Sunday, February 2, 2014

My Heart Hurts

This is my advice to you if you can take advice from an old timer. After you have fallen in love, never remove your VIZU. Either that or never become habituated to wearing the damn thing in the first place. My fiancée went with the latter. She never put one on. 

By 2017 we were all addicted to wandering around in our augmented realities. I lived in Portland so I downloaded an app that made it always sunny but my favorite app is the one where everybody smiles at me.

Back to Ana. I caught her ugly face one day in the window of a café. She was bent over reading a real book. I noticed her because she was the only well-dressed unattractive person I’d seen in years.

I don’t know why, but I backtracked and went inside the café to say hello to her. I stood in front of her for about five seconds before she acknowledged me. “Oh hi. Peter, right?” she smiled because everyone smiled at me.

God, and her voice. I had once tried to recreate it in my augmentation but nothing is ever really reproduced perfectly from the original and here it was again, talking to me with all that spice.
“Yeah, I can’t believe you remember my name,” I said.

“Oh you are not such an easy man to forget with those bigger-than-life attributes of yours,” she said, so neatly, as though it had been just last night rather than six years ago that she had taken me home after a drunken night of karaoke.

“Neither are you.”
I recalled how good it had felt as I had rammed her repeatedly from the back.
“I’m just going to go grab myself a cup of coffee.” I excused myself and quietly voice activated an augmentation program on her.
“Subject: Female subject sitting across from me 1 minute ago.
Name: TBD
Program: Alter visual.
Details: Enlarge breasts, lengthen legs, smooth skin, lengthen hair to mid back, decrease age by 10 years, alter glasses to vintage cat eyes, decrease forehead size, nose number 3, remove hair from arms, legs, upper lip and between legs.” 

The program gave me a preview that I approved. 

“Generate.” I returned to the table to find an extremely attractive woman who spoke with the voice of an utterly charming angel. 


I whispered, “Save. Exit.”

Ana took her real hardcover book and shoved it into her backpack. “Well it’s been nice running into you, Peter.” she said. “I gotta run. Judo class.”
“Why don’t you beam me your info into me before you take off?” I suggested. She smiled because everyone smiles at me but her eyes were definitely smirking.
“I don’t have a way to ‘beam’ into you but here, you can have this.” she replied tossed me a plain white business card that in nearly illegible handwriting said:
I am Ana Kieh
My phone number is 503-222-5555.
Call me anytime. I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.

I waited three long days before calling and rapidly became addicted to talking with her. Each morning around 10 AM, as I began brewing my coffee, I’d give her a ring and we’d chat through the morning. It became my favorite time of the day. We began spending our weekends together cooking, reading, gardening and having this amazing sex. Weekends turned into weeks until eventually she moved into my condo on the westside.

We would sit across from one another at breakfast; I reading my personalized newsfeed and her, a real newspaper, discussing current events and her voice flowed like warm oil into my ears. We were perfect together in this world I had created for us.

On Valentine’s Day of our fifth year together I finally popped the question. Over breakfast, I asked her, “Do you think you’d like to get married someday?”
“Depends on to whom,” she replied.
“Ha ha. I’m serious, Ana. I’m asking you to marry me,” I answered earnestly.
She paused for a bit, turning the pages of her New York Times too quickly for her to actually be reading it. She sighed. “I need you to answer me this question truthfully, Peter. I won’t be hurt but I need to know.”
“What, honey?” I asked.
“Well, I know you wear your VIZU like everyone else in America. What I am wondering is have you augmented me?” she asked faintly.
It was the way she asked it that told me my answer would determine hers. “Ana, my little clop clop monkey pancake, you are perfect and I love you just the way you are. I feel no need to augment you,” I lied.
Ana slid onto my lap and hugged me tightly. She placed a hand on either side of my face and peered directly into my eyes. She smiled, but she always smiled. It was the way her eyes lit up that let me know how very much she loved me. “Even as the world around us is collapsing you are the one person who helps me to believe that everything is going to be ok. I love you, Peter Denton and yes, I will marry you,” she replied.
I hugged her back. At that particular moment I felt the same way.

The VIZU used to require one to remove it once a year for maintenance, upgrades and cleaning. Because it sits over your eyeballs you don’t want to skip one but the change is so jarring, moving from hyperreality to de facto world, that it is kind of a big deal. I only removed it at night and only when I was alone.

Ana was off at one of her conferences, something about boundaries in the age of global urbanization, so when my Sleep Cycle Alarm woke me, I was surprised to find her sleeping next to me. I hurried into the bathroom to reinsert my VIZU before she was awake but I could not find the container. I was in a panic, ransacking the bathroom when the light switched on.

“Looking for your VIZU?” she asked, the light framing a face I had difficulty comprehending. She knew within the time it takes to blink once or twice that I had lied to her.
“I needed to know Peter. I guess now I know,” my baby said in the saddest voice.
“What are you doing home?” I asked without looking directly at her.
“I heard of a protest in Portland that is set up to happen this morning so I flew home early,” she answered.
“Oh you surprised me,” I said
“Yes, I can tell.”
“Do you have my VIZU?” I asked. She walked back into the bedroom, opened her orange suitcase and held out the silver VIZU container to me.
I glanced into her face and tried to hold her gaze but I looked down too quickly. Everything was off kilter. She was not smiling. She looked so mournful. The sun began to rise and it was grey and rainy outside.
“I am just going to go reinsert my VIZU, ok?” I asked.
“My appearance is what makes me who I am and I like me,” she said wistfully. My honey’s voice emerged from the lips of an alien woman.
“I know,” I replied. I made a quick exit to the bathroom.
“My heart hurts,” she said without emotion. I could hear her pulling clothing off hangers, drawers opening and closing. 

“I love you even now in my disappointment because this is also a part of you.” I heard the locks click shut on her suitcase.
“But, I cannot marry you.” she said from the bedroom.
I tried not to look at my reflection in the mirror. I focused keenly on the black of my pupils as I reinserted my VIZU. When I returned she was gone. I knew that she would be and I did nothing to stop her.
I assumed that there would be another bus along in a short while. The thing is, lots of buses came by and stopped but they all looked and sounded pretty much the same. Everywhere I walked I began to notice the homogeneity of everyone. The only folks who might have stood out were the homeless but I had downloaded an augmentation program that made them invisible.

I deleted the Ana Kieh program long ago. From time to time I wonder what it would feel like to remove my VIZU but I know I never will.

When I am outside in the sunlight my eyes habitually scan the smiling crowds seeking out that one thing that isn’t like all the others. I don’t know if I would talk to her if I did find her. I just crave to catch a glance of her goofy glasses, short little legs and every single one of her damn acne scars.


No comments:

Post a Comment