The Detachables

Posted in Uncategorized by anna on March 28, 2010

If you are a teenage girl in the year 3000, here are some of the things your mom will be on your ass about:

Not spending all the money you make as a counter girl at the Future Freeze on holograms of pop stars. Taking your brain microchip out before bed or else it’ll dry up. Doing all the extra credit for calculus class (because the future isn’t really that different in some ways). And staying away from Detachables.

What your mom doesn’t realize, because, like, she just doesn’t get it (another way the future isn’t different) is every teenage girl in the year 3000 goes through a Detachables phase. This is because they’re males of well above-average looks and intelligence, attend a special school, and, incidentally, their limbs can be separated from their body.

Detachables were created in a top-secret government lab in Tucson, Arizona, where blasé gum-chewing scientists fused together preserved pieces of exceptional men. The heads of Brooks Brothers models, brains of Nobel Prize winners, biceps of professional athletes. Frozen at age 17, the peak of male health. The five-million-dollar teenager. Their only flaw is a lack of empathy and too much apathy, sort of boredom-induced autism. Ennui Personality Disorder.

Nobody’s certain how the contained experiment spilled out into the general population. Like most teenage girls in the year 3000, you probably fantasize that it was a Detachable Romeo and lab-rat Juliet, like an Adam and Eve of 2050 type thing, a love illicit and strong enough to break the rules of biology.

You are floored when you read in your mom’s morning virtual that they’re ending the segregated educational system and putting the Detachables in regular school. You dance around your kitchen. Your mom glances at the headline and burns her mouth on her coffee.

Popular girls in high school haven’t changed much in the year 3000 – they’re still bitches named Jessica – and Jessica is the first to approach the Detachables at their lunch table. She gives them a basket of cupcakes she baked herself. They thank her politely but they don’t smile, because that’s not something they do, because you don’t have a lot of reasons to smile when you’re a science project.

As Jessica walks away, one of the Detachables reaches for a cupcake and spills milk on his arm. He takes his arm off, sets it on the table and starts cleaning it with a napkin. Everyone in the cafeteria stares.

After a few weeks of failed flirting your friends decide the Detachables are too snobby, cold and unattainable to bother with. One by one they go back to their old non-Detachable boyfriends and sorta-boyfriends, mediocre and sweet with gawky arms and legs fully fused to their torso. Jessica is the first to claim she slept with a Detachable. He just shrugs when people ask him about it.

You’ve never really had a boyfriend. The closest thing was last year when you made out with your bio lab partner in the back of his shitty Ford Levitator after he gave you a plug-in indie mix for your microchip on your birthday, but that only lasted a week. Most boys, you decided at a young age, are boring.

You’re getting a B+ in calculus, well below the standard for the university your mom wants you to go to, and you’re assigned a tutor. It’s the Detachable who supposedly had sex with Jessica. You meet up in the calc classroom after school every Tuesday to go over that week’s lesson. They’re used to getting lots of attention from girls, so you try to pretend not to care.

The third week, he smiles at a joke you make. He starts glancing at you during class a lot and has a nervous habit of rubbing the metal that connects his neck to his collarbone. He calls you “inscrutiable.” The fifth week, you steel your nerves and ask him to the Spring Fling and he thinks for a long time.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” he finally says.

“Oh. Okay.”

“It’s just, I can’t really…”

You shrug and return to your homework.

“Sure,” he says.

You pick up an extra shift at the Future Freeze because the tickets are hella expensive, they need to cover the cost of renting out the space boat. The theme’s Australia, or more specifically, “Seniors 3000: Down Under” because high school dance themes will always be retarded.

He shows up at your front door in a white suit and makes well-mannered small talk with your mom until you come down the stairs in your dress, a metallic dream. He sees you coming and his hand falls off his arm and lands on the floor with a thud. He stares at it for a minute, picks it up and clicks it back into place.

“He’s very… articulate,” your mom says with a forced smile as you kiss her on the cheek. “Please, please be back by eleven.”

