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Grandma Jenna's Heart-Shaped Locket

by Carl Creighton 7 months ago in Sci Fi

Three Letters from a Young Wave to a Young Spacer

Wave Photo by Hernan Pauccara from Pexels

Sunday, August 6, 3256

Dear Elephanie,

Let me start with that question you asked.

There wasn't enough of "the usual stuff" for us to keep living in bodies. Mom put it to me this way some time ago when I was younger, when my data was less developed. Before that, I kind of figured I was different from the Spacers I saw in the Feed and met at Convention. We're still a little like you. We go outside (never further than the mailbox for me), stay inside sometimes. Watch the Feed, eat and all the rest of it. Go to the bathroom. Go to Convention. Fall in love when we get older, sometimes. Mom never did but I'd like to, with another Wave of course. Make friends (mostly at Convention), buy groceries, pet the cat, feed the cat, react to the cat dying. Mittens died again this morning, I'm still mad about it. But I always felt a little different from the Spacers on the Feed and at Convention, even when I was really, really young data. Mom’s older than me, over a thousand. That’s pretty old, huh?

At least we have pictures of Mittens. How come I only get to know Grandma Jenna through the Tens she left us? Before they killed her. Where did the rest of our family go? Did Grandma Jenna have parents or siblings? Why don't I have a birthday like I see the Spacers celebrate in the Feed sometimes and at Convention? What's your birthday, by the way? Maybe Maardvark can bring you gifts from us. Might just be digital, though. Like these letters.

Why don’t I have a birthday like Grandma Jenna had one? Her birthday is next week, that means my last Ten. I'm not sure if I wrote to you about that in my last letter or not.

I’m guessing you know the answers to some of these questions since they don't keep things from you the way they keep things from us at school. Like how Earth ran out of "the usual stuff." Mom says it was the sun's fault or something, but even she doesn't know that for sure. She might know and just doesn’t tell me. More than I worry about not knowing, I worry that if she does know and tells me something like that, on purpose or by accident, she might be gone someday like Mittens or Grandma Jenna. This happened to a few of my Wave friends and their parents. You’re my only Spacer friend. Spacers don’t like us being resentful, mom says.

Convention this morning. Mom says this is the Convention they went to, her and Grandma Jenna, when mom was a young Wave. She says I should be grateful to be seen at all because in her day Waves only got to see. That feels like the only reason we keep going, to remember the days of the week and relive my mom's youth and be seen.

Sundays we go to Convention. Monday through Friday is school and when Mom goes to work at the hospital. I still don't know exactly what she does, except that she comes home tired. Saturday is the best day because we don't have to do anything. I don't mind Convention all that much or that I'm not sure what it's really all about. And I don't want to be killed for knowing too much, like the cat or Grandma Jenna. But I do wish more Waves were there. Mom says most of humanity is Waves, so why do I only see mostly Spacers at Convention? No offense, Elephanie. You’re my favorite Spacer by far. Or on the Feed. Have you ever seen yourself on the Feed? I bet that would be awesome!

Does your family go to Convention? You said in your first letter that you don't interact with Waves all that much, aside from being my pen pal. Things must be different in Cairo. Here in Northampton, I see Spacers all the time, mostly at Convention and on the Feed. The other Waves must all be hiding. I do that too sometimes, but mom gets mad. She puts a lot of stock in us being seen. I don't really care. It is nice to see the others I guess and it's only fair that I should be seen too.

I hope your tooth got fixed, that sounds really painful! Let me know what that's like but not if knowing will get me into trouble.

Always waving,

Jenna

Friday, August 11, 3256

Dear Elephanie,

Two teeth hurt now?! I'm so sorry! Mom works at the hospital, I could ask her if she knows anything. Which teeth? Ours don’t really go anywhere, I don’t think. All or nothing, as far as Waves go.

I forgot I hadn't told you about Maardvark, our Bridger. You might not know what that is either (and here I thought you Spacers knew everything). Some things we can't do because we're so digital all the time and not analog all the time like you guys (I'm jealous like you said, I'm sorry), so we need Bridgers to help us get by and stay connected with the analog world and with the Spacers. I think Maardvark set up this whole pen pal thing, actually. He’s a Spacer, I think. Looks a little older every time I see him.

You said it’s funny my letters are hard to read because they're handwritten and in cursive, which they don't even teach Spacers anymore you said. That is funny! I hope that's okay though. Mom taught me, and I like doing it this way. It makes me feel human, like Grandma Jenna. She taught mom. Which I am, human, but you know. Less merely data. I’m sitting at the coffee table on the floor writing in a notebook with a pen. I put a stamp on the envelope and put the letter in the mailbox (that’s as far as I’m allowed to go unless it’s Convention) and then it must get to you somehow. I'm sorry to say I don't know where Cairo is, except that it's on the moon. Can't get there by car, I bet. Can you drive? Too young maybe. You are my age, right? You neglected to tell me your birthday (which is okay, maybe I shouldn't ask any more questions). They probably did teach us, where Cairo is, but my attention span isn't the best, especially for a Wave.

