Admissions

The letter made its instructions clear. Parents are to drop their children off at X location at Y time, in order to make Z as easy as possible for all of ϴ.

“You should consider yourself very lucky,” they said. “We pulled a lot of strings to get you into this high school, and you are going to make us proud.”

The child waited in the chair, alone, as instructed. The parents left after a brief and dispassionate kiss, which left a dry spot on the forehead still a minute after they’d gone.

“Ah yes! Hello, here you are. Can’t hide from me, now can you?”

The child said nothing as the administrator entered the room, but the man seemed to be waiting for an answer. “I cannot hide,” the child eventually said.

“That’s right! I see why we let you in here.” The man’s jocular smile shifted away as he got down to business. “Academically, you have done well. We feel confident that you will fit right in at St. Ringo’s. However, for your needs, we’re going to ask you a few questions, so you can get optimized attention for your individual learning style. Shall we begin?”

The child nodded, though the man did not look up from his paperwork to notice. “First off, name and gender.”

“Leslie Douglas. Female.”

The man shook his head. “I’m sorry, that’s not what I have here. We’re going to go with Douglas Leslie, male. Next, what are your sexual preferences?”

The child sputtered a moment before repeating, “I’d like to be female, if that’s okay.”

“Very good. ‘Forced Feminization.’ That’s more common than you might think. But I’m afraid I’m going to need more details. Top or bottom?”

The child said words, and accepted the approval they invoked, one by one. There were no wrong answers. He took his seat in a classroom designed just for him and felt proud to be accepted for all his perversions and hangups, designed just for him.

#children, #choice, #education, #gender, #power, #puberty, #self-control

Mirror

Although her girlfriend was about to break up with her, Nancy smiled over the table. As long as they could maintain this expression, everything would be fine.

“I really like what you’ve done with your hair tonight,” she said.

“Thanks, I like yours, too.”

The resulting silence prompted them both to take sips of wine. Nancy held hers in her mouth just a second longer before swallowing, as she saw a flash of disapproval cross the face in front of her when they reached for their glasses simultaneously. “I’ve been thinking about what you said.”

She watched the smile grow limp, and tried to hoist it back with her own. “I’ve been thinking,” she repeated, “and I want whatever you want.”

They had had the same boring conversation last night, and had yelled at each other, “I only want to make you happy. What do you want? I want you to be happy!” Nancy couldn’t remember anymore which part of the conversation had been hers. It existed between them and belonged to neither.

“And I want whatever you want,” she heard again, and it played back between them and around them, at every table in the restaurant. Every couple made the same faithful promise, and Nancy repeated it. Hers was the only voice that didn’t sound fake.

#deception, #fractal, #mirror, #reflection, #relationships, #restaurant, #self-control, #self-importance, #wine

Agreeable

As he sank to his knee, she felt sickness take over the rest of her personality. She’d known this was coming, as he had been giving hints all week. She’d hoped hers had been even less subtle, but he had gone on using future tenses, musing what their child would look like. He had asked her favorite precious stone, and it was in his pocket now.

“Oh Luke,” she said, and though she sounded overwhelmed, she noticed that she couldn’t hear the disgust she had intended. Neither could he. He said something about sharing life; something rehearsed, perhaps from a movie.

She wasn’t really listening. She was envisioning the days to come, learning to ignore his snoring. They hadn’t shared a bed together yet, as he was still old-fashioned and she didn’t like him, but she was sure he snored like a parody.

His speech continued, but none of it sounded like the question she was waiting for. When she had the chance, she would say no. Leave it at that. “No.” She wasn’t so low on herself that she would ally herself in a loveless marriage just to avoid hurting feelings. What irritated her was how over-the-top she had to be. If he just paid a little attention, they wouldn’t have to go through this. They wouldn’t even know each other. He would have seen her pity from the start. When she called him dweeb and dork and such, he would know she wasn’t teasing affectionately.

“This is all so sudden,” she said, and she saw his face light with excitement. She tried to speak more clearly, “I can’t believe you went to all this trouble,” but it didn’t sound right. She hated her voice. It deserved him.

#hate, #male-power, #marriage, #microfiction, #obliviousness, #politeness, #resentment, #self-control

Edit

By the time she regained consciousness, she was already dead. She was sure of it. The transfer seemed to be a success, and as they had explained, the old mind would die as its last synapses copied over. Now she was new.

She thought through her name, the date, the president, all of the amnesiac questions. Though she couldn’t verify her answers, she was confident.

All she had were her thoughts. They had never been so clear. In her old body, she had had to wiggle her fingers to remember anything. The affectation seemed strange now that she could not move — had nothing to move.

She had to forget about moving.

She did.

While she couldn’t remember what she had just forgotten, it was gone. Deleted. This self-control would have been useful when she was trying to quit smoking.

She forgot the rush of nicotine and would have smiled, had she had a face.

Science had gone to great lengths to preserve her memories, so she was done forgetting, at least until they backed her up. Patience.

Once she was preserved, though, she would do what years of therapy couldn’t. All the lingering unhappiness and trauma of simply being alive had no purpose now that she wasn’t.

Gender could be abandoned, too. In what sense was she female anymore? In what sense was she Jewish, or a Sagittarius?

She made a list of regrets. People she had known whom she shouldn’t have known, desires she’d never fulfill. As soon as they copied her consciousness, she’d be who she wanted to be, no more or less.

For the sake of science, it would be nice if her backup reached a different conclusion.

#ai, #fake-science, #forgetting, #microfiction, #science-fiction, #self-control