Lucinda decided to count the number of resin statues in the front yard. At least 10 were of
animals— rabbits, deer, and a frog. The other statues though were all of angels. The cherubs and
seraphim were scattered among the yard of potted plants and gardening tools. Lucinda had
counted the fourteenth angel when the door finally opened.
“I’m sorry! We were settling down the baby!” Dolores said. She waved Lucinda in
quickly. The house was almost as green as the yard and just as competitive with the amount of
angelic imagery. In the center of the botanical heaven was an older woman sitting with a baby
doll in her hand.
The woman wore a pink nightgown and her thin, white hair was tied into a ponytail. She
was speaking lowly and quickly, however it wasn’t clear if there was anyone she was speaking
too. Her words were unceasing and ran together like water from a stream. Lucinda’s Spanish
wasn’t good enough to understand the words the woman was saying but she doubted the words
would be comprehensible if she did.
“This is your mother?” Lucinda asked as Dolores shut the door.
“Oh yes. That’s Mami.”
Lucinda nodded as she observed the woman further. In the woman’s hands was a doll that
she was stroking. Both the stroking and the talking were continuous and in tandem with one
another. Lucinda gave a small sound of understanding before she began to look around the room.
The house itself was small, with the dining room, living room, and kitchen all in close
quarters. From where Lucinda stood she could see all three plainly.
The sink was full of dishes and the counter was completely full with varieties of clutter.
There were plates, paper, envelopes, fruits and, unsurprisingly, angel figurines. The walls were
also full of art with all of it containing some type of religious reference.
The baptism of Jesus was on one wall while the resurrection of Jesus was on another. The
only bit of art on the wall that was not religious in any way was a small portrait of three women.
It was a woman accompanied by two little girls.
“That’s me and my sister when we were about ten, I think,” Dolores says.
Lucinda realizes she was being observed and smiles meekly at Dolores. Dolores returns
the favor. In fact, everything about Dolores seemed meek and small. Her dark hair landed limply
over her shoulders. She was incredibly thin and her shoulders were hunched in a way that
suggested that it had stayed that way out of habit. As if she was used to making herself small.
“So like, do you have to look around to gather information for it? I’m unsure of how
exactly it works.”
Lucinda opened her mouth to answer when she heard the sound of footsteps approaching.
She turned to see a woman that looked like Dolores but fiercer. She stood tall and moved like a
panther. Her eyes were as fierce as her presence as they were dark and fierce.
“This is Marisa, my sister.”
Marisa marched towards the bookshelf near the door and leaned her body against the
shelves. Her eyes sized up Lucinda slowly before she made a gruff noise that sounded like a mix
of a scoff and a laugh.
“Hello,” Marisa said, her voice rich.
“Uh, Marisa this is—”
“Yes, I know. The forger.”
“Oh, I don’t do that,” Lucinda quickly corrected. “I’m more of an eraser.”
Marisa’s posture stayed firm and her dark eyes looked at Lucinda blankly. Feeling
unsettled, Lucinda looked back at Dolores. She noticed for the first time that Dolores hadn’t
stopped smiling since she had walked in. Whether it was a limp smile or a wide tooth grin
Dolores had not stopped smiling. But she didn’t look happy.
“Well, how does it work? Will you need anything?” Dolores said, ignoring Marisa. She
responded so smoothly that Lucinda got the impression that Marisa’s mood was just a typical
occurrence. As if it was as worth ignoring as the sound of thunder with rain.
“Uh, maybe a chair,” Lucinda said.
Dolores nodded subserviently and left the room to fulfill the request.
Lucinda stood awkwardly in the living room. Marisa was leaning against the bookshelf,
her arms folded. Lucinda could feel Marisa’s eyes watching her and raised her eyes to meet her
gaze. Her eyes were heavy and her entire body was firm. She wasn’t a large woman at all but she
had a way of standing, of looking, of being, that made her seem imposing. turns back to Marisa.
“That Pastor John guy. You’ve heard of him, right?” Marisa finally said, her stance still
Lucinda nodded silently.
“Yeah, my mom heard of him too. It’s crazy what he did. All those people. All those
“Yeah, it doesn’t really matter to me,” Marisa interrupted. She started fondling one of the
many papers littered on the bookshelf. “My mom said back then when the story came out that it
was wrong but I didn’t know what she meant. She always had a weird perspective, you know?”
Lucinda could see Dolores come back in with a dark wooden chair. She breathed a small
sigh of relief and Dolores smiled as she placed the chair in front of her mother.
“The cushions of it are old,” Dolores said with a small laugh. She patted the pink
cushions on the chair. They were frilly, as if they were once used for a tea party.
