The year is 2053, and all past has been forgotten.
It was tempting. When Rosalyn first saw the ad for the electro shock treatment, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She had gone to the grocery store, like any other day. She planned on surprising Aaron by making him homemade spaghetti. Her boyfriend loved his Italian. It was when she came out of the store that she saw him. He was leaning against a lamp post, and another girl was leaning against him.
“So? What about her?” Aaron was saying.
“You said you’d break up with her already.” The girl said.
“I know, I just – I have to find the right time.”
Rosalyn watched in disbelief. The other girl sighed. “It’s like pulling of a Band-Aid. Just do it quick and get it over with. What’s the problem, anyways? Do you really love her?” She teased.
Aaron’s eyes were glued to the mystery girl. “You know it’s only and always you that I’ve loved.”
Rosalyn dropped the grocery bag, the jar of tomato paste shattering on the sidewalk. Aaron turned and saw her, but Rosalyn’s fight or flight instinct kicked in and she ran. After six blocks of running, her flip-flop ripped, tripping her and sending her into a face plant on the sidewalk. Lying in the empty street, she replayed Aaron’s words. He’d never loved her. Two years together, somehow it’d been a lie. She picked herself up off the sidewalk. Her knee was bleeding, but it was not the cause of her tears. That’s when she saw it. A fluorescent yellow sign on the side of a medical clinic. “Electro shock treatment. All negative memories erased. Government funded, completely free, come in and receive your fresh start today.”
The sign was calling her, saying, Come away. Come away from the darkness, into a forgetful bliss. She stared at it a long moment, contemplating. Then a car zoomed down the block. She picked herself off the street before she either was run over or simply labeled a lunatic for laying on the pavement. She told herself to forget about the silly sign and went home.
That was months ago and Rosalyn saw things for what they really were.
First, she realized something about herself. Now that Aaron was gone, she could make her own life for herself. He was on his way inventing a software that would rock the technology world. It was bigger than the rise of Microsoft and the Apple put together, or so he’d said. He liked her because she supported him. Once his product came out, he’d be in the limelight, and so would she – but only as the pretty girl hanging on his arm. When they were together she had believed they truly loved each other. Love is blind and she hadn’t realized how large his shadow had grown. Now was her chance to step out from under it.
She also caught on to the government agenda. The government was trying to protect itself with this new procedure. If the citizens forgot all that pained them, they would no doubt act happier. Happy people worry less and spend more money, fueling the economy and directly filling the pockets of the bureaucrats. Happy citizens also didn’t start riots against the government, for these happy people now could not remember they had anything to protest. No one would remember how the government had changed, how their leaders were now paranoid brain-washers. But Rosalyn knew.
That was why she begged Sage not to go through the shock procedure. Sage was her sister, younger by two years, but still old enough to understand the weight her decision held.
“Why shouldn’t I?” Sage cried. “Everyone says I’ll forget. That’s what I want.”
“It’s high school. Everyone forgets about it after graduation, anyways,” Rosalyn countered.
“But when Emily betrayed me, when Levi broke up with me at prom – I knew I needed a fresh start. And I need it now.”
“It’s not a game, Sage, the procedure is dangerous.”
“If it’s so dangerous how come the government is requiring it now?”
“They want you to be happy, and be happy with how the government is run.”
Sage sniffed. “It hasn’t been that bad.”
The sky-high taxes? The law forbidding anyone to leave the country? “Unbelievable. It’s already working,” Rosalyn muttered. She knew how this went – once a person’s mind was set like concrete, there’s no changing it. She’d had similar debates with every one of her friends, and she’d lost every debate. Some of her friends didn’t remember her anymore. Now her voice was gentle. “I hope you remember how much I care about you.”
Sage blinked and nodded. “But what will you do?”
A plan was unfolding in Rosalyn’s mind. “I took acting classes in high school.”
“What does that even mean?”
“That means I’m going to fix this.”
When the time came for her to have her treatment, Rosalyn would swear she had nothing to forget. All those acting classes in high school would come in handy. She would act as though she already had forgotten – forgotten her break-up, forgotten the about the federal corruption. If they government thought she was just another brain-washing subject, she’d already be under the radar. It was the perfect disguise for being the rat to reveal the system.
She chuckled to herself, despite the dark situation. A year ago, she was a sweet girl who thought the best of everyone. She was content to sit back and watch others bask in their own glory. She never would’ve thought she’d be this girl – the girl who faked shock treatment in order to bring social justice. That was why could never forget Aaron. Without her past, she would regress to the girl she used to be. Without the memories, she would lose the lessons that came with it.