I am dying. I’ve been dying since the day I was born. This seems a little grim, especially because I’m so blunt about it, but I’m alright. I know someday it’s possible I can overcome it. Besides, without hope, how will it happen? #KuriStory
I laugh as my friends and I sit down at the living room table to do our homework. Throwing off our heavy clothes from the day and sitting in our school uniforms, we gather around. Michael turns on the TV, and the ad pops up. Not any ad, though, our ad. My friends don’t notice the advertisement. They’re goofing around, procrasting on this group assignment we’re supposed to do. I don’t though. I smile at the ad, and think of my mom.
"Welcome to Futurism! Where we have the latest in technology. Introducing, Kuri! Kuri is a healthful home robot with an endearing personality. Kuri’s mobility, awareness, and personality lend itself to be the next big innovation in home robotics. With emotive eyes and a friendly disposition, Kuri is an adorable home robot that lets you capture special moments, check in on your home while you’re away, play music, podcasts, and audiobooks, and so much more! This product is sold all over the world, and is the number one must-have in every household… Please visit the website flashing at the bottom of the screen to get yours today!’
The blonde lady on the screen flashes a genuine smile, as if she really thinks the robot is the best in the world. She’s really trying to sell Kuri, the home robot. I remember when he wasn’t just a home robot, though. I remember when Kuri was first invented, for me.
Today I turn 10-years-old, and my dad is going to take me to see one of the last inventor’s conventions from the 1900s. My name is Elizabeth, and I am dying. I’ve been dying since the day I was born. This seems a little grim, especially because I’m so blunt about it, but I’m alright. I know someday it’s possible I can overcome it. Besides, without hope, how will it happen?
My parents had me prematurely, one month to be exact. They didn’t think I would make it, but they watched me grow inside an incubator. Then, misfortunes started happening one after another, starting with me getting the whooping cough, the flu, measles, and cancer. It was discovered that I had cancer about a year ago, but the doctors said I’ve had it for almost two years, and it just went unnoticed for so long. During those two years, it seemed as if everything was fine. I was having the time of my life, watching my dad, who's a lawyer, travel to different places to defend different people, and my mother, who's a computer programmer, write the program that was deemed "un-hackable" just a few months ago.
Neither really had time for me, because of their careers. Despite me getting sick all the time, they would always make sure I had the proper care. However, when the doctors told my parents I had cancer, and could die, both of them quit their jobs to watch over me. They didn’t want me to die and remember them as workaholics. Dad became a tutor, so that he could schedule when he would be away from me instead of being dragged away by a court case. Mom took up a part time job fixing computers. The money from her app was bringing in big money anyway, but she only got the part time job as a hobby. Both of my parents love their careers. Both of them love me too, and hate seeing me sick all the time. I suppose that’s why they were always busy before, but now they’re always with me. Whenever I want to do something, we do it.
“Come on, Mum, Da. I want to see the show! It’s starting!” I say, smiling brightly as the wind blows the bandana that covers my bald head behind me. Mom and dad both look sad, but when they see me watching, they perk up and smile.
“We’re coming, honey,” Mom calls out. Her smile seems a little too low, and the bags around her eyes make her seem somehow older. She had long brown hair with a red tint in it, that in the sunlight makes her hair glow dark red. She has little grey hairs peppered around her face that she hates so much, but Dad always teases her about it. Dad is like the opposite of Mom, at least when he was working as a lawyer. His hair used to be slacked back with hair gel, and he wore a suit that made him look proper. His face was grim, almost looking like a spy to me in some ways. We still have a picture of Dad like that when he went to Tokyo when I was seven. He took a picture by the ocean and we framed it. Now his black hair is wavy and has grown a lot longer. It hangs down the side of his face but above his shoulders.
Dad is tanner then Mom. Because he was always traveling, he got more exposure to the world than Mom did. Mom has always been pale, but I’m paler than her. Mom says it’s from always being sick, but Dad likes to say I just take after Mom. I think I have a little bit of both of my parents in me. My green eyes from my Dad, my skin from my Mom. I used to have gorgeous long dark red hair like Mom, where it only looked red in the sunlight, and brown the rest of the time.
“Kiara, wait for us!” Dad calls after me, using my middle name and laughing when I jump up and down for joy and excitement. They follow me into the 1900-style tent that seems too big for a small girl like me. Around me, there are tables stacked with old inventions, like the vinyl, the machine that produces Morse code from tapping a little medal stick and a foot stomper, a bike that’s taller than my mom and dad, the very first light bulb that’s still lit today, and many more other objects. I laugh as I race by all of the different old inventions. They seem ancient to me, yet without all of these things, we wouldn’t be developing the technology we have today.
The world seems dim to me while I look around. Time seems to move quickly, and before I know it, it’s almost time to leave the show.
“But Ma’ I just…” I start, looking over at a section that I keep cycling back to. Mom shakes her head and in a firm voice tells me we need to leave. I look down at my feet and clasp my hands in front of me, saddened by the end of today’s adventure.
