Title: Violet 5F
Author: Rita Dorsch
Summary: An entitled teenage girl considers cybernetic plastic surgery.
Word Count: 994
“What do you think?”
“I like purple. But it doesn’t matter what I like.”
“They aren’t purple, Daddy. They’re Violet.”
The product catalog on Belise BioSpa’s website featured eight different shades of violet and 56 colors altogether. It was hard enough choosing between blue, blue-green, green, gray, and violet. Now she was trying to decide between 5A, in which the irises were twinged with specs of pink and blue, or 5D in which they were a pure violet of medium intensity, or 5F, in which they were a cool amethyst nearest the pupil that became a deep plum where the edge met the white of the eye.
Zavi had been saving her bits for two birthdays, one Christmas, six good school reports and her confirmation. New eyes cost three thousand at the reputable spas. She could’ve had them done months ago, for much less at one of those unregulated places, but the selection would’ve been limited and anyway, her parents never would’ve allowed it. Belise was a chain, not high end, but it had lots of nice violets, good reviews, and a license.
She pressed 5F and turned toward her bedroom mirror. The catalog scanned the proportions of her face and projected the iris over her left eye. She studied her reflection; one side a beautiful gradient violet, the other a dull brown.
“Pretty,” her father said.
“Yep. Let’s go.”
Zavi grabbed her bitcard. She realized, as she looked at the photo in its top left corner, that she’d have to get a new one. Your appearance had to match your bitcard.
She could’ve taken the driverless herself. She’d learned to operate it the previous year; her bitcard said as much. She was certain she could turn it on and off, even with the bandages, but it was probably safer to have her father along. The procedure used to be much riskier; it could take as long as six weeks until the patient had full, dependable use of his or her new eyes. And sometimes the body rejected them. But as cybernetic technology had improved, most people needed only a few days to recover. And none of the reviews made mention of any rejection.
“You’re going through with it, then?” her mother asked.
“Yes. It’s my money. Daddy said if…”
“I know what Daddy said.”
“Hey, I told her, if she’s going to keep playing volleyball, she might want to keep saving for knees or…”
“Knees are so much more expensive. And what if I don’t play volley…”
“You’ll have perfectly functional knees when you’re older.”
“And you can’t see knees. I don’t get why this is such a big deal. Priya got new hair, twice already, and Erline had her whole face done when her acne got really bad. You let me suffer…”
“A little suffering isn’t the worst thing.”
“Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? Seriously, everybody but me has…”
“Almost everybody with a bitcard, maybe. Not nearly almost everybody.”
“You just want me to feel guilty for having one. Like you do. And bad about myself for wanting violet eyes.”
“Think of what three thousand bits could…”
“I have. For sixteen months.”
“And…I like your eyes. They’re your eyes. And I’m going to miss them.”
“Mother, nobody has brown eyes anymore.”
“Trends change. A year from now, everyone might want brown eyes.”
“I admit, they’ve come a long way, but they still don’t look…real…to me.”
“They look better than real. C’mon, Daddy. We’re going to be late for my appointment.”
Her mother was never going to approve, but she had no power to stop her. It was her father’s job that put most of the bits into their accounts. Her father was why they had bitcards in the first place. He got final say and he just wanted her to be happy.
Zavi was surprised to see protestors outside. They shook hand-drawn cardboard signs above their heads that said All Beauty Originates in God and No Man is Immortal, but they looked like people who were bent out of shape that they weren’t official, not activists who objected to the practice, like her mother. There were very few like her left.
Inside the facility, after she and her card were scanned and the bits were withdrawn, she was given a soft, white robe to change into, and shown to a small sterile room. In the center was the fully reclined chair in which she was to sit back. Overhead were hexagonal bright white lights; it hurt to look straight into them. Affixed to one wall was the control screen and the robotic arm that would, with the help of the attending doctor, perform the procedure. And on the floor was the wastebasket where her own – her old – eyes would go.
The doctor came in, pressed his finger to a spot on the screen, and the arm craned toward her.
“Slight pinch,” he said, and with no trouble at all, a needle pierced a vein in the back of her hand and inserted a micro-thin tube. She felt the effects of the anesthesia almost immediately. It was as though her body had been de-animated and she was watching the whole world from behind a screen.
She hadn’t really thought about this part before. The needles, the scalpels, whatever other tools were hidden in the mechanics of the arm. The wastebasket.
“Violet 5E, huh?”
No. No. Violet 5E was a horrible magenta. No. She tried to force her mouth to make the word, to shake her head from left to right, but her body was already leadened. Her eyelids grew heavy and her mind felt increasingly out of her control.
The awful pinky-purple eyeballs quivered on a little silver tray. No. This isn’t what she wanted. The place…had good reviews. Now that she thought about it…this…isn’t…what…she wanted. If…she…could…just…