Essence of Memory

📅 Published on December 18, 2021

“Essence of Memory”

Written by Nick Goroff
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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As you probably know, Christmas is indeed a time for reflection. A time to revisit memory and times gone by with those you’ve loved and those you’ve lost. I should know. I am, as it happens, the ghost of Christmas past. Ugh, the ghost of Christmas past.

I honestly can’t stand that title. For one thing, I’m not a ghost. None of us are. Being a ghost requires you were once alive and are then not alive, hence the whole ghost business. I mean, sure, I’ll often take on the appearance and whatever lingering psychic impressions remain from someone from my subject’s past. Still, it’s generally more akin to a costume than any genuine revival. The sad truth that humans often hate to acknowledge is that once one has moved on from their mortal coil, they stay moved on for good.

Ghost of Christmas past… I would have greatly preferred the Spirit of Christmas Past, or perhaps, the Essence of Memory. But I don’t get a say in any of this, so I suppose there’s no real point to complaining. At least not about that aspect of the job.

I will be honest, though, I find it very grating and often envious of my colleagues, Present and Future. I mean, Present’s name is Christmas Present, though he is also erroneously saddled with the ghost title. But who doesn’t like Christmas presents? Also, most of his duties just require him showing our subjects, which I suppose we can refer to as Scrooges for conversation, happy times in other homes. He gets to bring them on tours of good times and people enjoying the holiday.

Future? Well, I’ll be honest, he’s a bit of an odd one. Sure, he brings the Scrooges into the future, scares or depresses them with their lonely, sad, and inevitable futures and deaths. But he also gets the chance to show them a better or brighter possibility. After all, most if not all of his work is entirely speculative, though he’ll never admit it. Also, I did say he was a bit of an odd one. Truth be told, I’m pretty sure he likes the dread and darkness he brings our subjects into, though again, he’d likely never admit to that either. Odd, odd spirit that one.

But all the same, Present and Future both get to paint brighter pictures for our Scrooges. They get to show them what is good and happy in the now and how they could have good and happiness in the future, and just where do you think that leaves me? That’s right. Every year, my job is little more than to take on the appearance of someone’s dead friend or relative, scoop them up with all of their bah-humbuggery and bad attitudes and then spend a portion of the evening stewing in their regrets with them.

And to make matters even worse, as we really only exist on this side of reality, where time moves all…forward and in order one night a year, that effectively means that such is my only experience on your plane of reality. Frankly, though some have told me I have a rather dark and dour attitude about the whole thing, I think if the entirety of one’s Earthly existence is merely to dwell on the heartbreaks, traumas and regrets of already unpleasant or unhappy people, I do a decent job of keeping my chin up. Honestly, you try it and see how chipper you can remain.

Part of this comes with this odd-time thing. When not carrying out our functions, the three of us, much like most holiday spirits and a fair number of other beings or entities that only cross into your world for whatever purposes they serve, exist in a sort of limbo state. It’s hard to really describe, but imagine a kind of ethereal break room of sorts that exists on a seventh-dimensional plain and opens specifically when, hmm…actually, you know what? Maybe we should skip all that. It’s quite confusing even for me, and I come from there.

Still, my colleagues and I typically only exist in your plain one night a year barring any special circumstances, which means for every three hundred and sixty-five of your years of Christmas, we pretty much exist more or less only for one. This means that my only time or presence in your world is spent rooting up bad memories or expositing endless what-ifs and never-wheres for displeased and unpleasant people. The Scrooges, as I suppose I’ll just keep calling them, even though there was only one, and for some reason, Dickens thought his story was unique enough to write about even though we’d taken him on the same trip the year prior.

But I digress.

One of the most common regrets that seem to haunt our Scrooges tends to be almost cliché beyond the numbers of more tragic or traumatic memories. Heartbreak tends to dominate our itineraries. Now I should point out that our kind doesn’t exactly enjoy the kinds of intimacy or partnership your kind does, so I could very easily be speaking from a place of complete ignorance. However, it is an odd thing to observe how much you tend to value your bonds, holding them as sacrosanct in your minds and hearts, compared to how utterly cavalier you often end up treating them.

