I got the iPhone 11 finally. It sends and receives messages from the dead. You can set custom alert sounds, so a message from Mom sounds one way and then, well, if Gandhi or Mary Mother of Jesus gets back to you about that burning question, that sounds another way. Or, if you like, the phone (if that’s still what you want to call it), lights up green or blue, as the case may be.
Mostly I’ve used mine to talk with Mom, of course, but I’m sure I won’t be able to resist the temptation to cheat on philosophy tests. They released this technology in March, but really it’s still in Beta. Something’s not quite worked out with the Facetime feature. I tried to see Mom the other day and I got a swordfish. It was still her voice and all. This morning I tried again and I got, I think, footage of NYC pedestrians circa maybe 1920. They were all black and white, bundled up for the snow, and there was a horse, a milk delivery wagon. Shaggy horse.
But there’s Mom’s voice saying, “Tell me more about that little one of yours.”
So I say, “Well, yesterday she said this. She said, ‘My favorite animal is the sunset.’” I pause because Mom is cracking up, but then I say, “Mom, I’m thinking. I’m thinking I can steal that line. Because she doesn’t know how to write yet. Can I do that? What do you think?” Meanwhile the pedestrians keep crossing crossing the cold city street, the horse still stuck in traffic.
And Mom says, “I think all these things will just topple and stack. Topple and stack.” Then the horse is gone, the people fade to black. A bird’s nest appears. Empty of birds but two tiny blue eggs.
“Mom? Mom are you still there?”
“Oh, yes. I’ve been thinking about the wallpaper in the bedroom. Your father should steam that down, I think. Paint the room some nice color.”
I say, “We miss you a lot, you know, Mom?”
“Goldfish,” she says. And the screen goes black.