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Lily was annoyed and upset. Her mom switched her virtual reality helmet into school mode and while Lily’s friends were chilling on some Australian or Brazilian beach, she was locked in her room. Lily’s mom won’t unblock the helmet until the homework is done. Lily was thirteen and she didn’t care about a history class and what had happened 30 years ago. In those ancient times, people were so undeveloped that they actually had to travel if they wanted to see a place.


The teacher explained that in these times people could really touch other people just for the greeting and some individuals were careless enough even to sleep together in one bed. Lily didn’t care for such savages. No wonder they were absolutely defenseless when the virus came.

 

Lily’s homework was to research and prepare the story of her family in those times. It was optional, but her mom insisted that she do it. For reasons unclear to Lily, her mom was strongly attached to those times.


Sighing, Lily picked up her iPad 29 which was integrated with the helmet, looked for an ancient app called Instagram and opened her mom’s account. Since 2030 every moment of life had been recorded and everybody could put the virtual helmet on and watch their own life in 3D with friends and family. But back in the 20s people were still addicted to posting pictures of the important moments. 

 

Lily scrolled back to 2020 and saw a photo of her very young mom wearing a black square hat and sitting next to an old-school computer. There were several squares on the screen and in every square Lily saw a picture of a young, smiling guy wearing a black hat like her mom’s. Most of the young men in the picture had beards — a barbaric and unhygienic male trend of those days.


Below the photo Lily’s mom posted: “My graduation party during the lockdown. Looking forward to the day when I can hug everyone.” Unbelievable, keeping your physical body in a safe place was considered something incorrect, something limiting! 


Then this word “hug.” Lily knew its meaning but she couldn’t get the idea. Why would Lily’s mom want to touch all those people? Was it a strange dangerous method to learn if any person had a fever? 


Lily watched some explanatory videos about this ritual. Seems that people hugged each other to express their emotions. As if emojis were not enough! Of course, nowadays emojis are much more developed and appear as a hologram both in virtual reality and in real life, but even back in those days people had been already using them in messengers and chats.

 

One more sigh and Lily started to compose her homework. She wrote:
“When the virus came, my mom was a young, reckless rebel. She urged people to meet in person and propagandized physical contact. Even on her graduation day instead of celebrating this great achievement, she was hoping to see her friends. My mom is a very smart woman but even she didn’t realize the whole danger of being social. Her behavior shows us how careless and naive people had been before the World Restriction Law passed in 2023. I’m glad my mom has changed; she would never touch me or any other person because she knows how unsafe it is. Dangerous unhealthy times have passed and we’re living in a brave new world.” 


“Mom, my homework is done, can I please go?” — Lily asked the empty room, knowing the word “mom” would trigger a notification in her mom’s helmet... Her mom connected immediately, virtually nodded and switched Lily’s helmet into leisure mode. Straight away the girl connected to the chat with her friends, who were lounging on the rim of a volcano in Hawaii.


Her mom was left alone. Like all other parents, she had access to her children's notes, so she took a look. 


She saw her old Instagram picture and wondered If Lily realized that one of the guys in Zoom was her father? She doubted it. Lily was born after the beards had been prohibited and she wouldn’t imagine her dad having one. Then she read Lily’s note. 


If there were somebody else in the room, they would see a woman sitting alone in a helmet. Even through the helmet’s glass they would notice a strange expression on her face. Somebody from her generation would think that she was crying but how is this possible? People of the bright new age don’t express emotions. They use emojis instead. 

 

 

Bio: Russian living in Colombia, traveler, amateur writer

 

 

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