Author: John McLaughlin

She danced across the living room in a yellow sundress, her heels tapping to flamenco on the smoky hardwood. It was Charlie’s favorite outfit–the one he’d gotten her for their anniversary. Her hips swayed like magic, he thought.

“So what’s playing at the Cineplex?” he managed with a tepid grin. “We should catch a flick for date night.”

She paused for just a beat: “Casablanca at 8:15. It’s a classic!”

“And then, I was thinking,” his lip quivering a bit, “maybe dinner at D’Amico’s. You love that place…”

“Two for one cocktails during happy hour, and wine is half off!” she shouted back mid-spin.

He was leaning against the mantelpiece for support now. His bloodshot eyes surveyed the room–dark, sunken sockets finally turning to hers.

“Sarah…did it hurt?”

The music stopped. Silence lingered while she stared vacantly into space, head slightly tilted.

“Sorry, I don’t understand the question.”

And then a smile blossomed wide across her cheeks. “Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Charlie staggered onto the couch and sent a pile of empty Buds tumbling across the carpet. The SureComfort cushion folded tight around his gut.

He blinked three times to switch off his retinal patch and the woman vanished.

But when he closed his eyes once more, her fuzzy outline still swam in his vision. It was the photon afterburn; a constellation of brilliant points that persisted for a few minutes after shutting down the implant.

Charlie didn’t mind it. He fell deep into the cushion, meditating on the shape of his wife until sleep took him.