On a sunny day like today, I like to get out of the office as much as I can. My afternoon chai latte is a great excuse to momentarily escape and enjoy life’s simple pleasures: sunshine and a beverage. I enter the shop and there is already a queue. Tomi the barista waves when she sees me walk in. She knows my usual order. Sometimes I come in on Saturday mornings when it is quiet and we talk about tea blends, life and everything in between.
I hear a cough from behind me. I turn to see a man, he has a strange look on his face.
“Well this is awkward,” he says.
“Is it?” I ask.
He stares and there is a slight crease of confusion on his forehead. We take a step forward as someone leaves the front of the queue.
“We haven’t seen each other since…”
I watch the muscles in his neck tense and he grips the phone in his hand tighter. He does not want to finish the sentence.
“Do I know you?” I ask.
He chokes on a muffled laugh. He sees the confusion on my face and his amusement dissipates.
“I know things ended badly,” he says. “But I thought we could at least be cordial.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I tell him.
His face changes; his whole demeanour shifts. It is as if I can see something crumble inside him.
“I can’t believe you did it,” he says, his voice low, a little above a whisper.
“You had the procedure.”
“You had me erased.”
A feeling of bliss washes over me. I don’t know what he’s talking about but I know what he means. Targeted memory erasure (TME) has been on the market for over five years now. The ability to completely remove a person, object or event from your mind was once far-fetched but is now as easy as a visit to the dentist to have a tooth removed. In fact, it is a lot less painful. The painful or inconvenient memory is removed and in its place, a feeling of very mild euphoria is inserted. Some people shun the practice, there are still protests outside the clinics, but I am, apparently, not one of those people.
I look at the man. He is a total and complete stranger to me. Nothing about him triggers even a glimmer of remembrance. I step forward again. I am now at the front of the queue and Tomi immediately starts making my drink without me asking. I smile my thanks to her.
“Three years,” he says. “Gone, just like that.”
“Look,” I say, patting him gently on the arm. “I have no ill feeling towards you, that’s a good thing, is it not?”
Tomi hands me my cup, I tap to pay and turn to leave.
“Some things are best left unremembered,” I say as I pass him.
I walk out of the shop, back into the sun. I could occupy myself with questions about what I chose to erase and why I felt that I had to make that decision, but what would be the point? TME offers us the luxury of forgetting. A former me decided that he was not worth remembering, and I am confident in her judgment.