“Hello, miss, it’s awful nice for you to come to my show,” says a voice behind me. I turn around and look up at a tall man, taller than what I think Abraham Lincoln would have been without his hat on! I stare up at him, awestruck.
“Hello, Mr…” I murmer. He laughs and leans down to me.
“Did you like the show?” he asks, with a smile on his face. He’s got dark hair like Da, but bright hazel eyes like mom.
“Y-y-yes, sir…” I reply, my voice quivering a little. He stands up tall, reaches on a near side rack by the gift cart, and then lowers himself back down to me.
“I would like you, my beautiful darling, to have this,” he says, his long fingers holding out a brief case to me. I look back at Mom and Da, who nod in approval before I take the brief case. I set it on the ground, and look inside. When I open it, I’m surprised. It has a little old fashioned electrical current that runs from two batteries connected by copper wires, that run to this little wooden box. The box has a long black strip that has a little line that runs along it, and smaller lines that run up and down. There are three buttons on the bottom of it, and a little wire that unfolds at the tip. Curious, I press the middle button. The long line glows red, and I hear static. I rotate the button to the right, marked PM to the left. A little line moves along the bottom of the lines that go up and down. Suddenly, a beautiful voice plays through the box.
“Hello, boys and girls. My name is Emily and I am here to make you smile! I can be your best friend, as we listen to these beautiful songs,” she chirps. An old fashioned song plays through the little box. At first, I’m bewildered. How is this box making music?
“This, darling, is an old-fashioned radio. You see the antenna and batteries are powering it. However, it's magical. It only plays music from the 1900s. It’s like the past is stuck in our time, and we are here to preserve it. Will you be a dear, and hold onto it for me? Maybe next time I’m in town, you’ll come see my show again and I can check on our little friend,” the man says. I smile and nod.
“Will it still play if I shut the suitcase?” I ask. He shakes his head no.
“It has to be on a flat surface, like the floor. Remember, darling, don’t get it wet and take very good care of it for me, will you?” he asks. I nod and smile. He presses the button, which makes the music stop. Then he pushes down the metal stick on top of the box, and folds up the suit case. I grab a hold of the handle, and turn to Mom and Dad who are smiling. I turn back around to thank the man, but he’s gone.
“Come Kiara, it’s time to go home,” Dad says, holding out his hand. I follow my parents home, and that night I listen to the box until I fall asleep. I smile to myself as it sits on my dresser, playing into the night with the moonlight from my window, shining on it. It really does seem like a magic box…to me.
Ten Years Later
The man never came back into town for his box, which I later learned was a radio. Mom and Dad never took it from me either. I played it when I was feeling sad, or when I was studying in college. I graduated at 17, and started college at 18. I’m studying engineering. I want to build a little robot that can do what that little radio did, but so much more. There was an device like it built when I was 16, called Alexa. It was a calendar speaker looking thing, but it didn’t do much except talk to people. I want something a little more than that.
Besides, I want something my daughter can play with. Little Kiara Ann was born a little more than a year ago, when I met a man in college named Jonathan. He traveled the world for three years after he graduated high school, and then decided he wanted to return to England to learn something like his parents always taught him. He wants to study to be a photographer.
I’m 20-years-old now, and I have a few years to go to get my full engineering degree. Little by little, I work on my little project. Something similar my magical radio that the showman gave me when I was ten years old. Something that I can give to my daughter Kiara, who I named after myself.
Computer Log 23, December 8, 2033
This is Elizabeth Kiara, reporting in from my office. My therapist says that I need to keep a daily log to keep me from going insane. I can’t believe I’m listening to her, but I guess in order to keep myself from going to the mental hospital, I will. She says I don’t have to share them with her, and I told her I’ll give her a file of them at the end of every month. It’s been four years since I started working on my little engineering project, to soothe and comfort my daughter Kiara when she’s asleep at night. For a while, she wouldn’t sleep at night, only during the day when she was being held. Her father and I worried, but the doctors said nothing was wrong with her. They were wrong.
Kiara developed cancer, like I did was I was 10-years-old. The doctors don’t know how she did, or why their treatments aren’t working since the world developed the cure back in 2020. They say it’s a new kind of cancer, one that can’t be cured at this time. This means my daughter will likely die.
My god… I can’t even bear to think about her dying. I can’t… the way I was in pain when I was a child was unbearable. The only thing that kept me comfort some nights was the little magic radio box. It stopped working the moment we discovered that Kiara had cancer.
Dear lord… please help my daughter. Please let her survive this. I can’t sleep at night because my daughter is constantly crying. My husband has taken to sleeping at motels because he must go to work in order to provide for the medical bills. The doctors keep telling me we should give up, but I can’t.
All I want to do is comfort my poor daughter. I want her to sleep. I want to make it where she’s no longer in pain. Nobody except Jonathan or I can hold her without her crying like mad.
I just want this to stop.
