As Every Day begins, A awakes and begins the usual morning ritual: “Immediately I have to figure out who I am.” Every day, A inhabits a different body—male or female, dark-skinned or light-skinned, gay or straight. These bodies are all approximately A’s age, which is sixteen at the moment, but their lives are otherwise as varied as human lives can be.
(As the story progresses, it will become clear that A either has no gender or is both male and female. For the purposes of these summaries, A will be referred to as he when he is in a male body and she when she is in a female body.)
Today A awakes as a boy named Justin, a video-game-playing smoker who stayed up too late last night. A knows this both because Justin’s body is tired and because he can access Justin’s memories. With effort, A can learn any factual piece of information that this body knows. Feelings are impossible to access, so A’s feelings are his own.
This morning, A dislikes Justin immediately. He reflects:
It’s hard being in the body of someone you don’t like, because you still have to respect it.
A shows respect for the bodies he borrows by going through the motions of their lives without changing anything. Any attempt to change a life, even for the better, can cause unintentional harm. It is hard for A to live with this afterward.
After a hurried and silent breakfast with Justin’s parents, A drives to Justin’s school. There he meets Rhiannon, a girl who looks at him with so much hesitancy and hope that A does not have to check Justin’s memories to know she is his girlfriend. When she seems surprised at the gentle way A speaks to her, his dislike for Justin increases.
A knows that he should not try to get to know Rhiannon. When he was younger, he “took other people’s lives personally,” but “it was too heartbreaking to live with so...
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When A wakes up the following morning, she is a girl named Leslie Wong—but she is still in love with Rhiannon. While getting ready to go to Leslie’s school, A remembers dreaming about Rhiannon last night. Idly, A wonders if Justin shared the dream. She hopes he did because that means he might wake up with kind feelings toward Rhiannon. But A knows, deep down, that this hope is “another kind of dream.”
Although she is preoccupied with these thoughts, A looks around for clues about Leslie’s personality. Leslie seems fairly geeky and unpopular. Her grandmother nags her about oversleeping and seems to expect a meek response. Her brother Owen glares at her over breakfast and appears to expect her to remain silent. A reflects that this kind of tense, grumpy, quiet morning is a typical part of most lives.
What is not typical is the fact that Owen lights a joint on the way to school. Once again, A remains silent. Privately, A reflects that she likes it better when she is an only child. Although she understands that siblings could be helpful and comforting in an ordinary life, they are neither in her strange existence. They are some of the hardest people to avoid harming, and they are the most likely people to harm her.
At school, A meets Leslie’s best friend, Carrie, who crows that the boy she likes chatted with her online last night. Although A pretends to be excited, she privately thinks snarky thoughts about Carrie’s very unremarkable good news. A reflects:
This is the hard part about having best friends that I feel no attachment to—I don’t give them any benefit of the doubt. And being best friends is always about the benefit of the doubt.
After a while, A realizes that she is also jealous. Carrie has a chance at a real connection with her crush, whereas A has no such chance with Rhiannon. Sternly, A orders herself to stop feeling this way. There is no...
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When A wakes up—this time as a boy named Skylar Smith—he has a plan for seeing Rhiannon again. Skylar, however, lives a four-hour drive away from Rhiannon, so it would be impossible for A to see her. Sadly, A goes through the motions of Skylar’s school day with practiced efficiency.
For A, the challenging part of the day arrives when Skylar has to go to soccer practice. A knows the rules of the game, so that is okay. But the coach keeps shouting names of kids Skylar is supposed to pass the ball to, and that means A has to access Skylar’s memories constantly to figure out which other boys the coach means. A manages this task, so Skylar’s day at practice is not too embarrassing.
After this experience, A reflects that he knows how to play most sports but does not allow himself to try the really dangerous ones. He created this rule after a bad experience when he was eleven. That year, he once woke up in the body of a kid on a ski trip and figured skiing looked fun. Unfortunately, A had never actually learned to ski and did not know about bunny slopes. In any case, the kid whose body he was borrowing had already learned to ski on ordinary hills. When A tried, he broke the kid’s leg in several places. It hurt so bad, A thought the pain might carry through to the next day’s body. It did not, but the guilt was worse. In A’s mind, choosing to put another person’s body at risk was as bad as choosing to hurt the body on purpose.
