Author : David Kavanaugh

“But I don’t want to!” she whined in her little voice. “Why do I have to? It’s. So. Boring! I hate it there.”

“I know, baby, I know,” said her mother. “But it’s good for you. Just for a few minutes. Understand? Then you can come back in.”


If only she knew how to override her mother’s software and hide in a corner of some glitchware, but she hadn’t been able to figure out how to, and her big brother wouldn’t tell her.

So, arms crossed, she went. Her glittering view of starlight and carousels and unicorns and all things that the little five-year-old loved faded away with a ding, and she found herself back in her physical body. She was sitting in the tub while the carebot rinsed out her hair.

“Welcome back, bunny. Had fun? It’s good to see you,” said the tinkling, maternal tones of the carebot.

“I hate you!” she grunted back, swatting at the rubbery hands and climbing out of the tub. Her body felt awkward and unfamiliar, as if the muscles longed just as much as she did for her consciousness to resync with the software, and the body to return to autopilot.

The carebot began to dry her with a towel, but she pushed that away too.

“It’s itchy!”

She stood, dripping, before the mirror, staring into the eyes in the glass. The eyes were brown and small, and she couldn’t shake the feeling that they belonged to a stranger. She thought they looked terribly ugly, and much preferred the large and lustrous violet eyes of her avatar. Her avatar had bubblegum pink hair that fell over her shoulders in a splash of bouncy curls, but in the mirror, she saw only the sopping, brunette rat’s nest and matching, bushy eyebrows.

“I hate real life,” she said in a soft, defeated voice.

A robot hand patted her reassuringly on the arm. “I understand, bunny. But the recommended daily dosage of reality for a five-year-old female is at least…”

“I know!” she grunted, stomping the floor. “I already know that. You are so stupid!”

She marched from the room, through the drafty hall and into her bedroom. She leapt, twisting midair so that she landed sitting on the edge of the bed. She tightened her jaw, crossed her arms, and sat resolute and still. She would not give her mother or the carebot the satisfaction of seeing her have fun in this place, with its repulsive imperfections, its dust and smells and blaring contrast of light and shadow.

Why did she have to come here, anyway? What good could possibly come from the pangs of hunger or the bitter touch of hot and cold? What benefit could there be in possessing these flimsy, ape arms that banged on the corners of walls and sprouted bruises of black and green?

She knew, better than any of them, where one found happiness. She knew the shape of heaven, written in quantum code and splayed out in a digital paradise that knew no bounds.

And so she sat, and stared, and waited for bliss to return with its usual, jingling dial tone.

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