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Under this sky

Not many people liked Peter Norfolk. That was probably because their first impressions always involved signing a legal waiver, authorizing their already recorded images to be uploaded to the net for everyone to see. And that was a bit too scary for a first impression.

In the early days, a “I'm blogging this” shirt cut it, but the trivial lawsuits started to pour in. The general consensus was not that it was wrong to video log your whole life, it was bad to include everyone you contacted in it. Since then, he had voice and face distortion algorithms running on the faces he saw everyday, the video archives were full of it, and everyone was happy. It had been a full year since someone signed the legal paper surrendering their images, and 3 months since he stopped trying.

An afternoon stroll was always a good source of data to document. Views and interesting things he found were getting all the traffic, and it was the best you could do when your life suddenly starts documenting itself and you realize how easily patterns emerge. And Peter hated being predictable. The park proved to be worthy, a few flowers deserving a full resolution snapshot, and a playground full of giggling children. He stood there for a while, grinning to himself, just satisfied with the whole scene, before realizing he looked like a weirdo, and the whole take was going to be ruined with distorted faces and voices that killed all the potential charm it could have. The sun was already setting, turning the skies aflame, when he saw her. Just another girl, average body, average looks, but interestingness levels above the usual. Her whole body language screamed personality, something worth documenting, getting to know, maybe befriend. He needed to give her the legal waiver, take his chances. He stepped forward, it had been so long since he tried that only one copy resided in his bag.
“Excuse me, miss? Would you mind signing this legal waiver? You see...”
Frozen for a second. She had turned to see him and all her eyes were calling.
“Sure Mr. Gargoyle”
Her rating got a plus five. He allowed himself a little smirk at the sneaked reference. “It's not like that, I don't sell my collected data” “Is that right, huh?” She shifted her arms, crossed them in front her chest. Was kinda cute, in a sleeping-wrath-of-Shiva way. She held her arm forward, impatient to sign the dreaded paper.
“Name's Sara” she mumbled while he leaned too give her a writing surface in his back. “Sara?” “Yup” she answered, giving the last strokes of a seemingly complex signature. “Tell you what, Peter the Gargoyle, I'll make this worth your time. We talk and walk”. Today’s footage was going to be great.

“So, you don't live off this” She looked genuinely interested, not that fake small talk look, but the real stuff. “No, it started as some kind of exercise and turned into something important in my life. And when other people started doing it too, well, I decided to go all the way.” “I see” They skipped over a small puddle, headed toward a snack stand. “So, you just tape all of your life and upload it for everyone to see, and... let's see, chips and a soda” Snacks were eaten in relatively silence, just having her by his side was relaxing. Weather was turning colder and the flames in the sky were slowly extinguished. “Are you cold?” “No” taking a big sip of the almost empty can. “You are shivering” “It's alright, but I could use a more sheltered location”.
Hot coffee this time, she seemed to really enjoy eating. Muffin, moccachino, croissant, and he could swear she was eyeing some cookies in the counter. “What's you daily caloric intake?” She stopped short, that was it, he ruined it, she was gone, she hated his guts, it was over, such an idiot, idiot, idiot. She smiled “I don't keep score, doesn't matter”. “I'm a lucky idiot then” She stabbed the air with a piece of croissant “You sure are, Peter the Peeper”.

“Your hand, it's vibrating...” The chilly street air hit their faces as they exited. “That's my spidey sense, there must be a WiFi access point nearby” “So you can upload on the go, pretty smart, and weird too” “You think so? Well, you are pretty weird as well” “Thank you, I guess”. A few silent steps ahead, the buzzing got stronger “Ok, I have to feel that” she said grabbing his hand impetuously. Right then, his hand was registering a close hotspot and another warm hand. He would probably go into sensory overload, but it was worth it. Droplets started to hit the asphalt, the smell of rain was overwhelming. He began to extend his umbrella and covered her head. “Want me to walk you home?” Rain started to pour harder. “Sure” She grabbed his hand, the glove buzzing with a steady hum. They went steadily, silent, just lost in the sound of the now raging rain and the varying intensities of wireless signal. A song of net chatter going on around them, rising and fading as they walked besides buildings and homes. He recorded some high definition video, but there was no possible way he could ever upload that feeling, that warmth at his side, the smell of rain, the sense of networking, and the twilight of the wet city. All this time uploading and he would never be able to recreate that walk. “This is heaven, at least one of them...” she mumbled sleepily at his shoulder, gripping tighter.

It was over, as all good things usually do. “It was nice meeting you, Peter the Vigil” She said in a slow, steady voice under her breath, waiting in the final door. “It was interesting Sara, thanks for this” he answered, trying to keep an equally steady voice, failing and probably giving away his inner most desires. Enter that house, be with her forever, and embrace her until world's end. “Listen, I...”
“No”
It was not an angry no, just a denial. “Why?” “Call me an old fashioned girl, but I'm not ready for a full time logging yet”
“Yet?”
“Yet. Maybe someday. Just google me sometime, if I show up, then look me up. Until then, goodbye Peter the Stranger.”

He stood under the umbrella for a while, and then took off. No sense fretting over it. Besides, there was some really good bandwidth near him, and this was going to be a post to remember.

Very nice

I liked the flow of the story. Worked well.

kelson.philo's picture

I really like how eeasily

I really like how eeasily she tossed off different titles for him in that "been there done that, i'll see how you are soon enough" kind of way. The spidey-sense was real maker's faire type stuff too, very nice.

Depending on how Justin.tv

Depending on how Justin.tv and similar ventures go, I wouldn't be surprised to see legal waivers happen sooner rather than later. Thought-provoking idea, though.

I especially enjoyed how the waiver was only the beginning of the negotiation, only a prelude to the real sorting-out of what these two people are going to share with one another.

Will there be a follow-up? Will Peter get a second chance to make a more lasting impression? Or will a good post always be the best he can imagine? Could be interesting.