“When’s your roommate’s birthday?”
Eri was lying on Az’s bed, reading manga on her Weave device and stuffing her face with snacks. It was that kind of afternoon for her, a laze around, feeling mopey kind of afternoon. She looked up at Az’s question confused.
“Isn’t it August 24th like it says on her papers?” Master hacker here should have known that from day one.
“Um Samantha?” Az waved his hand in front of Kei’s face. The girl stopped staring out of the window and snapped to attention.
“You okay?” They were doing homework in the common room. Kei hadn’t touched her problem set in ten minutes.
It didn’t seem right.
The boy at his computer frowned. If you were some kind of elite gymnast that could leap from the nearby fire escape onto the narrow ledge of the window into this room, you would be struck by how typical this cluttered scene looked. Or perhaps you wouldn’t be struck, because it was extremely typical.
There was a knock on her door frame.
“Merry Christmas, Es.”
Az stood in Esp’s doorway, wrapped in a scarf and a sweater. He held a slight package wrapped in festive colors in his hand.
Esp pretended to check her wrist for a watch, “You seem to be quite a few days off.” More than a week and a half actually. She turned her chair around to face Az and tilted her head, “Leaving for the break then?”
“Not me. I assumed you’d be heading back to New York or New Jersey or something.”
“New Hampshire actually, and no, I’m staying here. To keep you company, I guess.”
Esp turned back to her desk, “Sure thing, Az.” There was the very familiar feeling of the elephant settling into the room. “You actually caught me in the middle of present wrapping.”
Among the many breakthroughs in the early twenty-first century, the Weave was perhaps the most influential and far reaching, or at least had the potential to be the most influential and far reaching. The Weave was not extraordinary in concept or in implementation, but in its level of involvement and cooperation. Built by several corporations and governments working in tandem, the Weave proved to be more widespread and integrated than any similar project before it, greatly increasing its effectiveness and usability. It was a successful attempt to finally make that constant internet connection that most people had and enjoyed more than a plaything or a distraction, interweaving the network with the everyday. For example, for a night downtown, the Weave would flag down a taxi and direct you to it through your phone or mobile device. Mass Transit would remember which stops you frequent and how best to get to them at the current time. Stores would display information about special discounts, daily deals, and recommendations based on previous shopping experience as you enter their doors. Menus at restaurants highlighted favorites and specials of the day, then orders could be placed expediently and tracked from the kitchen to the table. Clubs were accessible with a swipe and a wave, and you would be alert to what friends were nearby or inside and what the occupancy was like. The bartender could have a drink prepared for you as you passed by, and you could tip a standard amount with a swipe on your phone or mobile device. And all transactions were possible with a digital signature and a press of a button, thanks to the Weave.
When pressed, Kei would reaffirm her belief that her relationship was pretty much perfect. When pressed, Loch would also reaffirm the same.
When pressed and told Kei wouldn’t find out, Loch would hesitate.
“Nothing is wrong. Everything is fine.”
Pretty little lies with dainty little teeth.
In the off season, gymnasts were encouraged to try out other sports and activities to keep conditioning up. Especially those gymnasts from teams that competed year round. It was a chance to try something new, be someone different.
Boxing was one of those choices. Kept arm strength up, developed the upper body. Relieved stress.
Lex would never say it out loud, but she had nicknamed her sandbag “Feng.” Its namesake was doing kung fu or something. As a rule, they did not talk and tried their best to stay out of each other’s way. At least Lex did. Eri was probably oblivious to all this.
The girl was a source of constant vexation.
So Eri came to the conclusion that she did not have a whole roommate. Hers was defective, or a robot.
“She doesn’t do anything but study, go to class, and sleep! Like seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her go to the bathroom.”
“Does she shower at least?” Kei didn’t look up from the scale she was weighing zinc on.
“What? Of course.”
“Well, you never know with some people. There was that one senior from our freshman year…”
“Goddammit ‘Rika, stop doing this. You know you can’t fly.”
On the contrary…