Reads: 142

The sandalwood staircase spiraled up, to the bedrooms and bathrooms and family room, and it also spiraled down, to the basement gym and game room. It was down that Aerope now went, to said gym. She pulled off her heels and dropped them carelessly. As she moved towards the clothing chute, she stripped off her black cotton dress. It made her sad, a little. The dress was a special gift, a birthday present, from Dexios, and once you dropped a clothing item down the laundry chute, you never got it back. You could get another one exactly like it from the clothing chute, but it wasn’t the same one. When Dexios had given it to her, the card said, “I bought this special at a store--a real store--I thought it looked like something you wear.” A real store--she couldn’t get another. Of course, she could save it, but she’d have no way to get it clean.

Damn it all, she thought as she tapped “workout>>pants>>yoga” and “workout>>shirt>>wifebeater tank>>built-in support” and then “enter.” A notification popped up: “Would you like yoga socks?” No. A faint whirring and the items dropped into the pickup tray. “Thank you for your purchase. Shall we send you a digital receipt?” No, thank-you. She took the clothes and wriggled into them.

The trouble with the gym was that, when the inset whole-wall touchscreens were off, they weren’t black like other touchscreens. They went silver. They became mirrors. They constituted the reason for Aerope secretly--dangerously, sacrilegiously--calling that room, “The Temple of Shame.” It was so now. Even though she tried not to look, there was nothing else to see, and she could not escape it. Once the clothes were properly on, she gave up and stared at herself. Her stomach bulged unattractively, she thought. The pants hugged too closely her derriere, showing its shapelessness. Her breasts sat squashed inside the tank top; she could almost pass for a man, it seemed. Aerope’s shoulders drooped a bit. No, that revealed every knob and dip in her back. She straightened up. Her legs were uncommonly skinny, lacking the sumptuous curves of the pop bombshells. Her arms, when limp, resembled sticks; when flexed, they bespoke of too many lifted weights and body pushes and bar raises. Her hair hung loosely over her bony shoulders. Her ribs poked through. Her hips jutted. Her feet pawed animalistically at the smooth wood floor. Aerope closed her eyes. Maybe she should schedule another appointment at the Mod Shoppe...

“Renne,” she called. The wallscreens awoke and stared back at her. “Schedule an appointment at the Mod Shoppe for tomorrow.” The machines searched, then said, “No available slots tomorrow at the Mod Shoppe. How about in three months?”

“No,” she said flatly. “Expand search to the whole city, and find a Mod Shoppe that has an opening tomorrow.”

Several minutes later, the reply came: “Mod Shoppe found in Sinis.” She tensed. A map popped up and showed her where. “Schedule appointment?”

She swallowed and, quickly, before she could have time to think, said, “Yes.”

“No take-backsies.”


An awkward pause, then, “Appointment scheduled. Best of luck to you, Aerope.”

It was an automated message, one that came up every time a citizen scheduled anything at a Mod Shoppe and always addressed the scheduler by name, but Aerope still couldn’t get rid of the feeling in her gut.

Sinis? Since when did they have Mod Shoppes in the first place?

Submitted: January 29, 2013

© Copyright 2022 Iskah E Shirah. All rights reserved.


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