Author: Mark Joseph Kevlock

“Why, sir, the past is a portal to happiness!” the interior re-decorator barked.

“I guess,” Smithfield hedged. “I’m just not sure about this anymore.”

“But the work is complete! Your living room, your entire downstairs, your upstairs, your backyard, even — all are redressed in sync with 1976 and ready for transport. With just the push of a button, you will be reliving your childhood memories once again!”

Smithfield surveyed the living room around them. He had to admit: they did excellent work at Timespace Incorporated. Every detail had been accurately recreated from the numerous photographs he supplied. The color of the rug, the texture of the paneling… even the holographic simulation of a typical day on Main Street that ran outside of the big bay window facing the front. Darned if his neighbors didn’t wave to him from across the street — computer-generated images compiled from public records such as driver’s licenses and various newspaper clippings. Even those who had died decades ago, like Old Man Feelaw, lived again!

Mortonson the re-decorator cleared his throat loudly.

“Ah, yes, your payment in full,” Smithfield said.

“Quite good, sir. Enjoy!” Mortonson departed.

Smithfield stood alone, cradling the control box. The refrigerator was stocked with 1970’s food. He didn’t plan on coming back for a long while. Life had gotten too tough for Smithfield. Too many disappointments. Too many of his family and friends no longer living. Smithfield pressed the button. The simulation fully activated. 1976 was his!

Later on, he could watch primetime TV. But for now, Smithfield stepped out into his childhood backyard. The gym set hadn’t been torn down. The walnut tree still stood. Even the sun in the sky was as he remembered it. Smithfield wept. The surrounding neighborhood wasn’t really there, of course. But Smithfield was. And that was all that mattered. Or was it?

Smithfield pressed the button again. 1976 deactivated. Smithfield called Mortonson back to the house.

“A problem, sir? Most unheard of! But rest assured — ”

“There’s no problem,” Smithfield said. “Not as regards your re-creation, at any rate.”

Smithfield handed the control box to the re-decorator.

“The problem is with me. I just can’t make the leap. I thought I wanted to escape. But not that completely. For a moment, as I stood there, I didn’t even know who I was anymore. You understand, don’t you?”

Mortonson nodded, suddenly more a psychologist than a salesman. “A very common reaction, Mr. Smithfield, just between you and me….”