Selective Memory

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Aurora entered the living room and tussled Tanner’s hair.

“You’re gettin’ shaggy. Time for a haircut,” she said.

Tanner enjoyed the affection for a moment before a look of worry spread across his brow.

“Did I scratch you? Sorry, I need to trim my nails,” said Aurora.

“I don’t remember my dad ever getting haircuts,” he said.

“What?”

“He must’ve had ‘em. His hair was always short, but I don’t remember him going to a barber,” said Tanner.

“He went without you, then.”

“Okay, but why wouldn’t I notice him leave with long hair and return freshly groomed? Doesn’t that seem weird to you?” asked Tanner.

“Kids don’t notice that sort of thing. They’re always wrapped up in their own little worlds. Why is this bothering you so much?” replied Aurora.

“You mentioned cutting your nails. I saw my dad do that lots of times. He used to stand on the back porch ‘cause he said he didn’t have to worry about finding the clippings afterward,” explained Tanner.

“So, it bothers you to remember one thing, but not the other?”

“Exactly. But it’s not like either thing was particularly important.”

Aurora sat on the couch beside Tanner. “I have no idea how your brain works,” she said.

“That’s what scares me so much,” said Tanner, “I’ve had my brain my entire life, and neither do I.”

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What’s in a Nickname?

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Phil walked up on the end of a conversation between two of his colleagues.

“Thanks for the tip. I’ll check into it. Talk to you later, Captain,” said Smitty.

After waiting for Ron to leave, Phil snuck over to Smitty. “Why do you call him Captain?” whispered Phil.

Smitty pointed in the direction Ron left. “Him? It’s because Ron in Spanish means rum.”

“So?”

“Think about it,” said Smitty.

Phil’s took a moment, then his eyebrows raised. “Captain Morgan.”

“Exactly,” replied Smitty.

“It’s weird how people get nicknames,” noted Phil.

“I guess so. You know how Revered got his, right?” asked Smitty.

“I figured he went to seminary or something.”

Smitty’s whole body shook with laughter. “That stoner? It was a few years ago at the company Christmas party. Rev kept talking about weed was like something spiritual.”

“Yeah, and?”

“Weezer was all over it. He started calling him the Reverend of the Church of Chronic Enlightenment,” explained Smitty.

“Does the Rev mind?”

“Are you kidding? He loves it. Says it makes him sound dignified,” said Smitty.

“Okay, but not all nicknames are like that. Your last name’s Smith, right?”

Smitty glared back at Phil. “I’m Swedish.”

Phil threw up his hands. “How does that work?”

“My last name’s Andersson. I told Rev it’s like having the name Smith in Sweden. From then on he called me Smitty.”

Phil sighed. “I think I’m the only one around here without a nickname.”

Smitty shifted uncomfortably.

“What?” demanded Phil.

“The guys kinda have one for you, behind your back,” said Smitty.

Phil’s eyes narrowed. “What is it?”

“They call you this, not me.”

“Just tell me.”

“They call you Cher,” said Smitty.

“The singer?”

“No, the character from the movie ‘Clueless’,” cringed Smitty.

Phil’s face lit up. “That’s amazing. You know what that means, right? I’m part of the group.”

Smitty watched as Phil bounded out of the room.

“Well,” Smitty said to himself. “It fits.”

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A Difference of Perspective

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Bert could feel his ears burning. “Riley!” he shouted.

Riley popped his head above his cubicle. “You bellowed?” He wore a sinister smile that only inflamed Bert’s rage.

“I’m done with you. Never again. You hear me?” cried Bert.

“What now?” asked Riley with a roll of his eyes.

“You stole my proposal,” accused Bert. He waved a stack of papers bound in a plastic cover.

“You’re exaggerating,” replied Riley.

Bert’s eyes bugged out. “Really? You change three words of my proposal and pass it off as your own.”

“That’s just semantics. What you call changing three words, I call making significant intellectual improvements.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Well,” said Riley, “In this case, it’s the difference between a good proposal and an exceptional one.”

A growl formed in Bert’s throat. “Enjoy this, because it’s never gonna happen again.”

Riley held up his hands in an effort to calm down his colleague. “Don’t get so worked up. You’re still a vital part of the team.”

“That’s because I do all the work!”

“And that’s vital,” joked Riley.

“Well, no more. I’m done being used,” exclaimed Bert.

“You see? That’s why you’re so upset. You’re looking at this from completely the wrong angle,” said Riley.

“Okay, enlighten me,” replied Bert, with arms crossed.

“Being used is just another way of saying you’re useful. Everybody wants to feel useful, don’t they?” asked Riley. His sinister smile returned.

Bert thought through Riley’s reasoning.

“You’re an evil man,” declared Bert, “You hear me? Evil.”

It made Riley laugh. “What some call evil,” he explained, “others call an effective use of human resources.”

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Savage

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It was light and summery, adorned with bright coloured hibiscus flowers. It was the kind of shirt Duncan loved. He discovered it at a Summer clearance sale and snapped it up.

At home, he immediately changed into his new prize. He presented himself before his thirteen year old daughter, Farrah.

“What do you think?” he asked.

Farrah cast a cynical gaze across Duncan’s proud new purchase.

“Well?” insisted Duncan.

Farrah rolled her eyes. “Dad, your shirt looks wet. No, I’m wrong. It’s just tacky.”

Duncan’s heart dropped. “That’s so savage.”

