“Oh well, I’m sure we needed it, but that doesn’t sound like much food.”
“It will be more than enough for now,” said Patience. “Would you like an afternoon snack?”
Patience brought out a small plate with slices of fruit and cheese. Mike ate it all.
“Is there more?”
“Save room for dinner,” Patience called from the kitchen. “You shouldn’t be too full anyway. I don’t want you to get a stomach ache today at the gym.”
“Yes,” she said, rejoining him in the family room and curling up to sit on the floor by his feet. “We will go right after the news.”
They sat and watched first the local and then the national news. Patience rested her head on his knee and he ran his fingers through her thick black hair. It felt like real hair—like real human hair. She wrapped her left arm around his calves. Going to the gym was probably a good idea, he decided. If he was going to keep up with her, he really needed to get into shape.
At six o’clock, Patience left the room. She returned a few minutes later wearing sandals and her little jersey dress. She brought Mike a pair of shorts that he hadn’t seen in so long he almost didn’t recognize them, along with a sweatshirt. He changed into them, and then they climbed into the car and drove four miles to the Club One Fitness Center.
“I don’t have a membership,” said Mike.
“I signed you up on vueTee. The first month is free.”
“I think we need hydrogen.” he said, looking at the fuel gauge.
“Are you trying to prevent our trip to the gym?”
“No, of course not. We just need, you know…some hydrogen.”
“We aren’t going very far,” said Patience. “We have more than enough to last until tomorrow.”
“What if you get hungry?”
Patience shot him a look.
“We still have enough money to buy hydrogen, don’t we?” Mike asked.
“We should use your Praxair-Aramco credit account.”
“Is that account still good? I haven’t used it in a long time.”
At the fitness club a blond girl, with the right side of her hair dyed black, stood chewing gum. Mike gave her his name and she pulled out a dedicated texTee for him. It was set up with forms for him to fill out, as well as spaces for him to keep track of his workouts and progress. As he took it from her, she looked at him.
“Didn’t you used to teach at Midland?”
“Yes,” Mike replied, not adding that he still did.
“I think I was in your class,” the girl said. “That was a long, long time ago.”
Mike just nodded his head.
“Is this your daughter?” asked the cashier, indicating Patience.
“No…” said Mike. “She’s a friend.”
The counter girl’s mouth made a little O. “She’s a robot, eh? You can hardly tell.”
Mike just took the texTee to a nearby chair and began to enter the information with the keypad. Patience sat down next to him.
“Well that’s it,” said Mike. “It’s always going to be like that. It’s always going to be weird.”
Patience looked at him uncomprehendingly.
“Nobody will ever believe that a fat old man like me could ever meet a woman like you. They’ll immediately realize what you are and say “oh well, there you go, he had to buy himself a robot, cause no one else would have him.” Patience stuck out her lip.
“I’m sorry. I know you’re more than a robot. You’re a Daffodil.”
“It’s not that,” she replied. “I don’t want to hear you talk about yourself in a negative way. I wouldn’t allow it from anyone else, and I don’t want to hear it from you.”
“Yeah, okay. Whatever. I need to find a trainer.” Mike changed the subject.
“No. I will be your trainer.”
Patience proved that she was as adept as a physical fitness trainer as she was at anything else. She put him to work doing a minimal number of machine exercises and had him spend most of his time walking around and around on the oval track. She walked right along with him, encouraging him to keep up the pace. Though she wasn’t really dressed for the track, she did look like a young woman out to have a little fun. She bounced along with the gate of a teenager, giving him a grin whenever she noticed him looking at her.
When they returned home, Mike was exhausted and took a nap. When he got up he took a long hot shower. By the time he returned down stairs, dressed, Patience had set the dining room table for him. The Caesar salad, lightly breaded orange roughy, and garlic new potatoes were all perfect. For desert, she made a satin chocolate tart. Mike had eaten many good meals, but he had to admit he was impressed. He didn’t think he had ever had anything that good outside of a cruise ship or a fine restaurant. When he said so, Patience smiled sweetly. Afterwards, Mike watched vueTee, while Patience cleaned up the dinner dishes.
Mike thought he would be too tired for sex that night, but the exercise actually added to his vigor. He felt as though he performed like a twenty year old. When he commented as much, Patience agreed with him, though this ended up irking him, as the more he thought about it, the more he was sure that it wasn’t true.
“Are you going to get up and do housework all night?” he asked her as she lay next to him.
“What would you like me to do?”
“Why don’t you spend the night with me? I know you don’t need to sleep, but I think it would be great.”
Patience smiled at him. “All right.”
Mike woke up several times during the night though. He wasn’t used to sleeping with someone else in his bed and the center part of Patience’s body was warmer than he expected. She was also always awake, as Mike had known she would be, and since she didn’t need to be there and it wasn’t all that comfortable for him, the whole thing just seemed a waste.
“You can go ahead and get up if you want to,” he said, at last.
“Thank you, Mike. I would like to begin cleaning the garage.”