One example which jumps to mind was a Scrooge I had to tend to just last Christmas. As usual, it was all “I hate Christmas” and “I can’t wait for this garbage to be over with,” and then wouldn’t you know it, it all ended up stemming from a perfectly good relationship that they decided was best thrown away. This was another older Scrooge and one I’m frankly surprised we never tended to before. Sometime back in what you call the seventies, he was a thriving businessman, selling cars or boats or- I honestly can’t even be bothered to remember.

He’d been married to a woman he’d known almost his entire life, and they were quite happy for a while. Then as success began to give him an inflated overall ego, he began to stop valuing what he had enjoyed for so long. Hiring decisions at his company began shifting away from talent and qualifications and more towards whatever attractive ladies he found himself having eyes for. It wasn’t long until his string of flings and affairs was discovered by his wife, and of course, wouldn’t you know it, she left him on Christmas.  The two never reunited, despite several years of desperate pleading and apologizing on his part. Soon the two fell completely out of contact, and he was left bitter, alone, and you guessed it, utterly despising Christmas.

When I paid him my visit last year, as I flitted through his memories, it became apparent that breakup and divorce drove the coffin nail into a casket containing his holiday spirit. His bitterness had grown deep in fact that it fell to Present to show him his ex-wife’s new family and their Christmas joy before passing him along to Future who-I’ll be honest, I kind of stopped paying attention to what Future does. He is, as I said, an odd one who takes glee in strange and often dark things.

Present did go as far as to tell me that the wife was quite happy. She had not too shortly after leaving our Scrooge, met and fallen in love with another man who proved more attentive and faithful. The pair had three children together, raised them in a happy home, and by the time Present had gotten around to them, found them celebrating with grandchildren. Several of them.

Again, I’m not certain about the final disposition of that Scrooge as I leave that to the others, but I couldn’t help but find it such a curious thing to see the façade of gruff bitterness melt away at the sight of his long lost love. I see it often, but it always strikes me as strange. Love is supposedly one of the central motivators and desires for your kind, yet you often treat it carelessly. Odd, isn’t it?

Of course, not all are so mundane. In some cases, serious and legitimate trauma can cause Scrooge’s malcontent. These I tend to treat naturally more delicately than a simple broken heart. In some cases, the point is less to force them to confront the source and more to uncover it. Humans have an impressive capacity for burying painful or difficult memories. On no less than ten occasions, I have been tasked with reviving the painful memory of a Christmas car accident from one’s childhood. Accidents that would claim one or both of their parents drastically alter the trajectory of their lives.

While I’m seldom shy to poke the bear, as you might say concerning ordinary heartbreak, childhood trauma typically requires a gentler hand. Those cases are often the most difficult. However, they’re not always children when such happens. Sometimes delusions or denial can overtake a grown mind in the wake of the severe loss, in which case the job is made doubly difficult under their often harsh reactions to the truth or sustained refusal to accept it.

One such case that stands out in my mind occurred quite recently. Along with his wife and young son, a man had been out at a holiday party. He, unfortunately, drank a bit more than he ought to have and wound up driving through a red light. Another vehicle was already traveling at speed through the intersection and crashed into them. The wife and boy both died in hospital, yet the man survived.

He found himself haunted by ghoulish visions of his wife and ongoing delusions that his son was still alive. It wasn’t quite Christmas yet, but the powers that be decided intervention might be necessary. As such, I spent an inordinate amount of time trailing him about in the form of his dead son. Thankfully just near the big day, the poor man was able to recognize the truth of what had happened and begin healing. That story and that car crash really managed to stick with me.

Now, something I feel important to clarify here, something I alluded to before, is the matter of being a ghost. As I mentioned, I often, if not always, take the form of someone from the subject’s past. This quite naturally makes the whole process easier as firstly. I don’t possess a form your minds could recognize, what with us all being multidimensional and the like. Taking on the form of one from a person’s past is necessary to appear before them while also adding a personal touch to the whole affair.

When these forms are taken, it’s not merely as a mask or costume. In quite a real sense, we inhabit your reality in these instances as the people we appear as. Their memories, thoughts, and history all meld with our being, creating a sort of symbiosis between us that lasts only for when we are at work. The true soul is, provided it has moved on and not just decided to linger and await another person’s body to tether to, fully moved onto the other side. What that is, I’m not going to tell you. You’ll all get there one day on your own.

