Sunday, March 8, 2015

Another Wendig flash fiction challenge: Ten Sentences

I don't have a title for this one (not a terrible surprise, to me anyway), but I've (for once, after awhile) done Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge. This week, it's pick from Ten Random Sentences. Extra points if you include more than one, which I did; I used "The memory we used to share is no longer coherent" and "a glittering gem is not enough". Also, I wrote it as a....companion? Answer? to "Scarlett Promise", a previous Wendig challenge.
I ran spellcheck and shifted some stuff around after writing it, but otherwise it isn't edited. I wonder if the two together will eventually turn into a larger piece. As always, we'll see, right? I also came in under the 1000 word limit, at 989 or so.

The memory we used to share is no longer coherent. It's hard to tell if it's me, or you. Self awareness, the supposed pinnacle of humanity (until we recognized it in elephants, chimps, dolphins....) only goes so far. I can feel you, though, a blip on the edge of my radar, an itch I can never scratch. When we were together, it was less apparent; now that we've been apart for so long, it's the ever present elephant in the room.

Memory degrades. Human memory, electronic. Memory gets destroyed, in the same ways. Files stop being accessible. CDs stop playing, remember CDs? Or they stop making the machines. I'm sure a Victrola will always play, though nobody makes new discs any longer. We bulldoze our history, we jackhammer the road back. There is no road back.

Example: we said we'd always to be together. Reality: we stopped being able to stand the sight of each other, the sound, the feel. The irony: the world is technically big enough for both of us, but even if it wasn't, neither of us would be willing to leave. It would be simple, take the space elevator up, and punch your ticket to Mars, or the moon, or Europa. Whatever. But you didn't. And I didn't. I won't. I know you won't.

Or maybe I mean consistent, not coherent. Do you remember all the movies we watched? Whether the popcorn was buttered? If the theatre had red velvet, or if it was a new one with stadium seating and 3D screens? You hated Melanie, I thought she was the perfect foil. The book, though, each character clicked together to make a whole larger than the sum of its parts. The movie tried, but was threadbare rather than whole cloth. It was all too fast, done in those dim days when movies were run like stage productions, everybody's lines projected, the sets their own characters. It's a beautiful piece of history, and I hope it's never remade. I keep a copy of it, replay it once in awhile. Here, I kissed you. There, you took my hand.

Was it always raining? It would be easy enough to look up, to check dates, rainfall, quantify the world's third person perspective of the moments we spent together. I could read the newspaper articles, the science journals, watch the comic book movies. The movies, though, don't include the rain. My memories do. Nobody recognizes me on the street anymore. Perhaps for the better.

Maybe that isn't what irony means. You would know. I can't remember. It's been so long. I just wanted to see you one last time.

We're two of a kind, and even that will halve by the time we're through. Or reduce to zero. If that happens, the money goes...wherever it is abandoned accounts go. I could've set up a foundation or something, bio research to make better immortals than we were ever meant to be, space exploration to open up new worlds for future humanity. I could've gotten on a ship myself and gone, gone until I left Earth gravity and the sun's warmth, but would I still feel yours? And once I didn't come in for the yearly tuneup, the clinic would've washed its hands of me, no more upgrades, no more stipend. So I stayed. But what a mistake. We didn't know what we were getting into, when we signed up. I don't regret immortality, not that. I regret how we blew apart. We're the only ones who can possibly understand each other, and still we didn't.

I've thought about how it would be, when we saw each other again. How you must have changed, how I must have changed. We'd still look young, of course; our skin doesn't wrinkle, doesn't scar, doesn't sag. But my eyes are different now, fully cybernetic. You might be disappointed in that, you always talked about my eyes. We might see each other and decide to stay together again. The contract would be easily voided. We might see each other and decide to end it together. We can take the space elevator up, and take an airlock out, and that would be that. Just some more junk in orbit, with no remaining ethical or monetary concerns.

And we'll meet here, far away from humanity. There's no Internet here, not really. Funny, the moon has it, but this patch of desert does not. Maybe the iron under our feet disturbs it. A passing satellite will catch a reflection off of one of us, record this for posterity. I've saved a lot of money, in our time, in one of those numbered accounts where nobody asks questions. Winner keeps the money. Winner gets a new body, new life, keeps their memories. The key to the next door on the path to new humanity, whatever they think that means anymore. They were wrong once, at our little clinic. They'll be wrong this time too, at the new clinic. But like you, I'm tired. The machine noises keep me awake, the whirring makes me worry. It's not like taking your pulse and knowing the answer. It's not like I can top off my oil, pick up my heart from a sidewalk. Only the clinic knows the answer, and they're losing those too.

Memory loss. Data decay. We never got married; a glittering gem is not enough. What does it mean to be human, to be immortal, to be in love? Who decides? Where does one cast their vote?

In the book, Rhett and Scarlett don't stay together. But she's determined to try again. In the sequel, written by somebody else (how does that happen?) they did, after a time. They're pulled apart, pushed together, tidal forces of love and despair.

I have new eyes, but I can still cry. You, when I see you, are still you, and my tears fall like the rain I remember. Do you remember?

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