“Yeah but back then my mom,” Marisa continued, not letting up on the subject. “I don’t
know what she thought those people were doing. I think she thought that they signed up to have
their mind erased—”
“Oh Marisa, I don’t think that’s the best topic right now,” Dolores said with an uneasy
“And she said that’s not right. El dolor te hace fuerte. That’s what she said.”
“Well that’s not what she said, Marisa,” Dolores corrected softly.
“That is what she said,” Marisa said firmly. “That is what she said.” Marisa repeated
herself, it seemed, to no one in particular. She mindlessly ripped one of the papers on the
bookshelf as her eyes rested on a horizon that didn’t exist.
“Well,” Dolores started. “Our mother’s opinion changed with time.” At this comment
Dolores looked right at Lucinda, her back a little straighter. “She would want relief now.”
Lucinda’s eyes landed back on the mother in the living room. She was babbling
continually, completely unaffected by the conversation around her. Dolores took a step towards
Lucinda. She held her hands together and looked at Lucinda expectedly. Lucinda knew that she
was being asked to get on with it.
“We want relief for our mother too,” Dolores said with a sweet smile. She put out her
hand towards the chair. Lucinda nodded and sat down slowly.
She faced their mother for the first time fully. Her thinning hair was pulled back into a
ponytail and her tiny frame slouched over the chair she was in. She and the doll were both
wearing a bright pink nightgown. The straps of the mother’s gown landed on her collarbone,
emphasizing her tiny frame. Her expression was vacant and she didn’t pause her talking at all. It
didn’t even seem like she knew Lucinda was in front of her.
“Now, you said it wouldn’t hurt, right? When we talked you said it wouldn’t hurt?”
Lucinda shook her head. “No, it shouldn’t hurt at all.”
“So what’s up with you? Do you just target old ladies?”
“No, like I’m fine with it,” Marisa said with a shrug. “I’m just curious.”
“Lucinda, you don’t have to answer that.”
“No, it’s fine. I like to make sure the family is as informed as possible.”
Lucinda turned to face Marisa again. “I do like to support the elderly. To make sure that
their progression with this disease is smooth and well. I see elderly people all the time,” Lucinda
said, looking back at the rambling woman again before returning Marisa’s gaze. “The disease
ravages their mind. Makes them angry. Makes them tortured with all their past mistakes. So
because I have the power to help, I use it.”
Marisa’s stance stayed firm but her eyes flickered in a way that seemed to communicate a
level of curiosity to Lucinda. As Lucinda was still unsure how to navigate Marisa’s moods, she
“Taking memories is easier to do on elderly people. Especially when they’re like this. It
feels like grabbing tissues out of a box. And when I close my eyes to examine the mind all of the
memories are organized. But not like filing cabinets. They are more like shoe shelves. And each
memory in a person’s mind has a different color. At this stage— the stage your mother is in— a lot
of the memories are white and wispy. But the tortuous memories. The dark memories. The bad
memories that remain, those are red. A bright, deep red that can’t be missed. And so, I just take
those out.” Lucinda mimed out the action of plucking a tissue out of a box.
“So it doesn’t hurt?” Marisa asked.
“It can hurt. If you are young or really it can hurt for anyone who is lucid. It’s
disorienting and difficult. As opposed to feeling like grabbing a tissue, it’s more like trying to
grab a dress that is caught in a door.”
“So you’ve done that before? To someone young?” Marisa pressed.
Lucinda closed her eyes before sighing. “I got in trouble once as a kid. My brother fell
and it was my fault and he was crying and I didn’t want him to tell. So I took the memory out.”
Marisa looked at Lucinda quietly. Again, unsure of her mood, Lucinda continued.
“He was confused after I did it and unsure of why he was hurting.”
Lucinda sighed again. “But it’s a painful thing to do. It’s part of why I don’t do it. It’s
also part of why a lot of people who have my power don’t take memories out but change them.”
“Forge it. Like that big pastor,” Marisa said.
Lucinda slowly nodded.
Pastor John Judah Waterson was the most notorious forger. The gift itself was incredibly
rare but incredibly dangerous. Or at least that’s how most of the world saw it when they saw the
bodies of thousands dead on their television screens. Lucinda remembered being a child and
hearing about him. Hearing about the control he had on his congregation. How he manipulated
them. And how his action would force Lucinda to keep her powers secretly outside of word of
mouth calls for work like what she was doing now.
“That Pastor,” Lucinda started, her voice hardening. “In order for him to do something at
the level he did it would have to cause severe psychological damage to him as a forger.”
Lucinda paused. “And to the people he performs it on.”
“But what if someone wanted it? Like what if a healthy adult wants a memory gone?”
