“That was strange,” said Mercer. “I don’t remember having spoken to the woman before.”

Arturo had a dreamy look on his face. “Who, Simona?”

Mercer nodded, but Arturo didn’t see it for all the stars in his eyes. “She welcomed us back, I mean, she welcomed me back, like we’d been there before. You haven’t spoken with her, have you?”

Arturo said nothing, he just shook his head.

“I didn’t think so.” Mercer scratched his beard, lost in thought.

A ponderous silence came between them, large and heavy enough that Mercer felt alone in the room, before Arturo snapped out of his daydream with an exclamation of “oh” that nearly sent Mercer tumbling over backward.

He shouted at Arturo. “What was that about!”

“I just realized why I thought I recognized her,” said Arturo. “It was a mysterious feeling, and yet so familiar. I thought perhaps I had been bewitched by her youthful beauty.”

“I wouldn’t discard that possibility just yet,” said Mercer.

Arturo ignored the comment and continued. “I remember her name from the ledger of items recovered from the island. She, and that woman-priest you were so fond of until recently–”

“Valare,” said Mercer, filling in the blank.

“–And Myrtle, were among those who found the most objects,” he finished. “I knew I knew her from somewhere! I knew who she was before I ever met her. Isn’t history amazing?” Arturo lapsed back into the dreamy state.

Mercer scoffed, and picked up the strange wax figure Simona had “returned” to him. She told him he had given it to her for safe-keeping, and he had instructed her to give it to him the next time she saw him. She knew who he was the moment she saw him, and it sounded so reasonable when she explained it, but he couldn’t remember any of it.

He strained to recall the days he drank away, but everything was shrouded by a thick wall of fog, broken only by an occasional, palpable reminder of vomit. He looked around the room for something to wash away the memory of the taste. He rinsed the memory from his mouth with wine and swallowed.