• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 09
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I don’t understand how he manages to sleep with his eyes open. I don’t like seeing it. Two scuffed marbles sit in a still face. But I don’t want to disturb him, so I let him sleep, staring into nothingness.

It might just be how he’s been programmed. Some kind of standby mode. I can’t be sure.

One thing I can be sure of is that he won’t nag me. No barbed comments or sideways glances. He would never hurt me. Not on purpose, anyway. My likes and dislikes have been hardwired into him. As have my boundaries.

He would never try to change things between us.

But when I watch him sleep, I can’t help but wonder. Does he know the rhythms of a shared life? Will he know how to fall into step with me, even though he’s been built for my every need?

I think I’m looking for the old rhythms. The chime of a text coming in. “Do we need bread?” The rustling of waking up and hearing the hum of the coffee machine. The gentle tread of him getting back from work later than expected, the specific cadence of the creaky hall floorboards. The click of him checking the front door is locked at night before going to bed. Singing in the shower.

When I was going through the design process before having him made, I had to do a rigorous background check, and complete a very long survey. “Be as personal as you can bring yourself to be,” they said. “In order to get the best results possible, we need all the information you can give us. Nothing is too silly. Everything is useful.”



Even so, there was a lot of explaining to do during the interview stage.

“Is this a romantic partner?”

“No. A best friend. Who I used to live with.”

This was met with a gentle smile.

“Is the individual deceased?”

“No. We lived together for nearly 3 years. He moved out to live with his girlfriend. They’ve only been together for four months, but I guess when you know, you know.”

A pause.

“And were you romantically involved with this man at any point?”

A longer pause from me.

“No. But I think he always thought something could happen between us. And one night he tried to kiss me and I had to talk to him and... It was never the same after that. And he moved out to live with Becky pretty soon after that.”

My words felt like they left the air ringing. The technician spent a long time scribbling in a box on her form.

How do you grieve for someone who is still alive? There is no socially acceptable way.

I unpacked him yesterday, and we took his box down to the recycling together. He’s quieter than I thought he would be, but maybe he’s just shy.