain were synonymous with low self-esteem, and lack of confidence. But tonight something was different. He could feel an ounce of self-pride left in his body. He reached down deep for all he’s worth, and picked and pulled that little seemingly insignificant spec of pride, and
stretched it far enough to cover his 6’1 body from head to toe.
He leaped up enthusiastically, “I’m not a quitter!” this assurance helped him convince himself that Captain Moules would allow him back, if he could prove himself. Luckily, one key flaw in Michael’s arsenal was extreme stubbornness. Even luckier was, this time it wasn’t a flaw, but rather a powerful tool, one that he needed if he was going to pull this off.
That night before he shut his eyes and drifted into places only his unconscious mind could take him, he made himself a promise.
“From today forward,” he proclaimed out loud. “I will prove to everyone, just what I am made of. I will show them I am worthy of anything I desire. I will do my very best to illuminate from my being, hard work, integrity, and competence. I will not be denied my dreams.”
The next morning he woke up with a sense of completion. He felt as if a cloud of negativity and self-induced stress had been lifted off his shoulders.
He got home from his temporary job at The Happy Deli, having suffered through a long rough day of making turkey and roast beef sandwiches for the lunch crowds that piled into the shop everyday. He would never look at sandwiches the same after having experienced such a mess. The forever-present thought of the ol’ deli is what made him want to achieve his dreams even more.
He looked at a blank notepad in his hand, and twirled the pen through his fingers. He was determined to write a list of ways he could show his commanding officer that he was ready emotionally to become a hero like the Fire Fighters of New York.
He had always looked up to the FDNY, especially after 9-11. Although he had dreams of fighting fires back East, his goal was to proudly protect his home state of California. San Francisco, or Oakland in particular. He loved the busy cities, wanted to see as much action on the job as possible. Ironic how many fire fighters felt the same way as he did. That was one of the reasons Michael fell in love with fire fighting in the first place. He was amazed that people, who risk their lives for a living, would want to be in a place where they see plenty of action.
Michael was hardly the risk taker himself, aside from the desire to put his life on the line at work. He was fairly conservative when it came to other matters in life. He was a very calm, soft-spoken guy, who tried his best to save up his money for a rainy day. He drove the speed limit, always
wore his seat belt, and never crossed even yellow lights. Regardless of these attributes, he still felt like he was a risky liberal kind of person.
It’s funny, how one often perceives oneself in a different light, than another who watches him everyday. If you were to ask his best friends whether he was a rebel or not, the definite answer would be a resounding laugh followed by a No. But as conservative as he was, he was loved by many friends, envied by many adversaries, fancied by many women, and the pride and joy of many relatives.
When he finished twirling his pen in his fingers, he quickly jotted down a few things he could do to prove himself. He listed helping the elders cross the street, and even volunteering at an orientation for incoming high school freshman. Little did he know, that the one thing he had scribbled last, would be his bread and butter?
That the last number on the list of 5 items was going to change his life forever.
He glanced over at the list, and knew he had his work cut out for him. He knew it would be tough, but when he thought of how chock full of meat his resume was going to be after this, he glowed with an arrogant pride.
I was born Nelson Vieira Brasil in San Jose California on August 12th 1984. Being the first generation in my family born in the United States. I am full-blooded Portuguese, my family hails from the small island of São Jorge, Açores. The Açores islands can be found in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, there are nine islands in all, and they are all a part of Portugal.
I grew up in San Jose constantly surrounded by my many uncles and aunts. To this day, most of my uncles, aunts, and cousins are within a 5-minute drive from my house. We get together during the week for dinner, and sometimes during the weekend for birthday parties, or to just play some cards. I love my family, and would be lost without them.
My parents are at the top of my heroes list. Both come from humble beginnings. Both have menial education, but have flourished to great heights in their lifetime. I would consider my parents to be great successes. They came to this country with little to nothing, and have worked and earned everything they own. They raised two children the right way, instilling values, and morals in them. They taught us the difference from right and wrong, and gave us the trust and confidence to make decisions on our own. They always encourage us to reach for our dreams, and would stop at nothing to support our means to achieving them. If I can become half the success my parents are, I will be happy.
Now that family and all that jazz are out of the way, let me tell you about why I write. I write because it brings me joy. It allows me to openly express my emotions and inspirations. It alleviates my stress, and empowers my confidence. It gives me an outlet to vent frustrations, or to praise successes. It allows me to let it all out, instead of bottling it up inside.
I’ve been writing poetry and short stories since middle school. In high school, I began thinking that I wanted to write fulltime or at least become an English teacher so that I could be around reading and writing all the time. As I began college, I continued to write, and finally, began writing my first novel. The pride I felt from finishing my first novel is inexplicable. Then tragedy struck, my clumsiness caused me to tip over a glass of water onto the keyboard of my laptop. I lost everything on my hard drive. To say I was devastated is an understatement. I felt like I lost an arm or a leg. But with encouragement from family and friends I set out to write the same novel. Î DOn’t REMEMBER, is finally in print. Hopefully it is the first of many more to come.
Aside from writing, I enjoy doing many other things. Some of which include watching movies, reading, playing and watching sports, going to the lake with friends, gambling, and playing music. There many other things I enjoy doing but I won’t bore you with the rest.
My goal is to keep writing, even if I don’t sell a single book, it doesn’t matter to me. All that matters is that I write, and publish my works.
My wish is that my writing brings out an emotion from the reader. Any emotion, happiness, sadness, anger, as long as it brings a rise to someone then I feel as though I have accomplished my goal.