Receiver of Memories. Such a big job, sitting on the slim shoulders of one Molly Hooper. All the world’s memories were carefully nestled inside her head, hidden from the rest of the Community to maintain their blissful state of Sameness. She had placed each one with care into a safe space in her mind that was reminiscent of the so-called “China Cabinets” she had seen in one of her memories. There they were, fragile yet secure behind the glass case and warm cherry wood (she’d spent a week once, roaming around her memories until she found the perfect shade of wood for her Cabinet; it wasn’t as if she had anything better to do with her time). Every day, she would take a few memories out of her Cabinet and ‘air’ them out, running through each one in turn. Some days, she got to enjoy the soft warmth of a cat in her arms or the soaring and jubilant voices of a school choir. Other days, she writhed in pain from a remembered gunshot wound or sweated in the throes of a fever that belonged to someone hundreds-of-years dead. But she managed it, most of the time. Until one day, something happened.
She was taking a brief stroll around town, enjoying the opportunity to escape her living quarters and stretch her legs, when she bumped into a tall man. She began to murmur an apology, but stopped short when she saw his face. He had a mop of curly dark hair, which was rather standard these days, but his eyes were a startlingly-light colour (glasz, her mind supplied after several moments, accompanying the word with a memory of grey-green waves in a place once called “Bretagne”), gems among the monotony of brown eyes that almost everyone else in the Community had. However, there was still something off about the man in front of her, even when she had accounted for his rare eye colour. She searched through her memories for some kind of explanation, too intent on finding an answer to this mystery to notice the strange look of scrutiny the man was giving her, when- creak. Suddenly her Cabinet was tilting, and before she could steady it, a memory was rolling out from the very back, through the ajar door, and—
Shards of memories flashed by her eyes, bombarding her with snippets of sounds and colours and textures. “We’ll start with the riding crop.” A blur of navy blue. The zzip of a body bag opening. Softness (cashmere?). Smooth glass (microscope slides?) The startling white of a pristine lab coat. “Molly… I think I’m going to die.” Red (blood?). Blood. Why was there so much blood?
Breathe, Molly. Breathe. Find a calm memory. You can do it.
She pushed aside all of the experiments and corpses and deductions, sweeping them all into a little box as she blindly groped for some kind of peaceful memory to ground herself with. The cacophony stilled as she latched on to the closest memory she could find, and then there was only the ocean and the sky and the figure of a girl, rocking gently back and forth on a swing set. Molly heaved a sigh of relief as the tranquil memory washed over her, and slowly opened her eyes to find that the man had disappeared. She had expected no less; members of the Community cared about nothing other than the jobs they were given at their Assignment. After all, any curiosity they might have possessed had been bred out of their population a long time ago. Molly shook her head with a small, melancholy smile, and started walking back towards her living quarters. It wasn’t her place to judge, only to remember. So what if she had memories of a long-dead Molly Hooper who had lived in a world full of colour and life and people who mattered? She knew who she really was: Molly Hooper, a member of the Community, and most importantly of all, the Receiver of Memories.