Maybe

Maybe she’s sick or blind,

so, she don’t look this way, or,

maybe she’s afraid or worried,

so, she don’t look this way.

Maybe she’s unfriendly, stuck-up, or conceited,

cuz she don’t look this way,

or too insecure,

because she don’t look this way.

Could be that she’s dead,

’cause she don’t look this way

or maybe I’m invisible,

because she don’t look this way,

or I’m old, sick, or dying,

because she won’t look this way.

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Looking Forward

Digging into his pocket, Chasm pulled everything out, dropped it on the counter, and took in the lifetender. Her neck and arms were lean and bare. Alabaster skin and sculpted coal black hair accented her blue eyebrows, green eyes,  red pearl earrings, and brown lips.

Leaning forward, the lifetender watched Chasm’s discs take on green, gold, and silver. Her name holo said she was Kymeri and she was not available.

“You got something,” Kymeri said. Her long, flashing red fingernails raked the discs into order as their denominations came up. “Thousand dollar goldisc, a D, silver century, a wide array of greendiscs.” Her fingernails flashing gold, she tapped the individual discs. Each spoke its value. When she’d tapped the last greendisc, she clicked her fingernails together. Changing to green, her nail said, “Seventeen hundred sixty-seven dollars.”

Just short of a day’s pay, a reflection of the six hours Chasm had worked. “What can I get for that?”

“Night room, joy doll, two squares, dozen drinks, new clothes.”

“What would that leave me?”

“Depends on particulars.”

“Of course. There a budget package?”

Shaking her head, Kymeri said in a low voice, “You don’t want a budget. Get a deluxe, at least. You can afford it. Budget drinks are well liquor or piss beer with compiled food, and the clothes are plastic.”

“Can I budget and then upgrade the drinks to IPA? I don’t need many, maybe three bigs.”

Her fingernails flashing green, the lifetender said, “Okay, a budget room is a bed with a pop out commode, access to the ionizer, private sink, standing space and one chair.”

“Bedding?”

“Included. Joy doll?”

“No. Trade in for the clothes?”

The lifetender shrugged with a dispassionate scan over his black plastic-encased torso. “Your stuff isn’t much. Probably a ten.”

The negotiations were continued. When it was done, Chasm had spent eleven hundred. It scared him to spend so much.

He was ported into his pod. Soft white lights came on. No windows, one large monitor, doublewide bed, chair, sink, port token switch for the ionizer, and popout commode, as promised.

Squirming into the chair, Chasm guzzled his first IPA. Decent stuff, but most importantly, cold. Tension sloughed out of his shoulders. It’d been a good day. He’d found work and was promised more. He was off the street, had a clothing credit, two meals paid for, along with the IPA and water, and still had almost five hundred in discs.

Life was good. Kicking off his shoes, Chasm unfolded his laptop from his hip pocket and plugged it in to play some games.

For the first time in at least a year, he was looking forward to tomorrow.

 

Awkward

He considered it a sign of his life that this shit happened.

First, he’d outlived his friends and family. Said good-bye to all of them. By the time some died, they’d noticed that his hair remained shiny and full, wrinkles didn’t mar his skin, and that he remained energetic and athletic as a twenty-year-old. “Good genes,” he always said, even to his parents and siblings. “Why didn’t we get those genes?” they wanted to know. “Good question,” he replied.

Now, they were alive again, not because of his good genes, but because he’d awakened back in time. “Impossible,” he told himself.

But there they were. He wondered if he’d have to say good-bye to them again, or would they finally watch him pass away.

Either way, it could be awkward.

A Dream of Changing Countries

It was an uplifting experience, although strange. 

I was with several groups of men. We’d decided we were changing countries. I connected with a few others to hunt for country candidates. An adviser was telling us what our options were.

My first choice was Japan. I headed to the JP room with a few other men and our adviser. We entered, and then our adviser had us wait while he checked on availability. Coming back, he told us, “Sorry, but there aren’t any openings.”

A little disappointed but still optimistic, we selected another place. I knew the name in the dream but I don’t know it now. Our adviser checked and confirmed, “Yes, eight openings are available.”

Only three of us went, however, with the others backing out. We had to answer questions to be accepted in the new country, and also to put on a shirt with cultural significance to that country.

After putting the shirts on, we entered an office. Bleachers filled with people were to one side. Most of the people were young women. The first man of my group went to a desk. There he was asked eight questions. He passed.

It was my turn. I went to the desk and was asked the eight questions. They were so simple and basic, such as, “What is your name? What is your favorite color?” The process amused me as I wondered, are there wrong answers? I passed and then waited for my friend to go through the process. Then the three of us were sworn in as new citizens and congratulated. A spattering of applause followed.

Now citizens of another country, we walked toward the exit. I remembered that I still had the other shirt on. Wanting my own shirt, I took the shirt off, gave it to someone, and then walked back, shirtless, looking for my own shirt, with everyone watching me. I found this quite funny. The dream ended with me finding my shirt, but leaving it off, I left.

To me, the choice of Japan was interesting. When I lived in Japan, it was a successful and enjoyable time, and I was very happy. That it wasn’t available meant, you can’t go back, but there are other choices. These will give me new experiences (changing the shirt, see?), but they’ll be like Japan, successful and enjoyable.

And it’s my choice.

 

Unchanged

She’d thought about using a computer but decided that she didn’t want to. That would have been cumbersome to learn, as would changing her phone. The green wall phone with its rotary dial and long cord was sufficient.

She kept her old color console television, bought from Sears in 1969, because it still worked, so why buy a new one? She had to buy new furniture in 1969 because the old stuff fell apart, but once the gold and green brocade stuff she bought started falling apart, she kept it, even though the fabric was torn and worn, stuffing was coming out, and the frames were coming apart.

Her hair-style was unchanged from 1968, which is also when she started dying her hair brown, so she looked much the same in this century as she did the last. She loved Campbell’s tomato soup and had it almost every day for lunch with a grilled cheese sandwich using Kraft American Cheese Singles, along with a Heinz dill pickle. Her breakfast was Quaker Oats followed by two cups of Maxwell House coffee that she made in her old percolator.

Days were spent reading Dick Francis, Nancy Drew mysteries, or Agatha Christie while watching Fox News. In the evenings, she watched The Family Feud and The Price is Right followed by Murder, She Wrote, The Andy Griffith Show, The Big Valley, and Perry Mason. Once in a while, she watched a movie, like The Sound of Music. For treats, she ate Little Debbie Cakes.

Not much had changed in her life, and that made her happy. Being happy, she saw no reason to change.

Monday’s Theme Music

Discussing my dreams with the cats as I fed the coffee maker and overfloofs, we went out for the paper and agreed, yep, just another day.

Paul McCartney’s song, “Another Day” (1971), squirted into my stream. Milliseconds later, I’m singing, “It’s just another day. At the office where the papers grow, she takes a break,
drinks another coffee and she finds it hard to stay awake, do do do dit do do. It’s just another day.”

The song is an observation of a woman’s life as she cleans, dresses, and works. Under that melody and the surface word, as they sing, “So sad, sometimes she feels so sad,” is a sense of milieu ringing through other pop-rock songs of that era, is this it? Is this life? And accepting that, yes, this is life, people hunt escape. It’s just another day, over and over and over, going through motions while looking and hoping for some unspoken other thing.

 

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