Flash and Lem cruised through space with everything they needed, and they both felt that this was a very good life they lived.
At the same time, Flash was often nostalgic about his life back on Earth, particularly his childhood.
He told Lem stories about life on the farm with his parents and brothers, more for his own enjoyment than hers, although she enjoyed them, too.
Part of him longed to reconnect with something from his past. Some tangible item that he could hold, and reconnect with.
Even the cells of his body changed. Old cells were constantly being replaced with new ones, and he began to wonder if there was anything at all left of the child that he had been.
Perhaps a facsimile would suffice. He could ask the table of elements for anything. Why couldn’t it make an exact copy of a relic from his past? But what should he request?
This became a major topic of conversation between Flash and Lem… an old book that he had read as s child… perhaps a toy.
What is it that you miss the most? Lem asked.
My cat, Flash answered without hesitation. You remind me of her.
But why would you want a dead cat?
No, I want her back alive, of course, he mused.
He was sure that this would be crossing a line.
You said I remind you of her, Lem thought aloud. What if… her voice trailed off. What if the cells of her body somehow came back together… those basic building block elements… reunited to form… me?
That sounds pretty unlikely, Flash admitted.
Oh, we’re already unlikely! Said Lem, but you have to admit, it’s possible!
She was right. Cells are recycled. A body goes into the dirt. It comes up again in grass. The grass may be eaten by a cow.
The cells get shared around.
Theoretically it could happen, Flash agreed.
His mind presented all the obstacles to such a thing actually happening. If there was one thing he had learned, however, it was that anything is possible. She did remind him of that black and white cat he had had as a child. The more he considered this idea, the more like her Lem seemed to become, and he realized that this is why he had loved her all along.
I’ll call up one of my favorite toys, he said.
A wizzzer? Lem asked.
Flash smiled. She had been listening.
He asked for the wedge in green and yellow. Soon, the toy appeared.
What does it do? Lem asked.
It’s just a toy, Flash explained, but it demonstrates the conservation of angular momentum and gyroscope stability.
He glanced around the cockpit and realized there wasn’t sufficient space with a flat surface to demonstrate it.
Let’s try something else, he suggested, and ordered up a view master.
What is it? Lem asked.
it’s a special-format stereoscope.
Lem only looked at Flash, and then glanced at the high tech viewing screen that was built into the ship.
He had forgotten to ask for a set of reels, and as Lem appeared unimpressed, Flash didn’t pursue it further.
It didn’t matter. He hadn’t wanted to play with these items. He only wanted to hold them. For the nerves in his fingertips to reconnect with a memory. The plastic toys felt cheap, and were much smaller than Flash had remembered.
After a few flicks of the view master lever, he looked at Lem and sighed.
The sigh turned to a giggle, and soon Lem joined in laughing.
I should have asked for a book.
One nice thing about the table of elements was, whatever it produced, could be broken back down into its component molecules. Even plastic, unlike the plastic that clogged the oceans and continents of earth.
And so the Wizzzer and view master could be reabsorbed if Flash decided to send them back to be dismantled again in the system.