Dialogue Before Exile

[StoryADay May Prompt: “Write A Story in Dialogue“]

“…the backyard, the utilities, let’s see, the service, your parents…”
“It’s all in the list.”
“Just making sure.”
“…”
“What?”
“Can’t we talk about something else?”
“Yeah, of course. What exactly?”
“I don’t know.”
“Gotta have an idea.”
“You don’t usually like my ideas.”
“Love ‘em. Love your ideas. Like how it was your idea to make a list…”
“List is made. Don’t need to keep going over it. I’ve got to take care of everything anyway. Leave it with me.”
“Sorry.”
“Really? Must be kind of a relief, right? Walk out the door…”
“We weren’t going to talk about that.”
“…head toward your future, and that’s it, right?”
“Dammit, Lance.”
“I didn’t promise anything. I didn’t promise to make this easy.”
“Don’t promise. Just make it easy. I know it’s hard. I know it sucks. So I’m trying to stay involved.”
“That’s the truth of it: we’re not involved anymore.”
“We are. This is our last morning.”
“Didn’t have to be.”
“So that’s how you want to spend the next couple hours? You know they’re picking me up at 10 a.m., right? You know that we’ve been lying here talking all weekend and this is it?”
“Haven’t thought about anything else.”
“Then let’s not end it like this. Hey, do you remember how we met.”
“Of course I remember how we met.”
“And what we said?”
“Sure. ‘Just casual.’ That’s what you said. You keep acting like we agree to everything and usually it’s just going along with whatever you decide to do.”
“i’ve been working for this my entire life!”
“And we’ve been working together for, what, ten years? Somehow we’ve been able to stand each other that long.”
“It hasn’t been hard.”
“Then why are you leaving, Mitch?”
“Well, because I don’t have a choice. You know that. And because you won’t come with me.”
“…”
“You aren’t coming, are you? Did you change your mind? Is your bag packed? I can still get you…”
“No. I’m staying. You made your decision.”
“Come here. Come here! This is the one thing we haven’t agreed on…”
“Lot’s of things.”
“The only major one. I’m heading up, you’re staying behind. We’ve both got our reasons.”
“I thought we were in love.”
“Lance, we love each other. It’s apparently not enough.”
“No, it isn’t. You don’t love me enough.”
“And you me. Stop trying to make it my fault.”
“It is. It’s an easy decision: stay on Earth. Stay with me.”
“Not an easy decision. And they won’t let me stay. You won’t let me stay. Not like I am. Nothing is easy about this. Someone’s got to go and you all decided it was me…”
“and plenty of other people. Why are you going? Really?”
“We’ve been over this. Over and over it. A year, no, probably two years of talking about it. I’ve given you my reasons why I’m not getting rid of anything. You’ve given me your reason why you won’t go through the treatments.”
“They’re illegal now. And relocation isn’t the answer.”
“It’s the answer you and people like you gave us. Get out.”
“You could…”
“No, I don’t want you to say it. Don’t betray me like that. I’ve been dreaming about this my entire life. I’ve undergone the modifications. People here are turning against us. You’re turning against me.”
“Not true. What you’re doing to yourself. It’s wrong.”
“So be it. I’m wrong. I’m not having it undone. I thought eventually you would decide to start the treatments, too.”
“No.”
“Yeah, I know. You’ve said. You’ve stood by while I’ve had my genes modified…”
“Your body.”
“My body, etcetera. It was the only way to go into space. And now we get out chance. Get to stay there permanently because the rest of you don’t want us around.”
“But you’ve left me behind. All ten years, you were leaving me behind.”
“I don’t see it that way at all, Lance! I love you. We haven’t wasted these years. You’re trying to waste these last couple hours, but I think what we had has been great.”
“Great? You’re still leaving. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
“Would you stop pulling away? If you want to argue, fine, but I’m going to keep touching you as long as possible. I’m going to miss you. Miss this. I thought this was going to turn out differently. Actually, I had no idea. I had no idea that we were going to have a thriving colony on Mars so quickly. I had no idea these modifications were going to become available so soon. Or that they would cause this much of a rift. Ten years was supposed to be just the beginning, but instead we rushed through the decade changing and migrating and everyone turning on everyone. And you’ve made it clear what side you are on.”
“Cures for disease. Helping the unfortunate. You and half the world went way beyond that. Don’t you understand that you are giving up being human? That’s why you are leaving. You’re better than me now. You’re better than human. Guess what, Mitch, you’re a monster.”
“Do you really believe that? Does that feel like a clawed hand? Yum, you think I’m going to eat you with these teeth?”
“Don’t get any ideas.”
“You’re not the only one with ideas. I like this idea.”
“Fine…”