The skiing experience made A wonder what would happen if he made a mistake that killed someone. Would A die along with the body? Or would he wake up the following morning as someone else? To A, the answer does not really matter:
Whether I die or just wake up…as if nothing happened, the fact of the death will destroy me.
Since then A has found excuses to avoid dangerous sports. However, he is a whiz at video games. They are a part of nearly every sixteen-year-old’s life, so he has learned all the ordinary ones. After he finishes with soccer practice, Skylar’s friends come over and play World of Warcraft. As they play, they eat snacks and chat, and A almost enjoys himself.
He would be having a genuinely good time if he didn’t want to be somewhere else.
The next day starts out perfectly. When A awakes, she is a girl named Amy Tran. Amy has her own car, and she lives only an hour’s drive away from Rhiannon’s school. Quickly, A searches the Internet to map the route. When she is finished printing the map, she clears her search history. She reflects, “I have become very good at clearing histories.”
On the way to Rhiannon’s school, A reflects that there is no real way to have a relationship with Rhiannon. Going back to see her will only make the pain of separation worse. But A is willing to endure the pain in exchange for more time with Rhiannon.
Memory is a complicated subject for A. Unlike normal people, who repeatedly see the same faces and places every day and thus have no trouble remembering a vast store of ordinary details, A meets most people only once. Because of this, she only remembers a select few people she chooses to think about over and over. After all, memory relies on repetition, and for A, mental pictures are “the only repetition available.”
On the way to Rhiannon’s school, the radio plays one of the songs A and Rhiannon heard on the way to the beach three days ago. A thinks this is a sign:
I feel the universe is telling me something. And it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. What matters is that I feel it and believe it.
At Rhiannon’s school, A walks in confidently, as if she is a student there. She goes straight to Rhiannon and says hello. Pretending to be Amy Tran, A claims that her parents are planning to move to this area, and that she decided to sneak into the school without their knowledge to get a sense of the place and decide whether or not she is okay with the move. When Rhiannon offers to let A come along to her classes for the day, A is simultaneously pleased by Rhiannon’s kindness and disappointed that Rhiannon does not show any sign of recognition.
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When A awakes the following morning, it is immediately clear that everything is wrong. A’s latest body stayed up late doing drugs, and now it wants more drugs. For A, this is a new and frightening experience:
I’ve been in the body of a pothead before. I’ve woken up still drunk from the night before. But this is worse. Much worse.
It is unclear what gender A’s body is today. He or she lives in a stinking, dirty room and sleeps on a dirty mattress. The body and its addictions are in control. This life is about getting high.
The idea of getting high terrifies A, whose existence is already so uncontrollable that it seems unthinkable to give up further...
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Although A feels emotionally “wrung out” when he wakes up in the body of Nathan Daldry the next morning, he can also tell that Nathan’s body has slept well. He looks around and sees the neatly kept room of a clean-cut boy who has already finished his homework for the weekend.
After getting out of bed, A checks Justin’s email and learns about a party taking place that evening at the home of a boy named Steve. According to Google Maps, Steve’s address is an hour and a half away from Nathan’s house. In other words, it is reachable—if Nathan’s parents will consent to loan him their car for the evening.
Nathan’s parents turn out to be “a very nice couple who make it very...
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On Sunday, A awakes in the body of Roger Wilson, whose clothes are already laid out for church. It does not take long for A to observe Roger’s mother and three little sisters—“no father in sight”—and realize that this is a loving but struggling family. The home has one computer, which A uses quickly before church to set up the email address he gave to Rhiannon last night.
At the church service, which is Baptist, A reflects on all the religious services he has attended over the years. All religions have almost identical beliefs; they give people a sense of community and of a higher power, a force for good. It baffles A that people care so much about the small differences of history,...
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In the morning, A awakes in the body of Margaret Weiss. She lives four hours away from Rhiannon, too far to risk a visit. However, she owns a laptop that A uses to check email. First A checks the email address she gave to Rhiannon. She finds a sweet, friendly reply to the note from yesterday. Then A checks her old email and finds another note from Nathan, who says he has contacted the police.
