The First Day

First day of school. She’d had to buy her son a new Backhand. He wore it proudly, turning to see it again and again. Fiddling with its controls. Mastering it.

A Backhand. On her son. Her five year old. She’d not gotten a Backhand until she was twenty-three years old. But they hadn’t been affordable to her until she was twenty-two. By then they’d been around for five years, replacing phones, watches, laptops, and everything else. Just a device on the back of your hand, doing all those things, feeding off your body’s energy. She still discovered it as amazing and creepy.

She wasn’t ready to surrender her little boy to the pearly halls of education. He seemed so small and fragile. This was the pain of being a mother. Her mom told her she would experience it. She knew she would, too. She’d been a virtual mother for two years, training for the vocation.

“Are you nervous, Jayed?”

Jayed turned his liquid brown orbs at her with a bright smile. “I’m not nervous. Why would I be?”

Not surprising. He’d gone to in-person daycare and online classes since he was three. They grow up so fast.

Jayed said “They’re going to start teaching us emoticons today. I already know most of them.”

Kary’s mother came in as Jayed said that. She, of course, couldn’t stop a head shake. Habit and personality compelled it. “Emoticons. I remember when we learned cursive writing. I was older than him. It was phased out two years after my class. Oh, how things change.”

She squatted down before Jayed. “Look at my little scholar.”

Jayed was dressed in his best red shirt with black shorts and purple rubber sandals. Corporate sponsors on his front and back. The usual suspects. Energy companies. Baseball and football teams. Restaurants and banks. They all had part of her baby already. But this was good. Without corporate sponsors, they wouldn’t be able to afford public school. The city’s NFL team, the Mexico City Aztecs, had stepped forward in a big way. Paid for all his vaccination, his share of the teacher, and his meals.

The teleporter chimed. “Time to go,” Jayed said, spinning and striding toward the teleporter like a miniature man. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll be okay.”

She rushed to him, along with her mother. Both bent, forcing him to turn back to them, lavishing the youth with hugs and slobbering, noisy kisses as they said, “You be good. Treat others with respect.” He endured and accepted, then smiled. “You shouldn’t be so emotional. I’m just going off to school. I’ll be back tonight.”

Then he stepped back into the teleporter. Raised the Backhand to the keypad. Synced. And was gone.

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