Lucinda flinched in surprise. “I don’t know. I think it would still be hard. And painful.
Young memories aren’t white. They’re all different colors and they’re kind of stuck. You’d be
taking something that—” Lucinda paused again. She remembered the feeling of taking the
memory from her brother. He had cried from the scratch on his knee. While his pain was light the
pain of taking the memory was excruciating. Lucinda’s mind flashed red and she felt like her
mind had been struck by a thousand hornets at one. To get rid of the pain, Lucinda had tucked
her brother’s memory in a cubby hole of her mind. The pain subsided the moment she had put it
away but whenever Lucinda got a cut, or if she tripped, or if she interacted with anything similar
to that moment, the memory would be triggered and fall out of place. Every time that would
happen, Lucinda would feel the pain of that moment all over again.
Lucinda shook her head. She looked back at Marisa with as firm a gaze she could muster.
“I don’t do that so I don’t know.”
Lucinda thought back to the elderly people she had helped in her journey so far. All the
memories she had taken.
“Older memories fade. Or melt really. Like snow next to a fire,” Lucinda continued. “It’s
easier on me and on the families.”
Marisa looked back at Lucinda vacantly for what was only a few seconds, but to Lucinda
it felt interminable. Then Marisa shrugged and turned her body to examine one of the many
angel statues on the bookshelf.
“So this should be easy, right?” Dolores asked. Lucinda turned back to her, slightly
surprised. She had forgotten that Dolores was still standing next to her.
“No pain. Simple process.” Dolores said with a soft smile. Lucinda noticed that Dolores
wasn’t asking this but advising her. Lucinda nodded back assuredly before she turned to the
Lucinda gazed into the mother’s deep eyes and exhaled slowly. Then, for the first time
since Lucinda walked in, the mother stopped talking. The elderly woman was noticing Lucinda
there for the first time and her mouth was slightly agape as if there was something she did want
to say to her but had just lost the words in the moment. The woman’s eyebrows raised
expectedly, as if waiting for Lucinda to give the orders. Lucinda exhaled deeply before closing
her eyes and beginning the erasure.
In the mind, Lucinda saw the woman’s memories in flashes. In one memory the mother
was walking down the street to get a Coke from the corner store. She was young and wore a
bright yellow dress. Her smile was bright and she looked strikingly like Marisa, but happier.
Another memory was of the mother holding a baby in a hospital bed. The mother’s hair was
damp and a little girl stood next to her. The girl leaned close and whispered something in Spanish
to her mother before saying, “She is Missy. She is Missy.” The mother smiled but each memory
blended together into another memory. There were memories of childhood walks, memories of
prayers in church pews, and memories of dance parties with blaring Latin music. Lucinda was
careful not to stay too long on any one memory. Staying too long could cause harmful
psychological effects for both her and the mother.
Lucinda scanned through the memories quickly, each one flashing in a wispy light. The
last memory she found was one of a young Marisa crying heavily in the living room. The
memory was bright and yellow, indicating this memory was well preserved. Another sign to
Lucinda that this memory was not as corrupted as the others was that it was in first person
point-of-view. When memories degrade, the view of the memory is of someone watching from
afar like a movie. But this memory was real and present. Lucinda could feel it.
In the memory, Marisa was sobbing. Her hands were reaching out as her tears streamed
down her face leaving heavy streaks on her brown face. Lucinda could tell that the mother is
yelling something at her but she cannot hear what. The only one she can see is Marisa as a child,
standing wearily in front of her mother. She was pleading, Lucinda knew that, but the memory
did not offer much more information besides that. The memory then washed away into a ball of
Lucinda sighed and then opened her eyes.
“That was pretty fast,” Dolores started cautiously. “Did you get them all out?”
Lucinda shook her head. “No.”
“What do you mean?” Dolores asked, her eyebrows furrowing in concern.
Lucinda shook her head quickly to clarify. “I mean that she didn’t have any bad
Both Lucinda and Dolores turned their heads to Marisa quickly. She had asked her
question with such acidity that it had shocked them both.
“All of her memories were white and wispy,” Lucinda stammered.
Marisa stood straight up and unfolded her arms “So they should be easy to take out.”
Lucinda furrowed her brows. “I’m not going to take perfectly happy memories out.”
At this Marisa’s eyes flashed with anger and she began to storm over to Lucinda.
Anticipating her next action, Lucinda tried to stand up quickly but nearly tripped over the chair.
“What do you mean you’re not going to take the memories out?” Marisa asked sternly,
her voice deep and dark.
Dolores had an arm up between the two women. “Missy, calm down. I’m sure there’s an
“You don’t have to pay me, of course,” Lucinda interrupted.
