Penny for Your Thoughts?

August 29, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Short Story | 2 Comments
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mind memory memories remember thought

Barbra is a Mobile Consultant for Piece of Mind Inc. A seasoned psychiatrist, she earns more than most of the folk at Accenture – which is a sh*tload.

Piece of Mind deals in memories. Barbra’s job is to assess, price, acquire and resell the recollections of prospective clients. The longer and more significant the memory, the more it’s worth.

For instance, the memory of a wedding night invariably fetches more than that of watching Billy Crystal in ‘Forget Paris’ – while the complete record of a dead relative is generally worth more again.

Once Barbra has negotiated a contract, she connects her new client to her ‘Think Tank’, which looks like an early Toshiba laptop. This device copies the memory onto triple-density double-sided disk(s) and electrically wipes it from the vendor’s brain. Barbra then emails a backup to Piece of Mind’s memory bank, in case she comes to grief on her journey back to the office.

Contrary to widespread belief, it is impossible to install a memory into anyone other than its originator. The brain’s insanely complex circuitry ensures that any foreign thought is rejected as surely as a bamboo hip joint.

This means that for each memory acquired, there is only one potential customer. Surprisingly, 23% of Piece of Mind’s clients want their memories back within a decade of selling them. Since the firm charges ten times the purchase price to reinstall a recollection, it earns more than enough to cover the lease on Barbra’s V8 Lotus Esprit.

Barbra enjoys her work and is happy to recount authorised case studies. These help explain why so many clients change their minds.

‘A’ gives up smoking by having all pleasant associations with the habit removed. These are so numerous that his personality alters dramatically and his friends desert him – whereupon he turns to alcohol.

‘B’ sells his memory of childhood abuse for $15,000 (which he spends on vinyl cladding). A year later, police ask him to identify his attacker to help break a pedophile ring. After agonising deliberation, ‘B’ sells his house to repurchase his memory for $150,000. His wife leaves him and the offender escapes on a technicality.

‘C’ sells her memory of mediocre nightclub evening during which she has a fleeting encounter with a charming man. She returns the following week to spend her earnings and the man approaches her, keen to continue their conversation. She cannot remember him and he withdraws offended.

Tired of chronic conflict with his mother, ‘D’ sells his entire memory of her, from infancy to adulthood, for $200,000. The mother subsequently begs for reconciliation, but neither party can raise the money.

Barbra’s work is not without risk. Recently, one of her colleagues was abducted and forced to remove incriminating memories from a murder witness and then himself. Despite these efforts, the suspect still met justice on failing a lie detector test (having neglected to have his own memory purged).

Most would agree that memories are precious. So can they be given a price? Think for a moment; what is your most treasured memory? Would you sell it for five million dollars? Such a sum could certainly finance a galaxy of fresh experiences.

We can perhaps conjure memories that we would trade on the spot for two slabs and a bottle of Bacardi. But which memories can we truly afford to renounce: those that are repetitious (our daily commute), those that are substandard (some of the later ‘Muppets’ episodes) or those we’d like to experience over and over (first pet, first car, first love etc.)?

Since they comprise a record of what has and has not worked during our lifetimes, it could be said that memories are what make us. Bad memories could even be considered more important than good ones, since they teach us to avoid dangerous situations.

What reminiscences, then, would you sell and for how much?

Piece of Mind’s switchboard music is the theme from ‘Men in Black’. Few recall that this is a rip off of ‘Forget-Me-Nots’ by Patricia Rushen and Freddy Washington. In light of this and other disturbing phenomena, Piece of Mind’s detractors have accused the firm of stealing memories en masse from the public.

The conspiracy is said to involve an ingenious synergy between mobile phones and fast food additives that exploits the brain’s delicate electrochemical physiology.

Australia is the world’s highest per capita user of mobile phones and a voracious consumer of fast food. Perhaps this is why crucial political promises containing the words: ‘no child in poverty’ and ‘never ever GST’ have been forgotten by voters. Were they to be remembered, surely neither of the parties involved could still claim the right to govern.

Barbra’s take on the matter is philosophical, if not evasive. As far as she’s concerned, ‘memories may be beautiful and yet, what’s too painful to remember we simply choose to forget’.


Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.



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  1. PAUL,

    Greetings from rural Australia.

    I’m speechless.

    I had to pinch myself to remind me this is a story.

    In today’s virtual world, it could be a true story.

    The collective lack of memory of political events is, of course, a very true story, and one which politicians base their futures on.

    I love it. I hope someone picks this up and makes you famous.

    Happy New Year. I hope it’s a dazzler full of wonderful surprises.

    Best wishes and take care,


    Carol Jones
    Interface Pty Ltd
    Designers of The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover
    Made with love and care in rural Australia by men and women who have a disability

    Ironing Diva’s stories are at

    • If that’s speechless, Carol, I can’t wait for you to find your voice! I’m delighted you liked this one. Particularly as the intention of my short stories is to extrapolate current events until they almost-but-not-quite exceed the realm of possibility. So you see your comment is even more prized than usual. And that’s saying something! Thank you for your well wishes. Publishing’s a ferociously competitive field, but a winner is merely a loser who didn’t quit. And I ain’t QUITTING! With fond regards and deep thanks, P. 🙂

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