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Part One

2007


Richard remembered it wrong. He remembered it as if it were a painting, and he was observing it, instead of a living breathing memory that he had a part of.

The image was so vivid, in fact, that he had had it painted with the first of what would become obscene profits from his business, and placed the painting in his office—each version of his office, the latter ones growing so big that he had to find a special way to display the painting, a way to help it remain the center of his vision.

The false memory—and the painting—went like this.

He stands in his back yard. To his left, there is the swing set; to his right, clothes lines running forward like railroad tracks.

He is eight, small for his age, very blond, his features unformed. His face is turned toward the night sky, the Moon larger than it ever is. It illuminates his face like a halo from a medieval religious painting; its whiteness so vivid that it seems more alive than he does.

He, however, is not looking at the Moon. He is looking beyond it where a small cone-shaped ship heads toward the darkness. The ship is almost invisible, except for one edge that catches the Moon’s reflected light. A shimmer comes off the ship, just enough to make it seem as if the ship is expending its last bit of energy in a desperate attempt to save itself, an attempt even he—at eight—knows will fail.

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