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Paul and Mary
Mary Ellis was 2 years old when a little boy crawled into her crib at daycare. He was Paul. Paul enjoyed Mary’s company and before he was carried off he gave her his soother and a kiss on the cheek. Mary swore never to forget him.
When Mary was 5, Paul came back. He walked into the room with a fresh pack of crayons and sat down beside her. Paul and Mary coloured for a long time. They coloured fish, clowns and cartoon characters. They coloured inside the lines and outside. Paul and Mary enjoyed themselves a lot. A man came in and observed, he had little dark glasses and wrote things down in a black book. Paul told Mary it was his uncle. Mary believed him. After a few more hours Paul’s uncle said that he had to go now. So Paul kissed Mary on the cheek and left the crayons. Mary said she would never forget him.
5 years passed and Mary learned her ABCs and 123s and tied her shoes. Mary had a crush on another little boy name Adam. She and Adam sat beside each other. One day Paul joined their class and sat beside Mary in Adam’s spot. Mary didn’t complain. Mary and Paul held hands during the lesson. Paul knew every answer, Mary struggled. Paul was helping her with spelling when his uncle came back. It was a wonderful afternoon for Mary and Paul. Mary walked Paul through recess and they played on the swings together. All the time Mary didn’t think of Adam once. Eventually before the bell rang to end school Paul had to go. Paul looked around the playground for something to give Mary. He picked three flowers, all different colours and gave them to her. His uncle put a meaty hand on his shoulder and led him away. Mary blew him a kiss and thought she would never forget him.
It was two days until Mary’s grade 8 graduation when Paul came back. He was dressed normally but with a bow tie. Mary looked at him differently now. She looked at his clothes, his hair, examined for how cute he was. But she couldn’t find any flaw with him. They sat near each other but didn’t talk as much. Her friends all whispered about him. Saying he was cute and wondering who he was. Paul looked over at Mary often. At first recess he walked towards her. Her friends parted giving him some room. He took her by the hand and asked what had happened she looked sad. Mary looked surprised, she told him about a mean boy who had insulted her and dumped her. Paul nodded, he asked if there was something he could do. Mary whispered in his ear. Paul strode towards a tall blond boy. He tapped him on the shoulder and then punched him. Hard. The boy crumpled. Paul’s uncle made a note on his black book and then came to take Paul away. Paul walked towards Mary and gave her a kiss on the cheek and a smile and told her not to forget him.
Paul got sick, very sick for three years. He finally got well enough to go back and visit Mary. He got to go to the new high school Mary was at. He had three uncles with him now. He walked into the busy hallway and stood there blinking for a moment. A tall pretty dark-haired girl came hurtling towards him. Mary jumped into his arms, whispering about why he hadn’t come and seen her earlier. Paul explained and they kissed right there in the hallway. Mary’s new friends didn’t gossip or laugh at Paul. Mary skipped her classes to hang out with Paul, they went to the McDonalds and went bowling. Paul laughed and had a great time. Mary loved every minute of it and knew exactly why she had been waiting for Paul. Paul and Mary were waiting for the bus when Paul’s uncles came. Mary sighed sadly as she watched them near. Paul took her hand, kissed her forehead and hugged her close. As he left he shouted over his shoulder to Mary an order to never forget him.
Paul got to come back for Mary’s prom. Mary was dressed in an evening gown. She didn’t have a date. She was just about to get into her old beat-up sedan when a black stretch limo pulled up to her front lawn. Paul stepped out in a black and white suit with the bow tie he was worn in Grade 8 for her on. Mary swooned with delight and stepped into the car. She didn’t notice that one of Paul’s uncles was driving. Paul and Mary drank all the little bottles of wine in the car and laughing they arrived at the prom building. They left early and had an amazing night together. Paul woke up with Mary’s soft head resting against his bare chest. She didn’t stir. He reached over to the notepad and wrote Mary a note. He signed it, I will never forget you, Paul.
2 years later Mary was out partying and she was very, very drunk. Paul entered the apartment and found Mary in a small outfit hanging onto a guy. He pushed the man aside angrily. Mary looked up at Paul. Her movements said she was drunk but her eyes showed she still remembered him. Gently Paul picked her up and brought her back to her residence. He pulled her blankets up around her and took off his shoes and spent the night beside her, not sleeping just watching making sure she was okay. When she woke up Paul’s face brightened her morning. She asked how long he was staying but he said he had to leave immediately. She kissed his cheek and said not to be gone long but she would never forget him.
Paul examined himself in the small mirror. His hair was back perfectly he wasn’t clean shaven completely but no beard or goatee. His bow-tie was ragged but intact and his Italian suit gleamed in the moonlight of Venice. He knew that Mary was finishing her art course here. He waited for her outside her building. He heard her laughter coming closer. He hid behind in the shadows watching her approach. She was with another man. They came closer to the door and leaned in, Paul couldn’t stand it. He jumped out. The man screamed. Mary looked startled. Paul came closer to Mary, his eyes screamed betrayal. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a little box and threw it at her feet. Mary stood, shocked as he walked away. Too shocked to yell out for him to come back, to say she was sorry. She reached down and picked up the box. Mary opened it, a ring was inside sparkling with diamonds and other precious gems. It seemed to breathe life from it. And on the gold band were the words, I will never forget you.
Mary searched for any hint to where Paul came from for months until one day and uncle came to her door. He led her into a car and they rode for hours until they were in the middle of a desert. The uncle opened the door for her. White walls gleamed in the sun and the glass doors looked like a mirage. They walked inside and rode an elevator down beneath the ground. She saw a small cubicle. Paul lay naked inside. A large cut went from his temple to his neck and scars covered his back. He looked like an animal that had been tested too long.
He was made, the uncle told her, it was all an experiment. To see if artificial intelligence could feel love. Mary swallowed, looking into the room that contained Paul, just Paul. It had gone too far, the uncle continued; he had snuck off to see you. Mary thought of the night in Venice. You may say your good-bye now.
Mary walked in the room. She closed the glass door behind her. She curled up beside Paul on the floor, he looked back at her, with milky eyes and then continued to stare into space. He had forgotten her.
Mary closed the book and ran her fingers through her sons beautiful slick hair. He had deep thoughtful eyes and did not talk much. She held him to her, feeling his warm heartbeat. She tucked him into bed and whispered the words, “Do not worry my son, I will never forget him.”