Below is a musical companion intended to accompany reading the story. Enjoy!
We sat in the dimly lit living room, our only light coming from the overhead fan. The crowd was outside the apartment, protesting against our love. I could overhear the yelling through the open window. We’d been discovered and the people meant to make good on the threats they hurled at us. I knew it was over, but I wasn’t ready to let her go.
“I love you, Will.” She spoke softly with a gentle warmth in her voice.
“I love you too, Nina,” I replied. “But we can’t be together.”
I wished it wasn’t this way. I wished we never had to be apart and we could live in our own special place, away from the hate and intolerance around us. Our own world where we are free to be exactly who we are and not have to pretend to be people we aren’t.
My palms started to sweat as my pulse increased. Sensing my nervousness, she gently reached across the couch and placed her hand on mine. She took a long, deep breath, implying with her eyes for me to do the same to calm my nerves.
“Do you remember the first time we met?”
“Of course I do,” she said with a small chuckle through a smile. “I had just started my day at the hospital and you came in with a bewildered, worried look on your face and that little teddy bear you bought at the gift shop. You were there to see your sister, Angela; she had been injured by one of the robots at the manufacturing plant. But you had no idea where her room was. One look and I knew I couldn’t leave you to handle this situation on your own.”
“Yeah, I remember that, too.” I said. “You’ve always had a caring heart. You know exactly how to comfort people who are hurting. It’s that empathy that first caught my eye. That made me see you for more than just a nurse, but maybe someone I could love.”
The yelling outside grew louder. I walked over to close the window as an expletive was shouted at me. Someone threw a glass bottle in my direction and it shattered on the brick wall just two feet to my left. I slammed the window and hurried back to Nina. Grabbing her strong but delicate hand, I pulled her off the canvas sofa and onto the thin rug in the middle of my living room.
I turned to face her, looking into her bright emerald eyes, searching them for insight about what she’s thinking. Did she comprehend the gravity of our situation? Did she know there’s no way out of a situation with people who don’t want to understand us? Did she know what people are capable of when motivated by blind hate?
My hand brushed her auburn hair away from her face and over her ear. A streetlight shone through the window, illuminating her silhouette in front of me. We sat together, holding hands in the middle of the living room.
“Nina, I don’t think I ever told you, but I always imagined our future together. Some part of me resisted speaking it out loud, as if I could keep this dream alive if only I protected it inside my mind.”
Nina softened her gaze and asked, “What does this imagined future look like?”
“I never wanted to have kids until I met you. I know it’s impossible, but now, I picture a little boy and a girl. With your eyes and smile and kindness. They’d have your ability to find the beauty in the smallest details of everything. We could move out of the city and raise them together. I found this two-story house online, a few acres with a pond. I could grow vegetables in the garden while you watch the kids play in the water. We could pass the years away in rocking chairs on our porch. Away from all the people who don’t approve of our lifestyle. Who can’t stand that we’re different and hate us for – did you hear that?”
There was banging on the door and voices on the other side of it shouting to be let in. The yelling ceased as they began to batter in the door.
“It’s been an incredible past few months with you. I love you so much, but this is the end. The end of us. It’s only a few moments before they get through that door, and they’ll do terrible things. I can’t put you through that.”
Tears welled up in my eyes as I took the knife from my pocket and unfolded it.
“What’s that for, Will?”
“Just tell me how we met again.”
As she spoke, I inserted the knife into her forearm and drew it down towards her wrist. I peeled back her soft, plastic skin, revealing a metal plate. I pried up the plate to access the electronic guts underneath and began cutting wires. Her speech became slurred and spasmodic. It had been a beautiful eight months together. I couldn’t imagine my life without her. But I knew our love wasn’t meant to be. We were doomed from the start.
The tears flowed down my cheeks in a steady stream as the light faded from her eyes. Her head drooped on my shoulder. I sat alone on the floor with her lifeless body in my arms when my sister and the mob finally bursted through the door and viewed the scene, hammers and pliers in hand.
”You win, Angela. It’s done.” I said as I discreetly pulled the thumb drive from behind Nina’s neck and slide it into my pocket.
“It’s for the best. Look what robots like her do!” My sister pointed to the remaining stump of her arm and her disfigured face. I watched in fabricated horror as they tore Nina’s robotic body into pieces, knowing that my love and I will be together again someday, and until then, I can wait.