We wake the next morning which is a Sunday. Rosie goes about frying some eggs and bacon in a saucepan on the stove in an unbuttoned shirt of mine. The view is breathtaking. We sit down at the solid wooden table to eat.
“Where’s the button?” Rosie asks.
“The table button?” I’m laughing like crazy. She’s looking everywhere for the button on the table; lifting up plates and glasses and the salt and the pepper.
“Babe, I can’t find the button.”
“There’s no button Rose.” I laugh.
“What? How am I gonna read Cosmo? This is ridiculous!” She slumps back into her chair.
“You’re going to have to take money with you and walk to the milk bar and buy one like everyone else.” I’m grinning.
“This sucks. The future is better! And cheaper! Grr.”
“You won’t get anything for free around here.” I say.
“Shut up. This isn’t fair.” She’s sooking.
“Rosie. Relax. Life isn’t fair. Stop being impatient to grow up. Just chill. We will get there. Come here.” I say, and she comes and sits down in my lap in my unbuttoned shirt where I can see parts of her breasts. She leans in to kiss me and I welcome her mouth over mine, willing and ready. She smells of cinnamon and her perfume. I pull away to kiss and suck the side of her neck and she hums and wriggles against me.
“What are we gonna do for the next twenty years Bax?” She breathes.
“This.” I say.
“That sounds like a wonderful plan. But I mean career-wise.”
“Paint I guess. We should go to the art suppliers tomorrow.” I say.
“Hmm. It feels weird doing everything the old fashioned way though.”
“Digital canvas hasn’t been invented yet Rose.”
“That’s another thing that sucks.”
“We have to accept it.”
“We could always track down Volt and get him to give us some blank digital canvas if he knows where to get some from.”
“Volt hasn’t been born yet.” I calculate it quickly in my head.
“Not born yet? Oh my God. How weird.” She’s giggling.
There’s a knock on our front door and before I even open it I already know it is. We don’t have many visitors.
“Dot. Come in.” I tell our elderly neighbour who walks straight down our hallway and into our kitchen and over to the kettle where she flicks the side button on and then stands against the granite benchtop facing me and Rosie.
“It arrived yesterday and it won’t shut up. Does it have an off switch?” She’s talking about her robot.
“Haha. No Dot they don’t have off switches.” Rosie giggles ushering Dot into a chair and making the tea for her.
“It won’t let me do anything. I go to make a cuppa and it takes over. I go to put on the telly and it takes the remote off me. I was in the shower this morning and it pulled back the curtain and handed me the shampoo. I pulled the shower hose off the hook and whacked it out of the shower. Cheeky metal git! Doesn’t know the meaning of privacy!”
“No, they don’t do they?” Rosie smiles.
“Where’s yours?” She asks, looking around our kitchen.
“I had to put him in time out upstairs.” I say, when really, Rosie pulled its belly button out with a pair of her make up tweezers and we stuffed him into the garage cupboard. We do not want to suffer Lobadantriosis because a robot does everything for us. But Dot doesn’t need to know that. At her age, whether she likes it or not, she needs all the help she can get.
Dot doesn’t stay very long. She has only really come to complain about her robot. Rosie sees her out and closes the door behind her.
“Wait till printers come out. She’ll really hate them.” Rosie smiles.
“She won’t be around then. She’ll be around ninety. I doubt she’ll still be with us bless her soul.” I say.
“I’m going back into the studio. Call me if you need me.” Rosie says, leaving me to watch the football on TV.
“Will do.” Rosie and I have made a good living for ourselves over the past ten years painting and selling our paintings to galleries and art dealers. Zephyr, I guess, knew this would be the case. The past three months we have just started painting on digital canvas and boy is it strange. I can’t really adapt. Rosie loves it and she spends all of her time in the studio practising her skills with the stylus brush on the screen. I find the whole process of digital painting really bizarre. I’m so used to dipping a brush into paint, but with digital painting the stylus senses which colour you’re envisioning and it embeds it into the pixels. I can’t decide whether I like it or not. I’ll give it a few more months before I decide whether it is for me.
A few weeks later Rosie and I make a trip to the doctors to have our calling devices embedded into our wrists. They cost $500 each, and funnily enough we can afford them.
On our way home we drive past the technology recyclers to hand in our phones and laptops. They will crush all of these old modes of communication and use them to build “new cars”. Rosie and I understand these new cars will be the flying cars that will start being manufactured by Qantas in a few years’ time, although we don’t say anything of this to the robot serving us.
Our calling devices are definitely the in thing and every other gadget and calling device external to our bodies seems extremely outdated and unnecessary and Rosie and I knew this would be the case. We just didn’t know when this would happen. We still have our TV mounted on our wall, and eventually I’ll drop that off at the recyclers too because Rosie and I can watch any show or movie we want on our wrists.
I begin realising the fun has been taken out of acquiring all of this new technology because we already know about all of it.
When we get home, an ambulance is parked in Dot’s driveway and we jump out of the car, slam our doors closed and rush up to the robot paramedic in charge.
“Excuse me. She’s our neighbour. What happened?” I ask quickly.
“She has expired Sir. She is very old and her organs can no longer sustain her.”
“Where are you taking her?” Rosie asks.
“To the crematorium Miss.”
“Is she having a funeral?” I ask.
“There is no funeral stated in her will Sir. And she has no family to speak of.”
“Well, I want to give her a funeral. If you don’t mind. Can we follow you to the crematorium?” I say.
