An Immortal's Kind of Love

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An immortal's choice between life and sacrifice.

Submitted: December 14, 2016

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Submitted: December 14, 2016

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It was my one hundredth and first birthday. This I was made painfully aware by my great grandchild after he counted out loud every single candle that was lit on top of my birthday cake.

“Wow! It really is a hundred and one candles!” he yelled in delight, before asking me to make a wish. “What do you wish for, Grandpa? You have to make a wish before you blow out the candles. But you can’t tell anybody.” He leaned his young and able body into my fragile and disabled self, whispering into my ear, “But you can tell me, though. I won’t tell anybody. Promise.” 

“Okay,” I whispered back to him. “But it’s a secret, so you can’t say anything to anybody until forever.”

My great grandchild, Steven, swiveled his head back around to face the rest of the group, my family. There were a lot of them. Thirty-seven to be exact. Steven looked at them all before turning back to me.

“Promise,” he whispered.

“Okay,” I coughed. The bed I was laying upwards in was always uncomfortable for my lungs. I breathed in a deep breath of air before releasing into Steven’s ear, “I wish my wife was a human being.”

Steven didn’t know how to respond to this initially, and I laughed a gurgling and old chuckle at his shocked face. Steven had surely known that my wife was indeed a robot, but I’m not so sure that he thought whether or not I liked this aspect of my wife.

He nodded back towards me, seemingly confused and nervous. “Okay, grandpa.”

“But remember.” I pressed my finger against my grinning and playful lips. “It’s a secret.”

“Okay, grandpa.”

Steven rushed away, standing back in front of the comforting arms of his mother. “Blow out your candles, Grandpa,” she clapped a smile.

It took me almost a full minute to exhaust the flames on top the sugary icing cake, even with the help of several great grandchildren.

“Well, done!” I tried hiding my utter exhaustion. “Now, who’s going to be the one to tell the fire marshal that this forest fire we’ve created is under control?” A few of them giggled, along with those who bothered listening to the words of an old man.

My youngest daughter, Susan, made sure that she was the one who cut the cake for everyone (she was the youngest, this sort of thing happened often in her childhood).

Soon, the cake had somehow disappeared, and so had many of my visitors in the hospital that day. I watched as my wife, the robot, whose name was Amanda (I named her this because I enjoyed her annoyed reaction whenever I nicknamed her ‘A-man’) cleaned up the cake crumbs that’d fallen around my clumsy mouth. Her hands were always so soft, gentle. She was made to look like she was twenty-nine years old, the same age as I was when I’d purchased her.

“So how does it feel?” She asked me playfully.

“How does what feel?”

“Being a hundred and one years old.”

“It feels like I’ve started my life all over again. And now I have only the age milestone of two hundred to look forward to.”

“Well, let’s not stop there.” She brushed her dark and long hair behind her ear. “Once you hit the age of three hundred, then we’ll talk about what milestones you think you may or may not reach.”

I laughed hard at this. Her sense of humor was always set to match my own, and I couldn’t have been happier through the seventy-two years I’d known her.

She left me to clean the mess of what seemed to be left behind by dozens of rowdy and chaotic lunatics, albeit I’d always prefered my family this way.

Steven’s mother, Brianna, was next to join me beside my hospital bed. “Hey, Grandpa.” She sat down gracefully. I’d always prided myself in raising my kids to raise their own kids with such poise. We talked for a while about politics, and the progress being made to ensure that my wife be granted the same rights to my property as any other of my human relatives.

“I also spoke to Steven,” she mentioned.

“Oh?” I said.

“Yes,” she said. “He told me about your wish.”

My wish? But it was a secret! How could he?

I laughed a chuckle about it. “I have to hand it to the boy, he lasted much longer than I anticipated from him.”

“Is it true, though, Grandpa?” She lightly grabbed my hand, her words turning into a whisper. “Do you wish that Amanda was a human, instead of a robot?”

“Of course it’s true,” I said back. There was no denial in it for me. If Amanda had been a human being, there’d been no fuss to fight through over the decades we’d been married. The laws that forbade us from trying to adopt my children. The tears from them whenever they came from home school after a student make a joke about my situation. Amanda wouldn’t know the beautiful feelings of how short and painful life can be. I could always see this in her artificial eyes.  

“But if I had the choice to do it all over,” I told Brianna, “I wouldn’t even think twice about choosing your grandmother over any other person.”

Brianna’s eyes seemed to heavy. “I just figured I’d ask is all.”

