She baked him cookies. Well the 3d printer made them as she mentioned the recipe to him in the video chat with only a brief hesitation as the computer searched for her recipe. She smiled and told him of her day the day before and how she had made a new vase in her art class. A few seconds later he had it in his hands.
“wow, nice work on the handle” he said smiling.
“Thanks, don’t you like the base?” she asked also smiling.
“Oh yes” he said while running his hand across the smooth bottom of the vase.
He took a bit of a chocolate pecan cookie and it was delicious.
“You make the best sweets, you really do” he said to her big brown eyes only slightly pixelated.
She grinned that smile he had come to love as much as he loved clouds, that band that once had the song that saved his teen life, as much as he loved the river that he swam in as a child.
“Thanks. I love that you eat them while we talk together” she said as her cat circled the room, a bird flashed past her window, the clock rang noon. She had never met someone quite like him, something of how he thought, his kind eyes, the way he saw weather as a big book, how he was so kind.
Outside his window was the slate gray sky now breaking again to rain. It had been raining for a whole week. The first clouds filled in as though made by pencils, then charcoal then thick coagulating fog and low gray and the on and off rains.
His bed’s wooden retro headboard had a built in monitor, five 3d printers and speakers hidden away. She seemed to emerge from the wood as though summer swimmer from ocean, her shoulders breaking the ocean’s skin whole to come to shore. She had a wall mounted thin screen and 3d printers along a shelf like so many photos of memories or books.
“Two years. Today.” he said softly, almost in a whisper to her sweet brown eyes that he sometimes felt he knew more than his own.
“Two years” she said even softer, her lips curling like a small wave on her face.
Outside her window another bird flew past, this one a flash of red then away , past the cut rectangle of her open window. The day was hot and a car horn broke like thunder then was again silent.
“My brother is coughing again today. They say the end is soon.” he said blankly, the words of a certain weight from his mouth as the rain fell harder behind him.
‘” I am so sorry. You know I am always here for you.” she said warmly with sad eyes.
Outside her window the street came alive with some kind of minor car crash. An argument. Then quiet. The sky seemed pregnant with something in the quiet, something to break loud in the clear blue afternoon.
“Thank you. You are here now. That is more than I can ask.” he said as a gust of wet wind blew in his room. A crack of lightning split veins across the sky but he stared at her.
His new liquid printer buzzed on beside him and she had made him her favorite tea. His food printer buzzed back into life and they ate a kind of pizza together in silence and sipped tea, her in Mexico City in sun, Him in Los Angeles in a raging thunderstorm.
A month before they had vacationed together again in that beach house. They lay together in bed and watched the waves on the shore, cuddled as the bonfire burned outside the sliding doors. They ate together, walked the sands, spoke of their future lives and all the uncertainties of life and the dark world of their time as the sun set each evening for 4 days. It of course was a simulation, a shared VR space with each paying for the 4 day package, but it was so real. The only glitch was at the end and it was just those few odd moments.
That politician if he won in his country would possibly bring the final war all had long feared. In hers it was the same. The weather had been odd for a while, with his City seeing rains in the dry season and drought in the wet while hers had floods then no rain for an entire year. That new technology had been more entertaining than the last and more people walked into fountains, more cars pressed into each other in odd embraces as heads followed graphics not the dull drone of actual roads. Many whispered of an odd sense that this might just be the end of the world.
“How is your mom doing?” he asked munching on the last printed cookie, still warm.
“She is ok, been quiet again today. But she goes through her moods.” She sipped her tea, happy he was sharing it with her against all the miles.
“Ah. Mine is talking today. She said the mood broke again. She is tired of worrying of ..well..you know.” He marveled as he had for so long at her eyes, at the kindness and brilliance radiating in them, how lucky he was to know her at all.
Outside his window thunder rumbled hard and loud. He ran to close the window as the wind shifted and huge drops came rushing in , a sort of intruder from darkness above. The storm was like he had never seen now, a rain heaving back upward from pavement like a sort of steam, the clouds so oddly high yet raging now with lightning and rain. His neighbor was cursing again. That litany at everything and nothing so common now from the old man.
“Made some new models today for my class on Car design.” he said smiling. Her third printer whirred on cue and made an exact replica for her to hold and see.
“Ah. Very nice. I really love the aerodynamics.” She secretly hated cars but would never tell him. He loved them so.
“Thanks. Soon it will have a wing for flight. That is the next step, the next assignment.” He saw the wind and rain buckle his window, raging outside but his room was quiet but for their conversation, the sound of birds and cars outside her window.
It was all more real than real he thought. She was with him, they shared foods and drinks, ideas and things from school almost instantly, a stream of sharing at once and the world pressed away. She was there. He was with her. With VR apps they could travel to anywhere together, could even go to space or worlds from films and great novels to hold hands as experience it as one. It was a marvel. It really was. With other apps they could feel each other’s touch. With one app they could sleep and see the other’s room as their own, see the two seemingly in one room, any sky outside for a small extra fee.
The last vacation had that odd glitch though, that bug. He suddenly was outside on that beach when it was set to them in bed together, the sand all around him with crashing waves oddly colored. He had called to her but on her end she was still in the room, just thought he had been temporarily disconnected. The sea was odd purple and blue, olive greens to froth on the pixel synthetic shore. A boat emerged on the shoreline full of soldiers then it was gone. Snakes appeared in the sand, some with two heads, some poisonous, he screamed out to her but she heard nothing on her end but the birds outside, a car speed around a turn. A snake bit him and it was terrifying but caused no pain, broke the illusion, then he was back in their bed as though nothing had happened. It shook him in a way he could not put into words, like the odd storms, the news of the weird things in space, of the odd gurgle inside he also felt that this may be part of a life cut short by something beyond. But she was here with him, realer than real, tea and snacks and she sent him her latest recipe for soup, it was nearly filling a once empty bowl. The storm outside could go on forever, she was here.
“I uhm. Hello?” He saw her face seem to go oddly opaque, almost see through with birds passing through a dull sky of her hair. It was unnerving.
“I am here. I am here.” She said softly as her 3d printers whirred to life in unison making snacks and drinks and possible future cars as his panic rose again on the other end. The objects were almost birthed from his anxiety this time around like after that last vacation when she thought he was still beside her. A bird flew past her window as a cup of odd tea fell to her floor hard before she could catch it.