“I wonder how love feels like.” sighed Yasmine as she looked into a photograph of a couple jogging on the beach-side from a magazine kept near to her bed.
COVID19 restructured the whole world. As time passed, things got worse. The virus evolved into something that could affect anyone in pair. Rules changed, the way people lived altered eventually. It became mandatory that a house should accommodate only one person. People hardly had any human connection. The government took care of the people. Once in every two days, necessities were delivered to each house by the suppliers. Specialised robots designed to carry out that task took charge of supplying commodities. Humans never stepped out of their home.
Dating became a crime. If the government found out about anyone dating, they executed them immediately following the same protocol of someone who is affected by the virus. The population controlling department collected human sperms and egg and stored them before the pandemic went worse for the sake of the existence of human species. ‘Love’ became a crime and a disease. People started taking drugs to suppress their emotion of love. The drug had it’s own side effects. Datings apps were banned; still, many were available on the dark web. The rebellious ones downloaded them, and many fell under the charm of love and lost themselves.
Yasmine couldn’t handle the loneliness anymore. She worked in a company which was famous for making capsules which suppresses the human emotion of love. Once in a while, they will engage in a video conference and make decisions. The decisions taken were converted into codes for the robots to work further.
There were surrogates, who willingly volunteered for the job of the mother to take care of human kids until they reach the age of 5. Once the children reach five, they are taken to another institution where they will be assisted and looked after by their nanny robots programmed to take care of them until they are adults. When they reach 18, they were shifted to a private place given for them to stay where they can do any job of their desire through the means of internet.
Only a mother and child could get a human connection that too till they were 5. Loneliness was killing Yasmine. She decided to download the dating app from the dark web. Initially, the idea seemed pretty much adventurous. After downloading the application, she waited patiently for a match. A few hours later, her cell phone blinked on finding a match. She felt excited and nervous at the same time. There was no turning back from finding love, she told herself. She decided to finish what she had started.
She texted, “Are you for real?”
“Yes, of course, haha! I am a soul looking for love.” came the reply in seconds. She couldn’t believe it.
“So what do you do?”
“I am a video game developer. What about you?”
“Don’t laugh but, I work at a company which makes capsules for humans to suppress their emotion of love.”
“Wow… what an ironical situation now.” Yasmine could imagine him laughing.
“Haha, yes it is. Well, I am Yasmine.”
“Hi Yasmine, I am Paul.”
The conversation went on for days. They could feel their connection growing stronger through texts. That’s when they decided to meet up. Deep down, Yasmine knew something shady was going to happen. The virus could infect them, but, she was ready to risk them all to feel this human connection.
Yasmine invited him for dinner one evening. She had to make all arrangements. Since none stepped out of the house, no one would see Paul entering her apartment. So, that part was easy, but he needed to be disinfected with sanitiser before he enters her apartment to reduce the risk of being infected by the virus. Since she worked in the medical department, it was easy for her to access a disinfectant machine in no time. If people asked what it was for, she could say it was for experiments, and thus she was on the safe side.
Things went as planned. She was excited to see Paul for the very first time. Even though she stopped taking the love suppressant, the effects it had on a human was forever. When her body started to release Oxytocin, the drugs began to play its part. She was never supposed to feel love. Even before seeing him, her heart was thrilled and excited about the idea of being in love. The capsule’s effects started to show slowly, but, she was busy preparing dinner for Paul. Her very first actual ‘date’, well, most probably the last one as well.
The doorbell rang. This time it wasn’t the robots, she spoke through the mic. “Come in.” She always wanted to do this. She saw someone entering. Initially, he was taken to disinfectant by her home robot. She checked herself in the mirror one last time. That’s when she noticed wrinkles on her face. She cleared her eyes and stared into the mirror one more time.
“Maybe the suppressant is giving me illusions. I can’t turn back now.” She said to herself.
Finally, Paul was right in front of her eyes. She noticed his face turning dull as he saw her. Yasmine didn’t know why but, he looked handsome than she expected him to be. She invited him to the dining hall. She hoped he would speak but, he didn’t even utter a word except a ‘Hi’. When she couldn’t take the silence anymore, she decided to break the ice.
“Paul, why don’t you tell me about your day?”
“ah… hm… it was good. I spend most of the day time imagining of meeting you.” Yasmine blushed, “But,”. He stopped and looked at her.
“You didn’t have to lie to me about your age.”
She looked confused, “Excuse me? What about my age? I am 23 years old. Why would I lie to you?”
“Don’t get me wrong Yasmine, but you look older than that. I don’t know how to say this to you.”
Now she understood what was going on. The suppressant started showing its effects.
“Oh, Paul. It’s the suppressant. I thought I was hallucinating. But it looks like the suppressant is showing it’s side effects.”
“What do you mean? I had taken the suppressants as well, but something like this didn’t happen to me.”
She felt bad. All this time, she was in love with the idea of love. She didn’t even know Paul yet; it was her thirst for love what brought all these dangers.
“I am sorry, Paul, I was in love with the idea of love, before even meeting you. When we started texting my hopes grew as well. I am sorry. This is all my fault. I am sorry that you don’t feel the same way I do. I expected something would go wrong, but this is worse. Side effects are different to different people. Don’t worry about me. You must go soon after dinner. I am sorry to put you through this situation.”
Paul sat there and ate his dinner. He felt terrible for her, but he didn’t know what to say to make her feel better. After dinner, they said goodbye to each other.
“What would you say to your head about your new looks?”
“I will say my experiment went wrong.” She said with a smile.
He gave a sly smile and left the apartment.
“I made a fool of myself with the idea of love.” She said to herself. She sighed and went to her bedroom. Her phone blinked with a new message from Paul, “I reached home.”
She smiled. She hoped the side effects wouldn’t stay forever, but it did. Even though the love story didn’t go as she planned it, she felt happy to feel some connection with another human. She took the magazine in her hands and stared into the photograph of couple jogging on the beachside. “Oh, I wish if COVID-19 ever ends!”