I found a bottle one day, and it was holding someone's dreams. No one knows that sometimes, if you drink too many spirits, the spirits will drink you right back, and they like to take away the things we've almost forgotten, like the secrets your lover (who has never existed and never will) whispered in your ear three weeks ago.

So I tilted it back and took a swig, and this old man, the one who died of exposure last week, had a little girl, and a wife, and he loved them very much before he lost it all. Schizophrenia they said, but all he heard was the voice of God. In about six months, the medications stopped working, and he lost his wife (very pretty, green eyes, blonde hair) and his daughter, who had his own brown eyes.

I took lilies to his grave last week, and there was this sad blonde-haired girl in a pretty dress with the wife, and the only thing I could think to say to her was that if she ever heard spirits whispering her name or anything else, take good care of herself.

I was a friend of your father's, I lied. He took care of people at the shelters. A good man. He gave me this for you.

It was just a seaglass pendant my aunt gave me, but she clutched onto it, and her mother thanked me, and they both cried a bit and smiled. Maybe it's a lie, maybe it isn't... didn't drink that deeply of the empty whiskey bottle... but somewhere, there's a girl who's dreaming. And after all, her father loved her, even crazy and dying and cold in the winter.

Anyway, I kept the bottle on my bookshelf, and whenever people ask, I tell them that sometimes, the dreams we don't remember are more valuable than we think, and that sometimes, a lie is worth it if it makes someone smile.

And that's all, I guess, and I haven't had any more of the old man's dreams to drink. I hope he likes De Camp and Heinlein, anyhow, to keep him company up there on my shelf.

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