The following is a creative piece I wrote for my Young Adult Literature class last semester. It's an imagined conversation in the vein of M.T. Anderson's sci-fi novel Feed. I feel guilty posting things I didn't write specifically for the blog, but I rather like this piece and think it stands on its own very well, even for those of you who haven't read the book.
Titus? Are you awake? She was chatting me. At one o'clock in the morning. I rolled over and tried to go to sleep.
I just had this awful dream. The feed somehow knew I was dying. I don't know how. Maybe FeedTech realized how bad my state is, even though the bastards denied my maintenance. Maybe it ran a self-diagnostic or something or other. But it knew.
And so it kept telling my dad about grief counseling and sending him ads for funeral homes. "Duckett-Robinson wants you to know that cremation can be affordable! This week only, cremate one body, get another half price!" and that kind of shit. And you know what it sent me?
Wow! Here I thought I was talking to myself.
I didn't wake up until you were already chatting, I lied.
Anyway, you know what the Feed sent me? An ad for the latest spa on the moon. It thought I should beautify myself. Look nice for the end, you know. Feel a little better being dead, because it would ease the burden on the living if I looked good dead. My dad told me that we, humans that is, like to think of death as clean, peaceful. Apparently, back in the day, they used to do funerals with the casket open. But they would only do that if the deceased—my dad says that's the word for a dead body—had died in a way that left the body looking perfect. They wouldn't do that for someone with AIDS—that was their version of the lesions everyone has—because that would make death seem violent, you know?
I didn't know. I could hardly follow her when I was awake lately, so I had no idea what she was chatting about now. She kept going, though. She was like,
My dad said that most death is not peaceful. He's not very good at comforting people. Who the hell am I kidding? He's not very good at people. Do you think he's right? Will it be painful? Maybe I won't feel anything at all. Like when my legs go completely numb. Titus?
I don't know. I don't know what death is like, since I haven't died yet.
There's no need to be an asshole. That reminds me. I came up with a theory.
A theory? I said. You sound like your dad. And she went,
Yeah, well, that isn't such a bad thing. Anyway, I think maybe the Feed is at its best/worst—it thrives—when we are at our best/worst. So when I fall down the stairs because something in my head is broken, it tries to sell me deodorant. And when I'm dying, it tries to sell my dad grief counseling.
That was just a dream, I interrupted.
I know. Let me keep going. But it's not just when we're down. It takes the best moments of our lives and makes them its own, too. Like when you give birth. Well, not you, but, you know, people. Women. It has to show you something, so it probably sends you the latest sales on baby clothes. Maybe a place to sell your maternity ones. Maybe more counseling, you know, for postpartum depression.
She kept chatting. We're a nation—minus the people without the Feed—of people not used to silence. We never hear silence. I bet silence would be blissful. Or music. And dancing.
I'm scared, Titus. What happens next? I know, you don't know what happens next. I think I might welcome whatever it is, though. Maybe somewhere else, it's silent. And maybe, like me becoming my dad, that's not such a bad thing after all.