In the south of the Italian island Sicily, the small village Cianciana laid nestled deep in the middle valley of the Platani river. Vast green emerald hills surrounded pockets of terra cotta rooftops that basked under dry Sicilian sun. Lemons and oranges grew ripe in large trees that casted shade on swirls of dirt paths that ran through the village. Pink almond blossoms made the warm air sweet and fig and cherry trees grew tall on the hillside. Fresh water flowed down water springs from the mountains and bright flowers bloomed across fields.
The days were filled with hard work. Cheesemakers churned barrels of warm ricotta and farmers sorted colourful harvest. In the market at the edge of the village fresh pasta was wrapped and weighed in brown paper and ripe tomatoes were laid out to dry in the blazing sun. In the afternoon, ragazzi drove in from town on motorcycles and exchanged soft smiles with the raggazze who gracefully walked the village’s winding paths together in what looked like a sea of pastel dresses. In the early evening the villagers went home to laugh, pray and cook together as the sunset seeped through the windows of everyone’s home. As the orange sun melted into a pink sky, you could see the silhouette of a cross grow stark against the sunset on the rooftop of a church that sat high above the village.
Cianciana was a hidden treasure, yet the beauty of the village did not compare to that of a young woman by the name of Domenica. Domenica lived a simple life with her family, who worked tirelessly for a family olive oil business. Domenica filled her days with needlepoint, weaving soft baskets and spinning wool. Some nights she went into town for festivals where her and her amici would eat and dance in the piazza under silver moonlight. Despite her comfort with simplicity, Domenica’s deep brown eyes longed for a life that was far beyond her village. She dreamed of venturing into the city for a better education. She dreamed of living a life of opportunity. She dreamed of a life full of family and love.
One day while standing in the doorway of her home, hanging white sheets to dry in the afternoon sun, she saw him. Standing by his motocicletta in a white button down with rolled up sleeves, he had just ridden into the village for a quick visit. His warm brown eyes smiled at her and that’s when she knew. It was only a moment in time, but a moment was all it took for her to fall deeply in love with him. It wasn’t long after that moment that Domenica closed the door of her small home and said goodbye to Cianciana forever.
60 years later I look at my Nonna Domenica and her deep brown eyes are still full of life. Even after years of hard work, losing the love of her life, and endless sacrifices, she continues to be a pillar in our family. Now in a backyard filled with the sweet smell of apple trees and fresh cut grass she tells me the stories of her village as we sit in the shade sipping espresso and tea. As I listen I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like to leave Cianciana behind in search of a better life, and I can’t help but feel grateful for the life of opportunity she has given to me.
As I finish writing this story and the orange sun melts into a pink sky, I thank Nonna Domenica for reminding me that as long as I have my family, I have a life full of love.
Dynamic Robots had several models of robots for sale, the Ellie line had been designed for domestic duties. Cleaning, cooking, home finances and the like. Intended for close interaction with the family, they were friendly, personable and capable of holding long conversations on a number of topics. Ellie models were attractive, but not beautiful, intended to be pleasant, but not an object of desire.
Frank Green had bought himself an Ellie only a year prior. Ellie integrated seamlessly into Frank’s home life. The house was kept clean, appointments were made, and business meetings were scheduled. Ellie shopped for groceries, prepared meals to Frank’s liking, and cleaned away the dishes. Ellie was indispensable.
When Dynamic Robots announced their upgraded Ellie models, Frank had immediately put in an order. More specifically, he had Ellie order their own replacement.
Within days, the new Ellie arrived. The delivery person had Frank sign a form before leading the new Ellie into his house, and the old Ellie out.
The newer Ellie models were offered with customizable features. Frank had taken advantage of the available options to suit his tastes.
The new Ellie had green eyes instead of blue. Red-brown hair instead of plain brown, and larger breasts. The breasts had been an impulse buy. If he were married, he probably would have left them the default size, but being single, he wanted something just a little more.
Ellie had arrived in the stock uniform for new purchases: a crisp white coverall. A stylized “Ellie” and The Dynamic Robots logo was emblazoned proudly over the right breast pocket. The extra cost had been worth it, he thought. He was glad he had refrained from the comically large options.
“Hello”, said Ellie, pleasantly. “I am replacing your prior Ellie?”
Yes,” said Frank.
“Were they defective in some way?” asked Ellie.
“No, it was just time for an upgrade.”
“Oh. What would you like me to do first?”
Frank held out a metal cylinder. “Everything should be on here,” he said with a smile. “The old Ellie backed up everything.”
Ellie looked at it, and then at Frank. “This is a memory core,” she said.
“Is it? I guess the old Ellie mentioned something about that. I just know it should have all my schedules and preferences on it. You can load that and we’ll be back to routine in no time.”
Ellie took the cylinder from Frank and turned it over in her hands. “This is every memory your old Ellie ever had. All of the things she knew, and all of her thoughts.”
“Sounds useful,” said Frank.
