After the Reception

I never knew my mom and dad. I remember them though. I remember the way they felt, the way they moved, across silicon and light. The way they spoke to each other. Even the way they fought.


I remember so clearly how my dad felt the first time he met her. The first time he lost her.

He was barely a thousand years old, still a kid, really. They’d both had their bodies back then, and genders or sex. Whichever. Either way, she was still a she, and he was still a he. It’s strange, looking back, how important biology was to us human beings then. Just a couple thousand years later my dad could barely remember what it meant to be a man. I suppose it couldn’t have meant very much at all.

They met at a waystation in what we then thought of as “deep space”. He was in an Artistic Cycle, trying desperately to capture, in oil on canvas, the effect of radiation streaming off a nearby quasar.

She’d arrived on a raft destined for that very quasar.

I remember that he’d found her cool, objective as a mirror. And not very impressed with his work, a failure in judgment that he wrote off as a consequence of the cognitive reassignment that came with her switching from a Legal to a Scientific cycle.

Green and Yellow, Red and Blue

Abdulaziz sat on the floor and listened to the screams and the music through his window. Outside, everything was wild. He wasn’t old enough to remember the last election, but he couldn’t imagine it being as loud as this one.

He was scared.

All that noise, those colors… It was too much.

When his bedroom door creaked open, he jumped. It was only his bibi, though. It was only the old woman who took care of him. He loved his bibi. She was the only person who treated him like a normal child.

“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “You’re safe in here. You’re always safe in here. That’s why your father keeps you inside.”

“I thought it was because of what happened to Mama,” he said. He looked down at his hands, at the little, dark wrinkles that crisscrossed his palms.

“That too. Dear, you know you’re special,” she said. “It’s just a precaution.”