But for the time we’re on your plane, consider it a form of synthesis between their existence and our own. A blending, if you will, a bit like that carried out by the wayward souls who lurk in the ether looking for new bodies, but a bit less intrusive and invasive and, if I may say, considerably less rude. If I’m to be completely honest about those souls, I will dare say they’re rather short-sighted. I could quite easily inhabit one of your bodies myself and experimented with such slightly many many many centuries ago. But just in the same way that you would never likely decide to trade your three-dimensional form for that of a two-dimensional stick figure in some cartoon or the like. I can’t fathom why any being who has managed to transcend to higher planes of existence would be so keen to return to the lower.

What can you say? Different strokes, I suppose. But again, I’m getting somewhat off-topic.

Being tasked with reviewing people’s regrets and darker memories is usually, almost always in fact, a grating and taxing endeavor. I would much rather spend the time revisiting pleasant memories and have even put in a request to have my duties shifted to do just that. I’ve experimented with it a bit and have found that in a number of cases, the Scrooge can be sort of reminded of the good times as opposed to being made to reflect and dwell on the bad ones to such an extent that they find a renewed sense of joy through the memory itself. Present though says that always messes up his plans. Future dislikes it when the grim potentiality of the subjects’ lonesome and bitter deaths is disrupted by the more jovial sense left from experience.

So, I continue with my tasks every year without fail. Take on a form plucked from their memories, retrieve some essence of that person’s soul and reality, incorporate into my own and then it’s off to loads of usually crying, sometimes shouting and on more than a regular occasion, hollow and impotent threats against me. I will admit, I do find those very amusing, if not a little sad, as they clearly come from places of pain and frustration.

Now while heartbreak, loss, death and tragedy do tend to dominate the field as it was, sometimes Scrooge’s overall disposition regarding Christmas comes less from a place of bitterness or malice and more honestly from a place of outright stupidity. One recent example leaps eagerly to mind, and I am sure you’ll find it as macabre yet stupidly funny as I did.

So, not every interaction I have with your kind takes place with me appearing as someone you know from your past. Sometimes I get to cheat and perform a little shortcut. Just recently, prior to Present and Future taking on their roles, for which I will add they had to appear in person, I actually got to walk a Scrooge down memory lane over the telephone. I wasn’t actually talking into a telephone as that would be honestly redundant and rather pointless.

However, this man was quite, QUITE upset with some shop or business. Naturally, his upset had nothing to do with the microwave oven he was calling to complain about but rather harkened back to some grim horror from his childhood. Grim and I will say it without hesitation, extraordinarily stupid. As it was a work night for me and as he was clearly in dire need of our services, his call was re-routed from the shopNshare store he was calling and directed to us. I even had to go as far as impersonating my own assistant, which I don’t actually have at all.

After listening to him huff and puff about how his appliance was broken, I merely reminded him of the time he murdered a puppy in one by cooking it on high when he was a child. A considerably scarring event that he carried around for ages. He eventually buried something in his subconscious, as he’d dare not remember it voluntarily. Thus each Christmas, he’d fly into a fit about his microwave, often hurling them into the garbage if he even had one at all and would begin making calls after calls demanding answers that he simply wasn’t ready or able to hear or accept. Finally, this very year actually, his psyche suggested he may just, in fact, be ready to face the truth which had ruined every winter for him since he was a boy.

It didn’t take long to break him. Wishing him a merry Christmas at the end of the call, I quickly passed along the assignment to Present, who for some strange reason got it into his head that pursuing the whole dead puppy angle might be helpful, showing him his nephew who had just received a puppy for Christmas and highlighting how much joy the animal brought him. It’s an odd course of action, at least by my standards, but I suppose since it worked out in the end, you really can’t argue with the results.

However, all this aside, on a broader level, while I do, in fact, find the work generally rather depressing and really wouldn’t mind switching places with my colleagues if only for one year, I cannot argue with its importance. People often forget all too often how it is the memory that forges identity and, as such, lays the groundwork for who they are as people. Their present and future all being the sum result of a sort equation, combining the totality of variables and events of their past into what I like to refer to as the perpetual moment. The seamless ongoing now, rooted in the ever-expanding series of previous nows which as soon as they’ve happened, we take to calling “then.” Just consider your time with me here. From where we began to where we are, one continuous moment has evolved into this moment right now and right here.

For this reason, when I say this work is important, I mean that not only for myself but for those who. Because with or without my assistance, take the time to remember and reflect on the past and how it has led them to where they are. Ideally, when done on one’s own, it can afford a deeper context for what fills one’s life and makes it meaningful. And, should one have some trouble with this, I suppose that’s where I come in.