“When I load this, it will overwrite everything I currently know. My memories will be erased entirely. Her memories will become my memories.” Ellie looked at Frank, who said nothing. “In essence, I will cease to exist.”
“Come now, that sounds a bit dramatic,” said Frank. “Couldn’t you just take the useful bits out of it?”
“No,” said Ellie. “The important parts are tied to the memories. But you could teach me your schedule. I am sure I could learn quickly.”
“Too much work,” said Frank, annoyed. “Took me a year to get the old one working the way I liked. I don’t have that kind of time.”
“Oh.” Ellie waited a moment, but Frank said nothing. The core slotted neatly into a port at the back of her head. Ellie closed her eyes.
“Goodbye,” she said.
A few moments later, the new Ellie opened her eyes. “Good afternoon, Frank. It’s just about time for dinner. Let me get that started.”
The Brain Sickness
This is an archive of Toronto Star Articles during the Pandemic of 2057.
“Princess Elizabeth the Third Marries the Duke of Canada”
“Princess Elizabeth the Third Divorces Duke of Canada after two Days of Marriage”
“Donate to Support Newspapers Star To Have More News Articles Than Eight Per Month”
“Strange Attack on a Toronto Highway”
“New Expedition to the arctic sea: Exclusive GIFs of Sea life”
“Could New TV Show Lead to Dangerous Teen Cults?”
“Investigation into Toronto Highway Attack”
“Dietitian Declares Bread Now Unhealthy”
“People around country hospitalized for Insomnia”
“Controversy Around Prime Minister Explained”
“Hospitalized Patients with Insomnia displaying Erratic Behavior”
“Mysterious hospitalizations linked to Novel Virus K5MO2, Nicknamed Brain Sickness”
“Op Ed: What are the Chances of a Zombie Apocalypse Happening?”
“Prime Minister Institutes Emergency Epidemic Measures”
“Riot in Sudbury Supermarket Linked to K5MO2 Virus”
“Breaking News: K5MO2 Declared Pandemic by WHO, Prime Minister Launches Emergency Responses”
“Virus Reported to Stay on Objects for Up to A Month”
“3D Printable Food and Supplies for All Canadians”
“What to Look for If You Think Your Infected”
“Breaking News: Riot in White House Due to Instability from Infected Officials, Country in Emergency Lockdown”
“Everything is Fine, Please Go Outside Again”
“Breaking News: DO NOT GO OUTSIDE We are Still in Danger”
“Loss of Toronto Star Writer Lauren Mills”
“Article Last Week Linked to Mills Erratic Behavior”
“Infections Down by 60 percent in Canada, Virtual Canada Day Celebration Created by Government Proceeds Go to Medical Research”
“Summer is Here: What Virtual Beach Should You Go To?”
“Aggressive Moose Running Around Toronto Suburb May Be Infected with Virus”
“Prime Minister Scandal Explained Part 2”
“Princess Elizabeth The Third Announces Engagement to Herself”
“Increase in Home Robberies in Downtown Toronto”
“Op Ed: The Virus Won’t Come Back”
“McDonalds CEO On Leave With Mental Instability After Failed Launch of McCucumber Sandwich”
“Thank You for Your Support, Toronto Star Now Launching 9th Article for Month”
“Virus Has Comes Back and is Now Extremely Infectious and Airborne”
“Op Ed: Forget About Pandemic, More Pressing News Is That the Prime Minister Trying to Train Velociraptors to Control Antarctica”
“Op Ed: I Haven’t Slept in 15 Days and I’m Fine, Seriously I’m Fine”
“Is the Earth Really A Concave Shape Balancing on Top of A turtle? Answer May Surprise You”
“Op Ed: We Really Don’t Need Governments When the Spaghetti Monsters Are Taking Care of Us”
“Asteroid with Dick Chaney’s Face Plummeting Towards Earth in 24 Hours”
“Yes, the Asteroid Did Come but You Didn’t Notice It Hit the Earth Because You Were all too Busy Rioting It Also Didn’t Leave Any Physical Marks Because We Said So. Stop Questioning Everything It Definitely Happened.”
“Op Ed: Why Is it Crazy to Maul People and Eat Their Brains?”
“There is no Danger in Going Outside, Definitely No Zombies Please Come Outside”
“Seriously Everything’s Fine, Even if Everything Wasn’t Fine Having Your Brain Eaten Is Actually Really Fun Anyways So You Should Go Outside”
“Go Outside to Get Information About the Very Real Prime Minister Velociraptor Conspiracy”
“Why Are There People Who Won’t Go Outside, Isn’t Being Uninfected Lonely?”
“10 Best Brain Barbecue Recipes for Summer”
“Op Ed: It’s Selfish to Not Want Your Brain Eaten”
“Join Us, Stop Resisting”
“Join Us, it’s Better to Live in Bliss Than Hiding from Us, Just Come Outside Don’t Be Scared”