by Hannah MacAfee
She stretched out and tried to recapture that multi-layered furnace between her legs, but it wasn’t working, it was dead. She said nothing as she lowered her extended leg back down and tried to occupy her mind with anything else besides the bag of chips that sat opened in her pantry. Eventually, she gave in and spilled the chips out on the floor and sucked them up before he returned back home.
“I’m home!” he called out even though she was already at the door waiting for him before he opened it.
“Dear, I missed you.” She cooed, her voice went up slightly as she talked as it did every time when she greeted him.
“How was work?” He smiled and took off his coat, “It was fine, nothing too crazy to report, Emerson is still dealing with that project, you know, the one that I had been originally assigned to? And he—”
She nodded along as he spoke, taking his coat from his hands and picking up the shoes he had left at the entryway as she did so. When he paused in his story about what his co-worker Dale had for lunch, she told him.
“Sweetheart, it happened again.”
She wished she didn’t have to tell him. She hated to see that look of disappointment in his eyes every time she informed him as if he thought the whole thing was somehow her fault. But all the same, when he talked, he sounded worried.
“Again? But that’s the second time this week! Perhaps we should take you in for maintenance?”
She shook her head fast maintenance not only meant long hours of analysis on her data and mechanisms, but it also cost way too much money— a commodity he didn’t have a whole lot of.
“I’m not broken or anything, I think it’s just this weather, you know it’s so cold and rainy right now.” He nodded but continued to look concerned. She followed his eyes as they appraised the carpet. “Were you vacuuming today? That’s the fourth time this week if you keep it up there won’t be any carpet left to clean.”
She looked dejectedly down at her feet where her vacuum tubes were hidden by deceptive house shoe coverings. She didn’t know when she started doing it so often, all she knew was that when the fire went out, it felt good to move and pretend to be productive, even if the self-made mess drained her limited battery life faster.
“What was it today?” He asked as he loosened his tie. “Chips. I’m out now.” Her voice still sounded gleeful and bouncy. It was all part of her programming. He went out to his garage and came back with a blow torch. “Are you ready?”
“What about dinner?” He sighed and clung to the blowtorch. “I’d rather do this now while
I’ve still got the energy.” She didn’t know how to argue, but at that moment she wished she did. He moved over to the sparse living room, “lay down.” He said even though her back was on the ground before he finished speaking. She lifted her legs before he could
ask her to do so, causing him to smile sadly and say, “yeah, we have been doing this a
lot lately, huh?” She tried to smile back but found it hard to do with her neck bent in such an odd angle, so she laid her head flat.
“If only I didn’t need the fire to function.” She said after she heard the failing clicks of a
torch refused to catch. ‘Hmm, I’m glad it’s there. It’s a part of you- I love everything
that’s apart of you.” His voice began to strain with annoyance as he fought the fire.
“Perhaps if we just wait until after you’re fed–”
“Just wait!” He snarled, and she raised her head to look at him, not in concern for herself, but in concern for him. The torch was down at his side as he stood up to rub the nervous sweat out of his eyes. “You know I love you.” He said through his fingers. She tried to nod and smile, but again, her position on the ground made that impossible. He looked like he was about to say something more, a question, but in the end, he decided against it even though they both knew what the question was and just how ridiculous it would have been to speak it out loud.
“From the moment I first saw you, I knew that you would be the only android I’d ever need in my life.”
He was reminiscing now, which meant he was looking through her, so she was able to put her head back down.
“My buddy Dean always said that after I bought one, I’d want more, to do all types of services for me.” he lifted her pleated skirt as he talked, revealing all the intersecting wires, springs, and cogs underneath. “But then I saw you in that display case, with a look I had never seen before on any person’s face, so reserved and yet impassioned at the same time, it was like seeing one of those French paintings come to life. Do you remember that?”
Of course, she didn’t. All droids were programmed to fit their owners mental and thought processes only after they were purchased. She knew he knew that; he was just stuck in the memory.
“The salesmen tried to get me to buy a pleasure android, but I only had a heart for you,
and that reserved blaze in your face.” she finally heard the torch catch with an accompanying line of smoke.
“My favorite times are our times together. I love all the little things you do, even the
chronic vacuuming.” The heat was moving towards her cold pilot light. “I just wish you
could stay lit properly like you’re supposed to.”
He sighed. She felt her body kick back online as the heat from the flame began to spread and pushed her structural systems back into proper working order. She pulled her skirt down and sat up.
“Thank you, dear.” She cooed as she reached out a hand to touch his face.
“I just wish we knew why you kept going out.” He sighed. Neither of them said anything,
but they both had an answer. Each answer was different, but both were right.
Hannah MacAfee has had some of her science fiction short stories and flash fiction published on sites such as “Dime show review” and “Ripples in Space: Time-Space-fiction.”