Virtual Reality

She left the microwave open and the roll inside while she searched the house. She called out, “Hello? Who’s here?” The only answers were the birds in the trees beyond the patio. It looked like a beautiful morning to have breakfast outside. Her concern evaporated and she went back to the kitchen for her coffee and roll.

Out on the patio, she relaxed with her breakfast. On the table rested one of her favorite books. After finishing the roll and reading nearly a whole chapter, she startled. What day is it? Do I have to work today? Why don’t I remember anything?

She went back inside with the empty plate and half cup of coffee to look for her cell phone. There would be clues on it. It was worrying she couldn’t remember anything before waking up this morning. No phone was found in the kitchen, living room, or bedroom. For that matter, where was the TV or computer? There was a small radio bolted to the underneath of an upper kitchen cabinet. The only thing she could get to play was music – no news or commercials.

She went to her closet to look for her work clothes. No work clothes hung in the closet, but she did find soft and comfortable ones that she’d wear on vacation. Laine went back to the bathroom to look at herself. She appeared youthful, unlike the dream of being in a hospital. How old was she? She couldn’t recall her last birthday.

“Laine.” A voice seemed to echo in the distance. “Laine, we’re here to visit. I brought your daughter to visit you,” said the disembodied voice. “I apologize. Her program must be processing an upgrade. Give me a moment.”

Everything around Laine faded to a gray, then black, and then to a bright white. As Laine’s vision adjusted, she discovered she was no longer in her closet. She was standing in an empty white space with three adults and a small child. Laine frowned. “Where am I?”

“You’re in the Memory Sphere. Do you remember me? I’m Sonya, the caretaker. Do you recognize your daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter?” asked a plain looking woman.

“They look like they’re my age. How can they be my children? I would remember my own children. And I’m a grandma? How would a grandma forget their grandbaby?” asked Laine.

“Laine, you are seventy-three years old, sweetheart,” said Sonya.

Sonya turned away from Laine and faced the man, woman, and small child said, “I’m so sorry. Sometimes the upgrades have glitches. In that case, it takes the deceased’s algorithm back to an earlier time in their lives. Did your mother suffer from dementia or suffer a brain injury? It’s possible her later memories were corrupted. This would cause her to forget anything after that moment.”

The two adults shook their heads. The woman spoke, “But this isn’t really Mom is it? It’s only a computer facsimile of her, right?”

Lainie felt the back of her neck tighten and cheeks grow hot. “You keep talking like I’m not even here.” Sonya and the other three looked at her in disbelief.

Sonya turned back to the others. “I’m so sorry. I’ll talk to technical support. After they fix the programming issue, we can reschedule a new visit. Let’s go to my office and do that now.” She motioned for the three of them to turn and walk away.

Over her shoulder, Sonya said, “Go to sleep, Lainie.” Everything around Laine went gray, then black, then a bright flash of white.

Lanie stretched and rubbed her arms and legs against the smooth sheets. The morning sun streamed in to brighten the room. She murmured to herself as sat up. She didn’t remember going to bed last night. Remnants of a dream remained. Some people were claiming to know her, but they were only vaguely familiar. It didn’t matter. She was home now.

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