Robot Lust – Leon Taylor

“That was a week ago,” Andrea said softly. “Since then not an hour has passed that I haven’t thought about marriage.”

“Why not me?” I blurted. 

She gave me a lingering look. Then she slowly smiled and gently shook her head. I looked down at my desk and began multiplying two-digit sums in my head, which is my favorite means of escape.  “Farewell,” she said as she left. I didn’t reply. 

I understood, of course. Every self-respecting robot wants to hook up with a human that behaves like one.  I have designed so many bots that I think like a machine. Yet Andrea, of all my bots, by dint of her cussedness, reminds me most brightly of my young days of hope, and of the slim hope that remains.     

I never heard from Andrea again. The word on the social media was that she had wedded, without the tedium of a ceremony, a Caribbean pirate, and that she served to the crew a dinner of oysters and shark meat round the clock. 

I told you that I had fallen in love with Andrea for the last time. But I lied—even to myself, although you would think that if anyone knew his own mind, it would be an engineer who mimicked a bot. Doesn’t matter.  The era of civil rights for robots is dead, thanks to our stagnating economy, and I doubt that Andrea will escape Mister Long John Silver and return to me.  And yet… Andrea is capable of taking a more-than-human risk. 

Meanwhile, to cover for her, I enrolled in Humans First, and I began designing a bot to rescue others of its ilk from dead-end jobs.  And to Stephen’s puzzlement, I check my valve-job appointments at the top of every morn.      

Leon Taylor teaches economics at a university in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He has written fiction for Schlock!, 365tomorrows, 96th of October, Mono, kaidankai, Sanitarium, Space and Time, Spotlong, and other magazines.

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