Previously, as in before the fire—he thought of everything in terms of before or after the fire even though there was no evidence found at the scene to implicate him (unless you count that suspicious barrel of charred love letters, not that there were any envelopes or the more damaging cancelled stamps) and all of his friends testified to the depressed state he was in after the two of them broke up—the simple task of washing his clothes or doing the dishes (seriously, doing the dishes) left him bereft and unable to cope.
“It’s not creepy, stop saying that.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder and concentrated on the road ahead of them. Not that she was driving. Without a steering wheel, the idea of a driver’s seat had become something of a misnomer.
“I think it is,” he said.
“Look, I don’t want to go over it again. You of all people know the benefit of genetic editing. You came up with the way to eliminate Huntington’s disease. Eliminated. No one has it, no one can get it. It’s gone.” She flipped an open palm at him.
“That’s different. What I did isn’t a machine where you walk in and a star gets stitched to your belly. This isn’t cosmetic. This is editing yourself below a cellular level. This goes all the way down to your chromosomes. You can’t just mess with that.”
“But the changes are perfectly safe. you know that.”
“I don’t know that. What if something goes wrong?” He looked into her eyes. “I know, nothing will go wrong. Maybe that’s part of the problem. You’ll be fine. Better than fine. Perfect.”
“So what’s the big deal?”
“The deal is, I know you. I know who you are and all of your imperfections. I love that you are unique, that you are you. I don’t want to lose that.”
She sighed. “You won’t lose me. I’ll still be me after the procedure.”
“No, you won’t. That’s just it.” He swallowed. “You’re editing yourself. What goes in the box won’t be the same when it comes out again. It can’t be. You can’t be the same any more. Everything that makes you you will be different. I don’t think I can take that.”
She took a deep breath and huffed it out. “Well, you better start getting used to it. This is what I want to do. This is what I’m going to do.”
The car pulled up to the front doors of the GenEdit Clinic. —YOU HAVE ARRIVED AT YOUR FINAL DESTINATION—
Sometimes things are important. Like taking out the trash or doing the laundry when you have a job interview tomorrow or guests are coming over. Sometimes those same things are not so important. Like walking down the street and no one jumps you, or the lunchroom ran out of those nasty hamburgers but who likes those anyway? Sometimes anything could be important, like how full is the moon or the color of your eyes at night. This was one of those days when everything was important, a perfect day, the day it was.
I still sleep on the left side of the bed. Old habits, I suppose. That, or sticking to a routine is easier than starting over. So much to start over. It’s been, what, seven years now? I’ve lost track. Is that a good or a bad thing, a sign I’m getting over it? If it is a sign, have there been other signs in my life that I’ve missed? Maybe there was a giant road sign pointing me in a direction I didn’t go, or an exit I missed, instructions for life telling me to stay on the left side. Or not.
“We’ve finished implanting the hippocampal prosthesis and are ready for the next stage.” The doctor couldn’t have been out of high school. What were these young people doing running a hospital anyway? Isn’t this a school night or something?
“If you’re ready, ma’am.” Stop calling me ma’am. I’m not that old. Of course I’m ready. Would I be here if I wasn’t? It’s time to find out what that scoundrel of a husband has been thinking. Ever since his dementia set in, he hasn’t been able to connect the world around him with his memories, and I know that’s why he’s so frustrated.
“You remember how this works?” asked the doctor.
“Yes, you put the mesh thing in his head. The hippo whatever. It translates the short term memory to long term since his own warped brain can’t do that any more.”
“Right, only this device is broadcasting to a receiver…”
“In my brain, yes, I know. More mesh in the hippo. That’s the whole point. I’ll know what he can’t think. He’s going to be using my head for storage. Just like him, too. Always putting things off on other people. So irresponsible. Always having to clean up for him.”