“Well, Dad, what did you expect? You asked for my opinion?”

“It’s not that bad.”

“It’s hideous,” said Farrah.

Duncan shrugged. “You’ll get used to it.”

“Why?” Farrah’s question sounded more like an accusation.

“I’m gonna pick you up from school, every day, wearing this shirt,” threatened Duncan.

Terror filled Farrah’s eyes. “Don’t you dare.”

Duncan smiled. “What can I say? Savagery runs in the family.”

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How To Go Viral

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It all started when Ben found an old broken hair dryer. He cut off the cord, put on a trench coat and stood by a light post on a main road. He pointed the hair dryer at the oncoming traffic and waited. As if trained by Pavlov himself, the drivers hit the brakes right on cue.

“Feel the power,” Ben laughed as a traffic jam formed.

With the successful beta test, Ben unleashed the second part of his plan. He did everything just as he did the first time, but he set up five hidden cameras to cover all the angles. He carried out his charade for nearly twenty minutes, until a police car drove through his fake speed trap. The officer glared at Ben as he passed.

That was Ben’s cue to retreat. A half a second before he reached the first camera, a moose wandered onto the road. Ben hide behind a nearby tree and watched the thousand pound animal weave among the bewildered motorists.

A flash of light in the sky brought everything to a standstill. The blinding meteor left a flaming streak in it’s wake across the horizon. The astronomic event spooked a clowder of cats. They streamed out of an alley into the traffic.

The sudden mass of felines panicked the moose. He reared up on his hind legs, and climbed onto the hood of a truck. He jumped to the next car, slipped off and crashed into the door of a third where he impaled his antler in the front fender.

At this point Ben checked on his cameras. Amid the confusion, he gathered them up and ran for home. That afternoon he learned the key to making a viral video.. It takes a little bit of planning, and a whole lot of luck.

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Worries

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It was 3:18 when Steve looked at his clock. Between the heat, the worry over the impending deal and a brain that refused to rest, he got no peace. Perhaps if he had trust in his business partners, or even in a God who was truly sovereign, he might get some sleep.

‘A sound sleep is proof of a clean conscience,’ was something his mom used to say. It was a saying passed down through the generations. It was little comfort to the present one Steve occupied. Times really do change, he thought as he stared at the dark ceiling.

A shadow flashed across his field of vision. It took several seconds to process if what he saw was real. It passed overhead again.

Steve reached for the light beside his bed. At this hour the brightness of the light was more blinding than the dark. His blinking eyes caught the rapid images of a bat circling around his bedroom.

His heart leaped in his throat. Steve slipped off the bed and clung to the floor. The bat struck a door in a frantic attempt to escape. Steve grabbed a pillow and swung wildly. The agile animal swooped and dived around each wave. After several attempts, Steve gave up. He sat against the wall and watched the bat continue to struggle.

Both Steve and the bat shared a common problem. They both wanted the bat to leave, but neither knew how to make it happen. Steve pulled the comforter off his bed and tried catching the bat. This went on for half an hour.

Whether it was his strategy or the fact that the terrified animal was exhausted from the repeated attempts to knock him from the sky, the bat finally fell to a corner of the room. Steve could see from the rapid breathing that the bat was distressed. He quickly threw the comforter over it and carried it to the front door.

Once outside, Steve shook the bat from it’s prison. He watched it disappear into the freedom of the night.

Back in his room, Steve collapsed on his bed. His heart still pounded in his ears, but his body felt heavy. Sleep came quickly.

When the alarm singled a new day, Steve’s first thoughts were of his nocturnal visitor. He wondered if it found rest after their adventure. He wondered if there was a reason they met, that night of all nights. Or was it a random encounter, directly only by an indifferent universe?

The thoughts faded quickly as the troubles of his life reasserted themselves. He didn’t have time to waste on such things. After all, he reasoned, each creature has enough worries of their own.

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Another Conversation Overheard at a Coffee Shop

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“The value of things is screwy. We take ordinary paper and plastic, print arbitrary stuff on it, and suddenly it’s valuable. And why? Because somebody says so.”

“That’s not entirely true. Some things are inherently valuable. Food, clothing and shelter.”

“What about gold?”

“That’s got a special kind of value, something beyond mere subsistence. It doesn’t rust, it’s incredibly malleable and has dozens of industrial uses. Back in the day salt was currency, too.”

“So were tulip bulbs. How does any of that makes sense?”

“I don’t know about tulips, but salt makes perfect sense. Think of all the uses it has. Before refrigeration it was the only way to preserve food. It also has medicinal uses and other things.”

“That doesn’t change anything. It seems like nowadays value is completely arbitrary. Like our entire civilization is build on a false economy.”

“I suppose that’s kinda true.”

“Doesn’t that scare you?”

“We have to trust the people in charge, I guess.”

“Why? What makes them so trustworthy? What makes you think they have our best interests at heart?”

There was a pause.

“I don’t really know.”

“It’s like we’re being set up for something.”

“What do you mean?”

“If we shift our priorities from stuff that’s really valuable to stuff other people say is valuable, don’t we somehow become, I don’t know, a slave to their ideals?”

“I don’t know if I’d go that far. That’s a little extreme, don’t you think?”

“No, I don’t.”

“If it’s as bad as you say, then what do you plan to do about it?”

“Change my centre of value.”

“You’re a true revolutionary, you know that?”

“Viva La Revolution.”

There was a clink of coffee mugs.

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