Friday, March 1, 2013

"2320" by Donovan Prestonville


            “Saffron, it is 8:30am and time for you to wake up,” a calm, automated voice stated. Confusing, harsh music blasted out of the ceiling speakers following this announcement. Down below a bed hovered a few feet above the ground, buzzing from the slight vibrations it was producing. All that could be seen was a knot of electric blue hair, vibrant against the stark white pillows. A groan escaped the sheets as a bundled mass rolled over. This was immediately followed by a shriek as the bundle continued rolling off the edge of the bed, and fell the few feet to the floor, landing with a muffled thump. The sheets began untangling themselves from the inside out to reveal a slender figure under the blue hair, sporting an equally striking sports bra and shorts.
            “Bed stop,” Saffron mumbled, throwing the sheets onto the lowering bed, no longer vibrating. She trudged over to one of the two mirrored walls in the room, rubbing her eyes, and attempting to detangle the blue mess. Lightly double tapping the mirror, she swayed sleepily as it turned ninety degrees to reveal a massive bathroom. This tiled room matched the bedroom in it’s pristinely white condition. “Shower on,” Saffron said, pulling off bits of clothing and throwing them into the laundry bin, just past the mini pool that was the bathtub.
            Twenty minutes later the mirrored wall revolved again and Saffron emerged, hair perfectly straight in a chin length bob and makeup on. She crossed to the other mirrored wall, stopping to peer out a window at the placid city below. “What’s the weather like today?” she asked, appearing to address the empty room. On the wall opposite the bed a screen lit up and displayed the day’s hourly forecast.
            “Today’s high is 84 degrees, and the low is 66,” read out the same computerized voice.
            “Hmmm...” Saffron mused to herself as she passed through the automatic double doors on the second mirrored wall. Just beyond the entrance she was confronted with a choice: turn right for “WINTER” or left for “SUMMER”. Going left she meandered down a long hallway, past sleeveless and short-sleeve shirts, skirts, and shorts on one side, and rows upon rows of shoes on the opposite. Reaching the dress rack she perused a bit and then extracted a bright pink, tailored peplum dress. On her way back to the main intersection of the closet, she grabbed a pair of Carl Nelson flatform sandals. Once dressed she returned to the doorway and contemplated all the jewelry hanging from the surrounding walls. Picking an obnoxious, silver necklace, consisting of many intertwined chains with a jewel dotted here and there, she paired it with simple diamond studs of varying size, for her five piercings. Checking her appearance in the mirror with a haughty glance, she snatched her tote on the way out of the closet.
            “What classes do I have today?” Saffron asked the emptiness once again.
            “You have European History, Moon Studies, and 18th Century Literature.”
            “Boring day,” Saffron muttered as she spritzed her favorite scent. “Get Felix, and if my brother asks, I’ll be home at 5,” she informed the disembodied voice, grabbing her iPhone, and exiting the room.
            “Very well. Have a good day.” The voice faded away as another automated door closed.
            Walking through her bleached house, Saffron was nearly blinded as sunlight poured in though the tall windows and reflected off every immaculate wall. Her parents had an obsession with pure white, and every surface in the house was kept polished and spotless. Clomping down the stairs in her flatforms, she payed little attention to the calls of her mother cooking in the kitchen, or those of her dad, packing his briefcase in the study. Immersed in her iPhone, she was checking status updates. The front door opened for her and she walked a few feet along the driveway before reaching Felix, her car. The little vehicle resembled one of those vintage hatchback station wagons, but it had no apparent windows or mirrors, and not surprisingly, was white.
            “Felix, go to school,” Saffron commanded, settling into the leather seats. The car’s engine hummed to life, the GPS coordinating itself. Sliding two panels out from behind the main one, she transformed her iPhone into an iPad, and pulled out a stylus to write. “Stop at Starbucks along the way, and play my ‘Favorites’,” she instructed. The car moved into gear and zipped off, Saffron in the back, scribbling on her pad.
            She was composing a quick essay on the simplicity yet complexity of modern life. Saffron paused for a moment, pensive in her contemplation of her life. She definitely enjoyed the advantages 2320 awarded her. She liked having so much free time as a result of all the computers and automated systems in her house. But really, when she thought about it, what did she achieve with all this extra time? She neither educated herself further by studying more subjects, nor expanded her mind artistically by expressing her imagination. Truthfully, she spent most of her time idly playing reality tv shows. Pretending to be someone else in more interesting situations, taking part in the holographic story. Saffron realized in that moment, how wasteful she was. She was acutely aware of the true emptiness of her technologically full life in that moment as her car maneuvered itself to the window of the drive-through Starbucks.

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