It is hard for A to know what to make of this, but it gives her a bad feeling. She searches for Nathan’s name online and finds a local newspaper article entitled, “The Devil Made Him Do It.” It describes how police awakened the sleeping Nathan in his parked car the other night. Unable to explain how...
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The next day, A awakes in the body of Megan Powell, a girl who lives only an hour away from Rhiannon. After a quick email exchange, A and Rhiannon arrange to meet up in a bookstore at 5:00 p.m. It is fairly easy for A to get Megan excused from cheerleading practice for a fictional doctor’s appointment.
After these practical details are settled, A spends the day worrying about what to say to Rhiannon. Although A has never told anyone the truth before, it seems the only option now. In fact, A wants someone else to know she exists: “I am learning that a life isn’t real unless someone else knows its reality.” But she worries that the truth will be too weird or frightening for Rhiannon....
(The entire section is 540 words.)
The following day, A awakes as a football player named James who shares a room with two brothers—his twin, Tom, and their older brother, Paul. It is immediately clear to A that this is a poor family, and he is not surprised when he finds no computer in the house. James does not have a car either.
After a long bus ride to school, A shovels down the free breakfast, marveling at James’s enormous appetite the whole time. It is not until study hall that A has a chance to steal a look at his email. There is a message from Rhiannon that says she wants to believe but is not sure she can. In his reply, A explains who and where he is today.
Next, A checks his old email and sees another note...
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When A awakes the following day, he is momentarily confused because he thinks he is in the same body as yesterday. After a brief period of disbelief, he understands what has happened: he has awakened in the body of James’s twin, Tom.
This is the first time A has ever had a chance to observe someone waking up after giving up a day to his consciousness. He stares at James all morning and pesters him with questions about what he did the day before. James appears not to feel like he was possessed. He merely tells A the basic facts of what he did yesterday. For whatever reason, his mind seems to edit out Rhiannon and the information he read in A’s emails. To James, yesterday was just a normal and...
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The following morning, upon awaking in the body of Kelsea Cook, A knows immediately that Kelsea is mentally ill. After experiencing so many different lives, A understands absolutely that mental illness is about more than personality or mood. Mental illness is “as much a part of the body as its eye color or its voice.” People who live with it have to develop “uncommon strength” just to live at all.
Kelsea’s mind is full of dark thoughts and awful impulses. It distorts everything around A and makes her desire to experience pain above all else. When she opens her eyes, she sees a room in which nearly everything has been broken. When A accesses Kelsea’s memory, she is horrified to find...
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On Saturday morning, A is a boy named Hugo who has plans to go to the gay pride parade in Annapolis, Maryland with his boyfriend, Austin. It is good that A will be out of the house because Hugo’s parents speak only Portuguese. Foreign languages make life difficult for A, who cannot access a body’s memories fast enough to keep up with a conversation.
Hugo has a computer, and A finds an email from Rhiannon, who says she called Kelsea’s house first thing in the morning and got no answer. She seems to take this as a hopeful sign that Kelsea and her father are out getting help.
In her email, Rhiannon includes a link to an article about Nathan and several other people who claim they have...
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In the morning, A awakes up as a girl who looks like a teenage version of Beyoncé. For A, this is not a good thing. Being reasonably attractive is comfortable, but it is hard to live as someone whose life is “defined by…attractiveness.” Ashley Ashton—the owner of A’s current body—is gorgeous. It is clear that she spends virtually all her time trying to look perfect.
Rhiannon is not far away today, and she offers to pick A up. But when A gets into the car, Rhiannon laughs and says, “You’ve got to be kidding.” This reaction is mildly offensive to A, but Rhiannon explains that it is difficult to get used to seeing one person being so utterly different every day. She asks A to be...
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The following day, A is a boy named AJ who has diabetes. Diabetes always worries A, but he has had it a few times, so he can manage okay if he is careful. After sending a note of apology to Rhiannon, A goes to AJ’s school. While there, he sees Nathan Daldry, who is now socially isolated. Other kids constantly tease him about his demonic possession story, but Nathan is trying to ignore them.
