Stories

Residual

We sat on the big flat rock below Jonah’s Point and watched the breakers roll in. Occasionally a particularly large wave would splash us with cool salty droplets. The moon was slowly sinking over the fretful Atlantic.

Mariette and I had met while shopping for groceries, both examining cartons of omega-3 eggs for cracked shells. We’d hit it off immediately. After a couple of lunches at the food court we’d had our first real dinner date.

It was over the duck confit that we really got to talking. It turned out she grew up in Spinnaker’s Rest, too. I was a bit confused because I’m sure I would have noticed a beauty like her in a town of four hundred, but I chalked it up to life being funny like that.

She leaned into me and sighed. “This is so wonderful. If my grandchildren could see me now…”

My eyes popped open, “Grandchildren!?”

“What? I don’t have any grandchildren! I’ve never even… you know.”

“But you said grandchildren. Where’d that come from?”

“I don’t know. It sort of came out. Let’s not worry about it.”

“Yeah. Slip of the tongue.” I leaned over and kissed her.

“And I suppose that was a slip of the tongue, too?”

I blushed deep red. It was almost as embarrassing as when Annie Johnson kissed me and our braces got locked… which was last week.

“What’s wrong, Paul?”

“I just had a childhood memory: I was twelve years old, but it was only last week.”

“Okay, that’s weird. I think the wine is getting to us. Maybe we should call it a night.”

“Together?”

“Separately. I’d rather not have my first time be when we’re drunk. I want to remember it when I’m old and gray.”

I stood up, then helped her to her feet. We fell into another kiss, and this time my brain told me there was no sign of girl-cooties at all. I filed that under ‘strange’ and we walked toward the edge of the rock.

Right into an invisible wall.

“What the…?”

A few tests proved it was solid, and that we were in a cylindrical space about fifteen feet on a side. Mariette put her hands on my shoulders while I pounded at the air, eliciting solid thumps. Then it all went black.

---

“Well, that didn’t work. Their minds broke down the scenario in less than ten minutes this time.”

“Did you listen to their vocalizations? It was as if residual memories were somehow still present in their brains.”

“But we scrubbed them!”

“I told you it wouldn’t be enough to reset their bodies to the same maturity state and wipe their memories, but you wouldn’t listen!”

“Well it’s too late to go back now; we have to make this work. We need to get proper recordings of natural human mating practices before we reach Rigel-7 or we’ll fail and have to repeat the class again!”

“Why did we have to leave this to the last minute?”