It was some hours later that she dropped in a heap on her bunk, arms sore from her training with Peter, mind buzzing with thoughts about the work she was learning to do, and what it meant for those around her.

A face appeared in the air from the top bunk, the color of velvety milk chocolate. “Hard day, Sally?”

She lifted an arm to make a gesture, then thought better of it and let it flop back on her belly. “We,” she announced, “were not meant to work in the factory. Remember that, Dennis.”

“I’ll make a note of it,” he said, and flipped down to sit beside her on her bed. “Did Peter beat you to a pulp? Everybody said he was probably going to beat you to a pulp.”

“He didn’t beat me to a pulp,” said Sally. “He was teaching me how to make Blu-Rays.”

“I thought we did it with cellophane and a light bulb?” said Dennis, adjusting the points of his socks.

Sally watched him fuss with his stockings. He didn’t know. He didn’t even know what it was he should know. “Times are changing,” she said carefully. “Kids don’t want knick-knacks anymore. They want video games and bluetooth. We need to be ready for the transition.”

“Video games? Pah!” Dennis chortled, snapping his fingers and hopping to his feet. “Just another fad. Like pogs. Remember pogs?”

“No one remembers pogs, Dennis,” said Sally.

“Exactly,” said Dennis. “They were all the rage for half a decade, and then poof! Gone. I think I still have my slammer somewhere in my things. Want to see it?” He danced off to the dresser and opened his drawer, started rifling through his belongings.

Sally sighed. “This isn’t a fad, Dennis. Video games have been around almost fifty years. It’s time we all got with the program. That includes you, you know.” She hated herself for saying it. It was just that morning she had been complaining about the work involved in training on the new system. But Dennis needed to see the urgency of the situation, so she pressed on. “Sooner or later, no one’s going to ask for a hobby-horse or a train set. They’re going to be asking for smartphones, tablets, virtual reality headsets. Even the old-fashioned kids are asking for retro-style systems for playing outdated video games. The technology isĀ lapping us, Dennis.”

“Found it!” Dennis stretched his hand in the air, holding a thick, circular piece of plastic. He brought it over to Sally. “See this? One of a kind. You can’t even buy stuff like thisĀ online. Lena made it for me. It’s priceless.”

Such joy, she thought. He doesn’t know. He’ll never understand. “That’s great,” she said. “Really, it is.” The hope in his brown eyes was too much; she looked away. “Hey, I’m exhausted, I think I’m going to turn in. You mind turning out the light?”

“Oh, sure,” said Dennis. “Never really understood why we have lights in the first place; all of us can see in the dark.” He hopped over to the lamp, flipped the switch, and bathed the room in deep shadows.

The darkness was comforting. Outside the window, the aurora borealis filled the night sky with a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors. She allowed the display to lull her to sleep, her dreams marked by the clanging of hammers and the scattering of sparks.

 

 

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