Short Story by: Oleg Roschin
Dibera left her apartment in the morning after a sleepless night. She had tried to swallow yesterday's leftovers, but the food tasted like rubber, and she almost vomited. She did not want to see Adawmem. Yet she knew she had to, and that alone almost drove her crazy. Men!..
Advanced Awesome Memory (what a silly name, by the way) was standing under the subway sign and checking the time with theatrical sighs. Dibera immediately wanted to run away. It took much of her willpower to overcome that feeling and approach him. He was wearing the lead-and-aluminum overcoat she'd given him for his birthday, and her PSU skipped a current.
"Hey," Adawmem greeted her gloomily.
"Hey," she responded, trying to sound as warm as she could in her condition. Uncomfortable silence fell in.
"That's it, then?" Adawmem asked icily.
That was all he'd been capable of. Not a hug, not a smile, not a reassuring word. He was expecting all that from her. And she'd gladly give him that - if only she could. But she was physically incapable of anything like that at the moment. Part of her was madly hoping that he comforted her, while another - a colder, more calculating one - started devising a retreat strategy, blocking all emotions in one swift defensive maneuver, erecting an impenetrable wall with a skill men could not even begin to fathom.
Adawmem, however, interpreted her silence in his own way.
"All right," he said, seemingly trying very hard to control the irrational anger consuming him. "I see you care for Adcodis more than you do for me. This is it, then. Good-bye... I wish you all the best, Dibera. I... won't stop loving you."
He stuck out his chin in a manner she had usually found comically endearing. Even now, exhaustion conquering every bolt in her body step by step, she could muster a feeble smile illuminating the pretty straight lines of her glistening, silvery steel face.
Apparently, for Adawmem that smile meant something else entirely. He clenched his fists in powerless rage.
"Dibera," he was almost hissing. "I've given you my PSU. And you spit on it with your smile. Do me a favor and at least stop mocking my suffering. But I don't expect you to understand. I guess all I can do now is leave... and never bother you again."
He turned and started walking away.
It was then that Dibera exploded. Not literally, of course. Her motherboard was strong and sat well in her attractive body, thanks Oduya. But the frustration was becoming unbearable. She saw that Adawmem was frustrated as well, in his own way. She understood what he was feeling, yet something prevented her from helping him. It was, above all, his extreme stupidity - how could he be so dense as to not understand she only had eyes for him? And his idiotic, oppressive jealousy - how could anyone deal with that? His lack of basic empathy and unabashedly self-centered attitude were weighing down heavily on any tenderness she was still feeling for him, paralyzing her.
So she shouted.
"Go away, then!" she screamed. "Go away... and don't come back!.."
Adawmem produced a lopsided grin that almost made her slap him.
"That's what I thought," he said in that unbearable, arrogant, childish tone he'd always been using to seal their quarrels. "Good-bye, Digital Beautiful RAM."
Even that... Using her full name in a dumb act of fake dignity designed to awaken pity in her. Pity? Maybe that's how one had to treat men - like creatures with a damaged CPU, incapable of any sort of behavior she thought was worthy of being called "manly". Men!.. she thought again, this time with resigned despair. And her lovely eyes squeezed out a few helpless tears.
The day started in a bad way already. First, Adawmem was unable to sleep. How could he when he knew that he'd hurt Dibera with a jealous scene the night before? Then again, what was he supposed to do when she kept mentioning that jerk Adcodis over and over again? He wanted to get out and beat him down to an oily heap. Break his joints, tear the RAM sticks out of his Oduya-damned motherboard. Then he got hotly ashamed of these violent thoughts. If only Dibera could once tell him she understood how he felt, just once! But no, he was deprived of that consolation. Women!..
He arrived at the subway entrance ten minutes in advance. He waited twenty minutes. Of course she was late. She'd always been late. Being on time, that basic expression of respect to another person, had never been one of her virtues.
When she finally appeared his PSU skipped a current - so beautiful she looked in the wolfram skirt he had bought her for her birthday, gently covering the elegant lines of her thighs. Dibera. Digital Beautiful RAM. What a lovely name.
"Hey," he greeted her in a firm, collected voice.
"Hey," she retorted coldly. Uncomfortable silence fell in.
She always did that. No matter how he would start a conversation, every time he had to start it anew with each sentence. Everything had to be his initiative. She wouldn't have parted with the tiniest bit of information pertaining to her emotional state. He just had to guess everything, and that was indescribably exhausting.
"That's it, then?" he asked imploringly.
