Megan closed the Chat Window, replacing it with the World Window, and sighed. The daily chat with her mother was becoming a chore and she felt ashamed to feel that way. None of her Friends seemed to have a problem with their mothers, but then hers had been much older when she ‘gave birth’. There had even been an actual ‘father’, they’d ‘had sex’ and, for a short while, physical contact! She couldn’t imagine it. Touching skin with another person! Her mother had told her that she had ‘breastfed’ her, cuddled her and rocked her to sleep – until the robots took her away to her individual pod. Where she had been ever since.
The virus was rampant across the world, and the only way for humans to survive was individually in pods. The pods were stored in facilities, which her mother described as ‘warehouses’, where humans were nourished and encouraged to expand their minds, constantly searching for answers to the current problems in the world, while robots put their solutions into practice: they farmed the land, bred and raised livestock, nursed sick humans, and all the other things to sustain human life.
Megan’s mother had explained that, in the good old days, humans lived together in buildings and shared facilities, even bathrooms – shocking!
“Things were different back then,” her mother had said wistfully. And then her face clouded over. “If it hadn’t been for the constant shopping trips, parties and holidays, things might not have changed. We would be together, in the same room. We’d have greeted each other with a hug and a kiss. I’d have made a cake and we’d have eaten a piece with a hot drink, listened to music on the radio, maybe even gone for a walk in a park.”
“What’s a park, Mother?”
“A space where anyone could walk on the grass among trees. There were birds and squirrels – you don’t see them now – and a pond with ducks and swans – you don’t see them either. Children had fun on swings and slides in a playground, and some played ball games.”
“Something we did back then. It made us smile and laugh. Until the robots shut us in our pods.”
Kim M. Russell, 8th July 2020
Magaly is our host today, with a phrase she says is usually accompanied by sighs and looks of pure longing, and sometimes rage or relief.
Magaly has heard and read the phrase a lot lately and thought that it might be interesting to see what our muses would birth out of it. the phrase, so she has invited us to write new poetry or prose inspired by the phrase, “Things were different back then”. We can use the words literally or metaphorically.
I saw an idea for burial pods, coffins that grow into trees, and I wondered what would happen if living pods were developed in a similar way.