06: Secrets Everyone Knows

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Elizabeth took a sip of her coffee and turned the page of her book. She adored the feel of the paper and would often find herself rubbing her fingers between them while she read the printed words. Sometimes she would press the pages against her nose and close her eyes, taking in the smell that only books knew how to produce.

She was not a technophobe, although she sometimes wished that she could live in a time when a tablet was a sheet of stone or wood and a wristband was just a fashion accessory. She knew she romanticized the idea of a simpler time in the past and that everyone in the history of the world probably looked back fondly on what came before, but she couldn't help feeling like she was born in the wrong era. Perhaps that, too, was a common feeling among the majority of people.

The truth was that she used her tablet and wristband every day just like everyone else. The only difference was that she was the only person she knew who would take off her wristband whenever she was at home. They were designed in a way that made it inconvenient to remove them and put them back on, but she didn't care. It was her own tiny rebellion against the rampant tech addiction.

She flipped the page and glanced up from the book to see what Kyle was doing. They both sat on the couch, with her sideways using the armrest to rest her back, and him facing forward, letting her drape her legs over his lap. He caressed her leg with one hand and held his tablet with the other. They often spent early weekend afternoons this way to relax before doing whatever it is they wanted to do that day.

Kyle swiped his thumb upwards to scroll through the text of the article he was reading. His wristband vibrated at the same time that a thumbnail of an image appeared on the upper-right corner of the screen. He tapped on it to expand it to fullscreen view.

"Check this out," he said to Elizabeth and turned the screen to show her a picture of one of their mutual friends eating a scorpion in Thailand.

"Cool," Elizabeth said with no emotion whatsoever.

"Would you ever eat a scorpion?" he asked her.

"If I did," she said, returning her gaze to her book, "I wouldn't post it online to show off to people."

"Why not?"

"Because who cares," she said. She looked at the caption under the photo. "Maybe if she described the taste or said something other than 'eeekk!!' it would be a little interesting."

"Yeah, she probably didn't even actually eat it," Kyle laughed.

His wristband vibrated again. A picture of a smoothie showed up on the screen with the caption 'to wash it down... #fromyuckytoyummy.'

"Yeah," Kyle said. "She's getting taken off from my main updates for sure." He tapped underneath the friend's photo. "Unfollowed."

"That's exactly why I don't like wearing a wristband anymore," said Elizabeth. "People aren't anywhere near as interesting as they think they are, and I'm not going to pretend my life is better than it actually is just for some shallow approval that will be instantly forgotten."

"Yeah, it's like there are no secrets anymore, you know?"

"Everyone is like those old ladies in movies that love to gossip about each other, except they do it all digitally without ever even seeing one another," she said. "It's a wonder people have anything to talk about when they actually do meet in person."

"Most times," Kyle lightly tickled her feet, "they don't."

Elizabeth playfully kicked his hand away. She pretended to pout.

"I can see you as one of those old ladies in the future, sitting around drinking coffee," he joked. "You and two other old ladies that never wore wristbands and are horribly out of touch with what's cool complaining about the kids these days."

"And I'd be proud of my old ways."

"Those old ladies usually are."

"That's probably why I was attracted to you in the first place," she said.

Kyle scrunched his face. "What do you mean?"

"Because of your old-fashioned name," she stuck out her tongue. "It's perfect for an old lady like me."

"What's wrong with my name?"

"Nothing at all," she said. "I'm glad your parents had the good sense not to name you Keele or Kai'el. I just can't take people seriously sometimes."

Kyle tickled her feet again, harder this time. "Your's is old, too," he said.

She cried out in laughter and tried to swat his hand away.

He leaned over and kissed her.

"My old lady," he said with exaggerated affection.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes and returned her attention to her book. After a few seconds, she glanced back at Kyle. He had gone back to browsing on his tablet. She smiled and flipped to the next page.

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