In a creative writing class, I was given an assignment to project myself 50 years into the future and write about what life would be like. It is a story about longing for the old ways, longing for the “Analog” vs the “digital” world.
The view from my window never changes. There are no seasons here, no change in the weather. It is always daylight, night never comes. I miss the sunsets; I even miss the snow storms. I can see past the next building to the sky. It is always black. I really miss the blue sky. Tucked away in my mind, are pictures of the most beautiful sky. I remember the clouds, the white puffy cumulous clouds, the dark rain clouds, and the promise of a golden sunrise. I miss all that and so much more.
I was banished seven years ago, sent to live in this sterile commune. The new world government took over a few years before that day. So many countries had failed in the depression. There were so many wars; so much terrorism. There was famine and poverty. It was the greed and corruption of the rich that caused the chaos. It was the power hungry politicians that traded lives for their own gain. I did not want this world for my Great Grandchildren.
I have seen many changes in my life, some for good, some quite evil. When the new United World Council decreed that everyone over the age of 75 must give up their homes for the younger generations and live in the senior communes, my granddaughter delivered me to the shuttle base. She had no choice. The world is so overcrowded. The average lifespan is about 100, with many of us well over that. She chose to send me to one of the senior’s complexes built on the moon. There I would be safe from the violence running rampant on earth. I argued that being with family was more important than safety, but at my age, my choices have been stripped away.
I packed my small suitcase with a few precious mementoes of my life. Hidden amongst my clothing, I packed a small photograph album. Pictures I could touch and hold. I know I am clinging to the old technology. I do have other pictures stored in my computer but I still like the glossy paper photos. The other thing I brought was a small book of poetry. It is quite dog-eared and tattered, but I love to read, to touch the pages and savor the smell of the paper. The physical contact with the pages is erotic. I close my eyes and the smell of the old book transports me a better time. I can still see the library in my mind. It held shelf after shelf of books on every topic imaginable. I remember how important I felt as a child when I got a library card of my own. How I cherish the memory of searching through book after book until choosing just the right one to take home to read and re-read. Libraries don’t exist anymore. Some books can be found in a museum. The children get quite a laugh at the thought of having to hold such a cumbersome item. They have never had the pleasure of opening a new book, of taking in the fragrance of the words, of turning each page and feeling the smooth paper. The children only know about computers, they only read what they have to, the rest of the time is spent playing games or watching movies. There never seems to be time for running free.
I still consider myself quite fit for my age. I enjoy walking the perimeter of the compound. The brick walking trail takes me past the greenhouses where our food is grown. The trail winds between some fruit trees. I can’t believe these trees were planted just 7 or 8 years ago. They are fully mature and the fruit is large and plump. Here on the moon, the growing season is year round. The growth hormones in the fertilizer bring the crops to maturity in just a few weeks so the gardens do not have to be very large to feed the residents.
They have built hundreds of communities for seniors here on the moon. Each community is a city on its own. They are constructed with Hennex. The new material has revolutionized the construction industry. This material is tough enough to withstand the impact of small meteors yet is so flexible it can be moulded into any shape. The large domes overhead are put together in a very short time and are made of the clear Hennex. There is a protective coating so the sun’s UV rays cannot harm us. It is like a giant pair of sunglasses. To me it looks just like glass and steel.
We cannot leave our own community. The only time the airtight chambers are opened is for a crew change. There are some stores and a few restaurants along with a centre where we can meet together. The large park in the center of the community is a good place to get some exercise. It almost feels like fresh air. I sit on one of the benches and if I close my eyes, I can let my mind take me back to the time when I could walk through the forest or stand on the shoreline. I can almost feel the breeze in my hair and if I listen very carefully, I can hear the birds. I can taste the salty air and hear the waves crashing against the shore. I am filled with longing. I yearn for what was.
Life is not fun anymore. I feel like a prisoner. Trapped. I am held hostage in a foreign land. There is no hope of freedom. My heart keeps beating, keeps me alive. I had the transplant soon after the first mechanical heart was used on humans. A great invention, so good in fact that the hearts keep on beating long after was first thought possible. I feel a bit like a robot, programmed to go through the motions of life. Yet this to me is not life. Life involves freedoms, it involves making choices and taking risks. True life has been stripped away from me here. I no longer have any rights.
There is only one choice left for me. I have planned my escape. I will stow away on the next shuttle. I will travel back to earth and take my chances amid the chaos and strife. I will be free and that is all that matters.