I drag the glasses on my face to enter
the learning room. With each jolt of light
I’m awake again. “How to recognize
a scam” but this lecture must be about
itself. From seven to four I worked
for the bots and their wranglers—they’ll
expect me back at six tonight—and by
seven this morning I’ll have the boys,
off from school, actual building they
must go to except half the year and
meanwhile all the rich with their
“Worlds of Wonder” kids enrolled
in-world year round. The boys’ll have to share
my glasses, they’ll hate the lessons
I selected, and after their mom
strolls back to pick them up and ignore
me, I’ll be dragging more than obsolete
glasses on my face. There’re no notes I
need to take; I’d recognize the scam
anywhere: hidden in plain sight among
the retraining programs, the stimulus proposals,
the “Worlds for Everyone” campaign, and the
being left far behind. Gotta have a ticket
to ride and they’re not printing tickets.
I remember the bulky headsets and how
the commercials were about games.
I remember them dropping in weight
and build and price. I remember buying
my first pair. These pair. Five years ago.
They’re practically free now, if I could
afford free. The boys rush in at
six—their mom’s gotta be to her classes
early today—and all that energy’s
gonna be frustrated and angry
by the time she circles back. All of us
learning. Learning where we were supposed
to be at the beginning and no one
told us. No one told us they thought we
were dragging them down. No one told us
they wouldn’t ever tell us to our face.

#NaPoWriMo 2016 Day 11

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a fiction writer and poet, with his first published poem forthcoming later in 2017 from Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (richardleis.com), on Goodreads (richardleis), his Micro.blog (@richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).