UNDO

by Natasha Mileusnic

I didn’t know then about UNDO.

 

Nobody did. I think it was still under top-secret development.

 

Rumor was, for their physical protection, the four founders were never in the same room together; such was the value of their discovery. They became their own tiny “fully distributed” workforce, each developer in an undisclosed city hunched over his machine, changing location every two weeks. Where did they go? Cairo, Montreal, Palm Beach, Vladivostok? Nobody knows. Still.

 

UNDO wouldn’t have been available to Christopher, a struggling animator. But what if I’d had it then?

 

Viv was the one who’d told me about Christopher because a long time ago we were all friends, and she and I were still tight, and she had heard it from his friend J.T. I turned into a mess of scrunchy-faced ugly tears. Viv was philosophical and was on too many mood stabilizers for the news to penetrate deeply.

 

The two of us had inaugurated UNDO together. We qualified to purchase the implantable because Viv was old money (finance) and I was new money (fintech). There was a certain level of assets and—I think—unearned income that you needed to prove, just like for any other investment. We were the latest Qualified Institutional Buyers.

 

After we received the installation, Viv and I had gone back to my loft. We settled into matching sofas, facing each other, legs resting on the coffee table. We examined the insides of our left wrists. The cat yawned.

 

“I thought it would hurt more.” Viv rubbed the faint imprint with her thumb. We knew the mark as the UNDO logo, but nobody except other UNDOers would recognize anything was there.

 

“Let’s try it!” I was anxious to get started. Then, nervous: “Actually, wait.”

 

“We’ll do something easy,” Viv said, and then sneezed.

 

She got up and wandered over to the credenza below the West-facing windows. She picked up and examined the framed eight-by-ten picture of me and my ex-husband, Theo, preening on the beach in St. Martin. (I’d held onto it because I looked so thin; Viv insisted it was because I still hadn’t gotten over Theo’s cheating ass.)

 

Viv hurled the photo across the apartment. It landed in the foyer and shattered in a crash of cinematic pieces on the shiny concrete floor (truly, I was too old for that floor). I got huffy. “What the hell, bitch?” Smashing my stuff wasn’t part of any plan.

 

Viv stood with her hands on her bony hips and raised her eyebrows.

 

“Okay, so do it,” I sighed.

 

She grabbed her wrist, pressed on the pulse point with the first two fingers of her right hand and held firmly for a count of five-one-thousand. Nothing happened, although the apartment was looking kind of blur

 

We were sitting on the sofas again.

 

“We’ll do something easy,” Viv said, and then sneezed.

 

And then… “Fuck!” from Viv.

 

From me: “Oh, dear God.”

 

~

 

Christopher had been a kind, troubled soul. Competitive swing dancer. Self-deprecating; biting wit. When I found out later that he’d been diagnosed with a bunch of entries from the DSM, my college years suddenly made sense. I heard he’d stopped taking his meds. I feel like I’d have been able to tell.

 

If UNDO had come out earlier, and I’d gotten it when Christopher was still alive, I don’t think I would have told him about it. His sure disappointment would have been unbearable. A tiny part of me has wondered, ever since Christopher left his voicemail, if he was calling to say goodbye, in his way. To have one last chat. Could someone UNDO the absence of an action? Asking for a friend.

Natasha Mileusnic is a financial editor based in the United States. Her short stories have appeared in Every Day Fiction and The Write Launch.

Read More...

August 2019

© 2020 by The Esthetic Apostle