Meredith sits in her room. She’s a young woman — perhaps fourteen years old. Her room is still and quiet. There’s a window, though. It looks out on the sea. Outside, it’s a bright and cheerful day.
Claire moves in. She’s a tall and limber sprite. She has butterfly wings, cerulean and blue. She has deelybopper antennae and a gentle smile. She reads Meredith’s books. She plays with Meredith’s dolls. She leans out the window and enjoys the sun. Sometimes she goes outside and flies in great, long circles.
Eight months pass. The sun never sets. The sea roars on and on. Then one day, Meredith opens her eyes. She looks around. She frowns.
“Hey,” she says, disturbed. She stares right at Claire. “Hey.”
Claire looks up. Her antennae wobble. “Oh! Hey. You’re remembering.”
“I’m remembering you,” Meredith says. “How come you’re not in any of my other memories?”
“I’m not from your past,” Claire says. “I just found the memory and moved in.”
“No!” Meredith insists. After a moment, she adds, “. . . why?”
“Because it’s pretty,” Claire says. “I look out the window, and there’s the sun. I smell the air and there’s the sea. I look around me. There’s so much cool stuff.”
“Sometimes,” Meredith says, “. . . once in a while, you know, when I try too hard, when I do too much, I have flashbacks to today. Mostly back when I was in college. Not as much lately.”
Claire nods firmly. “I know.”
“. . . so,” Meredith says, “it’s not a safe place. I mean, this memory. I mean, you shouldn’t be here. When I flash back to now, there should not be a sprite.”
Claire tilts her head to one side. “Which of us are you worried about?”
Meredith looks flustered. Then thoughtful. Then she shrugs. “Mostly you. Some me.”
Claire nods. “Open the door.”
Meredith walks over to the door. She hesitates. She bites her lip. She opens it. There’s nothing on the other side. She peers out into the machinery of her head. After a moment, contemplative, she closes the door.
“It is very important, when you move into a new home, to exorcise any nasty baggage it might have.” Claire preens. “Do you like it?”
Meredith sits down again. “It can only be an improvement,” she says. “Except, now I don’t know what I’m flashing back on. I don’t know why I’m so afraid of people like him.”
“Don’t you?” Claire asks.
Claire shrugs. She takes out one of Meredith’s books. “You should read this to me,” she says. “And you should come back and remember this. Lots! Every week! Later, I’ll show you the sea.”
“The sea?” Meredith asks.
“It’s here,” Claire says. “It’s all here, in your memory. It’s blue, and it’s bright, and it goes on forever.”