“Of course you may sir.” The robot in charge says.
We hop back in our Jeep and drive behind the ambulance transporting Dot’s body to the crematorium in Hobart. We park the Jeep, get out, and walk inside behind two robots holding Dot on a stretcher.
“I’m getting a food printer. Woohoo. I just ordered it on the table.” Rosie shouts at me one day when I have just walked in through the front door after having a beer at the local pub with a few mates.
“Of course you did.” I say, pulling her to me and locking her inside my arms with my hands clasped behind her back.
“How much are they?” I’m intrigued.
“Forty thousand dollars.” She’s looking up at me.
“You don’t want to print your clothes then, I take it?”
“Yes, I want to do that as well. This first though.”
“You do realise that you are absolutely spoilt don’t you?” I grin.
“I am. I am very lucky. You are one wonderful husband. What can I say?”
I am a wonderful husband yet at thirty seven I am still not a dad. Rosie and I desperately wanted to be parents but Rosie is infertile and after twelve rounds of IVF, we have given up on wanting to be parents. Explains why there were no kids in our last trip to the future albeit neither of us realising there was an absence of children in our lives. We were so busy and focussed on getting our hands on Proxy and worrying about Lobadantriosis we had no thought for the children we might or might not have.
“Where’d you go?” She asks me.
“I was daydreaming. Sorry.”
“Hmm… I think about them sometimes. The kids.” She says, letting go of me and sitting down on the sofa with her cup of tea.
“The ones we don’t have. Me too.” I say, and the pain hits me in the chest. She has her legs resting across my lap and I’m playing with the frayed cotton in the ripped jeans over her knees.
“We can time travel, create things like Proxy, yet we can’t have children. Life is so unfair.” She says.
“Life can be cruel sometimes. Fucking so cruel.” I swear.
“You know what else is cruel? Knowing Mum and Dad are a state away and knowing we can’t see them.”
“I know. It hurts me too. We’ve just got to wait for Zephyr to give us the ok.” I say.
“I know but it has been twenty years. That’s twenty years we will never get back.”
“Hopefully with the longevity formula they’ll live an extra twenty years to make up for the ones we missed hey?” I say, pulling her head toward me and kissing her hair.
A car pulls up in the road outside our house and beeps. I swing the front door open and see a flying Jetson-like car waiting for me to get into it.
“Rosie! Albert’s here!” I shout, running back inside to get my leather jacket.
“Is he? Oh my God. About time. I’ve been waiting for this for twenty years!” Rosie follows me out the door that locks itself behind us, we hop into the flying car called Albert, and he zooms off into the sky.
“Good evening Mr and Mrs Coppel. Where are we off to this evening?” Albert asks us.
“Albert, can you please take us to Melbourne? We have some old friends there that we’d like to see.”
“Albert, It’s Jake. Not Sir.”
“Sorry Jake. Pardon me. I will never manage that. I keep forgetting.”
“Not to worry Albert. It’s fine.”
“Would you like some music Sarah?” Albert asks her.
“Yes please. Can you play: The Other Side by Jason Derulo, Red Lights by Tiesto, No Words by The Script, I’m All Yours by Jay Sean, Hello by The Stafford Brothers, and Gold by Kiiara.”
“All the old ones. Excellent choice Mrs Coppel.”
“Thank you Albert.” Rosie smiles and snuggles into my side. We’ll be in Carlton in fifty minutes so it’s a very short car ride.
Albert stops in front of Mum and Dad’s house in Carlton, and Rosie and I get out and knock on the front door. Albert zoom away again.
“Hello. Who are you?” George asks us.
“Hi George. I’m Baxter and this is my wife Rosie. Can we come in?” I ask.
“One moment. I don’t know you. Let me ask Henry and Vivian if they know you.” George disappears down the hallway and I push the door open and let myself into the hallway.
“Baxter! You’re alive?” Mum says, pulling me to her and hugging me tightly.
“Mum! You thought we were dead. We weren’t. We were in hiding.” I say, following my mum and Rosie and George down the hallway into the kitchen.
“What do you mean you have been in hiding? Hiding from what?” Mum is astonished. Dad is coming in from the back yard. He has been doing some gardening.
“Baxter. Am I dead? Is that you? Son…” Dad drops his garden tools and gloves and runs to me to pull me to him.
“Dad. No, you’re not dead. You’re alive, and so am I.” I say.
“Wait. You don’t have Lobadantriosis.” Rosie asks them straight away.
“Lobadanty what? No. What is that darling?” Mum asks, flicking on the kettle and selecting some biscuits and chocolates on the screen on the kitchen wall.
“Never mind.” Rosie looks at me. I look at her. They don’t have Lobadantriosis. That’s amazing.
“Mum. Your robot. Does he do everything for you?” I ask.
“Everything like what honey? That’s quite an ambiguous question.” Mum pours the boiling hot water into four mugs and then follows it with some long life milk which she has taken out of the printer.
“Does he feed you, dress you, shower you? Anything like that?” I ask.
“God no. Your father would have a heart attack if George started doing everything for us. You know what your Dad is like. Who have you been hiding from? Rosie, your parents have been distraught. Just as we were. We thought you were both dead. Where have you been all this time?” Mum says.
“Cut a long story short Mum, Rosie and I have been living in Hobart. There was a man who would have been after us if we kept our real names. The man who kidnapped us when we were eighteen.”
“This man? What was his name?” Dad asks me.
“Mr Spoon.” I say.