He remembered their first anniversary. But then, inexplicably, he forgot their second. Though it was an honest mistake, and though he apologised to her, the day was forever tainted. It would always be the anniversary of the year he forgot and the reason why she took to reminding him about the day well before it arrived.
She began by putting notes in their shared diary. She made it a game, underlining the Wed in Wednesday or turning Tuesday into Tiesday or Monday in Matrimonday. He appreciated her efforts and took no offence. Then, as if she had nothing to do with it, she thanked him for remembering.
Though the years passed with no further infraction, his second-year faux pas still fuelled her fear about his tendency to forget. It even expanded its reach into other avenues of his behaviour until eventually she developed wholesale doubt about his memory in general.
Ten years flew by, then twenty, then thirty, and as they grew comfortable under the twin weighted blankets of time and togetherness, he abdicated his recall, and she did all of the remembering for him.
“Don’t forget,” she’d say.
“That’s why I’ve got you,” he’d say.
Then one morning late in their fourth decade, she left the house to do some errands, pulling the door closed behind her as she folded her shopping list into the pocket of her cardigan. There was a morning mist, so she elected to walk rather than drive so that she could enjoy the evaporating moisture and marvel at its transience. It would be a twenty-minute journey along a busy road, but the mist dampened the rush-hour noise, and the milky light was pleasantly anaesthetizing.
Time passed imperceptibly. She arrived home, removing her damp espadrilles on the stoop of their verandah. She gathered up her bags and as she stood up, she looked at the sky, noticing that it had turned sunny, a good day for gardening. The camelias at the gate had gone nuts, she observed. When did that happen? As she rummaged in her pocket for her keys, he must have heard her, because before she could lift them to the lock, he opened the door – only it wasn’t him.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Who are you?” the owner of the house asked in return.
Arriving home eventually, she said nothing about it, but a week later she made a diary reminder for herself this time. When he saw it in their shared diary, he was taken a-back. She hadn’t just punned Tuesday into I Do-sday. This year she’d gone all out, she’d designed a metaphor. How clever, how poetic. Their near fifty-year game of pretending he might forget had not stalled but kept developing. It was the secret of their success, he thought, of how they’d kept the flame burning.
He read the words she’d written in their diary again: Mental Status Test, and then he winked.
Don’t worry, my darling, I won’t forget.