Andrew pushed the bedroom door open, pausing just prior to the inevitable creak of the hinges. He peered through the crack into the semi-dark room.
Aurora laid on her back on the mattress. Her eyes were closed and her chest rose and fell with shallow, even breaths; anyone else would have thought she slept.
He opened the door and let light spill in from the hallway as he walked to the side of the bed. Aurora’s eyes shifted beneath her dark-smudged lids. One corner of her mouth twitched occasionally in the closest thing to a smile he’d seen from her in weeks.
Andrew sighed and slid a finger across the tablet on the nightstand. He tapped the wireless connection icon and then tapped the button which read disconnect.
Aurora’s random movements ceased. After a few seconds, her eyes opened. He could see his reflection in the lenses that covered her blue eyes.
“It’s time for dinner,” Andrew said softly.
“I’m not hungry.” Aurora’s tone was harsh and irritated.
“You need to eat. You need to get up and move, Aurora. It’s been three weeks.”
“I don’t need to do anything.”
She reached for the tablet but Andrew caught her hand. Her skin felt cold and dry, the bones protruded and rolled beneath his fingers. Aurora narrowed her eyes to thin slits and jerked her hand away.
“Aurora, please,” Andrew pleaded.
Her face softened somewhat, and then a tear formed in the corner of her eye. She turned her head and let it fall; another chased it over the bridge of her nose.
“I can’t,” she whispered.
Andrew opened his mouth to speak, closed it, and finally nodded.
He stood and turned to go but paused at the end of the bed.
“You know, if I have to take you to the hospital for an IV they won’t allow personal VR equipment.”
Aurora touched one of the wireless receivers along the top of her scalp which allowed the program to interact directly with her motor cortex, making her think that her body moved in response to what her lenses showed her.
She didn’t look at him. She stared at the tablet on the nightstand, waiting for him to leave.
“Aurora, you can’t stay in the past forever. He’s gone.”
Aurora’s fingers moved from her scalp to the tablet.
“It feels real. I can hear him and see him. Andrew, I can still feel him in my arms. That’s the world I choose.” She tapped the screen to reactivate the wireless connection, then tapped a picture of a blue-eyed little boy who smiled and spread his arms as he prepared to jump into his mother’s embrace.
Andrew closed the door behind him as he left his wife alone with her memories.
This is the brief seed of a story that came to me this week and it got me thinking:
If you could go anywhere, or experience anything, through virtual reality (or a virtual environment) what would you do?