The next day was so busy that there were times when Mike forgot about Patience, at least for a moment or two. That was saying something, because it had been an eventful night. They had talked for a while, Patience quizzing him on his likes and dislikes, though in retrospect it seemed scant enough information for any kind of detailed profile. Then she had given him a massage and they had gone to bed. The sex had been pretty incredible. It wasn’t like he thought it would be. She didn’t feel cold or plastic, though some places were warmer and some were cooler. She felt squishy in all the right spots—firm in the right spots too. She seemed to know what he wanted before he knew that he wanted it. Afterwards, he had fallen asleep, waking up once during the night to find her looking through his closet.
In the morning, she had served him breakfast in bed—cereal and milk, toast and grape jelly, and orange juice, which was about all the breakfast food he had in the house. When he had taken a shower, she had been there waiting as he had come out with a clean, dry towel. Though he usually didn’t allow for any extra time in the morning, and eating breakfast had taken up enough time that he actually had to hurry, he still took a moment to notice that she had been cleaning during the night. She had picked up all the dirty clothes off the bedroom floor and the bathroom had been cleaned. Who knows what else she had done that he hadn’t noticed.
“Turn your texTees to Our Worldpage 1056,” Mike told the class. “The ten review questions on this page will be the first ten questions of your final exam the day after tomorrow. Look up the answers you don’t know at this time.”
Two hands went up.
“What is it, Curtis?”
“I don’t have my texTee.”
“Is that your problem too Mabel? You don’t have your texTee?
The dark haired girl two seats behind Curtis nodded her head.
“Why even bother to show up without your texTee? You know it’s review day. Why are you even here?”
“My mother makes me come,” said Mabel.
“It’s not my fault,” said Curtis. “I left it at my dad’s girlfriend’s house.”
“I would be willing to bet that you have your phone with you though,” said Mike. “Get one of the classroom texTees out of the cabinet.”
“Whatever.” said Mabel.
As the two students retrieved the reading devices, these particular ones covered across the top with bright red reflective tape, there was a knock at the outside door. The classroom had an inside door which led to the hallway and the rest of the school and an outside door which faced a small lawn and the back of the adjacent power plant. Peering in through the metal mesh that covered the tiny window in the outside door was Patience.
“I brought you lunch Mike,” she said when he opened the door a few inches. Patience was wearing the black and white polka dotted dress.
“I usually eat in the lunch room.”
“Here.” She pushed a soft-sided grey lunch box with the word Thermos on the side toward him.
“Where did you get this?”
“It was in the cabinet.”
She nodded. Then she turned and walked back across the lawn. Mike could see the blackened soles of her bare feet as she walked away.
“Who was that?” asked several students as he closed the door.
“Was that your daughter?” asked Mabel.
“Um, no. Let’s get focused on our review questions.”
At lunch time Mike unpacked the lunchbox. There was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple cut into slices and bagged, a small container of a white semi-gelatinous substance that turned out to be vanilla pudding, a single large sugar cookie, and a diet Pepsi with a chemical cold-pack wrapped around it.
“That’s a nice lunch,” said Miss Treewise from across the table.
“Mm-hmm,” Mike nodded.
“Somebody must like you,” said Mrs. Cartwright.
When he got home, Mike found Patience waiting at the door. She looked pretty and pleasant and on impulse, he leaned over and kissed her on the mouth.
“That was a nice kiss, Mike. Is that the kind of kiss you would like me to greet you with often?”
“Wow. I almost forgot for a moment that you were a robot.” He looked down. “Hey, you’re wearing shoes.”
Patience lifted one up behind her, taking a kind of Betty Boop pose. On her feet were black shoes with large white bows just above the open toe. They had a half-inch thick platform sole in the front and a four inch square heel in the back.
“Do you like them? They’re called Peeptoe Platforms.”
“Yes, they’re fine. But where did you get them?”
“After I dropped lunch off to you I went to the store.”
“You walked to the store? That’s too far, especially in bare feet. And the ground is hot.”
“I did not mind,” she smiled. “Would you like a shoulder rub, Mike?”
She guided him to a chair that she had apparently brought in from the dining room and set along the west wall of the living room in front of the window. Once he had sat down, she stepped behind him and began rubbing his shoulders.
“How did you pay for them… the shoes, I mean?” he asked.
“I took the cash card out of your wallet this morning before you left for school.”
“They’re not supposed to let you use that unless it’s yours. And besides, you should have asked first.”
“The stores never check, and I did ask. You said that I should select and purchase my own wardrobe.”
“Yes, but I’m not sure I can afford that right now. I don’t get paid until the tenth. I’m not sure how much money I have in my accounts right now.”
“We have $2261.43 in account 116211130782-2 checking, $31021.69 in account 116211130782-1 savings, and $42.11 in the payNEtime account.”
“Wow. That’s more than I thought I had… I mean we had.”
She turned him back around and began rubbing his shoulders again. “I have ordered my own cash card, in any case.”
“You did? Wait. How did you know all that?”
“Last night I accessed all your financial data.”
“You what?” He turned back around to look at her.
“It is part of the secondary setup procedure.”
“What else did you do?” he wondered.
“I accessed your vueTee and browser files, read all of the books and magazines on your texTee, and all of your paper books too. I looked through your photo albums, ran your credit report, and googled you.”
“Is that all part of the secondary setup procedure?” he frowned.
She nodded with an innocent look on her face and turned him back around to continue with the shoulder rub. When she was done he moved to his recliner and flipped on the vueTee, while Patience brought him a diet Pepsi. Although he usually drank them from the can, she had poured it into a tall glass over ice.
“Did you buy ice at the store too?”
“No, Mike. I made it in the freezer.”
“You can do that?”
She nodded. “Did you want to talk about your day at work, Mike?”
“Not really,” he said. “If you don’t mind, I’d just like to watch vueTee for a while.”
“That’s fine, Mike. The Star Trekepisode Let That Be Your Last Battlefieldis on channel twenty-seven.”
“Is that the one where Frank Gorshin is black on the left side and white on the right side?”
“He is black on the right side,” said Patience. “All of his people are black on the right side.”