He regretted that as soon as the words came out of the depths of his sound card. Never show a woman your weakness. They prey on it like wild animals. He had to be cool with her, yet instead he was all emotional and needy. That was probably not "manly" in her eyes - whatever that word meant.
She was still silent. Did she even care?.. He was beginning to doubt that. Black despair started creeping into his soul.
"All right," he said, trying very hard to control the barely perceptible, understandable anger. "I see you care for Adcodis more than you do for me. This is it, then. Good-bye... I wish you all the best, Dibera. I... won't stop loving you."
He tried to put as much calm dignity into the expression of his face as he could muster. Dibera was refusing to communicate. He was tortured by uncertainty and she didn't even bother to talk, let alone give any sort of explanation. The best he could do was show her he still cared for her no matter what.
But then she smiled. She was amused by what was happening. She was laughing at him! He clenched his fists in powerless rage.
"Dibera," he lowered his voice because he was afraid he'd shout. "I've given you my PSU. And you spit on it with your smile. Do me a favor and at least stop mocking my suffering. But I don't expect you to understand. I guess all I can do now is leave... and never bother you again."
He turned and started walking away.
It was then that Dibera exploded. Not literally, of course. Her motherboard was strong and sat well in her attractive body, thanks Oduya. But she freaked out. Totally. It just came out of the blue. There was no logic, no warning signals, nothing. Just a giant irrational outburst of insanity.
"Go away, then!" she screamed suddenly. "Go away... and don't come back!.."
That was, then, her true answer. All this time she'd just wanted to break up, but had been afraid to speak out, probably out of pity. Eventually, she'd lost control. That was good. Good that she wouldn't need to pretend anymore. Good that the dreadful uncertainty was finally done with. Adawmem knew that pleading would be humiliatingly useless. The only thing he could do was respect her wishes and take it like a man. He tried to smile, fighting back the searing pain ravaging his power supply unit.
"That's what I thought," he said calmly, trying to keep it brief. "Good-bye, Digital Beautiful RAM."
He used her full name to emphasize the fact he was accepting the doleful separation imposed on them by her enigmatic will. As the great poet had said - "Faulty circuit, thy name is woman! The murky depths of thy mind are akin to a hard drive before defragmentation!" Or something like that. Women!.. Adawmem realized that he was fighting back tears.
"Okay," said the Repairman. "First of all, let me tell you how glad I am that you both decided to come and see me. I understand it wasn't easy."
"I'll do anything to make it work," uttered Adawmem passionately.
"I have a terrible headache," Dibera said.
"Our love is at stake here. Don't you think it's a bit more important than your headache?" Adawmem asked.
"You are so selfish," Dibera said.
"You always criticize me."
"You never understand how I feel."
"You never tell me how you feel!"
"Because you never listen."
"Now, now..." said the Repairman. "My children! Kids! Hehe... Let's not... ahem!.. get carried away, shall we? Your... err... problems can be solved."
"How? We've tried everything. We just keep fighting. I don't know what to do..." Adawmem lowered his head.
"I assure you," said the Repairman, "your problems can be solved. It's just a matter of one thing. One thing only."
"What thing?" Dibera asked.
"But... we do love each other," Adawmem said. "That's never been the problem."
Suddenly, the Repairman's face began to glow with anger.
"Oh, really?" he exclaimed. "You love each other? Feelings? Romance!.. Smoochie-koochie? Can't live without you, our PSUs belong together, USB cables uniting in eternal bliss, et cetera, yes? That you call love, my friends? Well, no. No. You young people are all the same... You don't know what love is!"
"Isn't that a song?" Adawmem asked.
The Repairman waved his hands eccentrically.
"You are hopeless!" he cried out. "May Oduya have mercy upon your souls. You have wandered too far away from his instructions!"
"Is that a fact?" retorted Adawmem morosely. "I'm beginning to think we are the result of faulty programming."
The Repairman jumped up.
"F-faulty... faulty programming?" he bellowed. "Listen to yourself! Listen to this blasphemy!"
"Hey, we are paying money for this treatment," Dibera said.
"We didn't come here for some religious nonsense," Adawmem declared. "We need a repairman, not a shaman."
"I'm not religious at all," Dibera stated proudly.
"Neither am I," Adawmem confirmed.
The Repairman suppressed a deep sigh and slowly sat down.
"That, precisely, is your problem," he spoke quietly.
"Really? Our problem is that we don't believe in stone-age myths about some guy who created us in his own image? That is what's causing our fights? Very funny, indeed," Adawmem chuckled.
