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.
“The primary setup procedure is complete,” she said. “I your Daffodil, will not require a secondary setup procedure.”
“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 a 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.”