Never Change

Phillip chewed on the end of his pen, his teeth occasionally finding their way into tiny grooves that fit his molars with crafted precision. His gaze was inexplicably drawn beyond the plate glass wall that lined his living room. A sweeping vista of green hills stretched out for miles beyond the shining tower. Tall, slender cylinders, the color of porcelain, jutted upward from the luscious canopies of trees. Curved blades affixed at the top spun hypnotically with the constant breeze. He sometimes couldn’t tell if he could hear their distant hums, or if the energy they provided managed to sing with harmonic resonance through the myriad wires and lines that snaked their way through each and every wall in the building.

His leg began to shake, and when he became conscious of it, he stood up and walked to the window. The pen dangled from his mouth whilst he crossed his arms. He didn’t stop chewing. The shake that infiltrated his leg somehow managed to make its way up to his finger—leaving him idly tapping his bicep—while he looked at the world below. Even eighty-three stories up, he could make out the sprawling park surrounding the building. Though he couldn’t identify each individual from this distance, his eyesight was of such impeccable quality that he could easily discern their clothes, their hair, their skin color. A diverse collection of people milling about, enjoying the company of all.

Their lively bodies walked from one to another, almost as though every movement was carefully blocked out by an astute choreographer. The fluidity with which they moved was transfixing. Excited waves and friendly gestures beckoned each person to take part in the elaborate dance of harmony. Some played instruments in a circle while their compatriots interpreted their music with wild undulations of their bodies. Others lay motionless on their backs, basking in the sunlight. Phillip glanced just off to his right, and a large portion of the window became opaque. An animated illustration of the sun dropped into his view, completely unobscured of any clouds. The numbers “74” popped into view. They lightly bounced and wobbled in place until his attention returned to the scene below, and the window become fully translucent once more.

“Beautiful,” he thought. “Just like every day.”

A delicate chime. Phillip again looked up. Embedded in the frosted patch of glass—where just a moment before the forecast presented itself—was the live image of a dear friend. He nodded.

“Phillip! How are you?”

He smiled. “Ida. Wonderful. How are you?”

“Starving. Want to grab lunch?”

“That sounds delightful. Where should we meet?”

“I’m in Tokyo right now, but I’m in the mood for something a bit more American. Would it be alright if I dropped in?”

“Of course. I’ll set the pad to receive.” He raised his arm and tapped on the glass band that clasped around his entire wrist. Behind him, in the center of the living room, a circle illuminated on the floor. The purple light shot upward to the ceiling, filling the space for a brief moment before it dissipated completely. In its wake stood Ida, smiling. She waved. They embraced. He held her for maybe a moment too long.

Teleportation was such a common part of life, but its early days haunted him. An unfortunate incident where a bug in the prototypes once caused a friend to materialize, arranged improperly. Arms for ears. Hips spun round 180 degrees. Lungs never accounted for at all. No matter how hard he tried, Phillip could never fully forget the monstrous vision of his friend gasping for air that he’d never again taste. That was nearly forty years prior. He always wondered if a vastly extended lifespan was worth it if he was to be constantly reminded of the past tragedies. However, a quick tap on the spot behind his right ear would fill his spinal column with warmth, and the horrors would melt away.

Ida frowned. “Martin?”

Phillip nodded.

She placed a hand upon his cheek. “You know you don’t have to worry anymore. That was so long ago.” She tapped the spot under his ear.

Euphoria washed over him. “I know. I just can’t help but worry.” He paused, eyes closed. His lips curled into a drunken smile. “All is well now. Where should we eat?”

“Call an Uber and we’ll figure it out along the way.”

“Alright.” He tapped his wrist. A cheerful ding confirmed his request for pickup. He sighed and dropped his arm.

“What?”

“Five minutes for the car. Christ, this service.”

“It’ll be okay. Don’t worry about that. Let’s just figure out food.” She raised her wrist and spoke to her own clasp. “Tweet. Just ported from Tokyo to Omaha. Period. Getting food with @filtothelip now. Period. We live in the future. Exclamation point. Happy face emoji. Dancing woman emoji.”

Phillip smiled. He pointed at the window, and the frosted panel displayed a series of menu options.

Ida laughed. “Hey, weird question.”

“What’s that?”

“Do you remember SARS?”

“Uh.”

“SARS. You know. The disease. Terrible respiratory failure. Early naughts?”

“Yeah, why?”

“I dunno,” she said. “I just suddenly remembered it. It’s so funny. The name. SARS.”

He chuckled.

“SARS,” she said again.

“Things used to be really different,” he said. “They all had weird names. Cancer. Ebola…”

“AIDS,” she said and began laughing.

“Oh my god, AIDS! I almost forgot that one.” He laughed with her.

“Can you imagine,” she said. “Can you imagine telling someone that they were going to die of something called AIDS? Oh God. Who thought that was a good idea?”

“Can’t believe how terrible things used to be. Man.” He shook his head. “What a weird thought. Where’d you come up with that?”

“I truly have no idea. Some things are meant to be a mystery, I suppose.”

He smiled. “It’s so weird. Thinking of diseases.”

She nodded. “Wars.”