Since his note that said he was not the devil, A has not written to Nathan again. Nathan wants proof, and A has none to give. But at lunch, he takes the opportunity to talk with Nathan.
Fortunately, Nathan has always been friendly with AJ. Although he is suspicious of AJ’s questions at first,...
(The entire section is 434 words.)
In the morning, A is Adam Cassidy. He decides to skip school and drive to Rhiannon’s school again. He does not bother to access Adam’s memories to figure out anything about him or what he may miss during this day off. During the drive, A reflects that he went through a phase, years ago, when he often occupied other people’s bodies without trying to learn anything about them. He recalls that they were “extraordinarily blank days” and guesses that they probably seemed just as blank in the memories of the bodies’ owners.
Today, instead of thinking about Adam, A thinks about his own life. Above all, he wonders how to make a relationship work for Rhiannon and for himself. By the time he...
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The next day, A is a girl named Cheville. School seems like too much effort, so she pretends to be sick and stays home, whiling away the time reading and surfing the Internet and playing video games. She used to enjoy this kind of day, but she does not enjoy this one.
Over and over, A checks her email. Rhiannon does not write.
Next A is a girl named Valeria—not a high school student, but an illegal immigrant and an underage maid. Valeria does not speak English, so A can only access thoughts in Spanish, a language A knows only a little. Valeria’s body feels terrible, and A is confused. Eventually she realizes she has menstrual cramps, and she accesses...
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In the morning, A awakes as a girl named Sally Swain—a girl who owns a computer. Before doing anything else, A logs onto her own email and reads a note from yesterday from Rhiannon. In it, Rhiannon says she needed a little time for “taking a break and thinking things through” but that she is glad to have seen A the other day anyway.
At the end of Rhiannon’s note, she asks about A’s day. This is such a normal question that A does not know how to feel about it. She has always wanted to interact with Rhiannon in a normal way, but now the normality falls flat. Because A’s feelings are so strong, she finds it hard to talk about little things. Besides, the last meeting with Rhiannon left A...
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Today A is in the body of a boy named Orlando who lives just forty minutes away from Rhiannon. Unluckily for A, Rhiannon still wants to keep him at a distance. But on the plus side, Orlando is a late sleeper on the weekends. This means that A has the whole morning free to spend on the computer as long as he remains quiet.
For much of the morning, A reads a Web site created by Reverend Poole, the preacher who is supposedly helping Nathan. Poole’s site contains an open invitation to share stories about being possessed by demons.
For a long time, A stays on this site, reading people’s stories and watching their videos. Nathan’s story contains nothing new, and many others are clearly...
(The entire section is 399 words.)
Lately, A’s first thought each morning has included a bit of mental math to calculate how far she is from Rhiannon. Today, A’s math leaves her briefly confused. Then she realizes she is Rhiannon.
When A realizes what is going on, she feels as if “the world has turned to glass.” Any wrong choice she makes may shatter everything she cares about. Rhiannon would not want A to be controlling her body, but there is no choice about that now. All A can do is to try to maintain as much of Rhiannon’s privacy as possible.
Still, A cannot avoid looking at Rhiannon’s room, which is cozy and full of books and pictures. She decides not to access any memories to find out the history...
(The entire section is 661 words.)
In the morning, the first thing A does is check her email. Rhiannon has already written to say she remembers yesterday and wants to meet up to talk about it.
Today A is Dylan Cooper, a boy whose bedroom “is an orchard of Apple products.” The gadgets are a good thing because they help A make plans to meet up with Rhiannon at her town’s bookstore that evening. During school, A goes through the motions, and afterward he does what he wants.
At the bookstore, Rhiannon recognizes A again. To his surprise, she does not seem upset. If anything, he has a sense that she is “at peace.” Now that he was in her body for a day, she understands him better, and her last doubts about him are...
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For the last couple of days, A has not thought about Nathan. But when A awakes in the body of Vanessa Martinez and checks her email, she sees that Nathan has been thinking a great deal about her. Nathan has sent A a string of short emails demanding further explanations. It is clear that he is worrying constantly, unable to sleep at night because of it. One email says, “You must be the devil. Only the devil would leave me like this.”
