Second story based on the prompt of changing dreams. This one was more a reaction to what other people were writing.


People are flawed and broken, but she can fix them.

It's her gift.

She remembered learning one year in middle school about memory, back when she'd simply dreamed.

People think memory is a record of a past event. But it's easy to modify memories. If you ask the witness, "How fast did the car seem to be going when it went by you?" and "How fast did the car seem to be going when it sped by you?" you'll get two different answers. An innocent person gets convicted. The witnesses don't mean to. It's just that once they hear words like sped they remember how the car was speeding by them fast, and they start trying to remember just how fast they'd characterize the speeding, rather than how fast it was actually going. It's easy to make up memories entirely, even. All those people who say they were abducted by aliens or kidnapped by a satanic cult or kept as brainwashed sex slaves to the lizard overlords who control the world aren't lying. Somehow they made up the memory, or someone accidentally made it up for them trying to find a real one, and now they think it's the truth. She'd found the idea frustrating at the time, and ignored it.

Then she'd started walking in other people's dreams.

Most dreams don't matter. Some are even kind of embarrassing and uncomfortable to be looking in on, and she steps out of those fast. Some dreams, though...

Some dreams are memories, sometimes straight and sometimes warped, but memories. And those she stops in. They're more solid-feeling than normal dreams usually, built off the kind of trauma that burned themselves into the sleeper's mind so now they repeat over and over.

You'd think those kinds of memories would be harder to change. But they're no different. People think they are because they're more vivid, more clear, but that doesn't mean they're any more accurate.

So she stops in them. And then she remodels them from top to bottom. Sometimes, if the memory she finds in the dream is bad enough, she tears it out completely and builds up a new one in its place, and sometimes she sticks around to the end so she can pick the next dream and keep shoving new dream memory after dream memory in for a bit, until she thinks she's done enough. A lot of the dreams are sad, but they don't bother her much because she starts taking them apart before they can really get going. She thinks of it like fixing up a house, stripping dreary, faded wallpaper and repapering the walls with cheery flowers, polishing the floors and replacing the carpets, filling in holes in the plaster walls and nailing in new pictures where she thinks they'd look best.

Dreams take place in instants, so she can do this to hundreds of people in a single night, and still have plenty of time to chill on the beach or go to an amusement park in someone else's dream, then check out the worries of stockbrokers and CEOs to get tips for the next morning. It's a good life.

One night she steps into a dream and the boy inside looks up at her midway through.

"What are you doing?" he says.

She's surprised - nobody's ever reacted to her tearing up the walls before. She wonders if he's someone like her. "I'm just changing some things," she explains.

"That isn't how it happened."

She looks over the scene. She's put his parents neatly on the bus and added a cute puppy to the yard next to the house to make things a bit cheerier. "Yes it is," she lies.

"There wasn't any bus," he says.

"There is now," she explains, trying to board up the side door they come through. "This way is better."

"There wasn't any bus. There weren't any white fences and the houses didn't look like this and there wasn't grass like that, it was the dry season. This is how places looked when I came to America. It was never like that there."

"It happened to a friend of mine," she told him. "That's where I got the idea. See, this way is a lot better. You don't see it happen. It's just an accident."

"They were murdered. They and my little sister were murdered in front of me. You can't make that not happen."

"But see, now she isn't at all, and they die in a bus crash. That's a lot better. You don't have to be angry at the people, and it doesn't have to hurt so much."

He shook his head. "I have to be angry," he says. "Because their murderers deserve my anger."

"But it's not good to be angry," she says. "It's not good to hate. If everybody forgave things - "

"- then no one would fight the evil in the world." He walks up to the bus and takes his parents' hands and leads them back into the house. He finds a little toddler girl where she'd been put out of his sight, and he picks her up and sets her with his parents. Then he begins to pull off the boards she's nailed to the door.

"Stop it!" she shouts. "I'm trying to fix you!"

"I'm not the one who needs to be fixed."

"Yes you are!" she says, and stomps her foot. "You're angry and full of hate and you won't forgive and you'd - you'd kill them if you could," she accused.

He says simply, "Yes." He's not a boy any longer, but a teen.

"That's wrong! You're no better than they are if you do that!"

"The men I would kill," he says coldly, "are men who kill innocents. Who torture. To kill an innocent person and to kill their murderer is not the same thing. It cannot be the same thing."

"It's still murder!"

"But it is not the murder of an innocent person." He pulls off the last board.

"Stop that! You - if you do that your parents die here! Is your hate so important to you that you'd kill them all over just so - "

"My parents are already dead, as is my sister," he says. There are voices outside the door. "And I honor that by knowing what happened and seeking justice. I honor that with my memory. Forgetting does not remove what was done to them."

She tries to wipe the door from existence and turn it to wall. It shimmers a second, then the door reasserts itself. The man looks at her and she can feel the dream warping around her, and her power won't work.

Suddenly she wakes up in bed.

Frustrated, she falls back asleep.

And she only dreams.

People are flawed and broken. And she'd fixed them.

That had been her gift.

But people are flawed and broken, so they object to fixing.