“Good,” I patted her hand on top of mine. “Now go find out what else Steven’s been so effortlessly hiding from you.”

She smiled a tired and pitied grin my way. That’s the thing you get used to with old age I believe, people look at you and think that their time isn’t following right behind your own. The conversations around me continued to thin, and soon it was only Amanda who had stayed by my side deeper into the night.

“I sure am glad you don’t tire,” I smiled tired towards her. She had joined me in watching my favorite Virtual Reality Sit Com, Out Of This World. “I think I’ve always selfishly stolen some of your energy throughout the years somehow.”

Amanda crawled into the bed with me, her hand deeply intertwined in my own. Her head was rested on my shoulder. This was how we’d always slept together.

“I don’t want you to worry about me any longer,” I said.

“Worry? What makes you think I’m worrying?”

“I’m dying, dear Amanda. There’s no use in patronizing me over this fact of life.” Her head was off my shoulder and she was sitting back up. “But that’s okay. I want you to know this. We knew this day would come.”

“Yes, but not today,” she worried. “Or any other day in near future. You’re only a hundred and one years old, this is not an old age anymore.”

“I would prefer that you only not worry. That is all.”

She fell back onto my shoulder, her youthful fingers playing with the buttons on my shirt. We fell asleep together, as man and wife. 

---------

She would visit every day, even when she was due for an upgrade from her archaic and outdated manufacturer. This is what scared me the most, watching her arrive after her personality chip was removed and replaced with a faster, more responsive version. She’d never lost the memories that were stored in her hardware nor the the personality that was molded throughout the decades, but there was always a chance for such to occur during the process.

A week later, I discovered that she hadn’t returned to me after her scheduled upgrade at the manufacturing plant. I waited hours for my wife to come back home to me. When night fell through my hospital window, and the robotic nurses were finished patching up my mortal body, I asked one of them if my wife had called or left me a message. My wife had never once left me a message, she was always here in person to visit me.

“No, I’m sorry, sir,” the robot responded.

I called my daughter to ask if she’d seen her at the house we still owned. “I haven’t seen her all day. But I’ll call her manufacturer. Maybe they’ll know.” I grew tense in waiting for the answers to appear.

When my daughter phoned me back, she informed me that the procedure went along as planned.

“Impossible,” I said. “Her upgrade has never taken this long in the seventy-two years I’ve been with her.”

“Well have you talked to Mom about any other upgrades she’s getting, other than her usual one?”

“Why would she need anything different?” I said. “She’s as perfect as the day I met her.”

There was a knock on the door suddenly. An older woman who I did not recognize stood with her hands placed in the front of her ailing body.

“Yes?” I sassed.

“I’m here for my husband,” she said. “Do you know where he might be?”

“No I do not,” I said, a harsh tone attaching itself to my words. “I am looking for my wife, so I apologize if I’m not more concerned for you.”

“Well that’s quite alright, but I was told that my husband was in this exact room. Do you mind if I rest here until someone is able to help me?”

“If you must,” I said. I turned to press the button that alerted the nurses. They’d arrive shortly.

“Courtney,” I said to my daughter. “Will you try phoning my wife again?”

“I’ll do everything I can, Dad.”

I hung up with my daughter, my hands shaking violently with an uncontrollable anxiety in the moment. The older woman sat on the far side of the room, and she seemed lost in her own mind. Dementia was a terrible disease.

“I’ve called for the nurses,” I informed her. She seemed aloof and lost.

When a nurse finally did arrive, I explained the situation. “Can you please guide this woman to the right room.”

“Certainly, sir,” the nurse said, grabbing the woman’s arm gently and helping her outside the room.

“I hope you find your husband,” I said as she left.

“And I hope you find your husband,” she said with a smile. I did not know if she was joking, but I smiled at her nonetheless.

Minutes later, my daughter called my phone. “She’s not answering her device, Dad,” she said. “It seems to have been disconnected, or maybe switched with another chip somehow.”

“These damn manufacturers,” I said. “This day was bound to happen eventually. And you’ve already spoken to her programmers?”

“I have,” she said, “they told me that everything went well.”

“Apparently not,” I barked. “I’m sorry,” I apologized right away.

“Don’t apologize, Dad. It’s okay, we’ll find her. Let me make some calls for you. Just stay put and try not to move around as much. You know that the doctor wants you staying in bed.”

I told her thank you and we hung up. I had more important worries on my mind other than staying in my own bed or injuring myself. My wife was missing.

