Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

Was it the crisp hard skin of an apple that hurt her teeth? The texture of sand beneath her feet, soft in summer and rough when bound with winter ice? Or was it the smell of autumn, all bones and fire? I lost my mother to these things; the texture of a quilt, the size of the moon, the dust in a sunbeam.

She was bound in the virtual world by her body-death, her ashes scattered to the sea, just as she wished. She watched us via camera; her children, making sure we carried out her wishes just as she had wanted. Does want. Will want. She built a house in her new world and got a job constructing landscapes. She met someone there, maybe a man, it’s hard to tell with those in the virtual world. She made a life for herself, a life without us. We couldn’t leave her there, in the bodiless. All of us knew our lives were better, out in the real world.

We wanted her back, raised from the grave. So as soon as we heard about the empty bodies program, we grew her a body, and begged her to come back to us.

“We love you mama.” we said, grown babies. She never denied us anything.

I found her in her room, that room of soft pink wallpaper and cotton sheets. She was staring out the window at the sun, her eyes becoming pinpricks, drops of black in sparks of green.

“You’ll hurt your eyes, mama.” I said. But she shook her head.

“I want to feel it. Pain is the only thing they get close to real here.”

“You are real now.” I said, but she shook her head.

“It smells wrong, here.” she told me. “They got it all wrong.”


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