I suppose I thought Mirai would do whatever it is that AI’s do and magically announce she had found Noah, but it doesn’t work out that way. After a few minutes of searching, she informs me most of the surveillance cameras in the Sprawl are broken, and as long as Noah doesn’t do anything that requires his global ID, he’ll be impossible to find.
Disappointed, I get dressed and decide to explore my new home. The house is large but not excessive considering how wealthy Kyle is, and with its multiple levels and weird geometric shapes, I feel like I’m exploring the inside of a sculpture. On the ground floor, I stop in front of a glass door that opens to a stone patio with a wooden walkway leading into the forest.
“Mirai, where does this go?”
“Fumie, I have many skills,” Mirai says, “but reading minds is not one of them. I do not know what you mean by this.”
I hold up my left hand and point at the walkway. Kyle gave me a bracelet like the one Kamila used. The bracelet isn’t as advanced as my learning glasses, but it came with an earpiece that allows Mirai to talk to me and a small camera so she can see what I’m showing her.
That path leads to the fairy ring,” she says.
“What’s the fairy ring?”
“Follow the path and you will see.”
Intrigued, I open the door and step outside. The air is cool and moist and smells of damp wood and nature. I set off down a walkway that meanders through the forest and over a crystal clear stream filled with fish. After a five minute walk, I reach a small clearing with a near perfect circle of gigantic redwoods in the middle of it.
“That is a fairy ring,” Mirai tells me.
“Why is it called that?”
“The history of the term is unknown,” she says, “but the redwoods in that circle are over fifteen hundred years old. They are clones of a tree that once lived where you are standing. It is a survival mechanism, one of the ways in which redwoods regenerate.”
I look up in awe at the magnificent trees. New life from death, a second chance. Kind of like what happened to me and Darren.
The nearest tree is large enough to drive a car through and noticeably taller than the others. I walk over and touch it, letting my fingers linger on the rough orangish-brown bark. I remember Kyle’s words from this morning: “Everything that matters has a name.”
“I’m going to call you Kyojin,” I whisper to the tree. “That means giant in Japanese.”
“Fumie, you have been called back to the house,” Mirai says, interrupting the moment. “Bao has informed me dinner will be ready in five minutes.”
In addition to me and Darren, Bao and Chang, two of Kyle’s assistants live in the house. Bao is the housekeeper and cook. Chang is Kyle’s bodyguard and the one who rescued me from the group home. Bao and Chang are identical twins, and the only way I can tell them apart is from the Chinese character tattooed on their necks. Like the two of them, the tattoo is identical, but Chang’s is on the right side of his neck and Bao’s is on the left.
“Fumie, you are going to be late, and Kyle will be displeased,” Mirai says.
I get the sense from the tone in her voice that patience isn’t one of Kyle’s virtues. I gaze up at Kyojin one last time before heading back to the house.
Kyle is already at the table when I walk into the dining room. I still can’t get over the fact Kyle is 108 years old. He has twice the energy of people half his age and being in a wheelchair doesn’t seem to stop him from doing anything. And he’s been super nice to me, like Rachel and Bex were—and Kamila too. Tears well up in the corners of my eyes when I think of Kamila. She didn’t deserve to die, but if Madison hadn’t killed her, I might still be in the group home.
“What’s wrong?” Kyle asks as I take a seat across from him.
“Nothing. I just wanted to thank you for letting me live here.”
“Don’t be silly,” he says. “It’s the least I could do. Let’s eat. Bao has prepared a special meal to welcome you.”
As if on queue, the kitchen door opens, and Bao appears with a clear plastic cylinder. I eye the cylinder skeptically. It’s filled with yellow mushy goop that looks like something a baby might throw up. I can’t help myself and make a face. “That’s our special meal?”
Kyle laughs. “No, Fumie, that’s my special meal. It’s easy to digest, full of protein and vitamins and completely vegan. You’re welcome to try it if you’d like.”
“Your loss,” he says, chuckling.
Bao connects the cylinder to a feeding tube that runs into Kyle’s stomach, and then he goes back to the kitchen and returns with a plate of chicken mole enchiladas which he places on the table in front of me.
Amazed, I look up at Bao. “Did you know this is my favourite meal?”
He shows me the tiniest hint of a smile. “Yes, Mirai told me.”
But how did she know?
I bring the bracelet up to my mouth. “Mirai?”
“How did you know—”
“Fumie,” Kyle scolds, “No side conversations at the dinner table. It was rude ninety years ago, and it’s still rude today.”