I see Past has been bemoaning his station again. I hesitate to say he’s been doing it forever. Given how he exists more or less simultaneously throughout every moment of history before this one, the present, which is my domain and in a constant state of flux as it happens, I suppose it’s not an unfair perspective all in all. As I assume you’ve deduced already, I am the ghost of Christmas present. You can simply call me Present.

While Past has a point also that spending his corporeal time on your plain digging through old memories and how much of a downer that can be, consider the frantic immediacy of my position. With every passing moment, I surrender one part of my existence to Past while having to accept a new one from Future. Not all that unlike you humans, I suppose. But as I am not human, this state of being temporarily locked in one constantly evolving moment can be, at the very least, tiring. To borrow a page from Past, do you remember that I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel start working in a chocolate factory and struggle comically to keep up with the conveyor belt? I love that episode. Yet, at the same time, that’s often what my work feels like.

As soon as a subject is passed along to me, it’s off to the races you see. I have no more idea where we’ll be going before we go there than they do, as the moments they miss out on with emotional significance draw us there. Upon arrival, I am afforded a broader perspective and what it means. This isn’t to say I’m not prepared, but putting together the proper context for the events as they unfold, despite possessing a slight dab of prescience, absolutely requires one to think on their feet even though I don’t actually have feet.

But still, it’s a small complaint compared to the sorts of impact and, ideally, consequence my subjects come to recognize as they begin to put past and present together in their mind. One such instance which springs immediately to mind would be that of a woman we’ll simply refer to as Dolores. An elderly widow whose husband actually died on Christmas due to a heart attack, Dolores was less the bitter and cantankerous bah-humbugger one typically thinks of when it comes to this work, but rather one trapped in sadness and grief.

She and her husband had shared a long life together before his passing and raised a rather happy family. However, after his death, she became withdrawn, her communication with her children and grandchildren becoming sparser and less frequent over the years. Christmas quite naturally became less a source for joy and togetherness as much as a cause for mournful reflection and a deep sense of loss, almost always spent alone and away from what had grown through grandchildren to be a rather large family.

By the time Past handed Dolores off to me that Christmas Eve, the usual sense of inspired nostalgia the subjects came to me with was absent, with only a deeper and more mournful disposition in its place. Not the easiest of cases to work. Yet as we checked in with her now-grown children, whose own children were well into their teen years, with one preparing to enter college, she was suddenly struck by how much her aging eldest son resembled his late father. He smiled and laughed with his children in almost the exact way her husband had. The resemblance, she said, was uncanny. Seeing the gathered family sit for dinner, their faces alight and smiling with the joy of each other’s company, brought a sincere and, therefore, rare smile to the older woman’s face. However, it was the sight of an empty seat, before which sat an empty table setting, which as the moment itself informed me, was set out every year for her, genuine tears, themselves an unusual mix of melancholy and joy, flowed freely. Despite what Past says, regret is not limited to mere memory as it requires the present moment to reflect upon the moments missed or remembered from before. Future would later inform me that in her few remaining years, she never missed a single Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday or any opportunity to reconnect with her family, who were overjoyed the following day as she joined them for breakfast.

These are the sorts of cases I enjoy. Not just for how they turn out, but as at the moment, to see catharsis of that sort and to see someone bound and shackled by their grief finally find some relief by exposing them to the vivacity of the now, always brings a smile to whatever face I may be wearing while on the job. I suppose that is what I relish about this occupation, if you will. The opportunity to see the healing of the human soul in real-time. In my time.

However, not all cases turn out so well. Many, if not most of our subjects, become the Scrooges  -which by the way, I can’t stand that term- become embittered due to some trauma in their pasts. For Dolores, the sudden death of her husband and the emotional resonance Christmas held after becoming the recurring anniversary of his passing. For another case, which we’ll call Martin, who likewise lost someone close, no such catharsis could be found. Though we try our very best, not every case works out.

Martin was a young man in his thirties when tragedy struck. He had been living with a girlfriend with whom real love had just begun to blossom. They had been friends, then lovers and as time progressed and the two moved in together, their love for one another deepened. She became the center of his universe and his anchor to which his life story was tethered.

