Twenty years from now...
Gwen knows there’s going to be fireworks the minute Mia shuts the car door. She can tell by the slight furrowing of her partner’s brow, the pursing of auburn-painted lips. As soon as the door shuts, Mia draws a deep breath.
Wait for it, thinks Gwen.
"Is that guy fucking serious?"
"Mia. . . ."
"I mean, really! Really?"
Mia waves a well-manicured hand at the house they came to see. It’s a turn of the century ranch. Brick exterior. Black shutters. Nicely raked front yard. Ornamental stones places here and there, to break up the sandy lot.
Mia huffs, winds down, her venom spent.
"I liked it," says Gwen.
"Why?" Mia looks at her as if she’d admitted to liking gum surgery.
"I don’t know. It’s cozy."
"It’s dumb as a box of hair. Not even a real AI! My phone is smarter than that place!"
"Why do we need a smart house?"
"Why do we need indoor plumbing?" scoffs Mia. "Or electric lights? Because it makes life better!"
"No," says Gwen, starting the car. "It just makes things easier. Easier isn’t always better."
"Look, sweety. . . ."
"No," says Gwen. She grips the steering wheel tight; she hates confrontation. "You look. You said you were tired of living in apartments and you didn’t want to get a condo. You said you wanted a house. Well, Mia, this house is what we can afford."
"We can do better than a dumb box," protests Mia.
"Smart houses cost money," says Gwen. "More money than I’m willing to pay just so some overblown computer can start the coffee maker in the morning and screen our phone calls."
"It’s not just your decision, Gwen."
"I never said it was."
Mia huffs, sits back, crosses her arms. "Are we going anywhere or are we just going to sit here and kill the batteries?"
Gwen hits her turn signal and pulls away from the curb. She guides the car down the street, passing boxy brick houses sitting in manicured, sandy lots. In the rearview mirror, she watches the house they came to see, getting smaller and smaller.
The perfect metaphor for my life, thinks Gwen. Everything I want gets smaller and smaller until it vanishes and I’m left with nothing.
She glances at Mia, still pouting, head turned, glaring at the passing street.
Well, thinks Gwen, almost nothing.