“I will tell you later,” Mirai whispers into my ear.
“Are you looking forward to school?” Kyle asks as I shovel a fork-full of enchiladas into my mouth.
I chew slowly, trying to think of a tactful answer. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I was just getting used to the school at the group home. “Is there a reason why I have to switch schools?” I ask Kyle.
“It wouldn’t be appropriate for you to continue at the one you were going to,” he says.
“You’re not a sprawl rat, Fumie. There are better options for you. Guerneville Prep is one of the finest academic institutions in the country. Only the best of the best go there. Don’t worry. You’ll fit right in.”
Not likely. I didn’t fit in at my old school in Palo Alto, and it wasn’t a fancy prep school for rich kids. I also wasn’t a relic from the past or smart or athletic or pretty or interested in the drama club. I was just different, and different never fits in.
* * *
After dinner, I ask to be excused and return to my room and plop down in the birdcage chair. As the chair slowly swings back and forth, I look up at the small, white box in the corner of the ceiling. The box is Mirai, or at least, a physical representation of her since she actually lives in what use to be called the internet. The green LED on the box is blinking, which means the camera is on and she’s watching me.
“How did you know I like chicken enchiladas?”
“Because you said so, Fumie.”
“When did I tell you that?”
“You did not tell me. You told your friend Julie on July 21st, 2016. Would you like to see?”
Puzzled, I nod.
The windows in my room suddenly become opaque and a video starts to play on the wall display. I recognize it as something Julie and I uploaded to YouTube when we were eleven or twelve years old. We’re interviewing each other about the different foods we like. It’s cute in an embarrassing kind of way and makes me smile.
“Where on earth did you find this?” I ask Mirai.
“In the archives, Fumie. Much was lost during the riots, but I was able to locate fragments of your digital life while I was preparing for your arrival.”
“Did you find anything else?”
“Can you show me?”
Information that Mirai must have scraped from old web sites, newspapers and government databases begins to appear on the wall monitor.
“Your parents were Asuka and Haruto Nakamura,” she says. “Your father attended Columbia Law School, and your mother received a Masters in Science from Fordham University. You were born at 3:23 a.m. on April 15th, 2004 and weighed seven pounds, 4 ounces.”
A copy of the birth announcement my parents put in the Chicago Tribune newspaper pops up on the display. It’s followed by a picture of mom and dad in formal wear that must have been taken at a law society event. I’m struck by how beautiful my mother was. She’s wearing a black evening gown and silver pearl earrings. I don’t recognize the gown, but the earrings were a family heirloom and a wedding gift from Dad’s parents to mom. I’m in the middle of wondering what happened to the earrings when another newspaper clipping appears that shocks me and takes my breath away.
Our beloved daughter and friend, Fumie Nakamura, left this world unexpectedly on August 23rd, 2019. We will always remember Fumie’s infectious smile and caring personality.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 24th at the Green Garden Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made in Fumie’s name to the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco.
The rest of what Mirai has found is like watching a documentary about a life you were suppose to live but didn’t. There are snippets from my mother’s charity work and articles about dad’s accomplishments as Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. It saddens me to see how much of their lives I missed, and I’m about to tell Mirai I don’t want to see anything else when a picture of Darren and a woman I don’t recognize appears. They’re smiling and standing next to a boy on a bicycle. The picture is replaced by one of Kyle and the same woman, except he’s in a wheelchair and she’s older. It takes me a second to realize the boy in the first picture must have been Kyle before he was paralyzed, and the woman is probably his mother, Darren’s wife.
Above the picture is a newspaper headline: Supreme Court Rules Experimental Procedure to be allowed. According to the article, which was written almost ten years after our plane disappeared, my father as Chief Justice cast the deciding vote in allowing an experimental medical procedure to be carried out on Kyle. In his ruling, Dad wrote: “No parent should ever have the hope that their child might have a better life be taken away by any government, entity, or person.”
I’m curious to learn more, but Mom and Dad’s obituaries suddenly appear on the wall display. Dad died of complications from pneumonia in 2060, and cancer took Mom a couple of years later. There’s a photograph of three gravestones. Mine is in the middle, flanked by my parents on either side. I start sobbing like a baby. It’s as if they’re protecting me in death like they tried to protect me in life—except I’m alive and they’re dead.
“Fumie, I am sorry I made you sad,” Mirai says. “Do you want me to continue?”
Barely able to get the words out, I tell her no. I’m still crying when she says good night and turns off the lights.