Author: Jules Jensen
Things are changing. The line in the sand is gone, washed away by changing tides that everyone saw coming but not this fast. In his eyes, I see the difference. I see the tech.
“You have no idea how good this feels.” He says, smiling, and I bite back the comment that he used to feel good all the time, and he doesn’t need the tech to do that. We used to have fun all the time until he started to obsess over the latest trend in self-augmentation.
He focuses on something in the distance, the lenses in his pupils narrowing in on something so far away that no normal person would be able to see it.
Actually, most normal people probably can see it, since I’m one of the only ones that didn’t think shoving tech into my eyeballs was considered an upgrade. He catches the look I have on my face, and suddenly he frowns.
“Don’t be all high and mighty. You have a hearing aid, don’t you? How is this any different?”
His words hang in the air. I think of losing most of my hearing as a teenager, and now that I’m in my thirties I finally did something about it and got the hearing aid. Did he feel the same way that I did when he got his lenses put in, the intense hit of emotion when I realized my life was going to be better?
“There was nothing wrong with your eyes,” I say finally, defiance and guilt battling for supremacy within me.
“People all over the world do lots of things to make themselves better. They go to school, they get training, they work out. This is just how I’m choosing to better myself.”
My contempt of the tech is starting to wane. He looks very unimpressed with me when I say nothing, and he walks off. We don’t see each other or talk for days, and I fear losing my friend, but I don’t have the guts to say sorry and make amends. A different kind of guilt gnaws at me, a curse that darkens my days and keeps me awake at night. I feel bad for not expressing how much I care and worry about him, for not saying sorry, and for not being more open-minded.
A week later, it happens. To this day, I’m not sure what started it. Some say solar flare, some say aliens, some say weapons testing, some even say it was divine intervention. I say it doesn’t matter; the outcome is the same.
People stumbling blind or deaf or not stumbling at all because they had tech in their spines to make them stronger and now its toast, cars not starting, radios broken, every piece of tech non-functioning and burnt up. I find the friend that stopped talking to me because of mutual ignorance, slumped in his home, cowering and crying. My hearing aid is gone, but my ear that can sort of hear on its own catches his shaky apologies. I feel guilty all over again, not because I had anything to do with the EMP blast that rocked the world, but because I wasn’t there for him when it happened.
I tell him that I’m sorry, that it’s okay, we‘ll get through this together and I’m there for him because this is what friends are for.