She didn’t break her gaze at the clouds, laying beside him in the grass. ‘Plenty of ’em. Why?’
‘Remember that feeling of temporal endlessness? Like there was no end to it in sight, those most carefree of times, doing as we pleased with no agenda at all. Nowhere to be, nothing to do. Those days we could just be.’ He turned his head to look at her, see her eyes reflecting the faint rays of the afternoon sun. A gust of wind caused the grass to tickle his cheeks. ‘I haven’t felt like that in years.’
To meet his eyes she broke her gaze, then spoke softly, but not hesitantly. ‘They weren’t necessarily better times though.’
He didn’t respond, wondering what wasn’t better about the perfect world they had lived in on those laid-back summer days. Nothing about his current situation could compare, he couldn’t imagine ever feeling as safe as he used to.
‘They were nice as vacations, but you wouldn’t want to live like that forever.’ She turned her attention back to the clouds, still crawling through the sky. ‘There was no purpose.’
‘Purpose?’ he asked, swiftly sitting himself upright. ‘Any purpose we try to attach to our lives is less meaningful than our lives themselves. Purpose is just a mental construct, something you use to justify your actions. You need to be able to let go of it, have the freedom to do something that serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever. If we’re–’
‘Shh.’ She pressed a finger against his lips. ‘I’m going to have to stop you there. You shouldn’t be getting so worked up about these things. This, too, is life. And it’s more beautiful with a context around it, something to spur it on.’ Unfazed by its brightness, she stared right into the sun. ‘Besides, it’s time for you to get to work again.’
Those words. She had said them a hundred times before to signify a temporary end to their time together, and yet they were still painful to hear. He pulled a remote out of his pocket, held it carefully with both hands. ‘I’ll see you soon.’ he said.
‘Stay safe.’ she whispered.
A soft click of a button. The sky faded, the sun burnt out, the grass withered. It all disappeared, and so did she.
Virtual reality is still the future, right? What about digitalizing your brain?