For us, death is not a sad occurrence. As you get older, your birthdays are celebrated with more fervor, not less. You don't lie about your age to seem younger, you state it proudly. People don't fear death here, it is seen as a beautiful inevitability. That's why I am so strange. None of the residents of our tiny, sequestered community know my true age. I give them non-answers. How old am I? Well, a child, I'm young at heart, dear. Ambiguities I tell to keep myself alive for just a few more crucial years. I know that I can't hide it much longer though. Soon, they will know it is my time, no longer can I mask the wrinkles with creams and makeup, my grey hairs with my own invention. I only wish they could understand why I am so desperate to keep my life as long as possible.
They see me as selfish, and maybe I am, a little, but that's not why I cling to this life with stiff, arthritic fingers. I can help them do so many things, make their lives so much easier. I have already created Flute-Flies, the winged music players as small as a pea to brighten up cheerful gatherings at well-groomed Meadow Park as well as everyday life. Color-tonin had been mine too, the implant for your scalp that allows you to color your hair simply by touching a button; save colors you like and turn on shuffle for costume parties, or everyday for the more eccentric customers. There are more inventions to come, I know it, I just need time. But when they look at me, all they see is a funeral.
The silvery-blue eyes that stare back at me remind me of what I live for, the intricate mechanics of my whole being represent my work. It doesn't matter though. The mirror is only lifeless glass, it can only reflect back what it sees, not present a new reality. My life is ending, and it is not my own to take, for that would truly make me selfish. I pull the ever-present pins from my hair, and my bun collapses, my hair hanging limply around my face. Running away is impossible. This town is all I have ever known, and even if I managed to escape I wouldn't know where to go. Beyond the tall stone walls of our Community is unknown territory, never taught in school, only through rumors of pirates and beasts and unregulated temperatures. No one here wants to leave, or has left, so I doubt the truth in the rumors, but still, escaping would be futile. I'd probably be caught within a matter of days. I switch the button to return my hair to its natural color, and am surprised to find that it is now entirely white. A deep breath not unlike a sigh starts to escape, but I catch it there in my mouth and hold it, swallow it down inside me. Still I have time, still I have a chance.
It is a Tuesday when the planners come, bearing cards and flowers, and the black-suited coroners whisk me away to the ceremony. I struggle and kick, but I am old, my once athletic and wiry limbs are no longer so tireless; I am fatigued in seconds. When they place me in the metal box, I scream, but friends and neighbors just look on in dismay.
"It's a shame May has to fight like that. My wife is so excited for it to be her turn to receive. She's been on the list for years. She was so happy when Betty-Jane threw her a shower the other day."
I can't believe they will abandon me for someone they don't know, someone so ignorant and unskilled.
"Traitors!" I shout, as I hear them turn on the recycler. Now I can only hope that the baby it creates from my flesh and bones is an inventor, even greater than I am. With my last breath, I can already smell a new baby.