‘’Tell me again what it was like in the old days, Grandma.’’ The little boy pulled at his Oxy-mask®. The straps were irritating his pale skin.
The lady sighed. She could not be more than forty years old. Her skin was taut and slightly translucent, like a fish’s. She nodded at him from the other side of the Plasti-wall™. ‘’Well, when I was young, we used to play outside with other children.’’
‘’In direct sunlight?’’ The boy was appalled.
‘’Yes, in the sun, or in the rain, whatever the weather. We would run with the dogs. Sometimes we even got our feet wet, and our clothes dirty.’’
The boy coughed. He started, his eyes round with fear. But thankfully, the internal disinfectant Wipeway™ cleaned the inside of his mask before he could breathe in again. He sighed with relief. ‘’And what else would they do?’’
‘’Well, people would go out and work together, and afterwards they would do fun things. They would laugh, and sing, and hug each other when they felt really happy or really sad.’’
‘’What’s happy and sad, Grandma?’’
‘’Those are feelings, dear. Like the ones you get when you take your pills.’’
‘’Oh. I don’t understand how you can get nice feelings from touching someone else, Grandma. It seems icky. And it’s bad. You get germs.’’
‘’I know you feel that way, dear.’’
‘’And why did you play with others? I don’t really like others. They are bothersome and they cry when you pinch them. The other day I got scolded for hitting Marie on the head. But she said something bad to me! I don’t understand why everybody got mad when they had to signal the Ambulance-bot®.’’
‘’Well, that’s because you never learned empathy for others, dear. All you have are Robo-Jasper® and Kitty-bot®. And Friend-bot® to play with.’’
‘’But they are my friends!’’
‘’Yes dear, but they have no feelings. They feel no pain. Remember how you threw Kitty-bot® against wall the other day and her head fell off?’’
‘’She broke and Mecano-bot® fixed her for me. She’s okay now isn’t she?’’
The woman sighed.
‘’All this sounds like a long time ago, Grandma. The Good Days.’’
The woman adjusted her Medi-Strap™. It was time for her Adreno-LifePreserv™ cocktail again. Without it, her Life-Expectancy Scale would drop 5 points and she would have to go to her Iso-chamber® immediately. ‘’Ten years, dear. Ten years…’’
© Wendy Gillissen, M.A. 2020