On Hair and Immortality

Esther awoke before the summer sun had even considered rising. She kissed Austen's forehead, then, shrugging on a robe, stood near the calendar screen. "Hal? Wake up. What day is it?"

"February twenty-eighth of the twenty-one hundred twentieth year of the old calendar," the old AI grumbled. "Can I go back to sleep?"

"Sure, Hal; thank you." The month of February lingered on the screen, a table seven-by-five with all the boxes but two crossed off. (Damn leap years, she thought.)

The Reunion was tomorrow. Esther was anxious to see her parents, and her oldest friends, for the first time in seven years.

She was also deeply sad. Before every Reunion, she wished there were some way to go back, to keep the Crash from happening, some way to live a normal life and die at a reasonable time. But she was over a hundred and twenty years old, and looked twenty. Normal was gone.

Esther sighed and went upstairs to the patio. She undid her braid as the first ray of sunrise caught the cobalt-blue streak in her hair that had been there for a hundred years. She kept her hair waist-length, and the blue had grown along with the black. She had accepted this long ago, as she had accepted so many more important things over the years.

Olive joined her on the patio. Esther could feel her sister's presence the moment the sun leapt over the horizon. Good morning, she thought.

Tomorrow is—Olive began.

Yes, it is. At last.

Are we ready?

We have to be. The day was already hot, and the shimmering air reflected their faces. Olive was younger than Esther, and taller, and wore her hair bobbed, but the Australians called them twin gods.

Gods. Does it ever strike you as weird—

Yes. Often. But weird or not, we are the gods now. And our work is only beginning.

Yes, Esther thought, and she slipped downstairs to get breakfast for herself and Austen.