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Memory Sticks

Ira sat at the front desk of the YPCA, reading his book of the week, magnifying glass in hand. This one claimed to be an history of the formation of the Gold Stars, but Ira knew that it was mostly historical fiction. He hadn't been part of the earliest waves of heroes, and certainly was never a first-class hero, so he was never invited into the Gold Stars. But Lizzie had been first-class, and she'd spent twelve years as a Gold Star.

Of course, it was hard to tell whether the differences between what he knew and what was written down was fiction or the revised timeline. He found it more enjoyable to believe he was reading fiction.

"Hello, Ira."

He looked up quickly, muscles (such as they were) tensing. He didn't notice if people walked up to his desk from inside the Y, only if people came in the front doors.

Andrea Morgenstern, her blue eyes keen above her bright smile, leaned on the counter overlooking his desk. She was impeccable in an expensive pink sweatsuit, and her vast chandelier earrings caught the track lighting and helped light up her barely-wrinkled face.

Speak of the timeline devil.

"Hello, Andrea," he said, politely closing his book and putting it down. "How can I help you?"

"I just thought I'd come up and see how you were doing," she said, raising her gym bag into view to indicate that she'd been at the Y on legitimate business.

"That's very nice of you," he said. He never knew exactly what to say to Andrea, so he tried to be very polite.

"How's Josh?" she asked. "I haven't been by to see him lately."

"Same as always," he said. "We have a new physical therapist for him."

"What happened to that Meredith girl?" she said.

"Got married," he said with a shrug. "This one's an Ashleigh. With an 'i-g-h', not a 'y', she explained."

"Oy," Andrea said, rolling her eyes. "Well, I'll try to come by sometime soon. David's been in the hospital, did I tell you?"

"No," he said. "I'm sorry to hear it. His heart again?"

"This time it's the veins in his legs," she said with a shrug. "This getting old, it's for the birds, don't you think?"

"Yep," Ira said.

"How're you doing?" She peered at him closely. "You're a little thin these days."

"Suzanne keeps me in food, if you're wondering. I'm all right. Vision's shot." He gestured at the magnifying glass.

"I wasn't wondering," Andrea said, an edge in her voice. "That girl works too damned hard and cares too damned much. Still can't operate on those cataracts then? I was never so glad that my invulnerability wore off than when I had that lump a couple of years ago."

"That was benign, though," he said.

"Oh, yeah, but how long would I have waited to see if they hadn't been able to operate?" She smiled again. "Well, I'll see you later, hon," she said, reaching over to pat his hand. "Give Suzanne my love, will you?"

"Sure," he said, watching Andrea's retreating back. Could he ever have been married to that woman? Really?

He sighed and shook his head. No, there hadn't been an Andrea or a Violet or any of the women they claimed he'd run around with behind their backs. He'd been married to Lizzie, and only Lizzie.

He wished he could just ask Timeframe or Chronastic to put things right again, but he knew that Lizzie and the original Golden Guardian were holding the universe together somewhere in the Great Gulf. Even Dr. Eternity couldn't recall them to reality.

He just wished he were still allowed to have his memories in peace.


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