“What’s wrong daughter?” He asked as he saw a wave of frustration come upon her face. He already knew the answer.
“It’s just that I’ve heard this song so many times already… And it doesn’t matter what the next one is, I’ve heard them all a million times.” She sighed.
He had empathy for his daughter. They were the last two remaining on their ship. Actually, they were the last two remaining anywhere. Earth had been long destroyed. Fleets of ships had escaped the catastrophe, but that was a long time ago. Countless millennia had passed.
How was it these two were able to survive beyond all the rest? The Life Elixir was a miracle cure. It brought aging to a complete halt. Anyone that takes it as scheduled keeps their health, image, and biological age in tact. The only problem being that after a time, it’s effectiveness begins to decline, a tolerance is built, and the elixir is eventually rendered useless.
For everyone, that is, except for a single father and his daughter. Somehow they were able to go beyond, far surpassing their next longest lived counterpart. They imagined it was a rare genetic mutation that prevented a tolerance from developing. Unfortunately, no mutation could keep them from the inevitable fate of running out of things to do.
The father had long observed his daughter’s boredom. The ship maintained a digital library of all books, movies, shows, songs, and games ever invented on Earth Yet, for some time now, they’ve failed to hold her attention for any amount of time. Nowadays, she mainly bides time by staring out windows, gazing at nothing, looking upon infinite blackness.
He himself felt no strong will to live, other than for her, and he sensed she felt the same. Sure, her body was alive and well, but he could see it on her face. Life itself had become dead to her. Nowhere to go. Nothing to see. No one to talk to. Just him. That’s why he decided to make her a gift.
“What is that?” she asked as he approached with a bizarre metallic helmet in hand.
“I built it for you.”
“What does it do?” She was curious. This was something new.
“If you want… You can put it on, and well… How do I put this… It makes everything new.” He was beginning to get choked up. He had postponed this moment for a long time. It was time to face the music. No more running.
“What do you mean it will make EVERYTHING new? Is it going to erase my memory?”
“Yes… but it will do a bit more than that.” He began to explain. “You will be born a new person. You will live a new life. Many lives actually… back on Earth.” Her eyes lit up. He saw that he had her attention. He smiled weakly, but in that instant dread was upon him.
“Remember, Earth is a very heavy experience. You won’t have the comfort, security, or certainty that you have here. You will live throughout all history. Earth has had quite a few rough patches, you know…”
This was his feeble attempt to convince her otherwise. He knew it was a waste, but he looked tentatively anyways. He hoped his words would cause hesitation in her. They didn’t so he continued. “On the other hand. all the beauty, insight, and inspiration you find will be yours to cherish and enjoy fully for the first time once again.”
She couldn’t believe it! It sounded like a miracle! This is all she wanted! Her eyes glimmered in awe as she looked at him. “Daddy!” She ran into his arms “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” His worst fear was confirmed. He couldn’t help it. Tears began pouring out of him.
“Oh no.” She thought to herself.
“What’s the catch dad?” She asked nervously as she stepped away, meeting his eyes with her own.
“Well… Once the headset has merged with your neural pathways… You won’t be able to get back. Once your in you won’t be able to get out. Once you’ve lived every life there is to live the helmet is designed to cycle through again…. In other words, this would be our final good bye.”
The twinkle in her eye vanished, replaced instantly with a flood of tears. “What about you?” she asked softly, but she was beginning to understand. “Are you going to come too?”
A smile appeared for a moment. “It doesn’t work like that sweetie. And even if it did, I have to stay here. Someone needs to administer the elixir.”
There was a long pause. “You would do that for me?”
“Daughter, you know I would go to the end of the universe and back to show you my love.” But he didn’t have to. His love was as clear as day. She knew the sacrifice he was making. She knew she was everything to him. She knew that, to him, she was the only thing at all. And he would give her up for all eternity if it meant letting her truly live again.
She realized she was looking straight down, hands covering her face, a puddle of tears at her feet. She was ashamed of the choice she was about to make. Ashamed she hadn’t done anything for him in so long. Ashamed to leave her father behind.
But when she looked up she saw him holding out the helmet to her with the most sincere smile she had seen in many ages. “It’s okay daughter.” His tears had ceased. “You accepting is the greater gift.”
In that moment no greater love had been felt between a father and daughter. Realizing that words could add nothing, they simply stood there and embraced.
She held tight for a long time, but once she was ready, she let go. She took a single step back and looked into her father’s eyes one last time.
“The technology is instantaneous.” He explained. “As soon as it touches your head, you will be gone.” She nodded and bowed her head. She was ready.
He reached out with two hands and lowered in slowly until contact was made.
“I love you” were the last words she heard and she was gone.