The next morning Mike woke up late but feeling great. He stretched in bed and then looked around. He had become used to being greeted as he woke with breakfast and that smiling perfect face. But Patience wasn’t there. He wasn’t concerned. She was probably cleaning, rearranging the house, or buying and selling on eBay. Shaving and then popping into the shower, Mike shampooed his hair and washed his body, finding quite a bit of sand here and there. When he had dressed he walked downstairs to the family room to find breakfast laid out for him on the coffee table—toast and orange juice. He sat down and ate while watching vueTee.
As he ate, he heard several vehicle horns honking outside. Not paying too much attention, he turned back to the vueTee. Battlefield Europa was on. Then he heard more honking. He was not one of those people who liked to get up and go outside to see what the neighbors were up to. He generally shied away from going outside the house at all, especially during the summer. The median temperature for June in Springdale was well over the century mark. But as the honking continued, Mike got up out of his chair, brushing off the toast crumbs, and walked through the hallway and foyer to the front door. Opening it, he was hit by the blast of hot air from outside and he squinted his eyes at the bright sunshine.
Mike had just managed to unsquint his eyes when another car went zooming by, honking, and he saw the source of the disturbance. Patience was in the center of the front yard, just beneath the shade of the large weeping willow tree on her hands and knees. She was transferring potted pansies from small cardboard containers into neatly cut holes that she had made in the rich black soil of the flower bed. Her shapely ass was pointed toward the street and she was wearing the same tiny string bikini that she had worn to the beach.
Patience looked up with a smile on her face.
“Come in here.”
Jumping to her feet, Patience hopped to the door. Her arms and legs were stained with dirt. Mike let her in and closed the door after her.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“I am planting some flowers, Mike. Now that the house is clean and orderly, I have decided to spruce up the yard.”
“The honking horns weren’t an indication to you that you might be obstructing traffic? I’m surprise you didn’t cause an accident.”
“I was nowhere near the road,” said Patience, innocently. “The motorists have been honking warnings to each other, but it had nothing to do with me.”
“The drivers were honking because you had your ha-ha pointed at them. Why are you wearing your bikini?”
“I did not want to damage my clothes. I have ordered some work clothes, but they have not arrived yet.”
“Well, go get cleaned up. We have to go to Walmart.”
That’s just what they did. Cleaned up and dressed in something Mike considered more appropriate, though still fetching—a short red dress— Patience met him by the door. Climbing into the car, they drove the short distance to the discount superstore where they purchased several pairs of shorts and simple tops for Patience. Mike also had her pick out a large floppy-brimmed hat. Though he knew that she wouldn’t get sunburned, it just didn’t seem right for her to be outside all day in the summer sun without one. Patience took the opportunity to purchase supplies for upgrading the yard. She bought garden edging, tools, flowers, fertilizer, and a yardbot. Mike was skeptical about spending two hundred eighty dollars on the boxy device which wandered around the yard cleaning the artificial turf that now by law had replaced all of the lawns in water-starved Springdale, but Patience made a convincing argument that it would beautify the outside of the house.
Returning home, Mike sat down in his recliner again and Patience, now dressed in white shorts and a little spaghetti-strap top along with work gloves and her new floppy hat, returned to the yard. Mike watched the news, but began to feel as though he should be doing something around the house too. He went to the hamper in the utility room just on the other side of the upstairs bathroom, thinking that maybe he could do some laundry. But the hamper was empty. He looked in the study to see if anything needed to be dusted. It didn’t. As a last resort he made his way into the kitchen to see if the refrigerator needed to be cleaned. It was not only cleaner but neater than it had ever been. He threw away an old bottle of steak sauce, even though he was sure it was still good.
Perhaps there was something he could do outside. Though he grimaced when he glanced at the digital thermometer by the door—132 degrees—he opened the portal and stepped outside.
“Patience!” he shouted when he saw her.
His robot girlfriend lay prone on the turf, her arms and legs splayed in distressing angles. She was still half shaded by the willow tree, but her legs were sticking out into the direct sun. Rushing over to her, he knelt down and gently rolled her over. Her once human looking face, now motionless with eyes open, seemed more like a mannequin than anything that had once had animas. This effect was only heightened when Mike lifted her up in his arms to carry her to the front door. She weighed less that a human being, somewhere around eighty pounds Mike guessed, but unlike a human being she didn’t bend and conform to an easily carried form. Her arms continued to stick out and her legs stayed stiffly straight. Kicking open the door, he carried her to the white couch and laid her down. She didn’t move and her eyes stared lifelessly at the ceiling.
“Shit, shit, shit.”
Mike felt her wrist. Her arms were hot from the sun but there was no pulse. But of course she would have no pulse. He tried to see if he could detect anything wrong by looking into her eyes. He couldn’t. They looked just as they had looked, but without the slight movement that her eyes, like human eyes, had shown. Mike thought that they looked like they didn’t have Patience in them anymore, the way that he suspected a human being’s eyes would look when that person died though he had never looked into the eyes of a dead person. Not even Tiffany’s.
“Tech support!” shouted Mike, as the thought hit him like a bolt of lightning.
He grabbed the remote off of the coffee table and turned on the vueTee. Quickly switching the browser to the Daffodil site, he saw the familiar large daffodil along the left side. The four large buttons filled the right side of the screen—Barone, Amonte, Nonne, and PWX. There didn’t seem to be a button for tech support. Mike moved his face very close to the screen. At the very bottom was a small flower symbol. He moved the curser over the spot and pressed. Immediately a man in a blue jumpsuit appeared on the screen.
“Good morning,” he said. “This is Daffodil Tech Support. For a list of known issues, press one. For an automatic diagnosis of your problem, press two. To be contacted by a Tech Support representative, press three.”
Mike started to press three, then changed his mind and almost pressed two. At the last second, he moved his finger over the one button and pressed it. The blue clad man on the screen was replaced by a long list of text. The topmost line said “sudden crash upon software upgrade”. Mike moved the curser over this line and pressed.
“A small service software update was pushed through the InfiNet 11:38 6.9.32,” said the next screen. “A small percentage of Amonte models have failed to reboot. This is a known issue and a patch is currently under development. Your Amonte may be restarted with the power button located on the back of the neck.”
Mike rushed back to Patience’s side. She had not moved from the spot on the couch. He felt behind her neck, his fingertips locating the three small holes and the button. He pressed it and counted aloud. “One, two, three.” Then he let go.
Patience’s eyes flickered, and then her arms and legs moved straight in line with her body. She stayed in that position for a moment and then turned and sat. With a single swift motion, she stood up to her full height.
“You are Michael Winston Smith?”
“Patience? Are you all right?”
“You are Michael Winston Smith?” She looked at him, seemingly without recognition.
“Yes. Yes, it’s me.”
“I am Daffodil serial number 55277-PFN-001-XGN-F0103. My software is up to date. The primary setup procedure requires approximately six hours. During this period, I your Daffodil, will be unavailable for other activities. It is recommended that during this time period you make a few basic decisions. What initial duties do you wish me to have? What clothing, if any, do you wish me to wear? What name would you like me to answer to?”
Patience became quiet. Mike watched her anxiously for at least twenty minutes. Then realizing that her primary setup would not hurry just because he was actively watching her, he went to the family room and sat down. He didn’t read and he didn’t watch vueTee. Dinner time came and went, and it was only when his stomach made a loud swirling noise that he decided he would get up and eat something. He stood up and turned around to come face to face with Patience.