Although A’s feelings about Nathan are complicated, she feels she has a responsibility to help ease his fears at least a little. She writes a note to say that she will never occupy Nathan’s body again, but Nathan demands more information. After a moment’s...
(The entire section is 450 words.)
In the morning, A is a boy named George who lives fairly close to Rhiannon. Rhiannon has sent an email that says she is free at lunch—but A has a bit of a problem with that because George is homeschooled. Although A has been homeschooled before and had good experiences, he definitely dislikes the homeschooling he receives today.
By 8:00 a.m., George and his two brothers are all sitting in old-fashioned desks listening to their mother give an extremely boring history lecture. There is no talking or acting out among the boys, who are apparently required to sit perfectly still and pay attention all day long while their mother slowly recites dry lists of facts. She is obviously a very controlling...
(The entire section is 655 words.)
In the morning, in the body of a girl named Surita, A is pleased to learn that she has a good deal of freedom. Rhiannon cannot miss school again, so the two of them meet at her local bookstore in the afternoon. The afternoon is a nice one, although A notices that Rhiannon is less interested in touching A as a girl than she is in touching A as a boy.
Rhiannon suggests a plan for spending the weekend together. She will tell everyone she is with her grandmother or with friends, and this will free her up to spend time with A instead. This plan sounds good to A, who promptly agrees.
In the morning, A is a boy named Xavier Adams. Xavier is supposed to attend a...
(The entire section is 451 words.)
In the morning, A is so hung over that she cannot at first remember her own name. Above her, a voice shouts at her to wake up. The voice calls her Dana and says that she is grounded, but she is not going to be allowed to sleep all day. A’s whole body hurts, and it takes three tries even to open her eyes. When she does, she sees Dana’s mother, who looks both angry and unbearably sad.
As A struggles to make sense of anything at all, Dana’s mother announces that the doctor is coming. She adds that she cannot believe what Dana did last night. After everything that has happened to the family, it is impossible to understand.
Unfortunately, Dana seems to have blacked out from drunkenness...
(The entire section is 796 words.)
Around 5:00 a.m. the following morning, A awakes to more bad luck. He is in the body of a big, hairy guy named Michael whose family is flying to Hawaii today for his sister’s wedding. Although A knows little about how he comes to occupy each body he uses, he has long since known that his mind never travels more than a few hours’ driving distance. If he flies to Hawaii, he could only get back by occupying the body of a teenager whose body was about to board a plane to Maryland. The chances of that are very small, so A’s reaction is firm: “Under no circumstances can I go.”
Quickly, A pulls on a Metallica shirt and writes a note to Michael’s family saying that he has to do something. He...
(The entire section is 632 words.)
In the morning, A decides he likes Vic immediately. Vic was born a girl but lives life as a boy. [Editor’s Note: This summary will use he to refer to both Vic and A because it is the pronoun they both choose to use.]
Even though A likes the owner of today’s body, he is still willing to disrupt Vic’s life. Rather than go to school, where Vic has a couple of tests scheduled, A gets into Vic’s car and drives toward Rhiannon.
On the way, A access Vic’s memories to find out about his life. Because of A’s peculiar existence, he has some insight into how it might feel to be born into a body that feels wrong. He is impressed with Vic for understanding himself and...
(The entire section is 583 words.)
When A’s latest mother wakes him up in the morning, he sees a dark suit waiting. It takes A a moment to realize he is named Marc, and he is going to his grandfather’s funeral today. Marc’s mother asks A to be patient with his father, who is taking this death very hard. Before he leaves with Marc’s family, A steals a quick moment on the computer to let Rhiannon know what is going on.
At the funeral, A accesses Marc’s memories of his grandfather, a strong and good man whom everyone clearly loved. Around A, everyone else is probably thinking of the same memories—but of course, they actually knew the man who died.
When A looks around at Marc’s parents, his extended family, and...
(The entire section is 480 words.)
