Friday, 25 December 2009


This is another of the set of short stories I wrote for the New Scientist Competition. I don't really recall how it came about but it probably had something to do with some family stuff going on then. That feeling that most kids seem to have when they hit adolescence (well, at least I did, 'cause I remember it well) of wanting to grow too fast, to reach maturity as quickly as possible.
So, in a way, this little story is a short meditation on that, from both sides of the equation.


(591 word count)
What happened? Are you alright? You look terrible.
I’m fine I guess. Humm… no really. It’s ok. I’ve just been looking through my great-grandparents stuff.
Really?! Why would you want to do that?
Genealogy. I just wanted to find out a bit better how they lived back then. You know, twenty first century style.
Honey, why would you want to do that?
I guess I’m trying to find some closure in my own life, you know? What’s it all about? Did they know any more than us? Did they learn anything?
The woman paused and looked intently at her daughter. Then said
Well, did they?
I don’t know. I don’t think so. They spent an awful lot of time doing lots of pointless things. “Surfing the web” Publishing snippets of their emo-mind states and hoping that others would spot them.
Well, we do the same. We’ve got Z.
Sure. But that’s not an activity in itself it’s-
-just part of the landscape. I know. But don’t be too hard on them. This kind of stuff was born there. They godfathered our era. For better or for worse.
It’s just that I’ve gone through all this drivel about what I’ve done or eaten today or what I’m planning on buying or whatever and what strikes me the most is all the misinformation they were surrounded with. The world was upside down. Couldn’t they see it?
Honey. Of course they could. They were just stuck in their own time. We all are.
I know that. But why didn’t they realise it faster? Why did they get so easily stuck?
Honey, they didn’t have the technology we have today. Neuron balancing therapy, synaptic realignment and cortical regenerative processes were only invented less than thirty years ago.
Sure. But these techniques, they didn’t tell us anything that we didn’t know before…
I know honey... but they did allow us to reach those ideas much faster than ever before. That’s why they were so important in the first place. Now what I think is that you shouldn’t get yourself so worked up simply because you can’t sort out the past. No one can. What’s done is done… You know, when I was your age, we used to spend so much time in I-Reality. Who pays any attention to that these days? You’re seven. Don’t worry yourself about all this stuff. You have the rest of your life to do that. Just enjoy what you’ve got right now. All these mementos… honey, they’re just echoes from the past…

Is she alright?
Yeah. She is… I had to have the “you’re looking too much, too deep” conversation again.
Well, if anyone can, it’s you honey. I’m crap at that sort of stuff.
You’re not… but thanks. The woman leaned over to her husband and rested her head on his chest. She’s just so young and already so much into all this deep brooding stuff. Were you ever like that when you were a kid? More worried about the philosophical consequences of your ancestors than actually spending time with your friends?
Nah. You know me. Always a sucker for putting up with my mates. But don’t start getting worried on me to. One out of three females is as much as I can take.
Oh, poor baby… does that mean you’re not planning on worrying then?
You better pray I don’t even show early signs. I’m impossible to put up with…
Thanks for the fair warning…
Hmm… Kids these days hey? They just grow up too fast.

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