Author : Rob Burton

I sip champagne, and snatch a truffle from the waiter’s tray. A flush of excitement rushes through me as a handsome man catches my eye from across the room. A moment to politely disengage himself from his group, and he moves towards me like I am the only person in the room.

‘Miss Harrow?’ he asks rhetorically, ‘I’m Leon Gibbs. I’m a great admirer of your work.’

I offer him my hand, inviting him to kiss it. I know, in that instant, that this will be the man I marry.

An irritating alarm beeps and my world fades to grey. I regain my mundane flesh and lift the immersion visor from my face. Beside me, oblivious to my company, sits the real Miss Harrow, now Mrs Gibbs, the equipment that helps her relive her favourite memories protruding from her scalp. An arrow projected on the wall marks out which of her companions needs my attention.

I pass rows upon row of patients sat behind beatific smiles. My occasional colleague, Byson, tells me that he finds their fixed grins creepy. Unfortunately for him, there are few jobs other than nursing. He’s saving to move out to the reforestation projects, saying he’d rather attend machines, but I like these old people, living in the time machine of their own memories. Their lives had infinite variety, much more so than any I could live in this depleted world.

With all the world pillaged into their bank accounts, and automatic systems ensuring it stays that way, the comparably tiny number of us under a century old attend them while we wait to inherit. We try to stitch the world back together as best we can, and hope that future generations might appreciate our efforts, and we wait to sit here and relive our own happy times.

An I.V. pipe hangs loose from Mrs Patel. I find a vein, insert it and tape it back into place. She mutters ‘Naveed’. Her son. I wonder if, when I am in her place, I will remember times from my own life, or hers.

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