“How human was that?”
“Pretty damn human. Why are you leaving me behind?”
“Don’t wanna.”
“Then don’t.”
“Let me tell you a story.”
“Great.”
“Okay, so my dad…”
“Heard it.”
“Hear it again. My dad insisted that parents’ children should be loyal to their siblings, loyal to their parents. No matter what.”
“He beat you, you all got even by disowning him, he died, no regrets. Cliff notes for ya.”
“He was wrong. Loyalty is earned.”
“I’m loyal.”
“For us it’s not about loyalty. It’s about the sweep of history.”
“Oh, right.”
“It is! The sweep of history, of change. You and I met each other and everything worked but now here we are caught up in history. My dad didn’t earn my loyalty. That’s the cold truth, the truth of it he hated until the very end. That was the consequences of him being a jackass. A monster. A human monster. I’m proud not to be anything like him. I’m happy that we said our piece and went our separate ways. I don’t regret anything. Now you and me? the cold truth is history. All this change. And the fact that we don’t agree on how to deal with it. I’ve accepted you and your views. I hoped you would change, but that never happened.”
“I’m not going to stop being human for anyone.”
“I’m still human, Lance, but that’s not the point. You’ve reached your comfort level with tech and change. I’m just getting started. As much as I love you, as much as it kills me that after today I won’t see you again, except video, if you still want to talk to me after I leave, as much as all that, I’m not going to stop being human for you, either. We have different definitions of what it means to be human. We’re not getting over that. You want me to stay and no matter how much my stomach is clenching and my heart is pounding, I’m not going to. I’m not allowed to stay, and really, I don’t want to. Out there? We’ve got a real chance. Opportunity. And you’re not coming with me. I can’t believe it! I can’t believe you’re this stubborn. But let’s blame history instead, because you’ve already hurt me enough.”
“Wow. I mean…”
“It’s true! You keep acting like this is one-sided. That the default it staying behind, staying ‘human’, holding on to these ten years and not adapting to the world.”
“I don’t have to adapt to anything! Nothing is forcing you to change.”
“Nothing is forcing me to stay the same! I mean, everyone who hates us wants to force us to stay the same, but it’s too late and I doubt we could if we wanted to. We’re not transitioning back.”
“I know it. Not even for me.”
“10 years. 40 years. Let’s say you and I live until 120 with a minimum of tech, just because medicine is that good. It’s not long enough! And I’m not giving up my life.”
“So you choose exile.”
“I don’t call it exile. People like you do.”
“Well, you get to spend this last, what, hour? Spend it generalizing.”
“You’re being one-sided again. Our decisions are forcing us to generalize. We’re placing this wall between us, you and me. Yeah, I know I’m responsible, too, but you’ve always known this is me.”
“I thought it was all talk.”
“It was at first, and then all that change, so quickly, and now we live in a real world straight out of science fiction. I embraced the opportunities, and now I have to go to Mars.”
“You could reverse the changes.”
“Not going to happen, Lance. It was my right. You want to take that away from me.”
“It’s not a right. It’s a weird fetish. Mitch, you got caught up in a cult.”
“Didn’t. I’ve got the genes to prove it. I’m going to live a long time. I’m going to thrive on Mars. All I’ve got to worry about are explosions, getting run over, other catastrophic injuries, and at the pace of progress in medicine, all of it heading to Mars by the way, we might not even have to worry about those things either. You don’t want any of that. You want to get old with me and die. I love you, Lance, but no. I don’t want to die. Ten years, twenty, however many I had with you, it wouldn’t be enough. I want more.”
“I could kill you.”
“…”
“You’ve got some mean tech in you, but I could think of something. Maybe I’ve been thinking of something all this time. I become convinced that you are going to leave me, and I’ll kill you. Make you stay. Bury you in the backyard.”
“That’s really morbid.”
“I’ll be crazy, of course, and that’s another way of keeping you here. Maybe I’ll think your ghost is haunting me. Maybe I’ll just see you. My mental projection of you, while my nails get long and my beard and hair grows to my knees, and in some institution somewhere I’ll live out my days with you, all of it in my head, but maybe that is a lot better than knowing you are alive and well and clear across the solar system because you had to go and become something new.”
“I was exiled for it. I’ve got the tracker in my head to prove it. And if you kill me, I’m sure the resettlement agents will know.”
“Well, jail or a mental institution. Death row. Doesn’t matter. I’ll keep something of you.”
“And rob me of everything. Absolutely everything. My life, whether it is a long, potentially eternal one, or just a few years more. You want that on your hands?”
“Well, you’re hardly human anymore.”
“Lance, I’m human. You can’t see anything different about me.”
“I can tell you have somehow become younger than me.”
“Maybe that…”
“Stronger, healthier. I can see the changes, Mitch. You’re 45, remember, and you look like you are just graduating from high school.”
“I’m rejuvenated, sure, but I don’t have horns. I don’t have wings.”
“Not yet.”
“Don’t just the d-word.”
“You brought up the horns and wings. Yeah, i think I will. Doesn’t matter what you look like, you’re a demon. A technological demon.”
“And when did you get religious?”
“Not religion. Science fiction made real, remember? Demons in the flesh, making all these changes…”
“Making choices.”
“Choosing to be alien, other, demons, telling the rest of us to mind our own business, and look how it’s changing us as well. Look how it’s ruining relationships. Look how it’s sending you to Mars and leaving me here on Earth and all I ever wanted was to be with you forever, even if that ended with our deaths, because at least in oblivion there wouldn’t be any memory of us being dead, just that forever echo of us being who we are right now. But you’re not who you were.”
“No. And it’s not technology’s fault. Guess what, Lance, people change.”
“Change, a different kind of change, a different pace. I don’t know. You’re right. We’re obviously not going to change each other’s minds. Time to kill you.”

