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Memory Map -- FWG Flash Fiction for 4/30/2021

This week's prompt took me back to a previous entry which became a short story "Treasure of Cache Creek." This piece takes place several years later, though.

Memory Map

“Hey, look at this.”

I turned, weary from the seemingly never-ending task of packing up the house, to look at what Sam held.

“Wh-where did you find that?” I couldn’t keep the quaver out of my voice.

“I pulled this drawer out, and it was taped to the back of it,” Sam said as he unfurled the parchment.

Dad’s treasure map. I searched for it all through high school, then on college breaks. Eventually, it became a legend in my mind, although Mom always insisted it was “around here someplace.” And here it was hidden in my own bedroom the whole time. My hands shook as I reached for the scrap of ancient paper. The faded ink had been traced over and annotated.

Sam had heard Mom mention it many times. “Is this…?”

I nodded, my shock turning quickly to anger.

“I ought to burn the damned thing.”

Sam held onto the map so I couldn’t snatch it away.

“This isn’t a map. These symbols—they aren’t physical locations. They’re quantum operations. And they’re quite … interesting.” I tore my eyes away from the map and looked sidelong at him. He squinted guiltily. “I’ve read your father’s papers.”

My father was a crackpot who threw away a promising scientific career to pursue his theory of ancient alien visitations, all based on this torn piece of parchment he found in the University archives. As he lost one teaching position after another, from MIT down to high school, we moved again and again. Finally, one day, he was just gone, disappeared without a single “goodbye.”

My heart froze. “If you mention that to your colleagues, … I can’t go through that again.” I hoped my warning was clear.

“I’m not stupid.” He softened his tone and smiled. “And neither was your father.”

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