Title: All I have left …
By David Myers
Synopsis: An old man visits the bank to retrieve a half forgotten treasure. But in a world where memories have become a commodity, one man’s treasure is another man’s heartbreak.
All I have left are my memories. Well mine, and everyone else’s. At my age, it’s hard to tell the difference.
“I’m sorry this is taking so long,” Rodney Simmons says, and fumbles with the key to the vault room.
He is the bank clerk assigned to me. The i-port at the back of his neck peeks from beneath his collar. It’s a j23, a new model, not like mine. I can’t remember when I last had an upgrade.
Rodney’s hands are shaking. Whether that is because of me, or the multiple security cameras watching him, I can’t tell. Nor do I care. I just want to get to my private box.
“Amazing race last week,” he says.
“Yes,” I say. My mind flashes back to last Tuesday, at the starting line. The
eight men next to me trembled with focused anticipation. Every muscle in my sleek, fit body was poised. When the gun cracked I sprang forward –
“When I sprang forward, I’d never sensed such power,” says Rodney.
“It was a thrill,” I say.
“The strength in my legs. I didn’t even hear the roar of the crowd until it was over.”
“8.43 seconds, a new world record. All mine,” I say.
“Yes, all mine.” Rodney’s face splits into a grin. “Not every day you get to experience that. I LIKED it immediately.”
“Me too,” I say with less enthusiasm.
The door beeps, and we enter.
The vault is like the inside of an igloo. A dome roof covers the smooth, cold and shining floor. 500 private boxes wait inside, each carrying different secrets and treasures.
Rodney retrieves mine.
I can no longer contain my excitement. I move forward, quicker than I intended. I wince. The arthritic pain in my legs brings me to a stumbling halt.
I’m 102, and I’ll be dead soon. The doctors think I have three months. Maybe less. Old age catches up to all of us.
How long ago did I deposit this? I can’t remember. My mind is full of memories. Most of them downloaded from the web, like the race. A few treasures of my own SHARED with selected friends and family. I lose track.
I can’t remember the details of this one, but of course it involves my son Sidney.
Rodney opens my box. It is empty, but for the data disc.
He swallows, the craving on his face clear. I can see him wondering what the disc contains. But it’s not for him. It’s mine. It belongs in my head, not his.
I exhale, realizing that I’ve been gripping my cane too tightly. The Doctors tell me not to get worked up. But sometimes it’s difficult. I know a collector when I see one.
They hunt and pay for the very best memories: those precious moments in time that can change the direction of a life, or fill us with joy, or such sadness that we carry it with us to the end of our days. It is an expensive hobby – and lucrative if you have those sorts of memories to sell. But I would never hawk this. Not to the likes of him.
“Would you like to upload the memory, sir?” It’s difficult to ignore the longing in his voice.
“Please, but I would like a closed connection. I don’t want anyone else having access.” I say through grated teeth.
When he returns, he is carrying a cable. He plugs one end into the wall port and carries the other to me.
“Sir, may I watch the memory on the monitor? I wouldn’t experience it, but…”
I am tempted to say no, but then I decide there is no harm in it.
I give him a resigned nod. He smiles and then inserts the disc into the cable before plugging it into my i-port.
Sidney was eight years old and huddled next to me. He was wearing a beige parka and white gloves. We were shivering in the frozen darkness, sharing a blanket. His small, gloved hand was wrapped around my bigger one. The ground was hard, wet and chilly beneath our bottoms.
“Are you ready?” I asked. My voice was young and strong. I felt him nod, and his hand squeezed mine. “It won’t be long.”
Then it started. The sky began to glow. The light moved in a giant ellipse, like an eye opening wider with each passing minute. Reds and oranges appeared against the horizon, offset by dark blotches of clouds while at the top, blue sky.
Sidney gripped my hand tighter, and I could feel his excitement. I turned away from the ellipse and watched him. Shadows cover his beautiful face but slowly retreat from the advancing light.
Then as if the earth had given birth to it, a blinding ball of white pushed up from behind the trees and into the heavens. Sidney was laughing, and it was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.
Rodney’s eyes are wide.
“That was a sunrise,” he says.
“Yes,“ I say.
“Yes. I watched it with my son.”
“Before the cataclysm!”
I smile at the memory still fresh in my mind.
“That experience must be worth a fortune,” says Rodney.
“It’s not for sale,” I say.
“But, it’s over a hundred a fifty years old.”
“I said it’s not …”
But then I hear what Rodney has said.
A hundred and fifty years old? But that’s impossible. This is something Sidney, and I SHARED. This is ours. Mine. Or is it?
Rodney is offering me money. I push him away. Stumbling, hobbling to get away. The data disc clutched tightly in my hand.
All I have left are memories. Only now I’m not sure any of them are mine.