Author : Thomas Desrochers

Bertie was a kind looking old man of eighty who had more wrinkles from smiling than anything else, and who looked like he always had a joke on his mind. He wasn’t particularly tall, though he was clearly handsome once. His shirt was plaid and tucked into his pleated khaki pants.

Drene was taller than Bertie by a few inches, and although she had begun to look rather severe in her old age of seventy five she had a friendly smile ready for anybody and everybody. Her hair was perpetually in a white ball around her head, a hair style reserved only for the old, and she was always sporting a pretty, if not plain, heavy-cut, and old-fashioned, dress of some sort or another.

Bertie and Drene had no children or grand-children left planet-side, and to make up for the lack of company would spend every afternoon sitting on their apartment’s front steps watching the people go by. Sometimes Bertie would read the news on his computer, and Drene was usually knitting something colorful and vibrant – today it was a scarf.

“It’s rather nice that they learned how to control the weather,” Drene commented one day. “Though I do miss the rain sometimes.”
“Mm,” grunted Bertie. “Never feels quite the same any more. Always too temperate.”

“Oh hush,” Drene told him as she rummaged through her bag for a small gauge needle. “You’re always finding the bad things in the new tech. You should just be happy with change for once.”

Bertie set his paper-thin computer down on his lap and watched the people who walked by. “What about all the surgery and cosmetics? Can I complain about that?”

“Oh Bertie, why are you always going on about this?” Drene sighed.

“Because,” he exclaimed. Then, softer, “It’s sad.”

He watched the people go by. They were tan, perfectly so; They had well-proportioned noses and attractive cheek-bones; Their eyes were all blue or green, their hair blond or black to match; There was no fat on their bodies, just electrically stimulated and grown muscle; Nobody was taller than anybody else – the women were all five feet and ten inches tall, and the men were all six feet and four inches; Everybody had tattoos, though on closer examination they were really just different variations of the same popular thing; Everybody had perfect teeth and their clothes were all fashionable, albeit very similar.

“It’s sad,” Bertie said again. Everybody was the same at first glance, and sometimes even on closer inspection. “Kids these days.”

“They’ll grow out of it.” Drene paused her knitting to pat him on the leg reassuringly. “We did, after all.”

“Yeah, well,” Bertie grouched. “You’d think kids would learn more from the silliness of people before them.”

He turned back to his news. Long-range faster than light was finally ready for commercial use. Saturn’s Erys space station had finally reached twenty million people, and was continuing to grow. NovaCorp was finally beginning to harvest the core of Venus. The last veteran of the Gulf War had died. A senator had been caught having an affair.

Funny, he thought to himself, how some things never change while everything else is moving and changing and never stopping.
Bertie’s phone rang. He looked down at it and smiled, answering with a “Well, hello there.”

“Hi grandpappy,” a happy child’s voice giggled. “Daddy says we’re going to come visit!”

He smiled. Some things never change.

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