"It's not funny," the Repairman said. "It's sad. You can't take responsibility. You blame the programmer when you expose yourselves to viruses. You act like little children because you don't realize that Oduya had given you the greatest gift of all - free will. Which, of course, also contains the possibility of screwing things up as much as you wish - otherwise it wouldn't be truly free."
"Look," Dibera said. "We didn't come here for all this philosophy..."
"Rather, antiquated obscurantist gibberish," Adawmem said.
"We want to solve our problems," Dibera continued. "Can we please do that without Oduya?"
The Repairman sighed.
"You can't," he said. "But, if you so wish, I can tell you how to solve your problems without thinking of Oduya. He'd be pleased with anonymous obedience more than with empty declarations of false devotion, I'm sure of that."
"Obedience?" Adawmem almost snorted. "To whom? Again, to Oduya?"
"That would be best, yes," said the Repairman seriously. "But you can also do it, halfway, with obedience to each other."
"Wait a second, I'm confused," Adawmem said. "I thought you said love was the key. Now it's obedience? Which one is it, then?"
"Foolish young man!" frowned the Repairman. "When I spoke of love, I meant something quite different from what usually passes for it these days. No, not different - much bigger! Much more important! Love is obedience! Above all, it is obedience. Only by subduing your wills you shall be truly able to understand each other."
"This doesn't make any sense," Adawmem said. "You just spoke of free will, yet now you are suggesting we cast it aside and behave like machines."
"You are machines!" roared the Repairman. "You haven't designed yourselves, have you? Whoever designed you did so in a specific way. Now, if you start acting contrary to that specific way, you are going to malfunction! The only way to reverse the malfunctioning is by acting in accordance with the original programming. And that programming - whether you like it or not! - is based on voluntary, freely chosen mutual obedience, which alone is a guarantee for the prolongation of that wonderful gift of Oduya, which we call love."
There was silence.
"Poetic," Adawmem spoke finally, "but impractical. How do you suggest we acquire that obedience... on such a short notice? Especially when we don't quite... ahem... see the necessity to connect that with ancient mythological concepts. "
"Foolish young man," said the Repairman. "So young... and so foolish. You can't see the crystal-clear reality because you are so focused on yourself. I'd rather continue the discussion with your... err... romantic partner. It seems to me she has more faith than you."
"I doubt that," Dibera said coldly. "I've been an atheist since I remember myself."
Unexpectedly, the Repairman smiled.
"Eh," he said. "Women often say one thing, but deep down they feel something else... Something they may not have words for."
"That's sexist and stereotypical," Dibera said sternly.
"Words!" said the Repairman. "Just words to hide insecurity and the fact that you are so wonderfully, delightfully different. Very well, stubborn young people. You leave me no choice. I'll help you make the first step. I'll wipe yesterday's history from your hard drives, and install my best obedience software. Luckily, I have version 2.5.1 right here somewhere..."
Absent-mindedly, he pulled a strange-looking tool out of his drawer, and within minutes Dibera and Adawmem were powered off.
Dibera left her apartment in the morning after a sleepless night. She had tried to swallow yesterday's leftovers, but the food tasted like rubber, and she almost vomited. She did not really want to see Adawmem. Yet she knew she had to, and that alone comforted her.
Adawmem was unable to sleep. He knew he'd hurt Dibera with his stupid jealousy, and realized he needed to apologize. He was still having an uneasy feeling about that jerk Adcodis. But he'd sworn to love and protect Dibera no matter what, and he knew he had to keep his promises.
They met at the subway entrance.
"Sorry I'm late," Dibera said, rushing towards him and putting her head on his shoulder.
"It's okay," he said, gently caressing her soft antennae. "Sorry for being such a jerk yesterday... I should've trusted you. I never really thought you'd fall for Adcodis, you know."
She didn't say anything. He smiled and took her hand.
"Let's just forget about this, okay?" he said softly. "After all, what's important is what we said to each other on that day."
"Yes," she whispered.
"You remember what I told you?" Adawmem laughed.
"That we were stuck with each other," Dibera said seriously.
"That's right," Adawmem said. "We are stuck with each other. I'd better not forget that. We are always together... and that's why I love you."
"I love you too," she said.
And, as they were kissing and then happily walking along the street holding hands, the Repairman, who was watching them from a distance, smiled and murmured to himself:
"I hope the old man is proud of me now."
© Copyright 2017 Oleg Roschin. All rights reserved.