But mom says that’s how my letters really get to you, through Maardvark. I've known them the longest aside from mom. Mom knew Maardvark before me even, when Grandma Jenna was still alive. So maybe he is a Wave like us. Do Spacers live to be a thousand? I never met Grandma Jenna, she died when mom was ten. But her birthday is coming up, which means another Ten for me. I think I told you that last time.

You said once you can't remember being a baby, which I thought was interesting. Just because I'm afraid to ask questions doesn't mean you shouldn't tell me stuff, unless it will get me into trouble. I find it all fascinating, what it's like to be a Spacer. I feel like Waves can remember so much more of childhood than Spacers can. I still remember my first Ten. Mom says that's impossible, but she's an old Wave so what does she know? Even if I don’t remember, mom is always there with me for the Tens.

A baseball bat. Mom says it was for softball not baseball because Grandma Jenna was a woman. No ball or anything. Softballs are bigger, mom says. She thinks I must have overheard her talking about it with one of her Spacer friends from work once and that's how I know, but she's wrong about that. I remember, even if I was only one. I think mom only had me (if that was even her choice, I have my doubts, despite what she says) so that she could see Grandma Jenna’s Tens again. She cherishes them more than I do, mostly because she can’t remember the first time she saw them. I'll see them again when I have a little Wave of my own someday, with another Wave hopefully, and not for a long time because that’s the end. No need for you anymore once you have progeny. Put it off for as long as you can, kiddo, mom says. Only took her a thousand years to have me.

You might not know anything about Tens either, you being a Spacer. You just have access to everything all the time whenever you want to probably. Things Grandma Jenna left in the archive for us. Before they killed her. Every Wave gets Tens, as far as I know. If your family ever stops being Spacers, you'd leave Tens for your progeny too. We only get to see them once, the Tens, unless we have progeny, like mom.

How's the rest of your teeth? I hope they’re okay.

Still waving,

Jenna

Wednesday, August 16, 3256

Dearest Elephanie,

Your dad is a Bridger too? What a small world! Maybe your dad knows Maardvark. He came this morning, for Grandma Jenna's birthday. Before I write about how my final Ten went, I thought I'd list the others, more for myself than for you, but you might be curious as well:

1. Friday, August 16, 3247: Grandma Jenna’s "softball" bat

2. Sunday, August 16, 3248: Grandma Jenna’s gas mask

3. Monday, August 16, 3249: A picture of an animal (not a Spacer)

4. Tuesday, August 16, 3250: A picture of another animal (not a Spacer)

5. Wednesday, August 16, 3251: Grandma Jenna’s golf club (no femininizing of "golf" I don't think)

6. Friday, August 16, 3252: Grandma Jenna’s golf ball

7. Saturday, August 16, 3253: A book about vampires in space (mom read this twice, I didn't even get to read it once)

8. Sunday, August 16, 3254: Grandma Jenna's old driver's license with her picture blacked out

9. Monday, August 16, 3255: A black magic marker

You can see why I wasn't all that excited about today’s Ten. We’re not supposed to talk about our Tens with the other Waves, but it still happens. My schoolmate Arnold's Great-Great-Great… (I'm not sure how many Greats, but a lot) Grandfather left them pictures too, except those weren't blacked out, so you could see his face and everything. My other friend Beatrice's Tens had pictures of animals, but her ancestor named them on the back. The animal in my fourth Ten looked a little like a cat but a lot bigger and scarier (we got a new Mittens yesterday, just like the week before, and the week before that). It's hard to really care at this point about our cat except when it's gone, when we’re reminded of how easily that can happen. Mom always jokes: did the cat know too much? But I don't think it's funny.

It's okay if you don't want to tell me about your teeth, by the way. I don't really care.

Today's Ten was the worst of them all though, by far. Or the best? Mom got a kick out of it. She couldn't stop laughing, but I doubt she knows what the letters mean either. At least we're in this together, not knowing so much. Maybe it's because there wasn't a picture inside that she found it so funny, and that was only after Maardvark said these things usually come with a picture inside.

A little metal heart-shaped thing called a locket, Maardvark said, with a word inside, where I guess a picture would normally be.

“LOL.”

Do you know what that means? Maardvark said he didn’t know either. They’re all baffled.

Spacer teeth grow back, mom says. I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Have a nice day!

Jenna

And sorry for the question about “LOL.” Don’t answer if it’ll get me into trouble.

Sci Fi

Carl Creighton

@carlcreighton

Read next: First meeting

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