Author : Ian Rennie
People sometimes look at me weirdly when they first see me, and after all this time I can’t really blame them that much. I’m disabled. They see me with the goggles and the earpieces and they wonder what’s going on. Then they check the nets to see what it could be, and their faces get the same uniform look of pity and contempt. How tragic it must be, they think, not to have infoplants; way worse than being blind or deaf, because missing senses can be replaced by impants. How wretched not to have lucid dreaming or radiotelepathy.
My parents didn’t find out about it until I was four, when they took me to get the usual edutainment wetware. My body rejected the spinal grafts, rejected them with such savagery that it nearly killed me. The doctors refused to try again, saying that another rejection would kill me.
To my parents’ credit, they never made me feel different. They got me as unobtrusive a headset as they could, got me gloves so I could take part in sensationals with them. My elder brother, Troy, once beat up a kid at school for calling me a “limp”. I’ve never minded the names, though. They can call me a limp or a flatline or a blackout. They can even pity me for my disability, and I con’t care, because there’s one thing I can do that they can’t.
I can turn it off.
I can take off the sensation gloves, the goggles, and the earphones. I can unclip the belt pack and leave my computer in my room. I can be alone if I want to be. I look at people my own age and I know they’ve never had a night’s sleep where their dreams weren’t sponsored by Toyota or Burger King. They’ve never wanted to know something and had to work at finding it out. They’ve never laid out in an empty field under an infinite sky, alone but for their thoughts, knowing that no popups or instant messages will ever spoil the view.
They look at me and they feel pity.
I look at them, and I feel lucky.