25 June 2010

"Life Goes On"



LIFE GOES ON
By Curtis C. Chen

Breakfast was an awkward affair. Max didn't eat or drink, and Fina didn't have much to say to her sister and new brother-in-law. There were reasons the two women hadn't seen each other in over a decade.

After trading content-free small talk over soy omelets and making a halfhearted attempt to fight over the bill—Max and his cybernetic grip won—the couples said their goodbyes, and Max and Fina walked down the street toward the parking lot where they'd left their sedan.

"You're not going to say anything?" Max hissed.

Fina waited until they had turned the corner to say, "It's her life. Let her do what she wants."

"Did you see his eyes? That's got to be a dominant trait..."

"What do you want me to do?" Fina stopped next to the sedan. "We're already at the car. You want me to run back and grab her and shake her by the shoulders?"

Max swiveled his head from side to side. "I just think you should have said something."

"Well, if you're so concerned, why didn't you say something?"

"She's your sister."

Fina glared at Max. "It's hot out here," she said, and pressed her thumb against the entry lock. Servomechanisms inside the vehicle whirred, and the doors slid open. Fina sat down in the driver's seat and tapped at the climate controls.

Max entered on the front passenger side and waited for the doors to cycle shut. The vents in the dashboard blew cold air against his molded face. "I'm just worried about you. Anything goes wrong, you know you're going to be the first person she calls."

"Sure you're not worried about yourself?" Fina asked, still staring at the climate control display. "Getting caught in the blowback of whatever the next family crisis is?"

"Well," Max said, adjusting his necktie, "I can't say I'm excited about that."

Fina tilted her head, touched the pale blue fabric covering his torso, and smiled. "You look nice in that shirt."

"Do you want to have a baby?"

She made a sound halfway between a cough and a laugh. "Non sequitur much?"

"Hey, you started it."

Fina's smile faded. "It's been two years."

"Yeah, and I'm no closer to getting a new body." Max flexed the polymer-skinned metal fingers of his right hand. "And no offense, but you're not getting any younger."

Fina shook her head. "I guess it's traditional for people to have sex after attending a funeral."

"I know you want children."

"I want to have your children."

Max lowered his left hand to touch her forearm, palm down. "Seriously, did you see those eyes? Heredity is overrated."

"You would say that, robot-man."

"Racist."

Fina blinked at him, her eyes glistening. "I wish I could kiss you."

Max curled the corners of his synthetic mouth upward. "I remember what it feels like."

He closed his eyes. Fina leaned over and pressed her lips to his face. Max was glad he couldn't cry.

EOF

Photo: tree roots growing over gravestone in Chalmette National Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana, May, 2008

2 comments:

ljgeoff said...

Wow. Very well done.

CKL said...

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.