Author : Richard “Zig” Zagorski

Amanda awoke from a deep slumber and saw that her alarm clock would be going off in ten minutes. Not pressing enough to climb out of bed to turn it off just yet, but unfortunately also too little time left to fall back asleep.

However it only took a moment or so for her to realize that today was the day. The day she’d be finally free of her mood ring. Suddenly the morning seemed full of promises she had rarely dared to dream of for fear her ring would betray her. Shout out that she was not on an even keel. Medications to bring her back into ordained normality would follow if the ring reported such emotions becoming commonplace.

She had already been using unlawful ware the past few months to occasionally fudge the logs her ring kept. Logs which would be dutifully uploaded by her ring for expert systems and her parents to review each time she entered the warm embrace of the home network. Uploaded each time she passed a contraband detector at PS 34 for analysis by the school’s psychological systems and even a therapist to review if the records justified flagging by the so-called expert systems.

Altering the logs was a crime warranting a grounding at home and one leading to detention and mandatory group therapy at school. It was worth it though. To hide the “dangerous” pulses of wonder, anger, lust and angst that not even a generation ago would have been considered normal for a girl her age and, more importantly, be something she’d be able to keep to herself and maybe a well hid journal. Finally she’d be secure in her own mind and emotions.

Those occasioned bouts of rebelliousness and the feelings they engendered would soon be more easily had. Watching illicit films like “The Breakfast Club”, reading passed around beat up copies of novels considered too stimulating for kids and teens or listening to the ancient (21 or older only, please!) crooning of Jim Morrison – “Oh tell me where your freedom lies…”

After third period Chemistry hers would lie in a new mood ring. One with altered circuitry and hacked software.

A week ago she had let Harold run a scanner over her ring. He said piece of cake and he’d have her new ring ready in seven days.

If it was so simple she wondered why it should cost her $400 in horded allowance and baby sitting money…but can one put a price on her own freedom?

The few people she dared to raise the subject with all said Harold had the know-how and, more importantly, the connections to get an illicit replacement for her. One encoded to give off the same secret handshakes as her real one and to camouflage all extremes of emotion with bland ordinariness.

Today her ring, which would scream out in vivid red, yellow and violet if she dared be herself and which dutifully tattled on her with seemingly greater enthusiasm than her little sister, would be replaced. The new ring would glow gentle hues, but stay mainly dead, dull, safe, complacent grey. The log files would show brief, low spikes of emotions. A nice, safe, boring, well adjusted teenage girl. Just what every parent wanted and every expert said was the standard to be strived for. Square pegs must be made round!

Today freedom of thought and freedom of experience would be hers. All wrapped up in illusionary grey.

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