Disclaimer: "She" (read and you'll understand) is mine, and so are all the nameless people. Anyone and anything you might recognize is probably Marvel's. And that's about it.

A Memory Saved

Click, flash of light. Another picture. Another press on the camera's button. Another, and another, and another.

Click, flash of light. Click...

Her name does not matter. She is one of the many who come, walk around this broad house, are impressed and then go home. They all take pictures, too.

Click, flash of light...

She touches the walls fondly. They are cold, this entire house is lifeless. A sacred ground, a museum for a dream. People walk between these walls with awe, then they take pictures to remember themselves here. A woman presses her son against the wall, under an old picture of those who lived here and takes a picture. A little girl photographs her smiling parents in a doorframe. A boy takes a picture of his friend next to a statue of one of the long-gone habitants of this house... She already has pictures of herself. She was here with her boyfriend, but he left a while ago because he was bored with it all. She has one picture left, and wonders what to do with it.

Click, flash of light, click...

And the pleasant voice of the tourist guide "If you'll come with me through here, ladies and gentlemen, you will find yourselves in a room which stores many personal belongings..." He leads them into the room, and all the people immediately take a small look around and begin taking pictures. Next to this statue or another, next to a picture or an object in a glass box, next to an old costume hanging on one of the walls... She approaches that costume, touch it gently. Yellow and blue, and the badge, one letter... "Madam, don't touch it please." A security officer catches her hand before she can read the letter on the badge. She nods and walks away. Objects in glass boxes. A sword, a crimson visor, a blue belt, a stuffed doll... she reaches out to place a hand on the glass, but a man pushes her aside and takes a picture of his daughter next to the glass box. She walks away silently.

Click, flash of light...

A statue in the corner. A man and a woman. She with long, flowing hair, soft eyes, an aura surrounding her body, he wearing the visor from the glass box and the costume from the wall. The badge states a simple 'X'. She reaches out to touch, but then recalls it's forbidden. She raises her camera... and lets it drop back on her chest. Two girls hurry forward. One of them strikes a heroic pose in front of the statue. The other lifts her camera.

Click, flash of light...

She circles the room, looking at objects that once meant something to people. A pair of roller-blades... a coloring book... something called a "Bamf" doll... a Bo staff... things that were real while this still was a home. The tourist guide leads the people to the statue of the man and the woman. Then he begins his endless explanations again "Those two were the leaders of the main team. As most of you already know, they called themselves the 'X-Men'..." She doesn't listen to him. She knows how the people who lived here were called. She adores them because if not for them she wouldn't have lived the way she does. If not for them and the cause they fought for and died to achieve people would mind her glowing red eyes, her pointed ears and her furry long tail. But they don't, and that is the reason this museum exists. Now it's a museum, but once, it was a home.

The tourist guide finishes his explanations and leads the people out of the room. She takes one last look at the statue of 'Cyclops' and 'Phoenix' and walks away with the group. She walks the corridor, keeping a distance from the rest of the people and looks at the pictures on the wall. A little Asian-American girl in a yellow raincoat hugging a short, masked man... Four young men and an equally young woman, in costumes resembling school uniforms... A stunning, dark skinned, white haired woman along with a muscular, tall man with one hand and one leg emitting a metallic glow... Nine teenagers in identical costumes poking fun of each other... More and more...

She notices she is far behind the group and hurries to catch up. She reaches them just and they enter another room and the tourist guide continues to explain: "Ladies and gentlemen, we are now entering perhaps the most important room in the Mansion. This was the private office of the X-Men's founder and mentor, Professor Charles Xavier. Walk around and be impressed." She walks around, but she is not impressed. Instead, she is disgusted by all the people who take one brief look and set out to take pictures.

Click, flash of light...

Pictures of their own; Two girls sitting on the wooden table... a grinning man leaning against the window...a woman holding a child by the fireplace... But they are so out of place there...

After half an hour of walking around the old Mansion, the tourist guide leads them out into the yard. She is disappointed. Not of the spectacles she saw inside, but of the attitude of the people who except her toward those spectacles.

Click, flash of light... Has the world changed so much, after all?

Before she exits, she hears a noise coming from the bushes next to her legs. She bends, moves the bushes aside, and finds herself face to face with a girl. A little girl, large, blank blue eyes, small nose, huge claws in each hand and foot, sharp blades for hair, ruby red skin. At first the girl trembles, but does not run away. They stare at each other for a while, then the girl opens her mouth.

"Did the dream come true yet?" the girl asks in a small, scared voice. She looks deep into the girl's blue eyes, seeing there fear, pain, despair... and hope. Then she smiled.

"Yes," she says softly, offering the girl her hand. "Come with me." The girl looks at the offered hand. Then takes it. She and the girl get to their feet. They walk hand in hand out of the X-Mansion's gates. The girl stops at the gate suddenly, looking back. "No." she whispers "Don't look back. This is not a home anymore. This is where people come to remember."

The girl turns to her. She lifts the camera and takes the last picture, the picture of the girl with the Mansion in the background. The girl belongs there. The girl doesn't mind, instead turns back.

"Remember what?" the girl whispers.

Remember what, indeed? Do they remember? She does. And even if they don't, she knows what to say.

"The hope," she replies simply, and takes the girl's hand. They walk out of the Mansion grounds, and they both are smiling. The world has changed a lot.

The End

Mail the author, Joan Milligan, with comments!