IMMORTAL WORDS

In the morning it came on stronger, every day worse than the day before.  If he’d been warned this would happen, he hadn’t taken the warning seriously. Nothing hadn’t happened at forty, or forty-five or fifty, even sixty, the kind of numbers that are tarted up with adjectives like diamond and golden to hide their somber news.  However the number 64 stood naked in front of the mirror, with all its spots and wrinkles and hair in the wrong places, waiting for its adjective.  Tin maybe.  Brushing his teeth, he glimpsed gums ridiculously pink.

He, the mutt that dragged that face to that mirror, was going to eat the dirt sandwich.  That was bad but manageable news.  Everybody else faced that fact, or purposely didn’t.  Generation after generation.  It must not be too hard to take that one-way trip if everyone can do it. What made the news galling was something none of those pioneers ever had to contemplate: his might be the last generation to go. On the radio he heard a futurist say that since we are each a packet of information and information can always be backed up, we will therefore achieve immortality in a matter of decades.

What would his “information packet” look like? Who would reboot him if the electricity went out?  Was insecurity confined to the corporeal (assuming the fleshy carapace has returned to dust)?  Would his information packet inhabit a robot?

He wiped his mouth with the bathroom towel.  There was enough in the refrigerator to make a good breakfast but he had already decided to go to the café. It was a lovely summer morning.  Dozens of people waited for an outdoor table.  There was a single seat open at the counter which he took.  Janine brought him a glass of water.  “Spinach and goat cheese omelet, coffee, English muffin,” she said.

His packet of information would never be immortal so it was touching that Janine with the tattoo of a butterfly above her right breast who turned all straight guys into lepidopterists would remember.  “And no butter,” she said.

“No butter.”

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