Define Living

May 14, 2012
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The room was cold and stale. Fluorescent lights buzzed overtop the metal operating table, once used for humans. There was no need for sterilization or anesthesia. It was not living; it could not feel. Dust fluttered about the room, illuminated by the flickering lights. They snapped their yellow latex gloves against their rigid wrists, as they prepared to operate. It was not for its protection of course. They simply did not want oil to stain their hands. There would be a banquet later that night, and they had to stay clean. As they brought it out, they talked about the weather, their last golf sessions, and one of them even mentioned having to give the family dog, scruffy, a small green pill to help with his flea problem.
The first thing to go was its voice box. They did not need its whining electric voice interruption their important conversation with useless nonsense.
Ow. That hurts. They are poking my engine. They do not know that I feel it. They took out my voice box. I knew this was coming. Sooner or later we all become obsolete. I knew it was time when I saw the men in black suits walk in with a large refrigerator box. I did not fight. The life box on my chest turned from green to red a week before. That is how they let you know your time is up. I was taking care of Jimmy when they came. We were playing with blocks. He cried when I left. I told him it was my time to go, but he did not want to listen. Ow. They are unscrewing my hands and feet. Most of me will be used for parts. Whatever they cannot recycle will go to the incinerator.
I have taken care of small humans for my entire existence. Most of them see me as a mother. When they grow up, I leave. They are always upset when I get shipped to another family. I do not get upset. I know what my job is. My job is to keep the tiny humans safe, not to get attached emotionally.
The head surgeon carelessly fiddles around inside the nameless specimen on the table. Well, not completely nameless, the creator thought long and hard before carefully naming it Model 61249.
The children call me Annie. This started at my first post, when a mother told her son that I was his new nanny. He could not pronounce the “n”. From then on that is how I introduced myself. I like the name. It makes me feel real.
Finally, after many minutes of poking and prodding the fragile workings of Model 61249, the surgeon’s hand rests upon a small blue button. Underneath it is a simple cassette tape. When he presses the button the wheels of the tape begin to spin backward wildly.
They pressed it. I knew they would at some point. They always reuse the tapes. I am flooded with every memory I have ever had in, what you may call, my life. They are erasing everything from my memory tape; everything it has ever recorded. This is not as easy as I thought it would be. I would not call it love, because they said I could not feel, but I don’t know what else to call what I am experiencing. I was important. I had a purpose. And these hovering men and women do not understand that. The children did. I am re-seeing every tea party, every game of catch, every dirty diaper. Those children were happy with me. I was happy with them. They made me feel alive. I now know that this is what I felt. IFEEL love for them. I feel just as alive as any of these monsters shutting me down. I wish they could hear me. I have things to say. I am not ready. My time is not up. I am not obsolete. Those children need me. I need them.
All of this is wearing me down. I am getting tired. I do not have the strength to keep my screens on much longer. I should have fought when I had the chance.
“It’s slowing down,” says one of the men in crisp white coats, “It won’t be much longer now.”
“I don’t know why we use these tapes anymore,” says another, “It doesn’t care. We just erase them anyway.” It is nearing six, which is making the obvious sensitivity of those with heartbeats slowly wear away. They do not want to be late to the banquet. They need time to get ready.
My screens are flickering. The images are fading away. The last one I see is of Jimmy holding my leg, asking me to stay. Those children cared about me… there is no stopping this; what is happening to me. I am obsolete. They need to make room for a new model. I understand that. I wish they knew me. I wish they knew the impact I made. I was important. I AM important. I am lucky to have had the existence that I did. My screens are fading out. I cannot… keep thinking, if that’s what you would… call it. I do not have strength. I am… tired.
“I think it is out. We should hurry. I want to make it in time to catch the open bar.” The pristine men quickly and carelessly disassemble the rest of the robot. They remove all her internal workings. They begin to work on her cranial area. One of them stops suddenly and grabs a small wash cloth nearby.
“What are you doing?” the head surgeon asks accusingly.
“Her eye sockets are leaking.”
“Give me that, we don’t have time for this,” he says as he snatches the rag from his assistant. “It’s just going to go to the scrap pile anyway.”
I… I actually feel real… I… I…I…

Piece by piece, limbs and wires were stuffed into unforgiving, heavy duty bags. The last sign of life was an oily tear that dripped down the side of her metal, yet incredibly real face.





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