Author: Anthony Nguyen

I woke up outside my body.

My husband welcomed me onto a server called

Like normal, my mouth moved and words emerged,”Hi John, it’s been a while.”

“Yeah babe, ya don’t have to be so formal.”

“I feel like I’m breathing while I’m talking.”

“They programmed our neurological patterns into the computer for comfort.”


“Which is weird,” he added. Then I imagined him stroking his stubble and taking deep breaths, taking in the clean atmosphere as he stepped off the ship and onto a new world. “Well babe, it’s weird ’cause they could just put us under, then unfreeze us when it’s time. There’s no need for this…out-of-body reality.”

“I guess it feels more comfortable, like I’m still in my body,” I said as I thought about nudging him. I decided to pull up the feed of my body’s pod—lifeless.

But I felt alive. It was an uncanny feeling.

Similar to our school days when we hogged the lunch table with the tall shady oaks, my husband and I hogged the server, affixing a passcode that only close friends and family knew. p0pkorn.

Yes. Zero and k.

Although it was wholly unnecessary because the client recognized our friends and family. Though, it was fun brainstorming a passcode.

I visited my physical body everyday—it resided in pod 47B, right next to my husbands’. There was something about the lifeless, tangible face that made me envious of life. Simulations just weren’t the same. Because if I had wanted to, I could feel the wind grace my skin as I relaxed under the shade of a cypress. But instead of walking out to Ma’s cypress in Monterey, the computer would’ve simulated it for me—and it wouldn’t be real.

Sometimes, my husband and I traversed other servers, where people had transposed fancy Michelin-starred restaurants or worrisome street food, or vacation spots of New Zealand beaches and Tokyo cybergardens.

Ma copied the Tokyo cybergardens server onto her own, so whenever I visited, the aroma of sakuras, soy sauce and second-hand smoke assaulted me.

“Take off your shoes,” Ma reminded me. She walked to the dinner table and imagined a ceramic tea set out of thin air. “Oiya, I made ramen, not the instant kind, the real kind—Hikigaya taught me.” Hikigaya was the Japanese chef simulation, who in all honesty, adorned the biggest, most inviting smile.

“Ma have you ever thought about simulating dad?”

“I’ve wished it, but old age has gotten to my head. Oiya… I don’t remember him too well.”

“Then are you ever lonely? Do you ever crave authentic relationships?”

She started pouring the tea, then placed it in front of me. “I have you.”

I warmed my hands with the teacup, admiring the strips of pink as it wrapped around the black. “How do you know I’m real?”

“Well because you’re my daughter. Also, nobody has as much difficulty with existentialism as you do.” Her restrained giggle escaped through her nose.

I continued to meet up with Ma every week. She learned most Japanese dishes within the first five years. Then she moved onto Italian, then Greek, then Mediterranean, then we lost track of time.

It was no longer an accurate form of measurement for we were infinitely ensnared in the cosmos. Time was a weird force, pushing us to socialize, learn, create, and wait—wait until our bodies were free to explore and settle in the next simulation. But until then, we were bound to this one.