In the morning, A finds it difficult to move. He has been overweight in the past, but the body of Finn Taylor is morbidly obese. This is not because of a medical condition, but because Finn does not care about anything. At some point in his life, he gave up, and his obesity is one result.
Although A is tempted to play sick, he decides to shower and go to school. He does not want to skip seeing Rhiannon, not “when things feel so precarious,” so he offers to meet her at her bookstore that evening. When he does so, he is careful to warn her about his appearance.
At school, A finds it difficult to navigate the world from within Finn’s body. He is not used to moving so much bulk around,...
(The entire section is 476 words.)
In the morning, A is relieved to be a normal-sized, ordinary-looking girl named Lisa Marshall. This feeling of relief bothers her a little: it means she is casting judgments about appearances the way other people do. A never cared about this kind of thing before.
Rhiannon sends an email saying she wants to meet because, as she says, “We need to talk.” The tone of this message worries A, who spends the school day quiet and uncommunicative. Afterward, she goes to the park to meet Rhiannon, who again recognizes A without being told.
In the conversation that follows, Rhiannon tells A that she cannot keep up a relationship in this way. “I just can’t love every person you are...
(The entire section is 434 words.)
In the morning, A is a girl named Kasey who has a broken ankle. She checks for an email from Rhiannon, but there is none. This leaves A feeling depressed and alone, and so she contacts the one other person who sort of knows she exists: Nathan Daldry.
When she checks her old email, A finds many emails from Nathan, the last of which says he just wants to hear A explain what happened. So A emails back and offers to meet at a Mexican restaurant near his house.
Because of the broken ankle, A cannot drive. Kasey’s parents drop her off. They seem to assume this outing is a date, and A does not say otherwise. Nathan has not been allowed to drive since his experience with A, so his parents drop...
(The entire section is 488 words.)
The following morning, A is a girl again—Ainsley Mills, an anxious teen with lots of allergies and a deep love for little dogs. In other words, it is a normal day, except for the fact that A is planning to meet Nathan again. Checking her email, A sees that Nathan has requested a meeting at his house. After checking for contact from Rhiannon and finding none, A agrees.
It is a Sunday, and Ainsley’s parents do not object when she says she wants to go out. They just hand over the car keys and tell her to be back by five because she has to babysit her sister. This does not sound like a problem to A, who doubts she will need to stay with Nathan long. After all, she only promised to show up and...
(The entire section is 755 words.)
Today A is a boy named Darryl Drake. He spends the day distracted, and everyone comments on it—his friends, his track coach, and his girlfriend. On the drive home from school, A promises the girlfriend that he will do better tomorrow.
Darryl’s parents both work late, and his brother is away at college. This means A gets to spend the afternoon as he pleases. He surfs the Internet, reading a long story about himself on Reverend Poole’s website. There are several annoying mistakes, either because Nathan misunderstood A’s explanation or because Poole is deliberately trying to make A angry.
After that, A researches Reverend Poole. There is not much information except the website about...
(The entire section is 422 words.)
Today A is a girl named Zara who wakes up entwined in the arms of a girl named Amelia. By accessing Zara’s memories, A learns that Amelia sneaked in through a window the night before. Waking up, Amelia asks A to check her mother’s room to see if it is safe to sneak out through the house. Although A complies and sees Amelia out safely, A also catches a little smile on Zara’s mother’s face when Amelia arrives later in the morning to drive Zara to school. Privately, A wonders if Zara’s mother knows more than she admits.
At school, Zara and Amelia spend much of their time together. They obviously care deeply about each other, but A gets the sense that they also enjoy the time they spend...
(The entire section is 465 words.)
When A wakes up, he is a boy named Alexander Lin. Alexander’s room is full of books and guitars, and many surfaces are covered in Post-It notes with random quotes written on them. Some are in his handwriting, but others have obviously been written by friends and family. All this makes A smile. He likes Alexander very much.
Alexander’s parents are going away for the weekend, and they are leaving him a full refrigerator and an envelope full of money. Accessing Alexander’s memories, A realizes it is their anniversary, and he has a present for them. He goes to get it, and the wrapping turns out to be dozens of Post-It notes inscribed with things they have said to Alexander over the years....
(The entire section is 779 words.)