“God, yes! Wars. How stupid. Oil. Pollution. Hunger. Water shortages. Global warming!”

She laughed. “I remember global warming! Climate change! Oh my gosh, climate change! That whole ordeal.” She shook her head. “Things were scary there for a minute.”

“I’ll say. Glad we don’t have to worry about any of that stuff anymore.”

Ida’s wrist chimed. An animated heart slowly floated around her clasp’s display. She raised her arm to investigate. Her brow furrowed. Mouth twisted.

Phillip pointed at her clasp. “What the hell is that?” He said.

She shook her head. “It says that someone ‘liked’ my Tweet.”

“Liked? You mean ‘favorited.’”

“No,” she said. “It says liked. Liked. Not favorite. What the fuck!”

“Something must be wrong,” he said. “How can you possibly ‘like’ a Tweet?”

“Check the news.”

Phillip gestured to the wall. The food options disappeared, replaced immediately by a stream of headlines, hot takes, and live tweets.

“Holy shit,” Ida said.

Phillip couldn’t fully comprehend what was happening. He started reading the headlines aloud:

Twitter Changes Favorites, Prompts Massive Outrage.”

Why We Should Be Upset About Twitter’s Changes.”

11 Immediate Reactions to Twitter Killing Favorites.”

If You Can’t Live Without Twitter’s Favorite Star, You Can Bring It Back.”

Ida placed her hand over her mouth. She didn’t say anything. Phillip looked back at her and pulled her close.

“This must be a joke,” he said. “You can’t just kill favorites.”

“What the fuck is a ‘like’ anyway? How will people know that this is literally the best Tweet I have ever seen until I immediately replace it with another one 30 seconds later?”

“This has to be a mistake. Check your timeline.”

Ida looked at her clasp. She swiped vigorously through the endless stream of Tweets. “No, it’s true. Everyone is complaining about it. Everyone.”

Phillip spoke into his own clasp. “Tweet. Period. @Twitter, who the fuck thought that a heart was a good idea. Question mark. Bring back the star. Exclamation point.”

Ida said, “Good idea. Don’t stop tweeting about this. Tag Jack in the next one.”

Phillip paced around the room. After pausing briefly at the window, tapping his bicep anxiously again, he turned and stormed over to the table and picked up the pen. He gripped it with both hands, grunted, and snapped it in half before forcefully discarding the remnants on the floor. They leaked trails of black ink as they scattered about.

“What if we get this trending?” Ida asked.

“Create a poll. See if people are actually mad about this.”

“Good call.”

Phillip’s clasp rang. The push notification appeared on his wrist.

YOUR UBER HAS ARRIVED.

Immediately after, the Uber car ascended up to his window.

“Fuck,” Phillip said.

“I’m not even hungry anymore,” Ida said.

Phillip frantically tapped at his wrist, trying to dismiss the Uber. He screamed at the window. “Fuck off, you prick! We don’t want it anymore!” The car eventually descended and sped away.

“500 people have responded to my poll already. It’s been retweeted 30 times and fav—ugh—liked 72 times. People are pissed.”

“Did you tag Jack?”

“No. I’ll do that now,” she said. “Tweet. Hey. Comma. @Jack. Comma. Who do we have to fire to bring the favorite star back. Question mark. I’m fucking done with your bullshit service. Period.”

“Maybe if we tweet enough at him, he’ll reverse it.”

Ida nodded. Her eyes locked with Phillip’s. They were wide, full of terror. She looked to be on the verge of tears. “He has to. You can’t just change a favorite. This is bullshit.”

“I don’t see how the Twitter community will possibly put up with this.” Phillip walked over to the window and looked down at the park. The trees were ablaze, puffing out horrid, black smoke. The previously happy pedestrians below had appeared to evacuate. Those that remained were entangled in a brutal battle with one another. The green grass stained red with the blood of those that had already fallen. “Oh my god.”

“I’ve gotten so many replies. Everyone agrees with us. They’ve started a hashtag. #fucktheheart. We’re all using it now.”

“Hopefully it starts trending,” said Phillip. “How amazing would it be if this went viral?”

“Oh my god, that’d be incredible,” she said. “It has to, right?”

“It has to.”

“What if it becomes a Moment?”

Phillip spun around and looked at Ida. He shook his head. “Jack would never let that happen. He’d shut it down before it became a Moment.”

“Then we can Tweet about censorship. There’s never been a scandal worse than this. Not that I can remember. This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Ever.”

He walked over and held her. “It’ll be okay,” he said, struggling to choke out the sentence.

She pulled back and looked at him. “Oh no. Phillip.” She wiped a tear that was slowly trailing its way down his cheek. “I believe you. The Twitter community will correct this horrible injustice.”

He nodded, suddenly finding himself unable to speak. She pulled him in close.

“I promise,” she said. “You’re right. Everything will be okay.”

“I just never thought that it would change. How could it change? If there was one thing I could count on, it was that star.” He looked down at her. “Martin,” he said. “Promise me. Promise me you’ll never change. Never change. Don’t do this to me.” He buried his head in her neck. His shoulders shook with each labored sob.

Ida patted his back. “It’s going to be okay. We’ll keep tweeting at them. That fucker, Jack, will never know what hit him.”