It shone. That was what drew his eye. A chrome oblong, no bigger than a pill. He stooped immediately to snatch it from the ground,…
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She could taste a deep crimson. The Zyrix was still booting, but her senses were already alight and crossed. The effervescence of carbonation on her skin. Every hair rose at once. A palette of six million different shades overcame and swallowed her whole. She could taste and feel and hear every one.
A chocolate protein bar she had when she was a teenager. It was from a gas station that her first boyfriend worked at. It was too chewy to be natural, too chalky to be real chocolate. A smudge of carob smearing across her upper lip. Every bit of the memory was there.
She touched her chin. She was 16. She could feel it. Skin that had only seen sixty four seasons.
She wanted to laugh. She had cheated death, after all. To feel sixteen again was powerful. The invincibility of youth.
She wanted to cry, but she couldn’t tell why at first. He was going to break up with her next week, and now it felt real all over again. Just remembering how it all plays out, and all these years later, it hurt again. Even her heart was sixteen.
“Hey, your cola.” said the handsome young man with hooded eyes. “Don’t uh, don’t leave it behind!”
He was in a light jog to catch her, shaking the can like a fucking idiot the whole way. He was cute, but never really that smart.
She would open it on the bus later. It was going to go off like a grenade. All signs were pointing to this day being a particularly shitty one. So why was she back here, of all places? There was no interface to pick where she went, she was just here.
She licked the carob from her lip. It was still there. She laughed. She was having a hard time believing it.
“You okay?” the hooded eyes stared at her with a tilt.
“Oh, yeah. Thanks!” She threw some sarcasm on it. She could remember the girl he ended up going out with next. She could almost remember her name, but why was his still escaping her?
“Tell Yezika I said ‘Hi’!”, she said as she walked away, her name coming to mind at the last second. She never felt truly betrayed by him or Yez, but always felt like she had the room to do so. It was only a week later, that wasn’t cool by any standard, right?
She was on Pine and 386th. The whole world was in front of her and at her disposal. She could feel the certainty all over again. The confidence and prescience that comes with being a teenager. She knew nothing and everything and it was all happening again.
She found herself on the bus. She looked around, and tried to get her bearings. Straight from the parking lot. She hadn’t moved. She could feel the bus lurch forward, yet saw people shuffling out of the open door and disappearing. Did she have gaps in this memory? She couldn’t see the driver.
The can of cola was in her hand. She stared at it, reading the ingredients to ground herself. It was all falling apart, but she wanted to ride the bus home, one last time.
Her fingers were on the tab. Her hands shook as she tried to stop herself. She didn’t want strangers offering their jackets. She didn’t want to walk home sopping. The smell nearly turned her off of cola for years.
It pops. Thousands of hornets pour out of the can, covering her neighbors, into her eyes. She rips the headset off. Eventually, she stops shaking, and starts packing the octopus of cables and peripherals back in it’s box.
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