Lifestyle

It’s the sense of space that moves him. The bedroom extends in every direction as if for the horizon, unpopulated, waiting to be explored. He’s waiting for his sleeping wife to wake so she can join him. There will be little to find. This is a Japanese-style room for sleeping. The geography of the soft carpet finds only the low-lying bed, two tall his-and-her dressers like sentries opposite and alert, a bench by the window for two plants, the closet doors to a closet that is its own journey, and two more doors, one leading to the waterfalls and lakes of the bathroom and the other to the rest of the house, Narnian in its unseen extent and wonders to behold.

The bed was also for exploring, and they did so until they collapsed sated and exhausted.

I’m lost.

Ah, to have time for wandering to those far horizons, heading off in any direction, but for now other awakenings have risen to the whispered shouts of “You’re being too loud” and “No, I’m not, you are” and “Shut up!”

When the walls wake, it means she’s awake, too, and he finds her smiling at him in the middle of a sphere of sights and sounds of distant vistas and today’s personalized updates.

“Good morning.”

Who is she?

“Good morning, honey. Sleep well?”

The exchange is routine but what it means is “I love you” and “Where else would I be.” They will follow the rails of their getting up, getting ready, and emerging to be with their children, after they acknowledge each other and this happy space together. They’re not bracing for the day but congratulating each other for what they built together, the little lives they created together, the paths they will travel together.

There is abundance of space. Of time. Easing into the day and into worthwhile activities to do. They have surrounded themselves with the luxury of device and home to do so. So when they banter in the bathroom—she’s brushing her teeth at her sink and he’s shaving at his sink and over both sinks mirrors display their health trends and today’s weather and headlines without warnings or alerts—it’s the result of having worked so hard to make their morning loving banter possible. Her fresh morning round face without need for makeup and hair that falls back into place so easily with just a few strokes through the golden waves with her fingers. His black bed head as easily relaxed and the sharp angles carved out of youth.

I don’t recognize the face…

There are journeys to take, but first preparations: they laugh and parent their children in the ambient technologies of today’s modern smart homes.

I was so certain about women. I was so certain about not having children. I was…who am I?

The oldest has a test at school tomorrow

What day is this?

and he asks his digital assistant for help. She quizzes him through his waiting for eggs and toast. The middle child is chatting with her friends in a language all their own; the icons are bright and shiny and reflect in her happy expression. She waits for pancakes. The youngest child in her high chair plays with virtual shapes that drop with pleasing abrupt sounds from the ceiling onto her tray, waiting for her to toss them into the correctly shaped virtual holes

Who are these kids?

that arrive just in time to test her quickening pace. She’s waiting for cereal and milk and oversized spoon. Their parents drift between them with reassuring pats on their heads, jokes, help, and eventually their meals once the kitchen has finished preparing everything. She’s gesturing at the latest fashions. He’s gesturing at the stock market. He also sketches quick ideas in the air; morning is his creative time and today one idea leads to five.

I remember him. Not him. My him.

The kitchen opens like plains to the living room, to the sitting room and the piano there. Some distance away the wall breaks for the hallway that leads to the children’s rooms and their bathroom.

All that’s missing is a dog.

The dog runs into the kitchen with lolling tongue, floppy ears, and wagging tail to join in the gathering

And a cat?

and the cat rubs against the legs of the kitchen table and the family sitting down to breakfast

Fish.

and the aquarium embedded in the wall contains the fish that pointedly bob at the glass waiting for their own.

But where am I? It’s all white room and only where I’m looking do I see detail, only where I’m looking do I feel like I’m this man while in my peripheral vision there are ghosts, me, ghosting, pixels, the texture of virtual reality, this virtual advertisement, selling me while robbing me of my real life. How long have I been here? Why do my hands reach so easily and yet I cannot pull these glasses from my eyes?

I remember him, because who else would I remember but my boyfriend, and not this false heterosexual nuclear family, a lifestyle I never want even if I could have it, and yet the vision keeps trying to reassert itself while I have no way out, no way to find him.

Cleaned and dressed and the house taking care of the rest, he heads with his family to the door. Through the door is the beginning of their journey. Shouldn’t they begin every day in this familiar place, this happy home, this family space,

He was my family! Let me find him. Is he still there? Is he in here, too? How did I get here? Where is…

a luxury so well deserved?

He rides alone in his car, his autonomous car, the 2026 Potent, The Perfect Car for the Perfected Man, available now. It will take him to where he can be bold, and it will return him to his wife and children and their perfect evenings together.

For the lifestyle he always wanted, the lifestyle he deserves, no other car will do.

StoryADay May 2016 Day 18

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in 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), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).