“I could get used to dying like that.”
“Yeah. But that’s it, right? Time to get up. Shower. Rush out the door. Everything must go.”
“Don’t wanna.”
“You do.”
“I do. I’m going to miss you, Lance. Oh, my god, I’m going to miss you.”
“Maybe…”
“Yeah, I’m just a world away, right? Maybe you’ll come to your senses.”
“Maybe. But probably not. And even if I do, what will I find there? It’s already too late, Mitch. Yep, that’s right, it’s too late. I should have changed my mind a long time ago.”
“You shoulda.”
“We’d be leaving the house together, that stupid list done by now. Hey, let’s imagine that for a moment. I made the sacrifice. Decided to become like you weirdos. We left the house a week ago, got a hotel near the facility, revelled in our new youth and enhanced genetics, all those micro and nano robots in our bodies, fucking like animals just to say goodbye to Earth and being human. You think it would feel better than what we just did?”
“What we just did, and have been doing repeatedly for that same amount of time, has been better than ever, and not because I’m young again. Just being with you, Lance.”
“Don’t get weepy yet. It’s been pretty great. It has been awful. I still want to kill you, but I won’t. I’ll just keep this science fiction in my head, where it can still be fantasy and not reality. Let’s go take a shower together.”

“I’m not going to go outside with you. I want my last sight of you to be in our house. Together.”
“You better see me again by video.”
“Yeah, but that will be later and apart. I mean the last time we are together and I want that sight to be walking out the door.”
“Lance…”
“What, Mitch.”
“It’s going to be okay. You’re going to meet…”
“But not anyone like you. No matter how much you change, you will always be you.”
“That’s what I’ve been saying!”
“I don’t want to go through any of that. I want to live and die. I can’t embrace it, Mitch. It is change. Maybe you are still you, but that doesn’t mean that everything around you isn’t speeding up. It’s like I can see you standing there and you are already warping away at light speed, just taking forever to do it. No, you’re right. We can’t get past this. And if I did, and tried to follow you, if I could even catch up, I would discover that you are completely alien.”
“Is that the fear?”
“That’s the reality. You and everyone like you decided to change. You’re already separating from the rest of us. Sure, sure, you’re still human, too, and you’ll keep calling yourself human, but you got on the rocket and raced away maybe even before I met you. Mitch, you’re getting on that rocket. I can’t ever catch up. This is really it. I don’t want you to go. I’m sorry I made it hard for you.”
“We’ve always been honest with each other.”
“Maybe we should have lied more.”
“I love you. With all my heart.”
“I know, Mitch. Your wonderful new heart. I’m going to miss you. I’ll be fine. But not right away. Come here. Love you, too.”

“Who knows what the future holds?”
“Doesn’t matter. I cannot believe they are waiting outside the door. They really hate you.”
“You don’t hate me, too?”
“No, Mitch. Not at all. I hate your sweeping history, though.”
“Yeah, I think I hate it, too.”
“Exile. We aren’t really exiling you, are we? We’re sending you away, sending you to Mars, but that’s not going to be far enough away, is it?”
“Probably not. I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
“Just me and you closing the door. Goodbye, Mitch.”
“Goodbye, Lance. Someday…”
“Just a little longer.”
“Only a little.”
“…”
“…”

StoryADay May 2016 Day 7

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.