Friday Flash Fiction: Remembering Lisa

This week’s flash, feedback – as ever – is welcomed:

Remembering Lisa
By Neil Beynon

You’re always most tired before you die or so all the uploads used to tell me. That was back when I worked on the Nets as opposed to living on them. Actually, I guess I probably spent more time on them when I was alive – I used to dream about them. Now, when I dream, it’s not about the Nets. Why dream of endless night punctuated by blazing blots of binary? People go mad in here, they told me that as well – I didn’t believe them and I don’t expect you will.

In the dreams I have these days it’s not the Nets I see but Lisa raising her sleepy-eyed face from the pillow, the flower of trapped heat blossoming across one cheek and a cascade of curls falling over her bare shoulder. In other dreams it’s Vikki and Joe running across the beach towards the ocean, their shrieks and laughter lifting the seagulls into the sky, I can smell the brine.

I don’t know why I keep dreaming about things that never happened. I never – to my memory – recall seeing Lisa in the morning because I was always up first, never willing to sleep too long. As for Vikki and Joe…well they never existed, I made them up. Why? I have nothing better to do in here and you can’t help wandering down the avenues of what might have been, fingering at the ifs: if I’d worked less, if I’d listened more, if I’d realise she was sick or if she’d told me. ‘If’ is too heavy for such a small word.

Those aren’t the only dreams I have. The one I hate the most: Lisa in bed, her slender frame emaciated to the point of being skeletal, her breathing a shallow rasp broken by too long pauses, like she was being dragged a little further away. At the end there are always choices: to medicate or leave alone, to pull the plug or carry on, to be there or not, to upload or fade away.

I never understood Lisa, not really. I didn’t get why she wouldn’t wear all one colour or that the duvet had to be tucked in with the buttons at the bottom or why she liked her toast on the side rather than under her beans. I wondered why she liked hip-hop and glam rock but loathed soul. And I was utterly bewildered by her love of Dickens whom I always found depressing. Most of all I never understood why she chose not to upload.

We never discussed it and at the time she said no to the technician I was too shocked to say anything. They only ask once. I suppose I should have asked but I didn’t, there was so much to do and so many other things unsaid. I ask the others but they either don’t know or don’t care or are beyond understanding. It’s not all bad, there’s plenty of new information on here every day, the world still turns for now and as long as it continues we’ll be here. I trawl the feeds for possible answers on Lisa; I haven’t found any yet. Give it time – I have plenty of that.

In the dream I hold her hand as she goes and that stops it being a nightmare. In reality I didn’t and that’s how I always know it’s a dream – when I wake it’s dark and there’s no one to hold my hand until the next burst of light.

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