Once upon a time – in the future
Borislava Miteva │email@example.com
I had been waiting for years for the day when I would wake up naturally at dawn like most elderly people, but on that particular Sunday morning my deep sleep was once again interrupted by my annoying alarm clock. Still sleepy, I extended my arm over the chip-reader on the nightstand and the intelligent device informed me, by means of my new ceiling-integrated screen, that it was a meat day: the people on Earth born before the year 2015 were allowed to have one portion of meat every 250 days. What a celebration it would be for my husband, who was still grieving over the prohibition of the unsustainable factory farming following the Earth’s catharsis! Love is such a marvellous phenomenon, I thought. Not the fiery passion that blurs our sight, but the genuine affection which leads to a conscious overcoming of differences and disregarding of certain principles. And thus, rather shamelessly, I hurried to make a wire transfer for two portions of veal ham, contented by the fact that the lie detector was not yet integrated in the chip-readers in our region, as otherwise my 50 year-long veganism would have certainly deprived my beloved Ivan from his additional meat serving.
Having left my morning toilette to the care of the hygieneazator (how unreal its existence seemed to me in my long-gone childhood when I used to watch with excitement the “The Jetsons” on Cartoon Network) I went over the cosmic news: another intake of a Saturn probe by a black hole; unproductive negotiations at the Intra-Martian Council with regards to the location of the second Earth-passage station; and finally, the level of the Atlantic Ocean had risen by another 10cm over the last month. Once again I asked myself whether I’d rather die in a flood, earthquake or another natural disaster, close to Ivan or far away from him – from old age on Mars. Instead of reaching a decisive conclusion, however, my awareness was suddenly directed to the neighbouring planet, which for decades had been the home of my children. My relationship with them weakened after the birth of my youngest grandchild when I refused to move to Mars so as not to leave behind Ivan on Earth. Yet, the interaction with my family on Mars significantly diminished over the past year due to my various excuses for not going for a visit, coupled with a full examination by means of the newest Martian technologies. It hurt me profoundly that my sons blamed Ivan for his stubbornness and Earth-rootedness but the pain could never kill neither my motherly affection, nor the strong bond I had with my soul mate.
I text messaged all the children and while eagerly waiting for at least one reaction, I handled some of the housework: I turned on the dust-manager (one of the few machines that I secretly worshiped, given my aversion to hand cleaning and even the old vacuum cleaner); I ordered the refrigerator to supply itself with the missing products from my “favourites” list after washing up and arranging itself; I prepared my much loved seaweed-agave-walnuts breakfast (how much I still missed the bees and their honey!); and I finally decided on the meat dish with which to surprise Ivan. As for him, like every morning since the shutting down of all tobacco-production companies, he had woken up before sunrise in order to gather his daily dose of tobacco, which he would then gently dry up. And just when his routine was over and he joined me at the kitchen table with a cigarette in mouth and a cup of coffee in hand, the screen above our heads lit up, prompted by a call on the M-Essenger.
It was our eldest grandson, Bright-743, who was in the final stage of his system re-programming required for obtaining the title of Interplanetary Substance Investigator. His eyes were completely mechanized by now, and he looked more confident and mature. I wished I could be at his graduation from the laboratory. I wished I could hug him whenever I wanted. In a way to distract such thoughts, I started with a brief update about the latest events around us, but eventually returned to the issue at heart, asking him when he would come to Earth, as his last visit was back on my 70th anniversary. I hurried to promise that I would welcome him with his favourite dried fruits-cocoa cake, but he replied even faster declaring that he had finally adopted an entirely energy-source diet, which he highly recommended to me (knowing that Ivan would never give up on food). While condescendingly observing his grandfather who was finishing his cigarette and flipping through a paper book, Bright-743 rebuffed any possibilities for a near-future visit to Earth. Upon graduation he was off to Saturn to investigate the close-by black hole (I could finally understand why my parents used to worry whenever I presented them with an adventure I had in mind), and later he would be involved in an expedition to another galaxy, plus there was an opportunity for an additional project together with a colleague of his called Stela-13. How incredible his lifestyle appeared to me (I wonder whether my grandmother felt in a similar way when she listened to my scuba-diving and sky-diving stories?!), and although I could not comprehend the details around the execution of those complicated operations, I was very proud of my grandson.
Our conversation was interrupted by the meat delivery. Ivan got excited like a child in a pastry shop, in a stark contrast to my grandson who punished me with a disapproving stare. The burden of silence fell upon us.
– Good luck with Stela-13, I said. –You’ll understand one day…I hope…
Borislava is Bulgarian-Canadian and has a BA in Social Sciences (UBC) and in Italian Studies (UniBo). As part of MA Euroculture (2009-2011), which she undertook at the University of Groningen, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and the University of Pune, she relied on her previous academic studies by focusing on sociological issues, often related to migration and discrimination practices. Since graduating from her MA, she has continued her commitment to these fields by becoming involved in a relevant trans-European NGO, thus exploring the respective legal and human rights approaches. When she’s not in work (and sometimes when she is), she laughs a lot, pretends to be a cook, and fights for her right to write.