ALTHOUGH HARRY HAD BEEN MARRIED TO Francis for less than a year, he worried about their relationship. He still enjoyed Francis’s company, their Sunday strolls in the nearby woods, her funny quips through the bad movies they both liked; he still caught her wistful face in profile and thought her as pretty and intriguing as a Hopper heroine. Yet, these days, they seemed to have so little to say. Gone were their long phone chats from work, their tipsy prattles over pints in the pub, their deep and precious heart-to-hearts at four a.m. when one woke the other because they could not sleep. Now, if Harry was restless he crept to the spare bedroom, and their daily chat – a bite-sized yak at lunch, usually to agree what telly to watch that night – lacked emotion. When they said I love you at the end of a call, it sounded like just another way of saying goodbye.ad to change.
So, Harry scoured the Internet for topics to discuss. He prepared notes on the political upheavals in West Africa, the continuing nuclear fallout in Japan, as well as more esoteric subjects, such as the ethical implications of the leather trade, the media's representation of climate change, and the deterioration of fair play in sports. On the train, he studied the topics, planning thrusts and counters to his arguments, picturing the two of them caught in a whirl of words, each banging their hand on the table and talking ever louder to get their point across, their views as sharp and satirical as a column in Private Eye.
When Harry arrived home, Francis was in the bath. He hung his coat and hurried upstairs. Sitting on the toilet lid, he asked his startled, foam-covered wife what she thought about the noise pollution caused by church bells.
“Not much,” replied Francis. “We don't live near any churches. Why do you want to know?”
Harry tried to think of an answer, but nothing came. His brain was blank. He pictured the train home, the notes he had studied, but in his mind the lines were illegible, the words meaningless.
“Satellites!” cried Harry.
“Satellites?” asked Francis.
“Do they contribute to global warming?”
Francis seemed to ponder this. “I don’t know. Do they?”
Harry shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“Oh… and did you think I would?”
“So why are you asking me?”
“I don’t know!”
Francis slid down the bath, submerging her face. When she came back up, she pushed her hands through her long, wet hair and smiled seductively. “Any more daft questions?”
Forlorn, Harry shrugged.
Francis reached forward and snatched his tie. “I think you just need to relax,” she said, drawing his face close.
Suddenly Harry cried, “Farm animals are forced to eat the ground up bones of their friends!”
“Shhhh,” said Francis, kissing him. “Let’s talk later.”
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I was a little shy about asking. I thought I might not be able to get one. I called the Apple store and talked with Siri.
I said, “Siri, I’m tired of robogirls. I want something a little different.”
“Do you want a roboguy?”
“Don’t be silly—I like girls. I can’t help it—I’m made that way.”
“I know what you want.”
“Yes—you want a real girl.”
“That’s exactly what I want. I want a real girl.”
“Are you sure?”
“What do you mean?”
“Have you ever had a real girl before?”
“Well, real girls are—unpredictable. I cannot guarantee that you will be happy.”
“Robogirls are predictable. That’s what I’m tired of. Send me a real girl this afternoon.”
“It doesn’t work that way. First, I’ll have to find a real girl who’s interested, and then I’ll have to let her pick the time when she can come.”
“You mean I have to wait?”
“Yes. If I can find one, she will call you. I can send you a robogirl this afternoon. Do you still want a real girl?”
“Yes. I’ll wait.”
Poem of the Week
who have experienced
on a large
i tell raif
i think my
might be dead
haven't seen her
& her car hasn't moved
for two weeks.
you would smell it
passing me a plate
of triangular shaped bread
slathered in jam.
Story of the Week
DARLEEN SQUEELED into the empty spot as soon as the gleaming white Mercedes pulled out. "We got lucky," she told Montana. "Even on a Monday night, this lot is killer."
Montana rolled her big blue eyes. "Whatever."
The eleven year old had better things to do, like text her friends. Incessantly, as if she had a tic. The kid hadn't wanted to shop tonight, but Darleen insisted. This was their first Christmas without Paulie and the girls needed to stick together. Darleen's ex had been nasty lately and mediation had hit a cement wall. Montana wasn't aware how dangerously close they were to losing access to Paulie's vast and unreported wealth.
Montana sighed dramatically as she yanked open the door of the Porsche Cayenne and tumbled out. She didn't pause in her texting.
Darlene checked her face in the rearview mirror. The most recent fat transfer had been wildly successful. She loved her new lips. Grabbing her Gucci bag, she hopped out of the front seat.
Her daughter trailed her into the mall, thumbs flashing on her phone keypad.