Jan 11 prompt: In 1949, Popular Mechanics predicted that computers of the future might only require 1000 vacuum tubes, take up half a room, and only weigh 1.5 tons. They did not foresee the advances in micro-electronics, or the transistor. Write at least 500 words set in this alternate future. You could tell the story of a character in this future, or transport someone from the present day into it, and observe the differences.
I miss my wife. We married and had children while we were young. High school sweethearts, we were. She was my rock through all the late nights, the conferences, the report writing. She really believed in me, as much as I believed in this project.
“Why couldn't people have their own personal computer at home? Why should this invention be solely for business?”
“Think of the opportunities! Think of the entrepreneurial possibilities, Mary! The door is wide open and I know that we can do it first!” She was always enthusiastic with me and for me.
I wish I could go back and spend more time with her when she was ill. I should have worked from home. I should have said no when overtime was demanded of me. I should have been there more.
When she died – it felt as though my dream to take technology into the future, died with her.
I quit my job and moved out into a cottage on the lake. Just me, my boat and my fishing rod…. No technology research ever again. The desire to be best and first had, in my view, stolen precious time I could have had with her, and I would not let it steal any more of my life. I didn't care if people ever got a personal computer or not. I just knew I wasn't wasting my life on making that happen.
“Hey dad!” a voice called out to me.
I turned to see my son, Tom, walking down the jetty to meet me. “Hey son! What a nice surprise!”
My grandchildren were hurtling toward me “Grandpa, Grandpa!!”
They loved coming here. It was quiet, there were trees to climb, forts to be made and insects to search for.
“Heyyy kids!” I bent down and stretched out my arms. “How are you guys? Gosh, look how you have grown! I haven't seen you in ages!”
I looked up at my son, “You didn't tell me you were coming! I have no food.”
“How am I supposed to let you know when you refuse to have wifi, dad?” Tom shook his head disbelievingly.
“You need to get over this whole tech phobia that you have, and then I could call you and let you know.”
“I told you before son, and I will tell you again, there will be no modcons here.”
“Where is Alice?” I asked, suddenly realising that my daughter-in-law was nowhere to be seen.
“She couldn't make it this time, but she sends her love.” he replied. “Dad, can I drive you to town quickly to go and grab some food. We can stay a few days if that's OK with you?”
“Of course, let's go.” We walked up towards his car and drove the 30km into town.
“Shall we have a quick cup of coffee?” Tom asked, as we parked.
I knew he would want one of those fancy city coffees, and the children could be treated to a milkshake. “That sounds like a good idea son.”
“Excuse me Miss”, Tom said, “could we have a black coffee, a latte and two milkshakes…. Oh, and your wifi code.”
I looked at him ominously. “Is THAT why you wanted coffee?” I asked, “you honestly cannot go one day without that stuff?” I was angry. “We are meant to be having time together, chatting, catching up! I haven't heard from you in over a year!” I could hear my voice betray my emotions.
“Calm down dad, just give me a second.”
I watched him fiddle with his phone for a moment, and then I heard it ring. He answered, “Hey Alice!” he said, “you ready?”
“Ready for what” I wondered. I knew I was frowning.
He looked up at me, pressed a button on his phone, and flipped the screen towards me.
“Dad”, he said, “meet Benjamin, your new grandson.”
I looked at the screen. This tiny little person, all wrapped in blue with sparking eyes.
I felt the tears welling up, and had to choke them back, “He looks just like you did as a baby!”
For a moment we just sat in silence watching this little person do nothing at all, and yet I was spellbound.
“Dad, I really want you to reconsider technology. Please. So we can still be a part of one anothers lives even though we are separated by miles. You gave up on it because you thought it stole your life, but if you resist it now – you will be losing so much more.”
I looked at him, and back at the screen – I knew what I had to do, I had to get back to the future.