The Love of My Life

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2 years ago

George and Mary met on the first day of kindergarten.  They did not really notice each other at first, and George spent his first few days in almost complete silence, hiding at the back of the classroom and giving the shortest possible answer when asked by the teacher.  Mary integrated a bit quicker, forming a fierce pack of little girls that all wandered the playground together and one-by-one started wearing shoes with colourful lights that started flashing when they stepped against the ground.  It took George several weeks to open up, but soon he had a few friends with whom he spent recesses chasing each other in circles, while Mary wandered the playground in her group, giggling and shrieking.   

They in fact barely noticed one another until the third grade when they were assigned seats next to each other.  Mary’s first thought was that George smelt funny and he picked his nose all the time, even though she was not entirely innocent of the latter herself.  Those few months progressed slowly for the both of them, and everyday seemed to bring a new spat or tiff that would require the teacher’s mediation, but eventually they were moved away to the relief of all parties. 

Over the next couple years of grade school they spiralled around one another as their groups of friends formed and melted away again.  They would be at the same birthday parties, play at the same park and ride on the same bus, but would rarely interact directly.  In the seventh grade, George and Mary played a game of dodgeball in which George socked Mary straight in the face, sending her running to the school nurse with a bloody nose and tears-filled eyes.  From that moment until the end of middle school they shared an uneasy peace, well aware of the other’s existence but exchanging only quick awkward glances and saying nothing unless compelled by a teacher.  

George grew more confident over the years and developed a knack for a few different sports.  Mary developed a few hobbies, but most enjoyed her free time by chatting with her friends, either with a spiral-corded phone while rolling back and forth on her bed, or while walking the sidewalks of their suburban town.

They entered high school still somewhat at odds, but in second semester they were once again seated next to each other in history class.  At first Mary found George’s clever little comments an obnoxious distraction and told herself she didn’t fancy the jock type, but she’d catch herself noticing George’s arms and jawline growing tone from his daily ball-playing.  Soon after she found herself giggling, rolling her eyes, and joking back with George, much to their mutual amusement.  They started walking together to their next classes and would try to find a seat next to each other at lunch, their friends all noticed them together, some teased while others offered encouragement and advice.  

George asked Mary to the Valentine’s Day Dance, and smiled at each other as they swayed at arm’s length.  The next day they told their friends that they were an official couple, and started spending any possible time together making out under the school’s stairwells and nearly every day after school and on weekends they’d cozy up on the couch in one of their parents’ basements.  They went steady throughout high school, attending every dance and party together and taking each other’s virginities one summer afternoon between tenth and eleventh grade.  

At the end of high school, they were voted ‘Best Couple’ in the yearbook, and while George had received a few sport scholarship offers from faraway universities, he knew the odds of going pro were slim at best, but his love for Mary was here and now, so he decided to attend a local school for finance as she took nursing program there.  

Their four years in university together flew by in a flurry of study grinds and drunken revelries that neither would hesitate to describe as the best years of their lives.  Mary then took a residency in a city a few hours away while George stayed in their hometown and got an internship at a bank’s downtown office building.  For both of them it was the longest, loneliest few months of their lives, and as soon as Mary was able to move back to their hometown they rented an apartment together that was small and dingy but would feel warm and cozy when they’d just lay on the couch and watch tv together.  

From that point on they never separated again.  They continued working up their career ladders, and within a few years made a down payment on a house with four bedrooms and a yard.  They got a dog, then had a son, and finally a daughter.  Their children attended the same primary school George and Mary had, and they spent their evenings pushing strollers to the familiar parks and playgrounds that dotted their neighbourhood.  

Their children grew up in another flurry of sleepovers and taxiing them to a variety of sports and activities.  They graduated the same high school as their parents, but without any real attachments and both chose to attend distant schools, their son a welding trade school and their daughter a psychology major at university.  

Their nest now empty, George and Mary had a short period of quiet solemnity but soon turned to their impending retirement.  They planned travels, adventures, and a life renewed, but it was all cut short when, at age 56, George had a heart attack while climbing the stairs in his office building, and died before he reached the hospital.

To say Mary was heartbroken would be an understatement.  Her entire life had just collapsed in a single moment.  What’s left for me now? She would ask herself every night as she sat in the  darkness of their old home, staring at pictures of her once-tight family, but now all gone from her life.  Years passed with Mary still crippled by grief.  Her career wound down as she neared retirement age, and then one day she had absolutely nothing to do with herself.  Her children would visit occasionally to help her clean the place and buy groceries, but they would only stay a few hours and then she’d be back to empty grey days on end.  

Mary could feel herself growing old, something she and George had promised to do together and laugh as their bodies fell apart, but now it was only her struggling with pains in every joint, weakening eyes and a slowing mind.  Her skin had shriveled up and when she looked in the mirror, it would take a minute to recognize herself, then she’d sigh longing for the beauty she once took for granted.  Her children had to drag to an ever-growing list of doctor appointments with a range of specialists, they prescribed this pill and that treatment, but they only made the smallest of improvements as Mary subsisted in her lonely life.  

