Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)
TITLE: She's A Keeper
By Karen Wilber
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Dan turned the crumpled note over. <i>Try to remember what?</i> He tapped the frame of his glasses, deactivating the map display. The positioning matrix faded while a female voice insisted, “Destination reached.” Dan dislodged his earbud and the voice fell away into his shirt pocket.
<i>Remember.</i> A flashing red light in the periphery of his vision prompted Dan to tap his glasses again. The display sprang to life, a warning indicating a rise in pulse. Dan disconnected his MediWristBand and slipped it into another pocket. Then he removed his glasses. Relieved of technological crutches, Dan heard the rush of blood in his ears.
<i>Why am I nervous? What am I supposed to remember?</i> Dan closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. <i>Think.</i> Nothing. <i>Childhood?</i> Nothing. <i>Yesterday?</i> Nada. He heard the electric whine of an oncoming delivery truck rushing past him. The close, hot press of air surprised him and he stumbled back from the curb.
“It’s not safe to play near the street, Danny.”
Dan froze. <i>Grandma?</i> He spun around to face his lone image mirrored in a display window. <i>Was that there before?</i> Above him, a sign announced:
Mementoes, Memorabilia, and More</center>
A hand lettered sign in the window invited, “Come in. We’re Open”. As Dan pushed open the door, a bell signaled his entry.
“May I help you?” said a smiling, white-haired man behind the counter.
“I’m not sure. I can’t....”
“Yeah,” Dan grimaced, “I found this note.”
“You’ve lost something, haven’t you, Dan?”
“How do you know my name?”
“We seek and save the lost. But you’re never lost are you, Dan? You’re always connected, always informed, never alone.” The man’s gaze moved to Dan’s shirt pocket. Inside a small voice proclaimed, “You have a new message.”
Dan’s face felt warm, “I’m not connected all the time.” <i>Why am I justifying myself?</i>
The man nodded his head. “You’re in the know and you’re in the now. You never look back. But, you’ve lost access to something precious. You’ve forgotten how to remember.”
<i>True,</i> Dan thought, <i>I never have to remember anything.</i> VirtualCalendar kept his schedule. FaceScan prompted him with names and information for all his acquaintances. Any data he wanted was available somewhere on the net. “So, tell me, why am I here?”
“Apparently someone thought you might be in need of a memory. Why don’t you have a look around.”
Dan hesitated. He couldn’t remember being in a store before. He purchased everything he owned from virtual catalogs.
“Go ahead. Touch the merchandise.”
Dan walked over to a display shelf. He picked up a small globe containing only water, some white flakes and small figures skating on a plastic pond. He shook it and the flakes swirled around the figures, briefly obscuring them in white.
“Funny. I feel like I’ve seen this somewhere before.”
To his left Dan saw a collection of cups and saucers, one cup a purple flower resting on a green saucer shaped like a leaf. Dan suddenly smelled tea, orange and cinnamon.
“I think my grandma had a teacup like this. But she drank tea from a plain cup. She served me hot chocolate in my own mug.”
Something on the shelf above the teacups caught his eye. It took both hands to remove the leather-bound object from its perch.
“Is this a book?”
Dan laughed, “Grandma used to read to me out of a book just like this. She always said, ‘Remember Danny, you’re never alone.’ I’d forgotten that.”
“It’s time, Dan. Remember.”
Dan closed his eyes and breathed softly. He became aware of music playing on the store’s sound system. <i>I know this song. It’s a.....hymn.</i>
Words spilled through Dan’s lips, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Dan opened his eyes. “I remembered.”
“You did. You know many more.”
“I do?” Dan thoughtfully turned the book’s featherlight pages, mouthing words. “Can I buy this?”
“It’s yours. On the house.”
“Thanks. What are your hours? I’d like to come back again.”
“We’re always here for you, Dan. Your memories are all here. Try to remember. It’ll all come back to you.”
As the door jingled shut, the smiling man tapped his voice transmitter. “Angel to base. Seeker found. Tell Lillian she did well. He remembered.”
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