alternative futures: it gets better

preface: this is a science fiction story, flash fiction style.

it was sekou’s 10th birthday. last year was a hard one. all he needed was some hope.

as was customary from the time children could read until they left the home of their parents, on their birthdays, they opened their presents and postcards in front of the family. just like in the olden days, the giving of gifts was a celebration of the relationship between the giver and the receiver.

but since scientists had finally figured out how to time travel without breaking the universe (butterfly effect and what not), most adults opted into the “it gets better” program. starting in 2117, any adult who lived away from home could send postcards from their future self to their past self. the bureau of time-space travel calculated one card per year, if it was addressed only to the past self and didn’t reveal too many details, wouldn’t warp time so much as to cause irreparable tears in the space-time continuum. of course, there had been many close calls in the experimentation (many, many close calls). but when the suicide rate among the first cohort of 10,000 dropped to 0, the decision was almost unianimous to expand the program.

and now, the year his moms had divorced, the year he had to transfer from his university learning circle, the year he started to get little hairs under his arms, he really needed a little light to keep him going.

after opening all his gifts and telling the mom he was staying with goodnight, he took the postcard upstairs to his bed, licked the bio-saliva seal to open the impossibly iridescent, translucent envelope and began to read.

“samirito!! happy 10th birthday! i know it’s been a tough year, but i just have to tell you, today was AMAZING. i just got a permanent professor job at MIT!…

excerpt that inspired this post

from on being episode with rebecca solnit

MS. TIPPETT: It’s a huge question. But just where would you start thinking about this, how is your sense of what it means to be human evolving right now as you write and as we speak? What contours is that taking on that perhaps you wouldn’t have expected ten years ago or when you were 15 and miserable? [laughs]

MS. SOLNIT: [laughs] Yeah. I was a really isolated kid, and my brothers teased me when I did girl things, so I wasn’t very good at girl things. So I wasn’t very good at connecting to other girls.

And I was just the weird kid with her nose in a book. And stuff. I have really wonderful people around me, really deep connections. And that’s incredibly satisfying. And it’s all kind of amazing. I think a lot of us wish you could send postcards to your miserable teenaged self. I always thought that “It Gets Better” campaign for queer kids, should be broadened, because it gets better for a lot of us.

My mother in her ever un-encouraging way when I won some big prize said, “This is all such a surprise. You were just a mousy little thing.” [laughs] But it is kind of a surprise. And it’s very — and it’s like to have this ability to participate and really kind of maybe be helpful to other people, to do really meaningful work. It’s all just this kind of astonishment.

words / writing / post-processing
304w / 13min / 10min