Regret of Potential

Oct 7, 2023 • 585 words • 3 minutes
| Science fiction | Uploading | from Post-Self | rated G

We sat for a while in silence, sipping at our drinks in the sun-dappled corner seat of the coffee shop, me with my exquisite pour-over and ver with ver tea that ve promised me was delightful.

“And is there anything you regret?”

I startled back to awareness, eyes glancing over ver way, the bemused grin that ve gave me over the rim of ver tea. “Uh…I missed something again, didn’t I?”

Ve laughed, nodding. “I have asked you this question twice in the last ten minutes, and each time you get distracted by the street outside. Perhaps I should ask what has captured your attention instead.”

I shook my head. “That’s easy, I can tell you that in a sentence. It’s not busy.”

“‘Not busy’?”

I nodded. “It’s not busy. I mean, there’s people out there, sure. Quite a few, actually.”

“Some of them may be constructs to give a sense of a bustling small town,” ve said. “But certainly not all of them.”

“Right, I remember learning about that when reading up on this place.” I nodded out to the street, the park beyond, the couples and triads and happily single instances relaxing in the grass. “But there’s not, like…a kajillion people out there. It’s not packed.”

“I see. Yes, there may be some two trillion instances here, but they are not all in one place. They are not all in the same sim.”

“So where are they?”

Ve shrugged. “There are, ah…” Ve tilted ver head, then said, “There are a few hundred billion sims, my dear. Not everyone is crammed into a few small ones.”

“And I’ve still seen crowded ones. The big cities, the weird nexuses, the central library.”

Ve nods.

“Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about.”

“Does that have anything to do with your regrets?”

I laughed. “I don’t know, maybe. I guess a part of me regrets not being born earlier so that I could see this place as full of unexplored potential with just a few tens of thousands of people on it.”

“They were heady days, to be sure. It felt like we had been plopped down in the middle of a blank canvas. An infinitely large blank canvas. We were the paints, and we smeared ourselves out with reckless abandon, painting lives and spaces.”

“You’re weird, you know that?”

Ve snorted. “Guilty.”

“I wish I’d gotten to see that, though,” I said, dragging us back on topic. “I wonder what I would have created? Would I have gotten into food? Sims? Traditional art? I was kind of a blank canvas when I uploaded a few years back. I feel like I could have gone anywhere when I got here.”

“Did you spend a while in hedonism?” ve asked. “Most do, when first they upload. Some months or a year sampling every pleasure known to posthumanity.”

“God, yeah. I can’t count the times I ate myself sick.”

Ve laughed.

“I guess I don’t regret it so much that I want to go back to before all of this variety.”

“It was not lacking, but I do see what you mean.”

“I guess I regret not experiencing that potential. I regret that I’ll never see anything like that again.”

Ve settled back and sipped at ver tea, a thoughtful expression on vis face that I couldn’t even begin to pick apart.

Finally, ve said, “Perhaps we must make our own potential. Replace regret with determination.”

“I don’t know if it’s that easy.”

“Few things are, my dear.”