by Mara Buck
This seemed a sudden thing, yet she remembered nothing before. She was trapped inside a snowglobe and certainly not of her own making. A cozy globe. At least the outside world saw it as such. “Look at the tiny lady, sweetie. She’s in her own little world. Shake it and watch the pretty snow.”
Still, she was real, truly she was. She knew she was. Real and breathing but nevertheless trapped inside a glass curio, showered by flakes of translucent mica, a world where nothing changed, a trinket on a shelf. She had somehow become a whimsy, a curiosity. She was displeased. She was worth more than that. Whenever had she been born to such an existence? She could only remember today.
First she needed a name for herself. Anyone who was anyone had a name. She thought there might be words hidden beneath the shellacked wooden base; however, being inside, she naturally couldn’t see them. That much she could understand, despite what appeared to be a temporary memory deficit. Fortunately, a decal banner was pasted on the outside of the globe directly at her feet, and if she squinted and the light fell exactly right, she could barely make out the remaining letters, for decals are fragile things and some of this one had eroded away.
She was an upper-class elegant young lady dressed in her velvet costume (surely anyone could see that!) so she reasoned that if she could think, she must be educated enough to read, and yes, she happily found herself capable of transposing the remaining backward letters into some semblance of a word. LAVIN_A_ RETNIW RINEVUOS. She chose the first six letters as her name. “Lavina.” It sounded exactly right when she whispered it aloud; it rolled around the inside of her globe and returned to her ears quite nicely. “Lavina. My name is Lavina.”
Lavina thought she remembered being young. (But wasn’t she young here in her globe?) A time of running in green summers, stretching her legs, laughing with friends, clothed in other than winter leggings and an ermine muff, skipping through some small town (did it have a name?) rather than poised on her tiny ice pond, the forever dancer. She remembered (she knew she did!) and she vowed she would reclaim her life outside the globe, although with each remembrance there was, of course, increasingly more to be remembered.
If she craned her neck ever so slightly, just so, she could see the neighbors who shared her shelf. To her immediate right stood a carved wooden couple. Swiss or German they appeared from their dress and, true to stereotype, they were stoic and kept to themselves in Teutonic indifference. Under her breath, Lavina muttered, “Snobs,” and deemed their painted costumes to be in rather garish taste. They themselves were outside the globe, yet made no attempt to escape the shelf, which was most odd when you thought about it.
Lavina could in truth not move her neck more than a hairsbreadth. Still, by rolling her eyes to the left, she was able to glimpse a Buddha made of porcelain, painted quite exquisitely in pastel harmonies. “He must be a new neighbor,” she reasoned. “Surely I would have remembered someone so grand.”
He beamed such a benign, welcoming smile that Lavina tried to call, “Yoo, hoo. Hello,” but her voice stayed echoing inside her globe. The Buddha did in fact nod his head, up and down, up and down ever so slightly, so she was pleased by his reassurance, and whenever she remembered he was there, she called, “Yoo hoo,” and he nodded, and somehow she felt a sense of accomplishment in the communication, certain that he treasured their friendship as well.
The drapes in the room where the shelf was, where Lavina was, seemed perpetually drawn, so it was difficult to peer very far into the dusk, and Lavina was concerned she might need glasses. When the maid came in to dust her off, and to dust her neighbors as well, the drapes were opened for a brief period and the light was blinding. Then they were closed again, and there didn’t appear to be any pattern to it that Lavina could remember. Had it always been this dark? She tried to recall other times of darkness, but she considered her vision must be fine because she was young and the young have no use for glasses. The young race laughing through grassy fields, cherry juice staining their lips.
Having nothing better to do with her time, she planned a marvelous escape. “I will learn to move and I will rock the globe and push it off the shelf and I will run away when it breaks!” Or, “Some clumsy maid will break this silly trinket when dusting, and I shall become a parachutist accomplishing a perfect landing from this perch down to the floor.” Or, the best plan thus far, “That wretched boy in the white coat who always shakes me so hard that my eyes spin will throw the globe as if it were a real snowball, and it will of course shatter upon impact, and I shall be free.”
So many plans whirled through her ermine-hatted little head that at times she felt it was she who made the mica flakes shudder with her thoughts. Perhaps an errant earthquake would tremble this unnamed (or unremembered) spot in Maine and shake this building to its core. Why not a tsunami wending its way up the river—or were those only near the ocean? Maybe a wayward cat’s tail would sweep her onto the floor; it flickered through her memory that she so much preferred dogs to cats, though she lost the thread of the logic almost immediately.
So many possibilities, each one entrancing. Lavina had years to consider them all. And so she remained, forever in winter, biding her time.
Every day was a day of fresh remembering, inside the snowglobe.
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"Souvenir" was originally published by Blue Fifth Review November 2014.