The voice resonated within his head for the days to come. He could not forget how malicious it had sounded as she commanded him out of their bedroom. He loved her, he knew that. He knew that he was the one who was meant to be with her forever.
“Hey, can you click our picture?” The lady sitting by his side in the cafe asked him.
He had not noticed the guy before that. He was a small guy who sat comfortably and smugly in his seat grinning ear to ear. He was so ugly. He pushed that thought in the back of his mind, people could make choices, people could…
“Yes, of course.” He offered the only smile that he had been able to manage for years.
She looked for a moment at his mouth, the lack of the frontal teeth, and the laceration on his lips. She hesitated a moment before she gave him the camera.
“Wait for a while.”
She sat beside the guy and leant towards him. Her breasts touched his body. He could distinguish the looks in the face of the guy who sat, he could see the attraction. He smiled to himself as he clicked the picture. He smiled at his own fate.
The girl took the camera and thanked him. She hastily got up and left afterwards followed swiftly by the boy. He sat for a long time at the cafe drinking the last of his ice tea. Waiting for some sort of notice, some sort of message that would tell him what was wrong.
It had been a breezy summer day when they had met.
“Do you know the way around this neighbourhood?” Her voice was cheerful, always so.
“Yes, I do.” he smiled then. His smile did not induce fear within the people who were around him. His smile was warm.
“Can you show me around? I just moved in. I am Faye.” She said with a smile as she approached him.
It always bothered him even then that people did not care for stopping and observing the place before approaching him, they all thought that he was their property.
That day was filled with smiles, even for him. It was along walk among the trees that hid the suburbs from the outer world. He was the only person there who could know what was wrong with the world. He could measure the wrongs but that day he did not. He just sat and noticed the woman with him. He fell for her.
“You are alright?” She said as she sipped on the ice tea that the waiter had served with a rather imposing smile.
“I am alright Faye.” He tried to smile.
He was after all a caricature of what was to be human. He was a hastily thrown together piece, another one of the relics from the industrial age that was well and gone.
“I am sorry if I hurt you when I talked like that.”
She apologised, for the first time in forever a human apologised for their behaviour. He smiled then, the only genuine smile that he could manage.
This continued for days and months. Her auburn hair was dyed to a sweet purple and then to red. She wore an earring and two nose-rings with age. Her smiles replaced by frowns, her talks were replaced by lectures. Yet, the apology remained constant. In a world where his major work was only to cater to the people and help them take care of themselves, she was a breath of fresh air, a difference so stark that it gave him hope.
However, peace never lives long, more so when you are nothing but a monster in the eyes of the populace. He was a broken branch grafted forcefully onto human society. The cyborg that no one could really want. His foster family had seen him grow up and detested him like anything. Mostly because they could not understand what his motivation to be alive after all these years. He was one of many, and still alone. He tried not to think of that.
“You know you could escape.” Faye sipped her hot black coffee.
“Where to? No one would really accept me.”
“There are people who are genuinely kind towards you guys you know.” She finished the last of the coffee and looked into his eyes.
“I don’t think that running away would be a particularly wise decision for me. It would make me look ungrateful towards them. And I do not want to look ungrateful.”
The voice of his changed with time, he was programmed to do so. Except unlike humans, it adopted the voice styles of the several voice actors who had taught him at the start. He only knew how to speak as someone else. With Faye it was an amalgam of the lost voice of childhood mixed with the senile voice of old age. He knew that this voice was his favourite of all somehow. The first amalgam he created. Faye often pondered over why he mulled over the words that would slip out of any cyborg’s tongue easily, but he knew that with Faye he needed to be more human. So that somehow he was accepted by her.
It was their last normal conversation. Time interfered, and Faye got what she wanted. She got her friends and she got a separate life away from all things that she had considered being her until then. She moved away to the city, the golden beaches wet her feet instead of the local lakes. He remembered her for a long time before giving up himself. He convinced himself that it was not attraction and he moved away.
The foster family had him move out by the time he was 19 by the cyborg age. They still called him to do work but otherwise he was homeless.
“Hey freak”, “Weirdo”, “Idiot”, “Machine”, the insults came in hushed voices and loud screams. All echoed in his mind with same intensity. He could not protest, the first directive always said to never dispute with human authority unless the authority commanded you to harm humans themselves.
He was a glorified robot with human emotions and he lived in garages of those people kind enough to offer him a night’s shelter in exchange for some work.
“Hey you know you could move to the city with my son. He needs a cook and all.”
The old lady down the street had once said. The old city talk had reminded him of the red head who had left him standing along in the rain; he had only smiled and said nothing.
They beat him up often, the kids did. They were looking for some plain fun when they looked him up and found him alone. They would ride him and try to slay enemies that were bigger than them. He would follow directives until his own circuits weighed him down. Then, he decided to move away.
Not one goodbye was said in his honour, but, he did not wish for them either.
“Hey, do you want a candy.” A kind lady’s child had asked when he was in the edge of the town and he had smiled.
Finding Faye was the easy part of the search. She was still lost in her world in the city. She was trying to rehabilitate the cyborgs like him. She accepted him the day he found her.
“Hey, I was waiting for you.” She smiled and said.
It was a love story after then. He believed so. The late night patrols in the city. The beating by a local store thug who broke his front teeth. It all was part of his plan to be with her. To impress her so that she could take notice of what he had become.
“Get out of here right now.” She had said when she returned after a drunken night.
The drunken night was filled with her moans as she engaged in sexual fervour as he waited outside. He fetched her clothes the next day and he left.
He left the place and he never did really come back.
“Mister? Could you come to the police station please?” The police officer surprised him.
“Well, you have no papers and nothing to prove your identity”
He walked with the officer without speaking another word. On second note, running away onto another reality had been an easy task for him. Most cyborgs did that after they had served their years. However, he had chosen the one reality where Faye did not exist at all. No industrial revolution no nothing. Just a computer program implemented on his brain as he lay decaying in a warehouse all the way away in a space. He did not believe that he was in a fake world anymore, everything seemed real.
The lady looked at the photo on her computer again. The thumb covered their faces and yet, it didn’t. It seemed like a fading person had held their moment in place.
A version of this article first appeared in the weekly YSeeker e-magazine in 2014.