The Memory Shop

A story a day until there’s a sleigh! This holiday season, I’m sharing a new flash fiction piece inspired by a holiday song every day of December until Christmas. Today’s story is inspired by Christmas Without You.

“It’s truly the best gift you can give someone this time of year.”

Melissa hesitated to take the box the saleswoman held out to her. The package looked innocuous enough–black cardboard with a sleek surface like you might find on the wrapping of any high end tech product. The saleswoman looked too perfect to trust, though. She wore her blonde hair slicked back into a French braid with no loose ends whatsoever and was dressed in a cyan blue polo shirt tucked into tight fitting black pants.

“So he would just download this to his brain?” Melissa asked.

“Yes. The entire process takes about fifteen minutes.”

“That seems pretty quick. My iOS updates take longer and that’s without restarting the device,” Melissa said, trying to make the last sentence sound jokey to hide her nerves.

“The program doesn’t catalogue and replace all memories rather it acts as a filter when memories are brought to mind to make them more cheerful and pleasant.”

“So he’ll still remember the time I burned the turkey at Thanksgiving?”

The saleswoman looked toward some of the other customers waiting in the lounge area giving Melissa the sense she was taking too much of her time.

“He would remember you burning the turkey,” the saleswoman said. “But, and I’m speculating here, if your reaction to that situation was negative and resulted in a fight between the two of you, then the filter would act to soften that argument and in the end you’d be laughing.”

Melissa thought back to that night. Even though the turkey burning was clearly her fault, Phil had spent the night on the couch. They’d barely spoken to each other for a couple of weeks after that.

The saleswoman held the box out to her again. The memory enhancer was what Phil said he’d wanted for Christmas. Lots of couples they knew were using it. Shirley and Sal said it saved their marriage.

If she gave the box to Phil, it’d be an opportunity to hit reset. Yes, some of her past behavior had made him resentful. The memory enhancer offered an opportunity for a fresh start. Maybe after using it he’d want to spend time with her and the kids again. Maybe she could be a better wife moving forward if he had a different conception of who she’d been in the past.

“So what do you think, ma’am?” The saleswoman asked. “We offer gift wrapping in the store.”

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