Edgar opened his eyes. He wanted to blink, but couldn’t. He took in the scene in front of him. He heard the sounds of a robin chirping outside, saw the sunlight filter in through the shades, and felt the smooth fabric of the couch beneath him. Likely mid morning, definitely the living room, but why he was there was coming a bit slowly. Orienting himself, the remaining furniture slid into place into his mental map, with the stove in the connected kitchen coming last. He wished he could smell. He missed smelling breakfast. Edgar tried to stand up and start his day, but found his legs unwilling to listen, so he sat there, confused.
Edgar felt a weight shift to the right of him, but found himself unable to turn his head to look. Then, a hand was placed on his shoulder. “Eddie, honey, we need to talk about something.” He recognized the voice. It was Tina, his wife. All fear melted from him, and if he could have released the tension in his shoulders, he would have.
Tina took her hand, gently placed her thumb and forefinger on his chin, and turned his neck so he was looking at her, unblinking. “Your eyes are open, so I’m going to assume you can hear me.” Tina’s makeup was slightly smudged and smeared, she clearly had been crying recently, with small streaks of her eyeliner under her eyes. She took a sip of her deep hickory-colored drink.
She continued to speak. “You know I’ve loved every moment we shared since the transfer. Every single day has been a blessing to just…wake up in your arms, come home to a warm meal, hear your voice, and just everything I thought I would never get to experience again. I think I’ve made that clear in how I’ve acted. I try to show it, and understand that I don’t always do a good job.”
Edgar noticed that she was starting to cry again. Her eyes were getting watery, and her voice starting to shake. He wanted to speak up and comfort her, to tell her that she has been nothing short of the perfect wife, but he found that his mouth just would not move. He could feel his warm wet tongue resting on the roof of his mouth, but he just could not get any part of that whole assembly to move with him, so he sat stone still.
Tina took another drink from her tumbler, and then fiddled with her golden bracelet. “Do you remember our trip last year? We went to Florence. We walked around the ruins of those old buildings, and that night you surprised me with flowers. I think I cried that night, and you looked so worried that you messed up. You didn’t Eddie, it was perfect. Do you remember that week?”
She paused for a second, turning away and wiping her eyes. “I’m sorry, I know you can’t talk right now, but I just need you to listen. I know you would interject, and I just need to finish what I have to say first. I know that’s cruel of me, but please understand where I’m coming from.” She paused and mumbled to herself, “Why am I even doing this.”
She looked back to him, placed a hand on his cheek, and adjusted her caress when it was clear he would not rest his face against her hand. “I am so grateful that we had this second chance, but we…I need to move on. What we’re doing, what I’m doing, I don’t think its healthy.”
She took the last drink of her glass and stood up. “921, eyes, follow.” Edgar’s neck moved in response to track her movement from the living room to the open kitchen. She walked behind the bar that separated the two rooms and took a large bottle and poured more of it into her glass before placing the bottle back into the bar. “Ed, your recent trips, they’ve been expensive. Much more expensive than I ever thought.” She took another sip before she continued. “And I just can’t justify the repairs.”
She turned away from looking at Edgar and placed her empty hand on her hip. “My sister thinks I was crazy for ever getting you. She said, ‘It’s not really him!’ She never liked the idea of the transfers, and I don’t blame her. You know how she is. Or, I guess, from her perspective, you knew. But honestly Eddie, it made the transition without you so much easier.”
She turned back towards Edgar and walked to the edge of the kitchen, right before the carpet started. “What are you thinking Eddie? What’s going on in that little plastic skull of yours. 921, mouth, can speak.”
Edgar felt his jaw loosen at the command. He tried to turn away, but could not will his neck to move. So, instead, he spoke, “I don’t want to die!” He knew if he was in control, if this was any other day, his voice would have shook. He would have cried. He would have fallen on his knees and raised his hands to beg, but his voice was cold, loud, but emotionless. “Please, I wi…”
“921, stop!” Tina raised her hand towards Edgar. “She was right. This was stupid. And I just can’t imagine hearing your ‘side’ in your own voice. I just can’t. I should have just turned you off and sent you back in. Like, what kind of life even is this?” She pointed towards Edgar’s completely still form sitting on the couch. “This is nothing. Eddie, you’re already dead. This isn’t you. It never has been, and it’s time I move on.”
She walked towards Eddie, and the whole time, he tried to shift every part of his body. He desperately wanted to get away, to move, to get even a single motor to move him out of there, but nothing would budge. Not a single system would let up.
She bent over Eddie and kissed his forehead. “921, data, wipe.”
I am considering making this a longer form story that tells everything that happened before this. If I do, I may make it my NaNoWriMo project in November. The other two options are here and here. If you are a three dollar or more subscriber, I will be having a poll in my discord.
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