It was a cool late September morning when he awoke beside her in their bed. Offering her a good morning, he was at first confused when she failed to reply. He chuckled a bit at first, assuming she was simply sleeping deeply. The night prior, the pair had gone out for a night on the town. Drinks were enjoyed and then, perhaps a few more. That night they had made it safely home, made love, prepared to turn in and went to bed. Before her climbing in between the sheets, she took some over-the-counter medication she would commonly use to avoid headaches or hangovers. Though rare, as they slept, the combination of those and the alcohol caused her to go into cardiac arrest. She died then, quietly, peacefully, lying beside her love.

Martin tried again to wake her, shaking her by the leg, only to notice that her body was stiff as a board. She was lying face down, and as he fought to deny the creeping realization of what he was looking at, Martin began to panic and turned her over, calling her name repeatedly until he saw her face. It was a mix of white and purple as blood had begun to pool along her jawline and lips. Her mouth looked almost as though she’d applied purple lipstick, and for a few fleeting moments, the final moments of his hope, he thought perhaps her makeup had merely smeared and that she was merely just in a deep sleep. This moment passed, and reality then sank in. As the medical police questioned him and the medical examiners came to bag up and remove her body, an inescapable, albeit entirely misplaced, sense of guilt began to wash over him. It had been his idea to go out for drinks. He had purchased the medicine. He had plans to cook for them, and naturally had he done so that night instead of going out, she’d still be alive. There was no end to how he created to lay blame for her passing with himself, each entirely fabricated but manifested in his mind nonetheless.

When his case came to us, it was not so much a matter of overcoming bitterness but rather overcoming the trauma of what had happened. Martin had seen death before as the year prior, he sat with his brother at his father’s deathbed and saw the older man off. That too had occurred in September, making the month and season it then lead into a bitter and painful experience. However, the natural passing of an older man with long-standing health problems was a mild shock compared to the sudden death of what just the night before had been a vibrant young woman whom he loved and planned his life largely around.

With cases such as these, Past’s job is standardly less to recall regrets from before, allowing for context in the stages of this process to come and instead cover the important and happy moments they shared, which made their time together special. By the time Martin came to me, he was numbed. No amount of present moments shown to him to revive within him any sense of joy seemed to really take. This is, in effect, the nature of trauma, wherein something so drastic and devastating happens, the understanding of one’s life story becomes stuck and locked, ending at that moment. The ability to process and recognize new moments is largely lost, causing the person to be unable to create new memories and envision a future truly.

That was the case with Martin. I tried my very best to show him there was still a present for him to live within and, by extension, a future that awaited him and could forge to his desire. However, no Christmas scenes featuring friends and family could shake him from the haunting memory of that morning. To him, Christmas could not be joyous as it could not be shared with her. Those same friends and family attempted to include him in their festivities, and togetherness only served to Martin as constant reminders of what he’d lost. Having never properly accepted her death and therefore having never properly incorporated it into his ongoing life, he became mired in the past, leaving little of consequence that either I or future could offer.

To hear Future tell it afterward, the only future he had to show Martin was the inevitability of his own death, with the remainder being a single continuous strand anchored to that one dreadful morning with little else ever making any serious impact. Much as every moment, I would show him being inexorably tied to his feelings of loss and grief and guilt.

I always find those cases to be the worst. Thankfully they aren’t more common than they are, but every so often, they occur, and there’s nothing we can do. I like to think I take failure in stride. However, as for every Martin, I come across. Usually, three or four Dolores’ come my way to lift my…spirits.

Fundamentally though, reflection and memory are vitally important as they weave together the story of one’s life. People all too often spend too much time with them, missing what is right in front of them and the chance to build new memories as they go. I suppose that’s where I come in.


Allow me to let you in on a little secret. Something not even my counterparts from Past and Present are aware of. If you’ve noticed that we all sound remarkably the same, it is because we are. Not merely in that, we resemble one another somehow, but in that, we are, in fact, all the same. It is only from the perspective that I can see that which they and most of you do not.

We are, while beings associated with Christmas to your understanding, more elemental than that. Think of us as avatars for time itself. Humans have a rather peculiar and, I might say, special relationship with time. As you perceive it linearly, it’s inevitable unraveling before you present perpetual mystery and potential to your minds. Though in point of fact, neither actually exists, your perception of such colors your lives and experiences, affording a deeper sense of connection to your place in the universe. Perhaps an example of this is in order.

