Bottled Memories

I wrote this at 2014’s local NaNoWriMo kick-off party.

(Please keep in mind that while I am making this story free for you to read, it’s still mine, so it’s © 2014 by J.M. Scheirer. Please don’t claim it as your own for sales purposes or bragging rights. I have a special set of skills, and I will find you, and… Well, the rest I leave up to your imagination.)

Deformed bottle
I didn’t want to lose any more of them, but I was running out of food. I couldn’t decide which death would be worse: a cessation of my body’s functions or a blank mind. Someone once told me that a blank mind can be filled again, but once a body goes, there’s nothing more that can be done. I think it’s the only memory I’ve actually retained over the years.

Okay, maybe not the only memory but one of the oldest. I don’t even remember who I am anymore, and I don’t have the memories to allow me to hold onto a job. Well, at least not a job that allows me regular access to food and stuff like that. So, instead of being provided a living by having a profession, I have to resort to the coin of the realm: memories.

You would think that the great bank would be in a better place, but it’s in the darkest, dankest back alley of the city. It’s the sort of place where the roofs are actually more awnings of soaked canvas, rotting in the perpetual dripping thanks to our regular downpours. From the back of the alley, it stretches up like three flights into the sky, but only the tellers know what goes on in those upper floors.

I joined the line of people stretching up to the main counter. Hm. I don’t remember who I am, but I remember the way to the bank. I must have come here several times in the past. Then again, not remembering a whole lot is a sign of having to come to the bank a great many times.

I looked around at the other customers to pass the time. From the downtrodden looks on their faces, I suspected there were a lot more withdrawals than deposits in the line. I guess I wasn’t the only one having a tough time of things.

When it was my turn to stand before the teller on duty, the thin, worn, old man looked more like an accountant than a magic user. He looked up at me and said in a monotonous voice, “Withdrawal or deposit?”

“Withdrawal,” I sighed.

The teller shook his head and lifted his wand into view. “What do you want me to take?”

“I don’t know. I think I’ve given up pretty much all the important stuff already. I do probably need to keep this one, you know? So I remember that I’ve made the transaction.”

He nodded, and with a flick of his wand, the teller withdrew a memory from my mind. He flipped the end of his wand toward an empty bottle in the racks in the rear of bank, filling it with a silvery mist. A lot of the bottles were full of a similar mist, and I watched the assistants removing the filled bottles to replace them with empty ones. I wondered for a brief moment what they did with the memories. Did they just store them in the upper stories? Or did they do something else?

“Is there anything else I can do for you?” the teller interrupted my musing in his dull voice.

“I’m sorry. What am I doing here?” I asked him in my most innocent tone. The teller blinked at me until I smiled at him. “Just kidding.”

He scowled at me in return. “Your account has been credited. If you don’t want to make a deposit or another withdrawal, please depart so that the next customer can make a transaction.”

I nodded and left the stall, not really paying attention to the person who took my place. As I left the alley, I looked around. Okay, now where do I live?
Deformed bottle

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