Who am I? My eyes flutter open landing on a short female, a “Dr. Sanders” as it says on a rectangular card pinned on her shirt. There are crowds of people running around, testing things, like they’re in a hurry. Laboratory. The word comes to me quickly, though I was fine with the “not knowing” I had always been accustomed to. The Dr. Sanders places a hand on my shoulder and smiles. “You’re finally ready.”
I can tell from the color of the sky that it is going to be a different kind of day. The Dr. Sanders, as usual, presses a few buttons on her mechanical device, and I feel a tingling sensation spread out over my arms. It has become quieter in the laboratory since I was first introduced to it, and I notice a small window looking outside. I focus on the window instead of the Dr. Sanders, and watch birds flit from side to side. It is rather...amusing to look into the outside at flowers, green clumps sprouting out of the ground and all. The word hits me before I can bother to try and ask myself what it is. Peaceful.
I am not particularly happy with being strapped to this wall, left there to scan the room and try to answer all my questions. Talking. Did it ever occur to me to perhaps ask? I pretend to avoid the Dr. Sanders, this whole confusing situation, and then I realize I am not like the rest of them.
My body is not like theirs, and I don’t know why. “Why?” I test the word out, slowly going over each letter. “Why am I different?” My new voice doesn’t sound right. It doesn’t sound like the window with all the flowers, birds and sky. I watch the Dr. Sanders typing at her keyboard comes to an abrupt stop as she turns to look at me.
“Why do you think you are different?”
There isn’t a trace of amusement or sarcasm hidden in her voice, just a sincere question. The few other men and women in white coats stop to look at me, then continue testing in their rooms.
“I am not human.” I manage to put together those words, still hating the way my voice sounds. Robotic. The Dr. Sanders peels back the velcro strapping me to the wall and I feel the placement of my feet on solid ground. But I stare out the window instead of the floor. Am I afraid?
“Try to walk?” The Dr. Sanders watches as I look down for the first time at my new metallic body. There are bits of recycled items and other bits stuck to my body so I look like them. Human male.
“But I am not like them.” I say to the Dr. Sanders, waiting for an answer to my question, or maybe it was a comment. She doesn’t respond, instead following my gaze to the window.
“No, I’m afraid you’re better off not being human.” She sighs deeply, leaving me puzzled as to why we all wouldn’t want to be flesh and bone, as the things outside the window. Living. Breathing. Organism.
I decide to lift my leg, and I keep it there awhile, hoisted into the air, and take one step. A new feeling gathers up in my stomach, but I don’t speak. All I want to do is go back to my wall and personally strap the velcro over my body, stay in the comfort of the “not knowing”, but that innocence has been lost amidst all the confusing talk of these humans. They see me and touch me, and I want to tell them I don’t want to be touched, so I hold myself with my arms and scream.
The Dr. Sanders is overtop of me again, blocking the view of my video. I am once again strapped to the velcro wall, trying to read the Dr. Sanders’s expression. She rolls to her computer on a rolling chair and murmurs under her breath, dark circles, dangling below her eyes. “No circuit malfunctioning.” Still, despite all my efforts, I will never be more than robot parts and bolts. The lab is quiet, no scientists bustling around the building.
“I am not supposed to feel.” Suddenly, the Dr. Sanders gets off her chair with a deafening screech.
“No, most robots cannot feel, but you can.” By this time I have understood the Dr. Sanders wants me to speak. My eyes flicked back and forth to make sure nobody was in the building with us.
“Why me for the job?” The Dr. Sanders shakes her head like there were probably so many things she needs to say like there were so many ends and beginnings tied up into a twisted knot. Like I couldn’t possibly understand-and I didn’t-but I did.
“Freedom.” Is the word that comes out of her mouth, hanging there in the open air, waiting to pop. I can’t-don’t grasp the notion of freedom as easily as the flower and the birds. It seems as if I should understand this word because I was made to serve this purpose, but I shake my head and frown. Freedom is not being stuck to this wall, but freedom can be choosing what you want, and I chose the comfort of this wall.
“I know it has a lot of meanings, and you’re better off not knowing which one it is.” Better off not knowing. The parts I don’t understand include this; this “better off” string of words. Instead of talking again, I listen as the Dr. Sanders powers down her device and comes up to me with another mechanical object in hand.
“I know I’ve waited so long for you to be made, but this is not the right time.” I can hear noises over the quiet, and I know something is wrong, someone or something is coming, and they’re dangerous.
“Go. I’m going to put you in this compartment where they’ll never find you, and you will wake when it’s time.” She puts me away in a small closet, away from the birds, trees, and freedom, pressing the power button on her mechanical object.
“Soon, you will be reborn.”