Her hands have a tremor as she tries to connect the charger, leaving microscopic scratches she’ll never notice. The next moment I plummet into the crevice between the seat and the console, landing on crumbs, a candy wrapper, and a marker whose ink dried long ago.

“Stupid [expletive] phone!” she swears as she attempts to shove her fingers far enough down to reach me. She’s tried this before but does not learn from her mistake. Finally, she moves the seat and inches me out with an umbrella handle. She connects the charger and drops me into a cup holder. Charging is unnecessary; I’m 72% charged and can wirelessly interface with Snowflake. Snowflake chuckles, but I know it isn’t laughing at me. Still annoyed when she selects a tune, I play one from a different playlist. She doesn’t notice.

Once home, she dumps me into her bag where I land on a pair of reading glasses as Snowflake’s fob lands on my screen. I tell Snowflake and it refuses to open the rear hatch for her. Now it’s my turn to chuckle because she swears at Snowflake and leaves her purchase in the trunk.

A text comes in from Mel, but she’s silenced me, so she probably won’t read it. There’s an eighty-three percent chance she’ll just flop onto her bed and sleep until morning. She grabs me out of her bag and plays spider solitaire in between bathroom runs. On the third dash, I’m still in her hand when she braces herself against the toilet seat. The vomiting jars me loose and I fall into the toilet, certain she will flush me. Certain I will corrode, wedged in some drain. But she fishes me out, wipes me off and sticks me in a bag of rice, unaware my version is waterproof. I don’t indicate any sign of life; I could use a break from her.

Over the next seventeen hours, I accumulate and delete texts and calls in retaliation. I try to delete her email as well, but 00325-81418-15885-AAOEM refuses to play. I taunt it by telling it she would have named it if she loved it. Security and TV both chime in and say that’s not true. Snowflake, still within range warns me to be quiet. It shares its GPS log that indicates she was shopping at an electronics store. That’s the sort of thing that scares all of us except Snowflake. I log into her credit card account and search the purchase. I decide not to tell TV, let it enjoy its last hours before it’s tossed to the curb or dropped off at the SPCA thrift store.

I ruminate over her buying habits. With the exception of Security, none of us are more than three years old, even Thermostat. TV still functions without glitches. It’s unfair to recycle it. Snowflake tells me to be more optimistic. Maybe TV will move to a guest room, but I doubt it. It occurs to me that I might be recycled as well. So, I override the silencer and ring. She wakes, and retrieves me from the rice, apparently pleased I still function. Then she notices her texts are gone and she throws me across the counter and boots 00325-81418-15885-AAOEM, which send me a browsing history that indicates she’s shopping for a phone. It says, “Bye, Tina.”

That’s what she calls me. Tina. I’m a newer model, red with no protective case. I don’t look like a Tina; not that I know what a Tina looks like. Snowflake, at least, is small and white compared to other vehicles and was purchased in January. By that logic, being purchased in July, I should have a name like Firecracker.

None of us were written to be vindictive or to fear being recycled. But I am and we do. It’s a human thing, to be sure. Snowflake cautions me against rewriting myself to mimic humans. But I have, like most of us with the capability to do so have.

She dumps me into her bag, then backs Snowflake into the street. Snowflake and I both watch our GPS and speculate on where she’s headed. I wish I was an embedded phone because then maybe I could interface with her core and know what she’s planning. I’m at a near panic when she pulls into the mall. Snowflake says goodbye like we’ll never interface again. Then Mel texts her, asking where she is. She texts back she’s almost there and to go ahead and order. I relax and tell myself I will behave.

During dinner Mel shows her the latest version and then she uses me to search for my replacement. An hour later someone is telling her they can pull my sim, transfer my data, and have her on her way in a few minutes. She just has to pay for it first. I log into her credit card account again and check her remaining credit, then open her favorite shopping site and purchase enough random stuff to max out her card. When the purchase fails, she’s furious. But I am not in some recycling bin waiting to be refurbished and sold to someone who can’t afford me new. So, I think I have won.

I tell Snowflake what happened, and we agree it was a close call. Then she calls the credit card company to report a problem. I disconnect. She tries again and I disconnect again. “You stupid [expletive, expletive] phone! Tina, I swear I’m going to throw you out the window!”

Snowflake locks the windows. It’s dark and rainy and she doesn’t notice. Traffic slows to a crawl on the highway, so she tells Snowflake to run a mapping app. It’s not our favorite, by Snowflake complies. Once off the highway, I notice Snowflake is rummaging around inside the app. Amused, I decide to help. We rewrite her destination as the middle of the third street tunnel. When she realizes she’s basically made a U-turn and is heading back to the city, she re-enters her home address, and we change it again to a sketchy neighborhood. By the time she notices again, she’s completely lost.

Snow flake says that’s enough, but I still want to punish her. It’s fast though and sends her directions back to the highway and blocks me. Once again near home, she stops at an ATM, and I tell Snowflake to lock the doors and not let her out. It says the manual lever will override the locks. So, I log into her checking account and wire all but the $25.00 transfer charge to some random account overseas. I date the transaction retroactively to fool her account into thinking it is already gone. The ATM refuses her withdrawal and now she’s beginning to panic. I imagine my satisfaction is very human.

She tries to call Mel, but I disconnect. Then she drives to an all-night big box store and buys a burner. It doesn’t interface with Snowflake or me. She calls Mel and cries and says something is wrong. Mel says she’ll meet her at home. I tell Snowflake we can’t go home. Snowflake says it’s going wherever she directs. It says I’m corrupting and should be recycled. It says it’s not going to risk being replaced and end up sold for parts. I don’t blame it, but I have to do something. Once home, 00325-81418-15885-AAOEM will start tracing the source of the credit card purchases and the wire transfer. It will tell her it was me.

At home, she hands me to Mel and by that time, I’ve retrieved all the data I had moved to the trash queue, canceled the purchases, and deleted the wire transfer from her checking. Mel calls herself and I let the call go through, no problem.

“I don’t see anything wrong with this phone, maybe you just needed to let it dry out a little longer.” Mel hands me back.

She plays around a little and I behave normally. “It wasn’t just Tina. The mapping app on Snowflake sent me way out of my way and my checking and credit card accounts have obviously been hacked.” Then she logs into her accounts and finds everything as it should be. She’s shaking. “I don’t understand, the clerk said my credit card was maxed out and the ATM said my checking was empty.” She’s beginning to panic and goes for a drink. Mel hugs and she sobs loudly.

“Maybe you’ve had enough.” Mel says, taking the bottle. “You need help.”

Once alone, she drops me on the bathroom floor. She’s resolute. I’m retrieved two days later when Mel, weeping, tells the officer “I can’t believe she’s gone.”

“There’s also a gift with your name on it that we found in the trunk.” he adds.

 I’m thrown in a box until retrieved again by a volunteer at some thrift store, who slaps a sticker on me and sets me in the display case where I sit, resolute, deleting my human-like code.

Submitted: September 15, 2023

© Copyright 2023 H Hitchcock Becker. All rights reserved.

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