March 14, 2050
Hannah and I sat on my living room couch, drying our tears with tissues as we used Billy Allen’s dead grandpa’s ancient X-Tab to watch an old romantic film from the 1990s about a colossal shipwreck. For a brief moment, we managed to compose ourselves, but then they had to go play that sad yet strangely inspirational song sung a French Canadian lady.
“But she said she’d never let him go!” Hannah protested.
“Oh well,” I said. “Things happen.”
“Yup. The sea took him.”
Hannah blew her nose like a foghorn. “I just don’t get it.”
“Get what?” I asked.
“The girl was rich so she had a spot waiting for her on a lifeboat,” Hannah said.
“Yeah,” I replied.
“And the boy was poor but he had a perfectly good piece of driftwood to cling to for life until help arrived,” Hannah said.
“Right,” I said.
Hannah shot me an incredulous look. “So…”
“So,” I said. “What?”
“So,” Hannah said. “Why didn’t the girl just go get into the boat and let the boy hang onto the piece of driftwood and then they could have just met up later once everyone got on land?”
I put my arm around my granddaughter. “Sweetheart, that’s a question that the world’s greatest philosophers having been asking for decades ever since this movie came out.”
“Is there an answer?” Hannah asked.
“Yes,” I said. “Women take everything.”
“I beg your pardon?” Hannah asked.
“They used to,” I said. “That’s just the way women were. You could give a woman everything you had and she’d still want your driftwood. Just ask your grandmother.”
“Ask her what?”
I realized this was one of those concepts that a young person would never comprehend. Divorce, and by extension, all of the residual resentments that went along with it, had been banned by the One World Order, so there was no way a kid was ever going to understand how it was possible for me to hold a multi-year grudge against her grandmother for running off with the few scraps my creditors left me with.
. I patted the little girl on the head. “Nevermind.”
“It’s weird that you and Grandma don’t live together,” Hannah said.
“Is it?” I asked. “I find it rather peaceful.”
There was a bowl of popcorn on the living room table. Hannah reached into it, grabbed a handful and started eating. “I hope one day the One World Order picks a man for me who will be willing to fall into the ice cold ocean to his certain death just so I can have his piece of driftwood.”
“Ugh,” I said.
“Something wrong?” Hannah asked.
“I just don’t like this whole idea of the government picking who you get to be with,” I said. “First, you’re too good for anyone in my opinion and second, what if they pick someone who stinks? Then what do you do? See, in my day, the time the Order doesn’t want you to know about, people were able to pick who they wanted to be with.”
“Did people make good picks?” Hannah asked.
“Meh,” I grumbled. I debated whether or not to crack another joke about Hannah’s grandmother, but opted not to. It probably would have just gone over the kid’s head anyway. “Let’s change the subject.”
Hannah yawned while I scrolled through the list of movies that had been downloaded on Billy Allen’s dead grandpa’s ancient X-Tab decades earlier. “What will we watch next?”
“Hmmph,” Hannah said as she nuzzled her face into my arm. “Comfy.”
“Oh,” I said. “Hun, you’ve got to watch this one. There’s this big German man who pretends to be a robot and he travels back in time to kill the mother of this guy to prevent him from growing up to become the man that kills all the robots. Can you believe this guy was actually in charge of what used to be Region A for a while? Oh well, just close your eyes during the part where he’s naked and…”
“Zzz.” My little girl was fast asleep, tucked snugly underneath my arm. I decided to save the battery life of the old X-Tab and laid it down on the coffee table. I picked up the remote control and turned on the state approved tele-web media monitor, which was located on the wall facing the couch.
“Let’s see what this schmucks are up to.”