Friday, May 22, 2009

Daily Story 37: Ebb and Flow

They don't make 'em like you anymore.

That's what Doc Glennie says, his voice echoing inside my shell. My innards are in a heap on the workbench in front of me so I can't reply, but I think about it. It's true, in a literal sense. My memory is going bad, but I know Doc means something else - I think it's a compliment meant to imply that something has been lost along the way even while progress was made. That sounds right.

Doc Glennie stands and sighs, though I can't remember if that's voluntary or not with him. He's looking out the big roll-up garage door of the hospital at the warehouse, eyes flicking and eyelids fluttering. I remember watching my friend Alan dream; it looks a lot like that. Doc is going through his inventory and the inventory of other hospitals, looking for what I need. Alan was probably imagining he could fly. He told me he dreamt of that often.

There was a time when they could make anything out of anything else, pulling matter apart molecule by molecule and re-arranging the pieces. Now Doc is ordering parts for me from an antique store. We lost something, and I don't even remember why or how. I forget what we've forgotten.

Soon there won't be a way to fix my body, and Doc will send my brain off to the Retirement Center where I can sit on a shelf and wait for my memory to give out completely. It's not long now. I'm looking out past the warehouse, to the orange sky streaked with clouds; I try to imagine flying through that sky, silhouetted across the moons as I head past the city over the wasteland. I can't imagine like Alan could, though.

Doc Glennie reaches into me again, tells me he's jury-rigging something to tide me over. I distract myself from the sound of something snapping by trying to pull up my oldest memories. The sky is blue there, with just one moon. Alan is a baby, and his parents have left me to watch him. I was good at watching babies. They don't make those anymore, either.

I'm as fixed as I can be for now, and Doc and I step outside onto the dusty street. Some young people walk by on their way to a party, all shining and new. Their chests rise and fall as they laugh, harking back to a time none of them remember. Smiles and facial tics and the Doc's sighs. Everyone is looking for what we lost, but there's nobody left to show us the way.

I thank Doc and head off, creaking, towards the edge of the city and beyond.