Marion. That was the name he had chosen. He couldn’t remember his birth name, if he ever had one. He couldn’t recall his father, or his mother. The only memories he could call his own were those of his days as a thief.
He straightened his tie and fixed his jacket. Tonight, he would play the part of a server, waiting on the wealthy businessmen and their wives in the dining car.
Before, he would steal pretty pocket watches and necklaces dripping with diamonds. But the problem with these baubles was that they were so replaceable. Marion targeted the one thing they couldn’t replace.
So he went on, dancing around the tables. Pulling their memories from them was like taking a pull of a cigar, so easy, yet so addictive.
He watched their perfect facades crumble as their lies were bared. And he smiled. As more partiers subtly retired to avoid any more embarrassment and shame, Marion kept on waltzing around the carriage. He checked his watch. 11:00 P.M. The car was all but empty, save for a young lady and her drink.
The train rattled beneath him as Marion made his way to his last, most valuable target. She gave him a long, disapproving stare before downing another drink.
“Would you care for another glass?” Marion asked as he offered a bottle of whiskey.
Everything about her betrayed her wealth, from her meticulously-done hair to her extravagant dress. Even her high society accent couldn’t be slurred from her lips. Yet she had a deep sadness about her, probably that which she was attempting to drink away. She made a tragic figure.
“Your greed can find the company of someone else tonight, I don’t want to see another money-hungry man after my wealth for the rest of my life!” She spat vehemently. “I bet you’ve heard of me, and you think ‘Oh Mnemosyne, the woman who remembers all. A pretty fortune, and a conversation point to boot!’”
She stood forcefully and tipped waywardly.
“You would like nothing more to lock me, your poor, mad bride-to-be, in your new estate right after you’ve depleted my coffers.” She was shouting now. “And I’ll have nothing of it!”
“My dear Mnemosyne, I want nothing of the sort. I have a business proposition that I come to you with, as equals.”
“You won’t get a cent from me,” Mnemosyne said, but her face betrayed her interest.
“And I don’t want any. Please, join me on the observation deck.”
Marion offered her a hand and helped her up the ladder. Mnemosyne hung onto the guardrail uneasily, but she was soon enraptured by her surroundings. The forests rushed by in a wooden blur, and the stars above looked like broken glass on black cloth.
They sat together on the settee. Marion could smell the drink on Mnemosyne and decided to use this to his advantage.
“Mnemosyne, people have referred to your memory as a blessing, but—”
“It’s a curse!” She cried out. “All my life, people have tried to take advantage of me. They see nothing but their own gain. I remember so much, but all I want to do is forget!”
Her words, thick with sobs and drunkenness, rang true. Mnemosyne started to shake as she fought the onslaught of unwanted memories in her head.
“I can take it all away,” Marion whispered. “I can take your memories, I can take them all away. As easy as breathing. I can make you forget.”
Mnemosyne turned towards him in disbelief. “You’re just another man looking to take advantage of me!”
“Never,” Marion could feel her memories, as numerous as the stars. Oh, to remember too much. He yearned for such a blessing.
Marion began his work pulling Mnemosyne’s memories and, in his eagerness, recoiled as if firing a gun. They were so poignant, Marion strained under their weight. He snapped and couldn’t hold on.
Mnemosyne was in agony, screaming and thrashing as her memories were taken from her. She had indeed remembered too much over her life. Now she was left with that which she wanted to forget, her most terrible trauma, and it consumed her.
Marion never knew how Mnemosyne died. She may have slipped. She may have jumped. Marion often entertained the idea that he himself pushed her to her death. But Marion continued on, searching for memories to restore those he lost long ago. Attempting to replace the irreplaceable.