the intuition

Welcome to Intuition. Please choose your environment.

The Intuition™ had revolutionized the world. It was a computerized house straight out of a science fiction novel, and since its invention no one ever ventured outside. Why would we? At the touch of a button we could be at the beach, or on top of the Eiffel Tower, or in the rainforest. We never worried about sunburn – all our light was artificial. Our Intuition™ houses had no windows, but we didn’t care. We hardly ever saw our real walls anyway. Our ceilings turned into skies, our floors imitated earth, and there was even a ‘fresh air package’ (Buy now to get the freshest air available puffed directly into your house!).

We could talk to family and friends in our social room – their image would appear full size on the wall. Our kitchens cooked our meals for us, and our libraries read books to us. There was even a gym in every house.

I had been a preteen when The Intuition™ was invented. Always geeky and unpopular, I welcomed the social isolation it provided. Because I didn’t feel isolated. The Intuition™ created friends for me based on personal information I entered into the database. No one ever wanted for anything, and people quickly forgot the lives they’d had outside their houses.

So when my Intuition™ malfunctioned, I was completely stunned. It automatically started to reboot itself, but with the amount of information it needed to retrieve it looked like it would take days to start working again. My house was suddenly white, windowless, and empty.

At a loss for anything better to do, I decided to go outside for the first time in years. I cracked open my front door nervously, and the house made irritated beeping noises, as though I was doing something wrong. I hurriedly stepped outside and shut the door. The sunlight hit me full in the face and I blinked, shocked. It felt so different then the kind I was used to.

I walked slowly down the street, taking everything in. It was silent. Everyone was tucked away inside their house.

Except for you.

You were riding your skateboard (how long had it been since I’d seen one of those?), doing amazing tricks, and laughing when you fell. From a distance the first thing I noticed about you were your cuts, some still fresh and bleeding. I couldn’t understand why you didn’t get them healed – your house’s first aid room would be able to smooth your skin over like nothing had hurt you.

When you got closer I noticed other things about you. Your black hair, blue eyes, milky skin – like Snow White without the dress. Your smile lit up your face, and your laugh lit up mine.

You looked surprised when you saw me, but you shook my hand anyway. I was nervous; I could barely remember how to act around an actual human. But there was a casual charm about you that put me at ease – you were calm, relaxed. And you talked. God, you could talk. It seemed like you knew everything, and there wasn’t anything that didn’t fascinate you. You told me what kind of plants were edible and how to imitate the sounds of birds so that they would fly right up to me. You taught me incredible card tricks (well, you tried to). You showed me tiny little robots you’d built out of stuff you found at the junkyard – you always wrote down one of your favorite poems to put in their heads so they would have beautiful thoughts.

Eventually I began to talk too. We talked about school; you liked history best, but I had always liked art. You asked to see my drawings, but I had thrown them away years ago, and now I couldn’t remember why I had enjoyed it in the first place. There was nothing I could make that the computers couldn’t make better. You frowned when I said this. Art is about emotion, you told me. It’s about pain and joy and things that only the living can feel. So I picked up a pencil and tried to draw you. I couldn’t capture your beauty, but you were thrilled when I showed you. You insisted I was making you look better than you really did.

Then you brought me to your house. It was nicely decorated, but there was dust over everything – it felt unlived in. At least until we got to your room. It was like heaven in there. There were books – real books, not the kind on the computer screen. There must have been hundreds of them, overflowing the bookshelf and in stacks up to the ceiling. There was an ancient mac sitting on your desk; you had found it abandoned when you were six, and miraculously you’d managed to make it function again. But what drew my eye was the huge piano. It was old, but well taken care of, and I could see how much you loved it. You’d been a musical prodigy – you could play beautifully before you could even talk.

While you played for me I slowly started to realize something. Your room had a window, and posters covering the walls. Your floor was covered with books and papers. The Intuition™ wouldn’t be able to function in a room like this.

“Your house is old school,” I gasped, stunned.

You laughed at my strange phrasing. “Yes, it is,” you replied. “Someone has to keep reality alive. I want my house to stay un-computerized.


“Why not?”

“Well… the Intuition can give you everything reality can. You can go wherever you want without even leaving home. You never get hurt, you never feel pain. Why wouldn’t you want that?”

You looked at me strangely. Without replying, you pulled me downstairs and out the front door. You handed me a leather jacket and a helmet, and drove me away on your motorcycle. I had never been on one – I shrieked and clung to you, and even though I could barely hear over the wind, I swear you laughed and called me a wimp.

Eventually you pulled up by some woods, and started walking into them. I ran to keep up. The evening sun was dripping through the leaves, falling onto you and turning you gold.

When the trees got slightly less dense, you stopped. In front of us were bluebells, swaying gently in the breeze, and there was a beautiful smell in the air that a long-forgotten part of my brain identified as honeysuckle. You began to walk into the flowers, but I grabbed your arm.

“You’re not supposed to walk through bluebells,” I said. “They’re laced with charms and enchantments. Fairies get pissed if you mess them up.” I laughed as I remembered this, and you smiled, looking slightly surprised.

“I used to love reading about that sort of thing,” I explained. “Fairies, elementals, pegasuses. Pegasi?” I paused, considering, then shrugged. I knew you’d correct me if I stayed quiet too long, so I quickly finished. “I thought it was so exciting.

“Do something for me,” you said. “Think about your childhood.”

Puzzled, I tried to remember. I dug into my mind, finding little fragments, sunlit memories of perfection. I remembered baking with my mother and dressing up for Halloween (I was always a princess. People made fun of me for not being scary enough). I remembered my dad teaching me how to ride my bike, and the thrill I felt when I finally managed it. I remembered travelling, making friends with kids who couldn’t speak a word of English. I remembered constantly changing my name because I was bored with my given one. I remembered searching for fairy houses among tree roots.

“Did you ever get hurt?” you asked. You were holding my hands by this point, and you stepped closer to me.

I remembered the time I fell off my bike, getting a surprisingly large scar on my leg. I remembered falling out of trees, and getting skinned knees. I remembered getting calluses on my hands from trying to get all the way across the monkey bars. It hurt a lot, but I was so proud every time I got from one side to the other.

Our foreheads were touching now. “That’s why I don’t want the Intuition,” you breathed. “If you never feel pain, happiness doesn’t exist.”

Your lips brushed against mine. You smelled like old books and laundry that had been dried in the sun. It was a homey, comforting smell. And it was real. You were real, the flowers and the sunset and the fireflies that were beginning to flicker – it was all real.

“Please don’t disappear back into your computerized life,” you said, looking into my eyes. “Come live in the real world. With me.”

A smile danced on my lips, and I wrapped my arms around your neck.

“If you insist.”


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dogberry
    Jul 24, 2010 @ 02:56:07


    i love this one.


  2. gallowaygrave
    Jul 24, 2010 @ 10:45:56

    Excellent tale; love story, sci-fi, social commentary, natural history… they are all in there.


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