Persistence of Memory

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: Don't own these characters. I wrote this the first time I saw 'House of the Waiting Family' and it's actually the first FMA fic I ever wrote. R/R if you like it.

It's a funny thing, memory. It's not the most reliable thing on the planet or the most accurate either. It's influenced by your perception, after all. All memories are colored and jaded, the facts twisted into merely what we'd rather believe happened than what actually did. So why do our memories mean so much to us? Why is it such a terrible thing to forget something?

It's weird to be back in Resembool, this town I knew so well. This place used to be home. The people here are all different yet exactly the same as I remember them. But now I feel sorta out of place, like a square peg trying to get jammed into a round hole. We don't belong here anymore, me and Al. We've seen more of this world than all the people in this town put together. How can we just turn a blind eye to that and walk back into this place to resume our lives? We can't and we shouldn't even if we could.

I roll over in my bed and stare at the ceiling. Al and I went home earlier tonight. We went back to that place where we were just kids again. Sure it was a burnt out pile of rubble but maybe home is more than just a house. Maybe home is the memories you keep with you. I remember watching with a little smile as Al walked over the spot where our house once stood and recited a description of every room to a fine detail. I remember so many things about that house. I remember all the silly excuses I used to cook up to try and get out of chopping firewood. I remember the green hillsides where Al and I used to play tag with the other kids till it was so dark we couldn't see each other. I remember going fishing in the river and swimming in the pond. I remember so many things about that life, that life that used to be mine. I thought I buried those memories when we burned that house down but standing there were it once was dug them all back up again.

I sigh as I flick open the pocket watch that signifies my status as a State Alchemist. That symbolism isn't important to me. This little trinket means something more to me. I read the message scrawled on the inside of it. Don't forget. Don't forget what? Don't forget the happy childhood I had with my brother until it was shattered by our mother's death? Don't forget how I foolishly thought I could play God and almost got my brother killed? It's funny, I seemed to have forgotten why it was important for me to remember October 3rd, the day we burned our home to the ground and kissed our old lives goodbye. I seemed to have forgotten why it was important to remember.

Frustrated with myself, I get up suddenly and head to the kitchen. I'm not hungry really; I just need something to occupy my time. I need something to help me forget. As I approach the kitchen, I hear noise. I smile a little as I flick the light on. Seems like someone else is having trouble sleeping.

"Shouldn't you be in bed, young lady?" I ask Winry with a smile. She turns and gives me an embarrassed look as she pulls her hand out of the cookie jar.

"There's hardly any difference between our ages, Mr. Elric," replies Winry. I smile and look at her. Winry and I grew up together here in the country. I've been away for a long time though. Somehow she grew up on me.

"Want a cookie?" asks Winry, "It's chocolate chip."

"Sure," I reply as I walk over and take a cookie from the jar. Winry puts the jar on the table and sits down at the table. I stare at her for a few minutes, as if trying to tell myself that this is the same Winry I've known all my life.

"Something wrong?" she asks as she catches me looking at her.

"Nah," I reply, "It's just . . . I haven't seen you in a while."

"Well you could visit more often," says Winry, "I know you're busy, Ed, but would it kill you to at least write me a letter?"

"I'm sorry," I tell her, "Things lately have been hectic and I haven't had time."

"It's alright," says Winry, "I just . . . worry, that's all."

"Don't worry," I tell her as I flex my new arm, "I won't break this one, promise."

"That's not what I worry about," says Winry sadly, "I worry about you, Ed." I stare at her, trying to read her expression. Girls are hard to figure out most of the time. I mean, it's silly of her to worry. I can take care of myself, after all. But still, she does worry. It's weird.

"You don't have to worry," I assure her, "I'm a big kid now, I can take care of myself."

"You don't seem so big to me, pipsqueak," cracks Winry with a smile. I feel my face redden but can't tell whether it's from anger or embarrassment. She knows I'm sensitive about my height.

"Boy, haven't heard that joke before," I reply smartly. Winry smiles and sticks out her tongue at me. She goes back to the cookie jar after that.

"I'm . . . I'm sorry about the watch," says Winry suddenly, "I shouldn't have looked."

"It's nothing," I reply casually, "It was scientific curiosity, Win. It happens to all of us."

"I know about not forgetting," explains Winry, "I mean my parents. . .."

"I know," I reply, cutting her off without meaning to, "but that's not it." I still don't have the heart to tell her about her parents, about the fact that they were murdered.

"Then what do you want to remember?" asks Winry.

"The life I once led," I explain, "The life I wanna get back. I've seen a lot, Winry, and I know how easy it is to get blinded and forget your original intentions. So I did that to remind myself why I'm doing all this."

"I see," says Winry, "Can you do something for me, Ed?"

"Sure, I guess so," I reply.

"This place is your home if you want it to be," explains Winry, "Just promise me when this is all over and you've finished what you set out to do that you'll come back to it."

"I'll try," I reply as I put my real hand on top of hers and squeeze it a little, "I promise I'll try."

"Thanks," says Winry with a smile. Somehow she grew up on me. I wasn't even looking either. I guess somewhere along the way I grew up on me too. I stare at her now, at her smile, and I remember all those days so long ago.

"I need some sleep," says Winry with a yawn.

"Yeah, guess I should get some too," I agree, "Gotta leave tomorrow."

"Yeah," replies Winry sadly as I head for my bedroom. I turn back to see her still sitting at the table.

"I'll come home, Winry," I promise her, "I promise I will."

"I'll leave the light on for you," says Winry. I smile as I remember watching her shine the light through the upstairs window just like Mom used to do.

"Thanks," I tell her as I head back to my room. I flick open my pocket watch and stare at the messy inscription. Don't forget. Maybe I shouldn't forget all those days I played tag with Al and the others or those excuses I told Mom so I didn't have to chop firewood. Maybe I should remember those days so I can remind myself why I'm here. You can't forget your past, it helps shape who you are in the present. I stare at the inscription and close the watch. I won't forget. Every second, every minute, every hour I'll remember it and I'll do whatever it takes to get back the life I once led. And when I do get it back, I know that somewhere Winry will be shining a light for me, guiding me back home so I can enjoy what I regained.