I hadn’t stood on my own for days, but there was a pressing amount of motivation for me to physically find my wife, who could have been lord knows where at that time. My feet were wobbly, but I found my balance quickly. There was a window on the far side of the room, I thought that my wife’s autonomous car might have driven her to my hospital after she had finished her upgrade.

It was white and small, the type of preferences that my wife enjoyed. Parked itself right in its usual spot. A breath of air was releasing from my old lungs, my wife was nearby.

“Nurse!” I yelled. “Nurse!” I had always hated the types of people who disregarded the social norms of a quiet and polite society, but I only just then realized why people would disregard these feelings completely.

The nurse arrived not a moment later. “What’s wrong, sir?”

“My wife,” I panicked. “She’s here. She’s somewhere on the grounds. But she’s lost and unable to find me somehow. You must help me look for her.”

The nurse was confused, I could see it in her robotic eyes. “Are you sure of this?” She knew my wife well. Well enough to know that I was the one more likely to have a senior moment.  

“Yes, I’m sure of it,” I said. “Her car is parked, but I have not seen her. She could be in the street right now looking for me. I don’t know.”

“If she’s here, we’ll find her,” the nurse confided. “Don’t worry, Sir. We will find your wife. Now please, you know that you are not to be out of your bed.”

“I disregard my own safety,” I stated calmly. “Do you hear me, robot? I disregard my own safety.”

The robot only froze as I said these words, and a single blink was then followed. I knew well from my years of experience with robots that there were certain phrases programmed into the artificial chips of their minds. These phrases or words were to serve as a legal document that was recorded within the machine’s recorded audio system, it would disallow the robot’s personality chip stored inside its brain to make the logical and safe choice for the human being that they were interacting with. Because sometimes, humans don’t want what’s best for themselves.

“Please confirm,” she stated. A blank expression filled her face.

“I disregard my own safety,” I said. “Now go find my wife.”

She was gone not a moment later, and I collapsed on the floor. The weight of my own body was too much for my legs to bear. A loud crackling sound was the only noise I heard, and it came from the force of my hip falling only a few short feet to the tiled floor. This is where I laid until my daughter, Sarah, appeared at my door fifteen minutes later.

“Oh, Dad!”

“I’m fine. I’m alright.”

“Nurse! We need a nurse in here!” She was almost eighty years old at the time, much too old to help an old man back into bed.

“The nurses won’t come for me,” I said exhausted. “It needs to be a human.”

“Why, Dad?” She was already by my side, grabbing my arm for support.

“I disregarded my own safety,” I said. “They won’t care for me until I give them consent.”

“Oh, Dad. Why would you do that?” She turned to face the entrance. “Human. We need an able human!”

“Amanda is here,” I panted. “She’s lost somewhere, and they’ve gone to find her.”

A human supervisor came through the door, he was middle-aged, but he was much able to assist. My legs were lifeless, and I already knew that this would be permanent for me. My arms were around both my daughter and the supervisor, and they carried what was left of me back into my final place of rest.

He asked me where I felt my pain the most, and I pointed to my heart. “I feel nothing else,” I coughed. “Can you help find my wife?”

He said that they would do everything they could while leaving to fetch a doctor to assess the damage left on my body. The television was turned on in my room, displaying the sit com that I watched with my wife every day since I could remember.

“Please turn this off,” I asked my daughter. “Amanda would be upset if she knew that I watched this without her.”

“They’ll find her, Dad.” Amanda switched the screen to a dark black color. “I promise. Are you in pain? Did you break something?”

“I don’t know,” I said, as I grabbed her hand and she placed hers over top of mine. The doctor came shortly thereafter. He was a human doctor, the types that I preferred.

He asked me why I left my bed, and I told him that I was trying to find my wife. He said that I might have suffered from internal bleeding, in which I’d need to be rushed for additional testing right away.

“Not until my wife is found.”

The doctor was stubborn for my own well-being. He asked my daughter for consent to provide care against my wishes, knowing that she’d agree with heavy and tearful eyes. She grabbed my hand before I was sedated through the I.V. injection.

“She’ll be here when you wake up, Dad. I promise.”

“I love you, Sarah,” I said with an old man’s tear running down my cheek.

“I love, Dad. I love you. We’ll find Mom for you. We’ll find her.”

My world narrowed itself into a lifeless and dark void in that moment, a feeling I had already known well on that day.

 

If you believe that this story deserves an ending, please share with those who would enjoy reading. If 500 people read it, the rest of the story will be posted (or write your own ending and forward along!)

 


© Copyright 2018 Michelle Audet. All rights reserved.

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