The cafeteria’s glowing with holograms of scenic Australia in dark crepe paper, rotating slowly across the walls and people’s faces. Everyone stares when you walk in. Jessica, in pink, gives you the evil eye. You want to ask him about her, but you’re afraid of the answer. You can only silently reassure yourself that at least you’re skinnier than her, which, to a teenage girl in the year 3000, still feels of the utmost importance.

“This one’s for all the young lovers of the class of 3000,” the DJ croons, and puts on a top 40 ballad, the first slow dance of the night.

You want him to ask you to dance, but he’s staring at the huge projected koala sliding across the wall, unsmiling. He’s smart enough to know that you want to dance, so he must be intentionally denying you what you want.

“Can we dance?” you finally ask him. He shrugs and stands up.

You re-arrange your classes so that your free periods match up and sit with him and the Detachables during lunch. For his benefit, they’ve reluctantly accepted you into the fold. The other ones don’t talk to you much. It mostly just feels like sitting with a bunch of lifesized magazine cutouts.

“We hardly see you anymore,” your best friend mutters, annoyed, as she slams her locker door shut. “You’re always with him.”

You lose your virginity to the Detachable in your bedroom one Sunday while your mom is at work. Right after (or actually, right after you put your bra and panties back on), you look into his eyes and tell him you love him.

“Okay,” he says. He screws his hand impossibly tight on his wrist.

“You seem like, tense.”


But you can’t just let it lie. “Do you love me too?”

“I… yeah, I guess. Yeah. I love you.” He kisses your forehead. “I love you.”

Five minutes after he leaves you call your friends and tell them most of the urban legends about having sex with Detachables are bullshit except a few key ones that are true and may have ruined you on non-Detachable boys for the rest of your life.

At school the next day, you see him hopping through the hall with his severed leg over his shoulder to the nurse’s office.

“What’s with you?” you ask him.

“It won’t stick,” comes his semi-frantic response. (Frantic means something different for them since their speech is usually flat and affectless.)

He isn’t at lunch. The other Detachables tell you he’s still at the nurse. His other leg fell off in AP English and they can’t figure out what’s wrong with him. You go to visit him at the nurse but the blinds are drawn around his bed and the nurse tells you he’s sleeping.

His arms and legs are in a basin next to the bed. It freaks you out. You wonder if that would hurt his feelings.

The school sends a letter home to everyone’s parents about a possible virus catching in Detachables. Apparently he’s not the only one who’s been having this problem. You reluctantly stop by the nurse’s office Friday and talk to him through the closed blinds.

“I heard you got into college.” His voice is muffled.

“Yep,” you say awkwardly.

You hear him take a deep, shaky breath. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

The late bell rings for next period and you say, “Um, I’m gonna be late.”

“Can’t you stay for a minute?”

The nurse is speaking in a low, intense voice on the phone. She keeps glancing towards the drawn blinds and back at you.

“Look, I gotta go, okay?” You nervously shifting your weight from foot to foot.

“Don’t go yet, please don’t go.”

“God,” you snap, “Why are you being so needy?”

You never officially break up with him, just stop coming around, but he gets it. Besides, you’re really busy packing for the dorms and everything.

Projecting the nightly news virtual with kids from the dorm during Welcome Week at college, you’re shocked to see him in the 11:45 “scare” slot.

He’s in a special home with other afflicted Detachables. The anchor sticks her microphone in the faces of the armless and legless. Torsos who make wry puns about talking head interviews.

Studies show that a romantic involvement was the only common link between them. For some reason, once they started caring about another person, their joints began sealing up and rejecting their limbs. Love, the scientists determined, made them fall apart.

“Does your girlfriend come visit you often?” the anchor asks your Detachable, now just a torso reclined on a chair.

“It didn’t work out between us,” he says. His eyes are blank. “Obviously.”

And right there in the common room in front of your new friends you start crying, just crying for no good reason, for your mom who was right all along, for all the young lovers of the class of 3000.