As promised, we will be posting each of the shortlisted entries from the Arvon short story competition, before we reveal the winner in mid-April.
A New Life™ at 30 by Caitlin Sinead Jennings.
You have no doubt been thinking about this for a while. Perhaps since the day after your 20th birthday, the first chance to transfer your mind. As you know, according to the Mind Transfer Act, which regulates corporations, such as New Life, Inc., and the technology associated with moving your consciousness into another body, you get a chance at a new life every ten years of your adult life. We hope you will find this pamphlet instructive. It is based on extensive research on the common thoughts and feelings that emerge during the first 30 days, the adjustment phase. We thank you for your business, and we hope you enjoy your New Life™!
After the procedure you will feel as though you just finished riding a mechanical bull after hours of swigging skunked beer and fresh fruit punch. This feeling will soon pass as you reflect on the joy of having left all the cares, worries, and concerns of your past life and immerse yourself in the wonder of entering into a new body, a new family, a new job, and a New Life™. The excitement may feel intolerable, but don’t worry, everyone tolerates it.
Pumpkin seeds may seem very attractive to eat today. Feel free to indulge, but be careful of overloading with sodium.
To tame your new tongue, speak sad soliloquies about seashores with shimmering seashells and shady sharks.
It will be difficult to keep names and faces straight, but remember that everyone, from your boss to your friendly neighbor to your new two-year-old daughter, has been briefed on the situation. Many of them have already or will eventually mind transfer themselves. Also, you will remember that you were not that good with faces before.
Don’t look directly at the sun. This is always true.
You may find yourself stretching out your leg, pointing the toe tip, like a ballerina, and feeling that the heel, the bump on an otherwise long stem of a leg, gets in the way. But remember you had heels in your former body as well.
You will wonder if the universe has a color. It does: Cosmic Latte.
It is on this day, as you may feel a strong desire to contact the person who has been transferred into your old life, we must remind you that every mind transfer is a move up in the world. This move up is based on multiple categories, such as relationship, career, bank account, ability to whistle, and other things too cumbersome to mention. Knowing that, the person who transferred into your old life is not only thrilled to be there, they are probably better suited to live it than you were. And you, better suited to live your current life.
If this explanation does not placate you, we suggest walking in grass blades barefoot. That usually does it.
You will begin to realize that activities you avoided before, like walking in the rain and long lines at grocery stores, suddenly seem ok, even desirable. You will wonder at the wasted enjoyment of all the times you did those things before and were annoyed.
You may realize you are allergic to new things, like cats, peanut butter, or cucumbers. You may also hear odd noises emitting from body parts when doing otherwise normal things, like bending down to arrange miniature civil war figurines in a reenactment of the battle of Chattanooga, while Glenn Miller is blaring of course. We suggest you consult your New Body Manual before doing anything.
You will watch your old favorite movies out of a sense of nostalgia and need for familiarity, but will notice, clear as day, all the plot holes that eluded you before. The small inconsistencies from shot to shot, evidence that people on the set buttoned previously unbuttoned shirts or pulled back a formerly unruly strand of hair, will be blatantly obvious. Instead of being in despair, you will be proud you have come to know these movies so well. Then you will try out your new life’s movie collection, and despite the well-executed plots and unnoticeable inconsistencies, you will feel despair.
You will hate waiting in any lines today, especially grocery store lines. Also, avoid rain.
You will wonder if the moon ever wanted more out of life than to just revolve around the earth. You’ll find out that it is actually moving away from our planet, and you will smile at its small steps toward independence.
Nothing much happens on this day.
Teeth feel especially volatile, as though they are tingling, itching to get out of the gums holding them in place, keeping them from freedom.
Go ahead and submit to your urge to try a brand new beverage, like a cappuccino.
The tingling sensation in the pads of your fingers, your ability to eat habaneros, and the way you can now clearly discern the difference between an extremely dark navy blue and a faded black will make you think you have sprouted superhero powers. You have not.
A cupcake, preferably chocolate, will help today. This is always true.
You will probably pause and think about all the genes and cells you left behind, in your arms, in your heart, in your eyes, and in your nose. But, consider that there are 10 times more bacterial cells in a human body than there are human cells, or you cells. So, really, you just left a bunch of bacteria for a new, better, batch of bacteria.
You will get excited when your cell phone rings, but be disappointed each time you realize it’s not a telemarketer.
Day 30 and on
You awake. The tingling in your fingers has stopped, mostly, and you are almost used to the new smells, sensations, and noises. You may see your old college friend or mother on the street. Remember, they don’t know you anymore. You may even see your old self, in your old favorite pair of jeans, ordering a Diet Coke. Remember that you don’t know yourself anymore. Finish your cappuccino, get the check, and leave.
Bring this pamphlet in in 3,622 days, when you are eligible for another New Life™, and get 3.5% off!