Just beyond the safety of our village, there was a dense thicket of trees and a mountain so tall they said no one had seen the top of it. Of course, no one had really tried. Only a few kids dared to come close to the forest’s edge. Most gave up, but I’d been coming here for years.

My last day was like any other. I dipped underneath an archway of branches that led to a winding path. Cocoa chirped on my shoulder when his head got a little too close to a thorny limb.

“You know you could just fly over the trees,” I said, but I didn’t actually mind.

He hopped back and forth as I walked, singing to himself. The only other noise was the rustle of leaves swept up by the breeze. No other birds sung with Cocoa, and no critters scurried by. There weren’t even buzzing bugs whizzing by my ear. Only the oaks hummed. I felt the quiet that today, as always, but I didn’t hesitate on my way forward.

Cocoa sung and the leaves shuttered until I came to our spot, a pond lit up by golden rays of sunlight. Beneath the water’s shimmering surface, moss grew in miniature mountains and valleys. They created a lush village for the fish below. It was so clear I could see how each school and family moved in and away from each other. But there was one dark spot some yards away from its edge. There, the water turned like a lazy whirlpool, circling something unseen.

“I asked the Seer if she’d ever heard of a pond like this,” I said to Cocoa. With one flap of his wings, he landed beside me. He didn’t move as I took off my shoes and socks.

“She said she heard of a pond with a creature that would give you whatever you wished for,” I stepped one foot into the cool water, wincing as I broke its apparent streak of purity.

“For a price,” I remembered before delving into the deep.

The pond released bubbles all around me as I swam, fizzling like sparkling wine. It was only still by the dark figure who sat comfortably beside a pack of fluttering fish. She smiled when I came to her and, while I couldn’t open my lips, she heard me speak.

“What do you wish for?” she asked


“It will cost you.”

I floated up to the edge of a lovely pond, feeling light despite the way the water tugged on my clothes. A little sparrow the color of oak and almond watched me swim and sang a song that sounded almost familiar. For some reason I couldn’t know, I felt a great untamable grief.

Gold is Thicker Than Motherhood

My mother was one of those too famous people that gets a museum dedicated to them after they die. It’s nice. Fancy. Big. A bit much really, but she would’ve liked that.

I never understood her work, but other people did. Or if they didn’t, they liked to pretend they did. People, so many people, would come up to me when she was alive and say how lucky I was to have access to an incredible woman every day. What do you say to that? I never knew. I would flip-flop between awkward but polite smiles or ambiguous shrugs. It’s easier now that she’s dead. A blank face isn’t rude, now that she’s dead.

I suppose I’m a bit boring compared to her. A bit plain. Bland. Bleh. People seem disappointed when they meet me. I can’t tell them anything about her they would want to hear. I’m not interesting enough to talk about anything else.

I like to think I’m nicer than she was. But is being passive the same as being nice? If I don’t do anything and hurt no one, is that better than doing everything while hurting myself and others along the way? I don’t know. I’m nothing like her. I’m nothing at all. I have no siblings, so I don’t know whether that’s my fault or hers.

Sometimes I feel like the only impact I’ll ever have on the world is this museum. I didn’t design it or build it. It wasn’t even my idea to have it in the first place. But I did one thing: I got to choose the piece that would be featured the most. As “the person closest to her,” I got to pick her masterpiece.

So, I chose the only one she did about me.

I don’t understand it. At least, I don’t understand why people love it. It’s mainly white, untouched. You notice the red splattering across from two opposite corners before you catch the watermarks dotted around. Okay. Interesting enough. She called it Motherhood. Ah. The blood, sweat, and tears that go into being a mother. Suddenly a piece that could be recreated by a child becomes an ingenious work of art.

Except that it’s her blood. This bit is public knowledge. She used her actual blood. In one go. It’s a big canvas. She went to the hospital. Caused quite a stir at the time. Started a cult following that eventually led to critical acclaim. 

What isn’t public knowledge is that the two corners of blood splatter are not the same person’s blood. See, my mother thought for Motherhood she needed a piece of the thing that made her a mother. So, the top corner of red spraying down is her. The bottom corner spraying up is me.

I go to the museum sometimes to watch people watch Motherhood. I want to see if the truth ever crosses their mind. But they just stare in awe.

At least I charged them for their ignorance.

Memory Credit Card

The year is 2200 where money is valueless, and memories are priceless. They have become the most valuable currency, traded and exchanged in markets, auctions, and more. People own and carry devices allowing them to store and capture memories, changing and upgrading them into tangible assets—the richer the memories, the wealthier the individual is.

Sasha, a young woman living with five other roommates in her New York City apartment, depressed, finds herself intrigued by this system. When she was little, she had always been fascinated by the idea of sharing experiences. Memories were the ultimate form of connection. Now she rolls her eyes when the silly memory comes to her. She’s walking through the Memory Market on an early Sunday afternoon, and as she approaches one of the booths, she notices a distant figure in a dark coat. The figure seems to radiate an aura of mystery, one that scents the air with forgotten tales and hidden recollections. She goes to approach the figure. As she gets closer, Sasha realizes that it‘s an older man with more warts on his face than features. He has something tucked away under his coat, and when she approaches him, he cautiously reveals it. The man tells her that what he holds in his hands is a device that able to extract memories from the deepest parts of someone’s mind.

Intrigued, Sasha decides to trade some of her most cherished memories for the strange device. She watches as the man clicks on the machine and sees shimmering memories transfer from her mind to the device. The man then transfers those memories to himself before handing her the device and walking away.

With her newly found and totally safe device, Sasha goes around exploring the market, carelessly trading tales of love, adventure, and heartbreak. She loves immersing herself in the lives of complete strangers, which is probably why she’s gullible enough to approach one and give away significant parts of herself. The market has become a garden of shared experiences to her, where she values each memory not just for its richness, but because it gives her new connections. She also learns of the system’s fragility.

She learns while some people hoard their memories for wealth, others cling to the past, grasping onto nostalgia and ignoring the present. Despite what others will think of her and the deal with the strange, ugly man, Sasha believes in the value of shared memories over the wealth of richer ones. In a world where memories are currency, Sasha makes every exchange of human connection valuable, receiving a wealth of diverse experiences that are priceless.