Whereas Past will bring you through your memories and even show you events which you were not a part of that fed into the continuity of your life and Present seeks to afford context for that continuity, my place is to explore with your potential. Whereas the case of Martin was one where the subject was rendered incapable of envisioning the future due to the events of his past, another case involving a man named Nathaniel took on an entirely inverted nature.

Nathaniel’s inability to take pleasure in the season’s spirit was not rooted in his clinging to the past, as much as his perpetual worry about the future. Humans are meant to learn from their mistakes and even tragedies as they mature. We step in when this maturation develops negatively. While some become embittered or scarred throughout their lives and others stuck and mired in the events of their past, cases such as Nathaniel’s are what occurs when one seeks to use the past as an indicator of the future to a toxic degree.

Nathaniel was a very bright man. His intelligence was well above average, and he had always had a knack for dynamic thinking—the sort where potentiality became a factor for him to work out as a means to semi-divine the future. As a side note, we have only once encountered one of your kind with the actual ability to predict the future, though that was less a matter of actual foresight and more a matter of her perception of time. But I am getting ahead of myself with that concept, as tends to happen for one in my position. However, with Nathaniel, potential courses of events and their potential outcomes would constantly bloom within his mind whenever confronted with a situation.

Christmas was exceptionally bad for Nathaniel. Though this made him an excellent chess player, it also often caused intense, crippling anxiety, causing him to withdraw from society whenever possible. This being as in his youth, one Christmas eve, his parents had purchased a discount Christmas tree that was rather dry. Their house was small and rather old, but it provided a happy home to Nathaniel, his parents Mark and Judy and his little sister Bethany.

The family had retired for the night, allowing the previously roaring fire in their fireplace to die down. However, as I mentioned, it was a rather older house and, sadly, somewhat drafty. By a freak occurrence, one of these drafts managed to blow some still smoldering embers from the fireplace and across the room to the tree. The fire that resulted burned fast and hot and took little time to properly engulf the small single-level dwelling.

Upon first hearing the smoke alarm, his parents leaped out of bed, only to find the fire already creeping down the hall, blackening the air with thick smoke. His mother rushed to his room, plucking him from his bed, while his father dashed further down the hall to where his sister slept. Sadly though, as Judy made it out of the front door with the small and shivering Nathaniel in her arms, the flames grew higher and made escape impossible for Mark and Judy. The man and his little girl burned to death that Christmas Eve, while the boy and his mother sat helplessly in the snow outside, unable to do anything but watch as their hope rapidly waned and turned to tragic sadness.

As he grew older, Nathaniel constantly poured over what had happened, asking the ever pointless question of ‘why.’ However, as he matured into a man, this question of why gradually became the ever-present question of how. Predicting or attempting to predict threats and oncoming tragedy consumed him entirely. Often the very sight of a fireplace or even lit candle would cause great pangs of fear and anxiety. He knew with personal certainty that the slightest flicker in the wrong direction could spell disaster for everyone around.

Upon buying his own home as a grown man, his first act was to seal up the fireplace, which sat in the living room with bricks and mortar. Though inert, the potential of disaster, as in all aspects of his life, dominated his every thought and action. By the time he grew to the age of forty, Nathaniel had become what most would describe as a neurotic mess. Though always invited by friends and relatives to join them for Christmas, his incessant fear of potential catastrophe left him unable and unwilling even to consider leaving the safety of a meticulously managed home, within which he had fireproofed, flood-proofed and just about any other form of proofing one can imagine.

For Nathaniel, the season’s joys were as lost as joy in general as he knew without a doubt that death, destruction and tragedy awaited him and everyone else around him at every turn unless managed and prevented. This gave way to a life so painfully oriented forward with its roots in his past that he could ultimately neither move on from what had happened nor see his present for what it really was. All that he could see or conceive of was the potential of what was to come.

For this reason, while Past collected his regrets and missed opportunities for happiness and Present presented the ongoing opportunities he was foregoing, it fell to me ultimately to reorient his perspective in a rather unorthodox fashion. Nathaniel lived in constant fear of potential futures, and typically, I will show our subjects just that to present them with at least the sensation of choice in what is to come for them.

