One can acquire anything at BUILD A NEW YOU with the press of a button. Desires are met with contractual agreements. Signatures placed with a glance.
Lynn Dean is Joshua’s wife on some days and just a lover on others. It all depends on her mood.
The couple walks into a store and casually shops for new augments.
“Honey, look at that one!” Lynn says.
She points to revolving images of babies, toddlers and teens. From newborns to young adults. As one image moves into another, fading in and out, classical music grows to a crescendo. A luxurious ambiance.
Lynn focuses on an adult form clad in a tailored Armani suit. She witnesses the details in awe, carefully investigating each fiber, sinew and hue of the blossoming human form. Blonde hair and blue eyes, muscular and tan, reading a copy of Dostoyevsky’s Notes From the Underground on a park bench. Sitting quaintly amidst a beautiful cascading waterfall.
Joshua abides as Lynn pleas nonchalantly for her husband to undergo the changes she desires. She points to this and that with a self-righteousness that Joshua finds exhausting. He wishes she’d just stay up all night thinking how much she loves the man she married. Instead, he senses she wouldn’t think twice about leaving if he didn’t do this.
“Please honey, oh please! Look at him! He is perfect! Can we get that one!?” Lynn asks.
A slight desperation in her voice. She mistakes Joshua’s calm stoicism for passive agreement. As if he were asked to choose between different cereal brands while grocery shopping. Joshua remains apathetic. Says nothing as his lover stares obsessively at John #3.16a749
“He’d make such a good you! I just adore this version,” says Lynn.
The couple had purchased Daniel #6.36149beta-alpha-plus the year prior. A perfectly handsome, humorous and playful man. Witty and self-assured. It seems the alterations always fade around the ten month marker. Sometimes seven, Joshua can’t keep track.
Today’s visit to BUILD A NEW YOU invites wanted change for Lynn Dean. Joshua never appears to get used to the updates. He endures the suggestions as Viktor Frankl endured isolation.
He always feels like an outsider looking in. Seeing some version of someone he’s not. After a while you just forget who you are, he thinks.
Caveat emptor, he thinks.
In the midst of paperwork, finalizing the purchase for template John, the sales representative, tapping a Ferragamo wing-toed dress shoe stops, clears his throat, and asks, “And… Mr. and Mrs. Dean? Pertaining to faith and God, what do you wish for Joshua to believe?”
Somewhat taken back by the question, Lynn asks, “Well, what do you mean? Belief has never been a part of earlier updates.”
The BUILD A NEW YOU corporate representatives explains after taking a sip of ph10 brand bottled water, “Since last year’s purchase of Daniel our patented and trademarked vesicular monoamine transporter 2, or, VMAT2 GENE, makes it possible for our clients to choose whether or not your product will have a built-in genetic disposition towards faith. Belief in God or, higher being, as you will…”
“Ooh, how intriguing,” says Lynn.
Joshua coughs. Fidgets. Eyes look to the ground. No bottom to the depravity of vanity, he thinks.
The sales representative continues with a plastic face that might be mistaken for a child’s play toy. Joshua begins to feel dizzy as the Ken doll in front of him drones on.
“For an additional charge of 15 thousand dollars you will never again worry about the impermanence of being. Further, such a trait may be added with no additional cost if you care less about eye color, height, weight, etc., by which you can now exchange this trait with your basic package of ‘choose your ten’. Should you wish to purchase a premium package over the basic for an additional 200 thousand we can include any trait of your desire with no additional fees,” explains the salesman.
Lynn responds with an agreeable grin.
This makes me sick to my stomach, Joshua thinks.
“Okay! Yes! Yes, of course… Joshua shall love God as well,” Lynn says.
Joshua holds hands with Lynn. Not because of love but habit. Fingers interlocking. He squeezes tightly. Knuckles white. Unkempt nails begin to pierce flesh below metatarsals. Lynn pulls away indifferently. Swipes at a lock of hair draping her eyes. Joshua finds her hand once again and gives no option to let go.
“The premium package it is! Sky’s the limit!” Lynn says with genuine enthusiasm. “Right, honey?”
Joshua nods like a toy soldier.
“Sure. Great. Wonderful,” Joshua says.
Entropy flows in any direction when men play God, he thinks. I’m going to vomit, he thinks.
How can I change the momentum of this nonsense, he thinks. Would Lynn accept the same brutality, he thinks.
A comic book cloud pops up from his three pound fallen brain.
My turn - it reads.
“Are you still offering the Marilyn Monroe/Nicole Kidman hybrid augment? I’m just asking on behalf of my lovely wife here. She was interested. Wouldn’t that be just swell, honey? We’d make the perfect couple then, wouldn’t we?” Says Joshua.
Her eyes cut through him. More out of surprise and spiritual egocentricity than anger.
Lynn clears her throat and endures the onslaught that follows.
“And we’d certainly be interested incorporating this… faith gene thing you speak of with her updates,” Joshua says.
He unravels his fingers from hers and places her hand around her waist. Size 4, he thinks. Perfectly her, he thinks. What would she do if she were the one looking down upon her own existence, he thinks.
A little Nicole should help. He looks at her dark locks of unidimensional flat hair. Beautiful you, he thinks. A tincture with Marilyn should lighten things up, he thinks. Blondes have more fun, right Lynn? He thinks.
A dirty squall of anxiety suddenly comes over Joshua. Everything feels absurd. Somewhere in the shadows of his mind he gains an uncanny momentum of doubt and regret. This BUILD A NEW YOU place becomes a destination where identities are based on a pathetic notion that perfection might somehow be reached.
Joshua couldn’t fake the feelings any longer.
He couldn’t stand to play along, and he questions why the woman he married chose to do so.
His lover looked sad in the eye of his mind.
He felt alone.
Joshua is young but lately he’s been thinking about death. Lynn is even younger and she wastes her days with thinking this is how it’s always going to be. Joshua says that “in the garden” there were no augmentations to make everything better when Satan seduced Eve.
BUILD A NEW YOU was the same lie that ever was.
Hide from God and know what He knows.
Lynn wisps another lock of brunette hair from her face, chuckles and says casually, “But you said I was perfect, Joshua?”
She looks to the salesman who gives her a slight wink of affirmation. Joshua is used to this and pays the gesture no mind.
The world seems to close in on Joshua. This is how the true panic always begins. Like a buzzing fly that bursts into a vicious flame. Tinitus or something like it makes it so he can’t hear. Both Lynn and the salesman seem to be saying something to him but the world swells in and out and Joshua is dizzy. His head in a vice, all he can sense is the erratic throbbing of his own heart.
“What about Marilyn Monroe and Nicole Kidman do you want, Mr. Dean?” Asks the salesman. He asks the question the same way he’d inquire about the weather on his connection device. Obnoxiously twiddling a gold-plated cross pen. Some initials or hieroglyphics personally engraved on it’s apex.
“Joshua? Honey? We never talked about an update for me,” Lynn says.
Joshua focuses on the projected image of the baby. He ignores the man the child becomes. They only know because of the augments they add. Playing God.
Disgusting, he thinks.
He both hears and understands.
He realizes before he speaks.
“Because you are perfect, Lynn. We never needed to talk about it. I don’t want you to change.”