Marisa grimaced. “Do you think we are going to pay you one dime when you can’t
Dolores pushed her arm softly towards Marisa and away from Lucinda. “Missy, it's okay.
I’m sure that— well you can check again right?”
“I’m sorry but there wasn’t one memory—”
“You mean to tell me that that old woman can’t remember—”
“Oh I’m sure you are right. Thank you.” Lucinda looked down to see that Dolores was
hastily trying to stuff bills in her pocket.
Lucinda shook her head softly. “No, you don’t have to pay me.”
Marisa’s eyes were fixed on Lucinda. “Oh you are an idiot if you think we are paying
your hack ass a dime!” She pressed on her sister’s arm to step closer to Lucinda.
“Please just take the money,” Dolores whispered hurriedly.
“You mean to tell me she can’t remember any of it?” Marisa yelled at Lucinda with a
“She can’t remember what she— she can’t remember any of it?” Marisa asked again, this
time more desperate. Her eyes were as fiery as hot coals and her jaw tightened.
“Answer me!” Marisa cried as she leapt towards Lucinda. Dolores at this point had fully
put her body between them, as both of her arms held her sister back. Lucinda stood panting,
when she looked past the two sisters to see the old woman.
“¡Niña mala! ¡Basta! ¡Basta! ¡Corrigete! ¡Ahora! ¡Basta ya!” The mother was striking the
baby doll in her lap with each exclamation.
Marisa pushed her sister back gently. “Get off of me. The baby is crying.”
Marisa glared at Lucinda before sighing deeply. Rolling her eyes she slowly turned
towards her mother. Lucinda recognized the same disdain in Marisa’s eyes that she held for
Lucinda when she first walked in.
“Estás golpeando a la niña equivocada, Mami.” Marisa said to her mother as she
disappeared to another room.
Lucinda eyed the mother as she seemed to calm down. Her hands returned back to
stroking the doll calmly.
“Thank you for your help, but I think it’s time for you to go now,” Dolores said as she
stuffed a roll of dollars in Lucinda’s pocket.
Lucinda looked back at Dolores with confusion. Dolores’s eyebrows squeezed together
over her rounded eyes. She was pleading. She was tired.
“Please,” Dolores said softly. “Please.”
Lucinda looked at Dolores and nodded. Dolores smiled weakly and put her hand on
Lucinda’s back to lead her to the door.
“Thank you for coming by and helping my mother,” Dolores said in a quick whisper. As
soon as Lucinda was on the doorstep, Dolores quickly said goodbye and closed the door.
Lucinda stood in front of the door for a moment as she reoriented her mind to what had
just occurred. She turned to look at the front yard again. It was still the afternoon and she had to
have been in the house for no longer than 15 minutes but the garden looked so much darker. It
was as if there were shadows dancing around every angel. Lucinda could feel the wad of bills in
her pockets as she descended the steps to walk to her next appointment. She was almost past the
yard when she could hear the sound of the door swing open. It was Marisa running out with her
sister right behind her. Lucinda instinctively backed away as Marisa charged towards her. Before
Lucinda could decide her next move, Dolores ran out and grabbed onto Marisa tight, gripping
her into a bear hug. Marisa began to fight to break free, her dark hair flying in all directions.
“You!” Marisa cried. She jumped around in an effort to fight off her sister. Lucinda was
shocked that Dolores could apprehend her for so long.
“You!” Marisa cried again, her voice catching in her throat. She continued to struggle
weakly as Lucinda stood in frozen shock.
Then Marisa let out a guttural scream before collapsing onto the ground. Dolores
continued to hold on to her shoulders tightly but her body relaxed when she realized that Marisa
had given up.
“Why would you tell me that?” Marisa asked through sobs. “Why would you tell me she
Marisa sat in the yard, her back hunched over as she sat on her thighs. Her thick dark hair
covered her face and her posture was entirely defeated. Lucinda could hear her mutter more
words in Spanish through her tears and she stood there watching, unsure of what to do next. In
the background, the baby continued to cry.
El dolor te hace fuerte: "Pain makes you stronger"
¡Niña mala! ¡Basta! ¡Basta! ¡Corrigete! ¡Ahora! ¡Basta ya!: "Bad child! That's enough! Enough! Correct yourself! Now! Enough already!"
Estás golpeando a la niña equivocada, Mami: "You are hitting the wrong child, Mommy."
Anayancy Estacio is a middle school teacher from North Carolina. She has had works published in Roi Faineant, Iris Youth Magazine, and Bewildering Stories. When she is not trying to be the best teacher to her students she tries to be the best mother to her cat, Chicken.