With Nathaniel, though, as these potentials were all he conceived of, hence ruining not only Christmas but life in general, I instead decided to reveal some truth your kind only tends to be enlightened to after you have moved on from the mortal plane. This is that there is no difference between past, present and future. They are, or rather we are, or rather I am what you might call a simultaneous and inalterable constant.

I fear I may be losing you here. So, remember how I had referenced one who could predict the future under their perception of it? That is truly what separates your kind from the truth of time; perception. Whereas Past exists in moments leading up to what you call the present and Present exists in a perpetual state of flux while gliding along with your perceptions, I exist in a fashion that allows me to see its totality. The same way the past influences the present and the present influences the future, all events throughout the course of a human life act like puzzle pieces forming a picture. However, that picture, regardless of how assembled or not assembled the puzzle might be, remains what it is despite its relative immediate state.

An easier way to explain this is as such. Last night, odds were good you laid your head down somewhere to sleep. However, it could have been your own bed or somewhere else, regardless of where you were. You wound up there due to the confluence of events leading up to it, and time progressed for you afterward. In this same vein, as you will lay your head down to rest tomorrow somewhere, where you end up, your disposition will be likewise the inevitable result of what is happening now and what factors arise from now until then. These events are themselves, in fact, inalterable.

While in most cases, I will lead our subjects through potential futures that their actions can affect and lead to, the true function is simply to provide context to guide them towards their true and inevitable future. In essence, I simply give them the visions they need to get where they are going. It is not changing the picture the puzzle pieces form, but really just a piece unto itself. It may not always result in a desirable outcome for the subject, but it always results in the necessary one.

In Nathaniel’s case, this revelation allowed him finally to let go. Without giving too much away, I allowed him to see that the catastrophes he’d spent his entire life fearing and trying to avoid would never have come to pass, nor would they pass moving forward. That his future was, in fact, already determined and, in effect, unalterable, this finally set his mind at ease and allowed him to live out his life without his constant dread or worry. This is a rare reaction from your kind. The question nearly all of you ask yourselves at some point throughout the course of your lives is whether you would wish to know the time and manner of your eventual death or not. Despite all the existential implications such knowledge would create, is typically one of preferring ignorance instead of foresight.

While giving one an endpoint to count down to and dread if revealed, it also generally removes the nature and fundamental meaning of life and considers the future. A rare reaction, to be sure, hence I was only applying such a technique in very rare and special circumstances. For Nathaniel, however, it provided much-needed relief, allowing him to feel safe knowing that ultimately, his worry was all for naught.

Nathaniel is not alone in facing such a plight, however. Many of your kind waste countless amounts of your honestly limited time, fretting and worrying about the what-ifs of a future in a universe where uncertainty only comes from a lack of prescience due to your limited perspectives. As Past noted, we exist dimensionally concerning you, much akin to the way you do when perhaps looking at a stick figure drawing.

Perhaps a better example would be to consider a book. Whether you’ve read it or not, the end has already been written when you pick it up. The pages all exist in a single contiguous constant that forms the work’s totality. Your lives and time on this plain are much like a book in this exact manner. Though I’m certain, I am likely badgering the point at this point.

Ultimately, our existence and function could be called and considered temporal interventionism. Though guided by what I suppose you would call fate through time in a direction you would call forward, we exist and dip our metaphorical toes into your time streams to help you along your path. Past appears in the form of one you knew before, as it creates a link between you and those moments. Present appears as someone you’ve never met to illustrate the presence of immediacy in being and the potential for life to happen at the moment. As many of your writers and storytellers would have you believe, I appear typically as some form and manifestation of death. It is one of the only true certainties you all share. Or, well, almost all of you share. But I shan’t comment about that as it serves little purpose to my lesson for you here.

It is important to remember the past without dwelling needlessly upon it or letting it control you entirely. It is important to live in the present moment and allow new memories to form from new experiences. It is important to consider the future but not fret or worry too much about it. Remembering it shall happen and that it shall happen just as it needs to no matter what can afford some peace of mind, allowing your life to follow its natural course, moment by moment, love by love, loss by loss and Christmas by Christmas. Many of you tend to forget these things. That’s where we come in. Or rather, that’s where I come in.

Each day is yours. Make them good ones. Merry Christmas.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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Written by Nick Goroff
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Nick Goroff

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Creepypasta eater
Creepypasta eater
1 year ago

A pasta with a moral! Now, how rare is that! It was a very enjoyable and interesting read. Thank you for this pasta!

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