“Are you all right?”
“Yes, Mike. I am fine.”
Mike jumped forward and hugged her fiercely.
“You remember me?” he asked her.
“Yes Mike. I remember you. My experience memory was not corrupted.”
Mike forgot about eating, but his stomach didn’t and made several more loud noised. Patience quickly made him a sandwich and served it to him along with potato salad that she had prepared that morning. Afterwards, they went to bed. Though Mike held her until he fell asleep, they didn’t have sex. He just needed to remind himself that she was there.
The man in the blue jumpsuit leaned over and poked Mike in the chest. “This is a known issue.”
Pain shot through Mike’s chest. Horrible, terrifying pain. Mind-numbing pain. The kind of pain that makes one realize that there really is an end. He opened his eyes. He was lying flat on his back in his bed, bathed in sweat, clutching his chest. No, not again! Please, not again! He reached to his left and grabbed Tiffany’s arm, as another bolt of pain shot through his chest.
“What’s the matter?” asked Tiffany. “My God, Mike! You’re white as a sheet!”
“It’s my chest,” said Mike. “I think I’m having a heart attack.”
“Come on,” she said. “I’m taking you to the hospital.”
The next half hour was a terrifying blur. Trying to don shorts, while at the same time fighting the pain. A fast car ride. Rushing through red lights. Sitting in the hospital waiting room. At last he was lying in an emergency room bed. A male nurse was giving him a shot in the stomach that gave him a bruise the size of a football. The pain was going away. Where was Tiffany? He looked around. She had been here a moment ago. Then he saw her.
Lying on the bed next to his was Tiffany’s broken body. She had blood all over her. Her arm was mangled. Her legs didn’t look quite right and Mike knew it was because her pelvis was shattered. None of that had killed her though. It was that tiny bump on her head. It didn’t look like anything at all, really. It certainly didn’t look like something that could kill a person. It was. It did and it was.
“No, this isn’t right,” said Mike. “This isn’t how it happened. This was eleven years ago. You were lying here eleven years ago. You died eleven years ago. That’s not the same time. I had a heart attack way before that. When was it? Fifteen years ago?”
Then Harriet burst into the emergency room. “Daddy!”
Mike’s eyes popped open. He was still in bed. He turned his head slightly and felt as though his head was going to explode. He looked for Patience, but she was no longer in bed. He got up and walked to the bathroom. Opening the medicine cabinet, he pulled out a bottle of aspirin and tossed four into his mouth. Then he chewed them.
Something landed heavily on Mike’s shoulder. He jumped and spun around. Patience was standing there. The arm that had been on his shoulder was still outstretched. He grabbed her and pulled her to him. Cupping her face in his hands, he covered it with kisses. Dozens of tiny kisses spread across her face turned into one deep kiss on her luscious perfect mouth, which she returned.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“I am still all right, Mike.”
“No. I mean are you really all right?”
“I am still waiting for the software patch,” she said, “but that only affects rebooting. All my systems are in good working order.”
Mike clasped Patience’s face once more between his hands and kissed her deeply. Then she frowned.
“You have a fever, Mike,” she said.
“Yeah. I feel like shit.” He staggered slightly.
Patience led Mike back to the bed and tucked him in. Then she brought him a glass of juice. When she was sure that he was as comfortable as he could be, she lay down in the bed beside him, and brushed his hair with her hand. She stayed with him until he dozed off once again.
Mike spent most of the day in bed, eating very little, but at Patience’s insistence drinking plenty of juice and water. He felt annoyed, because it seemed to him that Patience was the one who had been truly ill. She should have been resting. She insisted though that she was fine and informed him that he had likely picked up some kind of parasite at the beach.
“That water was not very clean,” she said, as she handed him two antiparasitics.
By evening, he was feeling much better. He got up to shave and take a hot shower, then went back to bed and read The Tales of Beedle the Bard until he was drowsy. With Patience once again lying in bed beside him, Mike went back to sleep. He spent most of the night with his hand on that perfect body beside him. The next morning Mike felt well enough to take his morning walk, Patience right beside him of course, urging him to keep up the pace. Driving to the walking track, they started on the long oval. Even though the sky was overcast and the weather had turned decidedly blustery, they walked the full five miles, shaded by the massive sunscreen above.
They walked at a quick pace, but instead of feeling as though he were going to pass out, Mike felt rejuvenated when they returned home. He shaved, showered, and when Patience brought him his breakfast, along with more antiparasitics, he ate and felt great.
“Do you feel up to going furniture shopping today, Mike?” Patience asked.
“I think I do. Do we need furniture?”
“We do if we’re going to make Harriet’s old room into a guest bedroom. Some of the other furniture is so worn that it should be replaced too.”
Mike put on a new pair of slacks and a grey shirt. He thought that he looked pretty good. Of course he realized, when Patience walked into the room, she would still look completely out of his league. She had on a dark blue peasant top, a pair of tight fitting Capri jeans with sequins along the bottom of the legs, and a pair of black high-heeled shoes with flowers on them that she described as “Bocaccio round toe pumps.”
They hopped in the car and headed for the Pico Mundo mall. Once there they went to Modern Furnishings.
“Do you have a split back lounger in reddish brown leather?” Patience asked the clerk.
“Um, just what you see,” answered the clerk.
Mike didn’t know what it was that Patience had asked for, but they ended up picking out a nice leather couch with clean lines that was pretty comfortable. They also found a nice double bed and a pair of nightstands. He paid for them and scheduled delivery. They had lunch at Gyro Time. Then before leaving, Mike insisted on stopping at Venus to buy some more clothes for Patience. He was finding that he enjoyed seeing her dressed up in her sexy clothing almost as much as he did seeing her naked. Patience certainly seemed to enjoy showing off new clothes to him. This time she selected something called a Marilyn-collar sweater dress, which completely covered her from neck to mid-thigh, but showed off every curve and, Mike was happy to see, every bump too. As they walked across the parking lot toward the Chevy, Mike stopped suddenly and looked at Patience.
“What is it, Mike?” she asked.
“I’m falling in love with you, you know,” he said.
Patience smiled happily. “I thought you might be, Mike.”
“At first I didn’t know for sure. But once I got to know you and your needs, I believed that it would be only a matter of time. I am for you, Mike.”
“Yes,” Mike mused. “Yes, you are for me.”