She celebrated her 90th birthday at a fancy restaurant with her two children and five grandkids, mostly listening quietly as they nattered on about their own lives and interests.  At age 93 she fell on her kitchen floor and broke her hip, but they were able to replace her entire hip bone and with a newly-developed Genetic Regeneration Treatment she was up and walking again within a few months, and m, oving better than she had been in years.  She felt so good in fact that shortly after she’d fully recovered she voluntarily replaced both her knees with the same procedure, then her ankles, wrists, and elbows.  Her hands and back proved the most stubborn, as there was not yet any easy replacement surgery for these, so she continued her regeneration therapy and slowly but steadily new life was breathed into her body. 

By age 100, she had joined a reading club, sailing club, and went for bicycle rides every day.  She smiled to herself when home alone and began to wonder what wild and recently-unimaginable possibilities her life might yet hold.  She threw herself her own birthday party at age 101, surrounded by her family as well as new friends that had all rediscovered their zest for life following their regeneration treatments.  The doctor’s gave her regeneration treatments for her skin, which grew supple and tightened out her wrinkles, and she dared to call herself beautiful when looking in the mirror.  

At age 106 she met Harry, a former police officer that had lost his wife two decades earlier.  They would ride their bikes and sail together chatting about the lives they’d lived, then began travelling and taking the adventures she had planned all those years ago.  

They stayed together for a dozen years, but Mary did not feel it was true love, rather it was some kind of youthful re-discovery of their former selves, and they reached a point where they both felt healthy, active, and young enough to wander back out into life on their own.  They had talked about the ‘Last Generation to Die’, their spouses that were left behind as Mary and Harry were pushing onwards to immortality.

Mary could now feel the process beginning within her.   Energized and young at heart, Mary sold her old house and got an apartment in a mega-complex on the outskirts of the city to live and started taking part-time nursing shifts to support her busy social life.  She now had 17 grandkids that were getting close to reproducing another generation of her family, and while fertility regeneration treatments were available for herself, she opted to stay barren in favour of being able to dabble worry-free with all the new men she was meeting.  

Ages 120 through 150 was another flurry of new people, things, and places, and soon she found herself spending more and more time with a handsome man named Tom.  He was 62 years her younger but looking at them it was almost impossible to tell.  Together they partied until late at night and woke up hungover the next morning, they danced and made love like she hadn’t experienced in over a hundred years.  

She was with Tom for 34 years, but began to suspect infidelity and eventually her fears were confirmed.  She was left heartbroken, but only mildly so, and she resolved to push on in life. 

Over the next thousand years she met a seemingly endless line of young men, with notables being Robert, Matt, Eric, Dan, and Joseph among others, but none lasted with her longer than a century.  She replaced more and more parts of herself with newer and more-lifelike devices, including her entire spinal cord and both hands.  

At age 1394, she met Steven, with whom she actually did fall in love.  He was only aged 527, but there was a certain gentleness to his spirit coupled with a calm eagerness to continue exploring life.  They left planet Earth together for the new human colonies, and after 112 years together, they decided to each take fertility regeneration treatments, and over the next two thousand years together they had a total of 87 children, raising only one or two at a single time and then taking a few decades back for themselves before trying again.  

Eventually, though, their love waned and sputtered and they realized that when they had told each they wanted to be together forever they hadn’t quite grasped the massive implication that word now presented.  As they had stared into the abyss of eternal life together, their hands had unclasped.  They separated but considered one another as family, and as their children reproduced Mary found herself the matriarch of a hundred-thousand strong family tree spread across dozens of planets, only a tiny fraction of which she could remember the names and faces of.  

Another few thousand years passed and she had another few hundred children with David, Robert, and then Chris, but these marriages were relatively short-lived.  Mary now had several million descendants alive across the universe, but like her age she barely cared to know, and she rarely ever met any of them beyond the first few generations.  There was a weariness growing in her soul, and she once again found herself just sitting on her couch for days on end.  She tried new things and met new people still, but it all now blurred into a grey stream of unrewarding interactions.  She moved planets again and again, sometimes closer to her children and sometimes closer to fun and adventure, but nothing in life gripped her the way she wanted it to.  Doctors offered her more treatments, mental regeneration and sentimental balancing, but she grew tired of these too.  

What’s left for me now?  Mary would ask herself.  She had lived everything and met everyone, would life just keep going on and all these numbers keep growing and growing endlessly?  

The worlds on which humans now lived, the cities they built, felt like nothing that was familiar to her.  The music, the food, the humour, everything about humanity had changed, and Mary couldn’t help but feel alienated within her own existence.  

Somewhere over eighteen thousand years old, Mary decided to stop taking any and all of her regeneration treatments.  It took a few dozen years, but slowly and steadily she found her body and mind growing old again.  Her skin wrinkled and joints ached in a way she found oddly familiar and comforting.  Her thoughts clouded and her senses dulled, but in a way that she could accept as natural.  Mary spent her last few days in a hospital bed as her two children and five grandkids held her hands and whispered things that she couldn’t understand.  Her mind closed down and her heart fell still, opaque thought melted into whimsy.  And in her very last moments a name came to the cusp of her lips.   A name that had always been there in her mind, that had been pushed so deep and far away at times, but now brought a smile to her face like no other ordinary string of letters ever could.  


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Avatar for JohnvonBob
2 years ago