'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Friday, 27 June 2014

KBR Short Story: The Simple Life

by B L Draper

I loved my grandma. She lived in a box on the kitchen bench, and always had time to listen to my complaints about homework or how dad forced me to take my hovercat, Pelaxia, for a walk each day before I could watch the holograph channel.

She was good at practical things too, the toast was always popped just at the perfect moment; lightly browned, when the butter melted into it just right. Mum never had to boil the kettle for tea either, grandma kept it bubbling at all times. It was kind of old fashioned as most other families had food replicators for such things, but my parents were traditionalists.

Besides, it gave Grandma something to do. I imagine she got bored, sitting in that box all day. I asked her about that once.

“What do you do all day, Grandma? Don’t you miss having a body?”

She just chuckled, the way she always had. “Being with my family is all an old lady like me needs. A simple life is all I ask for.”

Grandma was one of the first box people created. When the holographic channel revealed that experiments were underway for transferring people’s consciousness into machines, Grandma had volunteered at once.

“This old body is almost worn out,” she’d declared. “Imagine if I could be with you all forever.”

So now she lived in a box on our bench, and seemed happy with her simple life. Until the weird things started happening.

One day, as I lounged in front of the holographic channel, while Pelaxia hovered above my lap, the projected image of the cartoon robots flickered. Another image appeared. It was Grandma, I swear it! Before I could call out to mum or dad, she disappeared and the robots returned as if nothing had happened. I convinced myself it was my imagination, until the incident with the warp bus.

Each day, I stood at the wall screen and pressed my thumb against the school icon, so the warp bus could zoom me off to school. This morning, as I pressed my thumb to the icon, Grandma’s face appeared. This time I reacted a little more quickly.

“Grandma?” I asked, peering closer. Her eyes met mine and she looked startled, before disappearing. I hesitated, then withdrew my thumb. It was time to get to the bottom of this.

I left my school bag floating & spinning gently in the air as I headed into the kitchen. Grandma’s box sat quietly on the counter, where it always was.

“Grandma?” No answer. “Grandma!” This time I rapped on the box top loudly.

“Hello? Oh, hello dear. I was just napping.”

“I saw you, Grandma! On the holographic channel, on the warp bus screen. You got out of your box. What’s going on?”

So Grandma told me everything. With each word my eyes bulged and my mouth opened wider in shock. Grandma’s life wasn’t quite as simple as she claimed. In fact, it wasn’t simple at all.

B L Draper lives in northern Australia where she teaches by day and writes by night. Visit her website to find our more about her writing and other projects.

KBR Short Stories are a way to get your work ‘out there’—and to delight our KBR readers. Stories are set to a monthly theme and entries are due in the 25th of each month. Find out more here.

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