Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer

“Oracle, will she love me forever?” Tim whispers to the shimmering, liquid amber orb hovering in its special alcove in the family room. It’s late and he should be in bed, but he must know the truth. He can’t sleep. All he can think about is her kiss on his lips.

“Insufficient data. Specify subject of inquiry.” The Oracle’s voice quavers like a bubbling brook, not quite feminine, not quite masculine. Pulses of orange light punctuate each word, casting strange shadows within the darkened room.

“Melanie, Melanie Calder. From school.” He glances quickly over his shoulder to make sure no light emanates from beneath his parents bedroom door.

“Require genetic sample to complete inquiry.”

“Genetic sample? What for? I thought you just knew everything about the future?” Tim hisses, impatience coloring his barely pubescent voice.

“For love matches, a genetic sample is required to determine compatibility.”

“Like, blood?” he barely utters, horrified.

“Any bodily fluid, skin, hair or nail sample will suffice.”

The boy slinks off to bed, his young mind feverishly plotting how to acquire the necessary sample. His sleep is restless, but by morning he’s hatched a plan.

That evening, when certain his parents are sleeping, Tim prowls down to the family room and stands before the Oracle’s nook. In his hand he holds a single long, auburn hair like a precious artifact. Melanie winced and scowled when he pulled it from her head as they made out, but he quickly apologized and made up some stupid lie about her hair getting caught in his watch band. It was all he could do to keep hold of it as they continued to frolic beneath the elm tree by the school yard.

“Oracle, I have the sample. What do I do with it?” Tim can barely contain his nervousness. What if he gets caught? What if they aren’t compatible? What if they are?

“Place sample in scanner and re-state inquiry.” The Oracle’s voice is blandly indifferent to his anxiety. In the darkened quiet of the house, its voice seems thunderous, out-matched in volume only by the beating of his love-sick heart.

Tim carefully places the hair into the awaiting scanner tray and, once again, whispers his fated question, “Oracle, will Melanie Calder love me forever?”

A red laser flashes over the hair in the tray and for an agonizing minute the Oracle says nothing, just hangs silently in its niche while Tim waits with baited breath.

“Genetic compatibility is unsatisfactory. Love match will not succeed. Try again.”

The blood drains from Tim’s face as each terrible word slices his tender heart. It can’t be true. It feels so right to be with her. How can this be happening? “There must be some mistake,” he reasons. “Why, Oracle?”

“Genetic compatibility is unsatisfactory.”

A firm hand lands on his shoulder launching Tim’s stomach into his throat. He turns shamefully around to see his father’s stern face in the darkness reflecting the amber glow from the Oracle.

“Dad,” Tim chokes, “you’re up.”

His dad gestures toward the sofa. “Have a seat, son. We need to talk.”

Tim collapses into the sofa, deflated, all hope for the future washed away by the Oracle’s agonizing words. His father sits beside him. A long silence passes before his father finally speaks.

“Son, sometimes knowing the future robs us of our present. It prevents us from living in the moment. Do you understand?”

Tim stares woefully into the gloom.

“I’m sure Melanie loves you, now, today. Enjoy it, kiddo.”

A faint smile creeps onto Tim’s face.

“Thanks Dad. I will.”


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