My wife Kay and I are scientists working in areas of psychology and neurosurgery. Mostly we look at aspects of memory and helping people who have experienced terrible things try to forget so that they can get on with their lives.
Over the years there has been a lot of debate about the ethics of what we do and the guidelines changed a lot. But now working for the Knight corporation, we see so many people. I guess it’s like plastic surgery for the mind. People changed their bodies and got used to that sort of thing, we did the same when it came to mental adjustment.
When I started working in this field, it was a phenomenal time of change for everyone. Human adaptation was centred around the singularity, machines were taking over our minds and so we were hoping to use our minds for different things.
When I met Kay she was at the forefront of these changes. A brilliant psychologist, pharmacologist and neurological theorist. Brave and understanding and still able to talk to people, put them at ease. So natural. I fell in love with her so fast that my feet didn’t hit the ground until years after we were married. I was in awe of her and she needed me. There’s very little so beguiling as that equation between people.
Naturally things changed over the years. We work hard, between the physical and mental adaptation of our patients. I guess I should have seen it coming that one of us would want to try our revolutionary processes for ourselves, I would never have wanted to choose the reason though.
With our working hours running us like automata, bad food, too much coffee and the odd fractious moment spelled out our days and shortened our nights. We were never home and when we were, we started to fight.
As a result of all this, I lost my hair – and had it replanted which might seem extreme but humans are vain and its so acceptable now, no one would care. But the hard working hours and never seeing daylight also lead to the more recognisable 21st century human traits, obesity, bad skin and daily drinking habits. Meanwhile, Kay became colder toward me – she had adapted differently, I guess women still do. She looked almost exactly the same way as when I met her. But maybe even better. Breast augmentation to a natural extent, skin grafts, nips and tucks, hair modification. She had the wrinkles of a good life and the body of a twenty year old. I still loved her and it hurt so much to fight, to know that she would not touch me. Wasn’t attracted any more.
One thing I will always credit her for – is that she never strayed. I think I would have ended myself at that sort of rejection. But she thought upon our problems and paid attention, she stayed and fleetingly, not very often, I would see the old love in her eyes.
One morning after another night where we shouted each other down to exhaustion and slept far apart in the same bed. She turned to me with an idea that I had hoped she would never come to. I knew her well enough too, to realise that she had resolved to go ahead – even before we even talked about it. She was going to redesign her own mind. To change. She didn’t love me any more and rather than move on, she wanted to return to our days of ultimate happiness and union.
She told me she had made her mind up and either I could work with her on it or she would get someone else at the lab to do it. She knew I could not pass it up, we shared the memories she talked about. She grabbed her purse, heading out to a meeting. it felt like the last thing she really said to me as the Kay that I knew. “After all we can edit the bad out, why shouldn’t we edit the good back in? I still want to love you, I just can’t, not at the moment.” She smiled as she turned.
I heard her picking up her keys, putting on her coat in the hall, seeing it without needing to look, every gesture. As the door slammed, I took off my glasses to cry, real tears, from a real person, but the emotion so complex of hope and fear of exactly the same point.
My name is Kay and I love my husband very much. From our surgical and therapy notes, that’s something that could never be denied.
It broke my heart that I could no longer love John. He’s the only man I had ever been in love with and when that gets ground down, it’s so hard to make it good again. Thing is – we knew how to resurrect it. But it seemed that the suppression of bad memories was much easier than the resurrection of good ones. We were wrong to think that this would be OK. John did try to talk me out of it, but being pig headed was and is one of my main identifiable traits and I had convinced myself we would be doing good. Besides – maybe we could provide hope for so many marriages that were breaking down – nobody seems to stay together any more. Not even John and I.
When I returned from the operation and worked with some of my colleagues the change was not particularly something I was aware of in the first person. More John’s reactions to me were making the transition strange. When I look at him, all of the things I ever adored are apparent, there’s so much to be proud of, fond of, to need and to love.
Our physical relationship was kick started all over again – mostly by me. Our passions of yesteryear were with me each time, but John seemed sad and slightly defeated, more-so over weeks. Soon, it was not something we could do, there was always work and that was the perfect way to avoid it all.
At least we were close for a while. Reading notes in bed, spending more time together than before. I had thought we might rebuild.
But John’s not a stupid man of course. Human recognition of the tiniest things are what makes this sort of transition impossible. Soon, he would not hold my gaze, would retreat from my touch. He retreated and I could not pursue him for fear of making things worse.
I had hoped that with time he would come around to the idea, it’s still me, just slightly different or the me from our past maybe.
In the end he left. There was research to be done on the opposite coast and he started with the odd trip, that became longer until he started to rent an apartment near the other research facilities. Eventually he never came home. We’d talk over video on-line, though eventually he shut down the images and then the calls altogether.
We spoke over instant message until he told me that he had to leave. The me that was and the person I am rejoined was not the woman he loved. Though we were fighting as though to tear each other apart, it was because we cared, not because I was made to care.
I understand that a year or more later, John found another companion. Someone who loves him now, the way he is and never knew him as I did. Of course I think I do too – but our notes on my case say otherwise.
I’m glad that he is falling in love, but the sharp end of our operation is that it cannot be undone. The human mind will only take so much modification. I have my work and my friends who are not affected. But, with any other person, I’ll never fall in love again.