Forget About It

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Written specifically for a 15k word short story contest, "Forget About It" is an account of the pivotal interaction between a couple, decades in the future, on the brink of a breakup and all the things, natural and technological, that have played a part.

Submitted: March 03, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 03, 2017



“Hello, Muse.”  Kalen spoke aloud to the empty room.  “Good morning, Kalen” his Amazon Muse responded.  Once a skeptic of the popular device, he now relied on it as a welcome companion in moments where silence would otherwise torment his mornings.  In fact, the Muse, Amazon’s interactive media device, had become a necessity in almost every home across the globe.  This was life after the “2020 surge”.  So many advances sprang forth from that decade that the term 20/20 (a purposeful mash-up of the year with the optometric measure) had become the standard for all subsequent tech.  Essentially, if your device wasn’t 20/20-compliant, it was worthless.

Kalen was in college in the actual year 2020.  A time of profound change.  The election and presence of the new President—his reputation more that of social media maven than politician--ushered in a flood of tech development.  Every popular entertainment technology had seemingly merged into one massive, interactive social media Babylon.  There had even been a tech takeover in the world of personal enhancement--or what the older generation called cosmetics.  Now people actually walked around with laser-follicle-burned haircuts and tattoo-imprinted makeup using color-magic ink that shifted with their mood or the lighting. Kalen had held a healthy resistance to the trends of the era; laughing at the idea of Bluetooth ear implants or mood-altering booster shots.  I mean, where are we headed if people don’t even blush naturally anymore, he used to say.

But then he met Sephia.  

She was ten years his junior.  He fell so hard for her that he had found himself having a change of heart about his lifestyle rigidness.  He had even gotten a laser screen-printed tattoo the night he showed how unrestrained he could be by picking her and a few of her co-workers up after their shift one Friday and driving them all straight to the Turquoise bar for a wild night of drinking, dancing, heck, even popping Annie (a drug so named because you literally remember nothing until the sun comes up--tomorrow).  The night had climaxed in a back alley puke parade behind Cerberus Tattz, after everybody but him chickened out on a tattoo.  He had chosen a picture of Cerberus, the mythological three-headed beast that guards the gates of the underworld.  He hadn’t liked any of the stencils displayed on the sweaty walls of the tiny parlor, but that one came with a 50% discount for also being the parlor’s logo. Free promo was as good as gold these days.  He wished he could forget that night, but he couldn’t.  

Not anymore.  

He couldn’t forget much these days.  His efforts to impress Sephia--what his parents referred to as an early mid-life crisis--had also led him to getting a memory augmentation chip.  A Moneta mPRESS (Permanent Recall Enhancement and Storage System). Top of the line.  

As the Muse finished its briefing, Kalen sat in deep thought.  His finger waved the air like the conductor of invisible orchestra, distractedly scrolling through his social feed while his mind replayed the recorded details of his most recent spat with Sephia.  

Having the mPRESS had its drawbacks. Nothing fades. Arguments continue to live alongside harmonious memories.  Stinging words and actions continue to bite long after time would normally have salved the wounds. Pain hangs around like an unwanted houseguest, crashing on your couch every day, making breakfast in your kitchen every morning. He remembered that Sephia charged him with living in a “fantasy world” during one fight.  She was so worked up, he had called medics to treat her for “hitting the wall with her flailing arms”.  Despite them both wearing an mPRESS, she accused him of things he could never imagine doing to her. “I don’t think these things are working for us,” she had said once…maybe more than once.  He decided it was once.

Moneta. The Roman Goddess of Memory. The name was also used as branding for the former “Smyth-Emerson-Xavier” group, because S.E.X. is too tricky an ad-word for a product with “enhancement” in its description.  Around the year 2025, scientists at Moneta struck gold doing Alzheimer’s experimentation.  While researching how the amount of dopamine supplied to the cerebellum controls procedural memory, they discovered that the reduced supply of dopamine that comes with natural aging is the main factor of our inability to remember things as we get older. It stood to reason that if one could manipulate the balance of dopamine accurately, one could “enhance” the ability to retain details.

They both wanted an mPRESS, so Kalen and Sephia had gone to Moneta. The facilities were far more impressive than they imagined. Doorways gleamed in the sun. The moving walkways felt especially reassuring under their feet. In place of the usual rubber handrail there was a translucent gel tubing along both sides with small phrases in them that could be read just under your hand.  They were brief yet encouraging quotes, the phrases were there to prime your memory with positive thoughts before your surgical implant.  They had gone together for each of their surgeries, the phrases stood out both times. Kalen’s surgical wound had been a little more bothersome than Sephia’s. He had rubbed the barely visible scar behind his ear. “Time heals all wounds” she had said. He nodded. Neither of them gave thought to the 3% failure rate listed in the fine print of the brochures. He did, however, retain the last handrail phrase he saw before receiving his implant:

“Everything you can imagine is real. - Pablo Picasso”.  

Kalen was a go-getter. An alpha with the tendency to ignore details in order to achieve his “visions”, he called them. Those visions, however. had paid off in spades. Financial success had come swiftly since he left his real estate firm to start his own practice--a courageous, yet ingenious, career move. Noting that modern advances in lifestyle had not been well received by folks from older generations, he had kick started a new career as a “nostalgist”.  Essentially still a real estate agent, he specialized in homes designed to aesthetically place the resident into the time period of their choosing. His parents had even been happy customers, choosing a mid-20th century split level reminiscent of the Brady bunch set. He had barely heard from them since they flew off to live in their new dream home.

He missed them, but he knew they were happy where they were. So he had gone into overdrive to do the same with his own life with Sephia. If only he could get on board.  She had been right to say he was living in a dream world, but she simply couldn’t understand that he was developing a “vision” right here for the two of them. Nostalgist or not, he had found no way to preserve the two of them the way they were that night at Turquoise.  She was changing.  Even going so far as remove her mPRESS device, no doubt to begin losing her memories of them.  

His Muse feed showed “new message”.  The subject line was bold: “Please read - urgent - class action suit - Moneta.”  He skimmed the email, picking up the gist and ignoring the rest. Defective devices?  Hell, his device worked fine, he thought.  A quick check and it took him less than a second to recall every detail of the layout he planned for their new vacation home.  A replica of his parent’s home from his childhood.  No problems here.

He adjusted his seating posture.  The chair responded to his movement by lifting his feet and sliding his back support to a 45-degree angle.  A speaker near his shoulder chirped “position preference three”.  He exhaled and began to nap.

Sephia stood behind him, painfully silent, and wondered what happened to the man she met.  Of course there was the distance caused by Kalen’s career ambition, but after the Moneta implants things had definitely gone south. He wouldn’t even talk about the death of his parents in the plane trip to Indiana.  Whatever was causing it, she could no longer stay.  His denial had reached a point where she assumed he actually believed their fights didn’t happen.  They had gotten pretty rough, one even damaged her Moneta chip, causing her to have it removed. She remembered how the police had believed his version of each altercation. She spent months building up the courage for this moment. Her eye, more purple than black, winced in pain.  A tear fell from its corner. She looked at the words on her phone, slowly re-reading them and pressed send.

She secured her travel bag over her shoulder, turned, and walked out of the house.  As she started the car, Kalen’s Muse displayed another new message.  

“I’m leaving” was the subject.  

“Sephy Kisses” was the sender.  An attachment was listed as “jensen_separation_decree.pdf”

She looked forward to forgetting him.



© Copyright 2018 Jay Floyd. All rights reserved.

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