Log End: 3 AM 12/08/2033
Log Entry: January 3, 2034
I’m getting closer and closer to the solution to comforting Kiara. She’s getting sicker and sicker by the day, but I hope my invention will at least soothe her. The magic radio still doesn’t work, but today the invention turned on. I started the assembly immediately after I graduated from college in December. We moved to America, where I was told anything is possible. My invention… It’s a work in progress. It has the latest technology with sensory and video feedback. It runs off a pure energy that I’ve found pairing up with ASAN engineers. With my help, I will send them to the next planet that has life on it. With their help, I will comfort Kiara. My baby cannot die… I won’t let her.
Log End: 2 AM 01-03-2034
Log Entry: February 4, 2035
This past year I’ve pushed my efforts… and today it pays off. I shall record the moment in history…where the "Kuri" begins. It will bring peace to little Kiara. She’s gotten much worse, and is being hospitalized. This is my last hope… *Sniffling sounds in the background* Please… let this work.
*Whirling sounds… and then a click.”
“Hello, my name is Kuri. I am the world’s first AI robot, equip with technology that will adapt to any user. I can capture special moments, play music, look up anything on the World Wide Web, and even have a conversation.”
*Crying sounds in the background.*
It worked! Oh bloody hell, it worked! *Laughter sounds*
“Ma’am, you seem to be in distress, may I be of service to you? Will the authorities need to be called?” Kuri asks.
No darling, no. I’m just… crying tears of joy… *Shuffling*
I can’t believe it… It finally worked! The Kuri worked! I hope…*sniffs* I hope this will comfort Kiara.
Log End: 8:35 PM 02/4/2035
Log Entry: March 8, 2036
The doctors have begun their research on a cure for my daughter, and the six million children who have the same cancer as her in the last five years. Global research is now focused on it… and the distribution of my product. Kuri, as I named it, seems to calm down any child in distress. For example, Kiara has taken a liking to the little robot. I manufacture her with the help of my mother to sound more… human.
Kuri seems to be able to hold conversations as if it was a tiny person. Her voice is clear, and she can move around. When she’s assigned to a specific user, she seems attached to that user. I believe with a little more manufacturing, each Kuri can be specified to individual children.
Kiara…S he’s making a miraculous recovery already, with Kuri beside her. She sings to her when she seems sad. She tells her jokes and even laughs with Kiara. Kuri takes pictures of what she sees when Kiara asks, and sends them directly to my phone, or to my email. Kiara loves looking at them. I think… I think I’ve done it. Kiara will recover. She will make it…
Log End: 1PM 03/08/2036
Today the sun is shining brightly, and reflects little sparkles off the snow on the ground. My friends and I race to my house to work on the group project we were assigned today. When we enter the house, we take off our shoes, and then our coats in the living room. Michael turns on the TV, and the ad pops up. Not any ad, though, our ad. My friends don’t notice the advertisement. They’re goofing around, procrastinating on this group assignment we’re supposed to do. I don’t though. I smile at the ad, and think of my mom.
"Welcome to Futurism! Where we have the latest in technology. Introducing, Kuri! Kuri is a healthful home robot with an endearing personality. Kuri’s mobility, awareness, and personality lend itself to be the next big innovation in home robotics. With emotive eyes and a friendly disposition, Kuri is an adorable home robot that lets you capture special moments…”
“Hey, Kiara, doesn’t that little robot on the TV look just like yours?” asks Savannah, my best friend. She has long blonde hair, and bright blue eyes. Her skin is pale, but she has little freckles across her nose.
“Yes… It does…” I say, sighing. I turn 18 next week, and my best friend in the whole world, Kuri, has been with me since I got sick withcCancer as a child. As if on cue, Kuri wiggles around in my bag.
“Ms. Kiara, are you well? You seem… sad,” Kuri says. I smile at her, and set her on the floor beside me.
“No, Kuri… I’m just happy that I had you through the roughest time in my childhood, and thinking that I’m so lucky to have my mom,” I answer. The others have grown loud and excited over the project, each pushing their digital head set that will flash before their eyes with information. Kuri is considered old technology, even though she doesn’t seem old to me. Only the children who had gotten the same cancer as I ever really got a Kuri. Kuri is too outdated for everyone else. To me, though… she will always be my best friend, and not just some robot I had as a child.
“Come, Kuri, let's get to work,” I tell her, smiling. I hear a click, as she takes a picture of my friends and I. My digital device in my head dings, and I see a picture of all of us… Another picture comes to my mind, and I recall the pictures Kuri first took when I was a little kid.
Hope… faith… and comfort were the things that kept me alive. It will be what keeps me going in the future, when I attend college just like Mom and Dad did. Without Kuri… I don’t think I would have made it.
I would like to thank Natasha for emailing me about the contest and giving me the opportunity to participate. I’d also like to thank my mother, for raising me like she has. I was raised with… old methods that I think need to be taught to the future generations. Things like kindness, morals, hope, love, togetherness, respect, and family should never be forgotten no matter how in tune with technology people become. We should always take the time to be with the people we love most in the world, and challenge ourselves to do the things we aren’t good at.
I would like to acknowledge the quote I got for Kuri's description and his picture that I got from the Kuri contest place. Thank you for letting me use it.