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Creative Nonfiction Friendship Fiction

 “I go away on holiday for 2-weeks!!!! And…” Garry spluttered at a loss for words. 

“Dad… You’re being dramatic,” his daughter sighed. 

“I think this is a rather good time to be dramatic!” Garry shouted excitedly, rocking furiously on his heels. “I don’t want IT; I don’t need IT; you need to take IT out!” 

“I can’t just take it out Dad, you know that! And as for not needing IT! Look at this house,” she said waving her arms to emphasize the jumble that was the living room. “ For a matter of fact look at you!”

Garry growled: “I’m not having a nanny”

“IT isn’t a nanny, it’s a personalized housekeeper, companion, carer, cook  - anything you need, it can be!” his daughter pleaded

“Humph! Like I said, no!”

“Dad…” she pleaded, “ this isn’t like a human housekeeper who’s spying in on your private life and gossiping about you behind your back. And it isn’t even like you’ll be living in a retirement village with other old people. You can still stay here, among your things. IT will allow you to be independent but cared for at the same time.”

Her voice softened as she looked at her dad.  He stood on the porch glowering like an old bear with his beard grey and unkept, his eyes blitzing with wounded pride. 

“Ever since mom died… I’ve seen how you struggle to take care of this huge house. Somehow Mom managed, but she loved cleaning - she freaking loved it. You don’t. You never liked to cook either and I can’t sit back and watch your arteries corrode away from too many greasy chips. I want you to have your own life back. I know you don’t want anything to change but it has… I just want to make that change easier for you.” 

***

Garry stood on the porch and watched as his daughter’s car pulled out of the driveway. He gave her a quick wave and half of a cheery smile. He looked at the white booklet in his hand that his daughter had given him. He frowned and shook his head. The thing probably had more words in it than the Bible. He flicked through it. Phrases such as: ‘revolutionary technology’, ‘a perfectly programmed human’  and ‘as smart as a human’ caught his eye. He snorted. Whoever had done the marketing and advertising for IT  had had a thesaurus nearby!

He pushed the front door open and paused. IT was inside his house. IT, ( his daughter said) would help him, change his life. But did he want his life changed and for that matter did he want to be helped? Would he rather just stay on the porch for the rest of the evening? A sudden gust of wind whirled and roared around the house and sent him scurrying indoors: after all he wasn’t 20 anymore. 

***

Gary sat at his kitchen counter: a large sugar covered doughnut in one hand and a cup of strong black coffee in the other. No milk or sugar because this was not the time for a comforting milky latte but something strong and bracing. He sat there munching down bites of doughnut, washed down by gulps of the coffee. He sat there alone in his kitchen. The sun setting grandly over the distant rooftops. He sat there alone, but he didn’t feel alone. He felt watched: like a caged specimen in the zoo. But unlike those specimens he could put no face or eyes to the person, the thing watching him. 

The chair scraped screeching-ly along the floor as he stood up. The kitchen was veiled in that ghostly after sunset light. Shadows appeared from nowhere. Garry took a step forward, his eyes trying to pierce the darkness and avoid the little entry rug that would fuzzle his toes.

There was a low thrill of buzzing wires and the kitchen lights flickered on. Garry stopped, dazzled by the sudden light. The mug and plate hung suspended in his hands. And then a voice that seemed to come from nowhere but sounded from every corner of the house spoke: “ Good evening Garry. What would you like for supper?”

Garry stood frozen to the spot - his mouth hanging open in fear and astonishment; his heart pounding. The voice repeated the question. 

“Who are you?” Garry eventually managed to gasp out. 

“Andrew Allen, AI - a prototype of S.W.version 3.” 

Garry stood there - the coldness of the tiles soaking into his feet, his toes just grasping the fuzzy mat. He stood there his mind swirling - tracing, retracing - trying, trying desperately to comprehend just what IT was. 

The voice that issued out of his tense throat was unrecognizable to his own ears. 

“Okay. So what can you do?”

“I can do anything you want me to,” the voice said clearly and distinctly. 

Anything: the word that held endless possibilities but which in practice held a cramped reality. 

***

Garry sat seated at the kitchen counter, a steaming plate of veggies and a grilled chicken breast in front of him. Andrew Allen had insisted on the grilled chicken. Garry had agreed but had insisted on a small bowl of chocolate ice-cream. The kitchen bathed in light, the floors sparkling, the distant hum of some Broadway classic from the spotless living room. Garry hated to admit it, but his home hadn’t felt so “homey” in years.

“What do you want to be called by the way?” Garry growled through a mouthful to the air in general. 

Again the voice answered from nowhere but sounded from every corner of the house: “ Whatever you want to call me Garry.”

Garry sat thoughtfully for a moment, chewing and savouring each morsel of the home-cooked meal. 

“How about A.A?” he said finally, “Andrew Allen is a bit of a mouthful.” 

“Alright Garry,” the voice answered again in such a human voice that Garry shook his head disbelievingly.  

“And you,” Garry said through another mouthful of chicken, “can call me Mr G. My wife only called me Garry when I was in trouble.”

February 26, 2021 07:24

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4 comments

22:42 Mar 03, 2021

I liked this story. I was glad that Garry accepted his A.I. Well done!

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Regina Morrison
18:48 Mar 05, 2021

Thanks for the lovely comment! :)

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Regina Morrison
18:48 Mar 05, 2021

Thanks for the lovely comment! :)

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Regina Morrison
18:48 Mar 05, 2021

Thanks for the lovely comment! :)

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