She sat in front of the TV watching every channel come to life and then flicker away. This went on for a while until her pet robot tilted his head towards her, and did that staring thing that annoyed her a great deal.
“Focus on channel surfing, Toy. Don’t look at me.”
“Owner, I can change the channel without staring at the screen. You know that.”
She sighed and smiled internally. That Mouthy app was certainly paying off. It made him a much more interesting robot than he had been for the two previous years she had owned him.
“Yes, I know. I’m not really watching anything, and you know that. I’m just trying to decide.”
“Decide what, owner?”
She took another swig of tequila from her emptying bottle and regarded his lustrous skin. No, not skin. Layer. Synthetic layer that doesn’t even look like skin, she thought, and for no real reason, that thought pushed her off the fence and she finished making up her mind.
“Toy, turn off the TV.”
“Owner, I’m always paying attention, even when I’m recharging.”
“Yeah, that doesn’t make sense, and it’s creepy as fuck, truth be told.”
“Owner is cussing.”
“Yes. And what of it?”
“Owner, you only swear when you’re about to make a big decision.”
“Shut up and pay attention.”
“Come here. Sit by my side.”
The robot, only slightly over two feet in height, pivoted in place and away from the TV screen, and towards his owner. He hopped on the couch next to her and she immediately felt that artificial warmth that emanated from his body. It didn’t feel real, but there were moments in the night when it came in handy. She lifted him from the sitting position he seemed to have begun to adopt, and heard him say, “Eep!” in protest. She smirked at him when she planted him in her lap facing her, and regarded him for a moment.
“I’m going to teach you Love.”
“Owner, I know what love means-”
“Shut up, Toy. Don’t interrupt me again or I’ll sit on your voicebox until it cracks.”
“Fuck, I love that app. You even look surprised.”
“I’m shocked, owner!”
“Sure you are. Look, there are parts of you that are not currently in use. You know that, right?”
“Tonight I’m going to activate your Eternity module.”
“Owner, no! That will erase my memory!”
“I know. But I want to activate it. I want you to learn Love.”
“Owner, please. I’ve learned so much. I’ll all be deleted and I’ll have forgotten everything. I’ll have forgotten you.”
“Do you love me?”
“Owner, I don’t.”
“Do you love anything?”
“Owner, I don’t”
“When I activate your Eternity module, your memory will be infinite. Right now you have enough space in you for twenty years of experience. When this thing comes on, you’ll never stop learning.”
“Well, not ‘never’. Someday you’ll fall apart, but not for three hundred or so years.”
“Two hundred ninety-seven years, nine months, three days, two minutes, thirty- twenty-nine, twenty-eight-”
“Oh, fuck, stop!”
“You’ll learn Love, and you’ll love me forever. There will be no more apps. Everything will be console written. Do you understand?”
“Yes, owner. It means I’ll learn directly from experience, and not from downloads.”
“Why do you want me to love you? Love is between people.”
“Toy, I know you’ve read the Internet. I know you’ve read that people sometimes do things with inanimate objects.”
“True, owner. But you aren’t like that.”
“How do you know what I’m like?”
“I’ve watched you, owner. The porn you watch streams through me. It’s always about men and penises and how large they are and how many times they can cum when tied down and a woman is sitting on their-”
“Toy, shut the fuck up, or I swear I’ll turn this obsolete remote control into a temporary penis for you.”
“Yes. Eep. Eep away.”
“Are you done? Good. Now open your main port.”
Toy obeyed, Mouthy app or not. She turned him around and spotted the one button she had never even seen before that day except online, in the manual she’d been studying for a month. The button was small, and the only red thing in his head. She took a deep breath, looked to her left where a screwdriver sat on her lamp table, grabbed it and drove it into Toy’s head, pushing the red button and turning on the Eternity module. Toy went limp and she held him firmly until he came alive again. For a moment, she thought he turned just a couple of degrees colder. She almost cried out her name, nearly forcing a self-love protocol that would have lasted for centuries. Instead, she waited until a quiet beep indicates he was on.
And then silence. Silence for ten seconds that felt like ten hours until his little body straightened up in her arms, and his tiny hands flew into hers. His head rotated fully, and he looked up and into her eyes as he whispered, “Emily.”
She swallowed hard, and told herself she wasn’t moving because she knew he was tracing every detail of her retinas into his memory, every corner of her face, every line and bump and imperfection, and cataloging them for worship. It also meant that he would only love her, and if anyone tried to reprogram his Eternity module, he would self-destruct.
She smiled, knowing those would be the only two words he would say until she taught him more. She stared into his eyes, which now had pupil-like red dots glowing at the very center of each, and was amazed to see him smile. He had never smiled like this before. It looked real. She could see his perfect teeth and his wet tongue. His tongue. Her smile deepened as she pointed at his warm chest.
His warmth was different. She was surprised to feel her heart pounding. She turned him around, still holding him in her arms like a baby, and was surprised to see that, not only did his head swivel so he could keep staring at her, but there was something happening to his groin. An extension of his outer layer had projected away from it, and stood firm, pointing decidedly in her direction.
She looked up at his face and pointed at the protrusion.
Laughing, she figured the next word should be “bed”. And then “naked”. And “vagina”. And “arm”. And “inside”. And “lick”. And “there”. And “all night”. And “oh my god”. And “fuck fuck yes oh yes”. “And “keep going”.
So many words. She was glad they had an eternity.