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Contemporary Fiction Friendship

“Why are you crying, Theo?” Arthur asks from behind him, sitting down on the step next to him.


“None of your freaking business,” Theo says, wiping away his tears with the back of his hand.


“I believe it is my business,” he says, in a matter-of-fact tone.


“And how have you arrived at that brilliant conclusion?”


“When someone considers someone else’s problem as your own, they are a friend. When someone is loyal to you no matter what and protects you whenever they can, they are called a friend. They–”


“Okay, okay, I get it. You have fabulous memory,” Theo says, raising his hands in surrender.


“Why are you crying?” Arthur asks again.


“I want to punch you. But I won’t because you’re a robot, and my hand will probably break on impact.”


“Is that why you’re crying? Because you want to punch me, but you would like your hand in one piece?”


“Leave me alone,” Theo says, his head now in his hands.


“A friend pushes you away when they need you the most.”


“Who told you that?”


“I figured it out for myself.”


******


The memory of the day that Arthur had first come was still fresh in Theo’s mind.


“Okay, girls and boys. Today is going to be quite different from most, and I honestly never thought that this day would come in the time I was alive,” Ms. Liwell had said, her face pale.


A murmur of theories had immediately started among the students, some going so far as to believe that she was going to propose to her boyfriend in front of all of them.


“Silence!”


After a few more words here and there, a hush descended the class.


“Recently our school has partnered with the Pellentesque laboratory, which means that we have given them permission to try certain experiments or test students if they need to get data,” she had said, and the murmurs began again, some loud protests that they didn’t want to be lab rats.


“Let ma’am finish, maybe it’s good news,” Theo had said, and Ms. Liwell had smiled at him gratefully.


“Yes, please let me finish. The point of me saying all of this is that the scientists have been secretly developing an android for the past few years with the intention of placing it in an environment and noting its response to it,” she had said, and the open mouths of the students confirmed the magnitude of the shocking news.


“They have selected a school environment, more specifically, this classroom for the same. So, from today onwards –”


“We have a robot classmate?” finished Elena, and Theo had glared at her.


“Do you have to butt in all the time? Oh, I forgot, you feel like you have a right to do anything, don’t you?” Theo retorted.


“Bro listen to me, you need to move on, she did what she had to do,” said Milo, his gaze moving from Theo to Elena.


“Stop it with your ‘bro’ and ‘dude’, like we’re best friends. Just shut up, alright?” Theo hissed, and Ms. Liwell cleared her throat to catch their attention.


“Elena is right.”


That was enough to silence all of them.


All of you are going to have a robot classmate, and I’m going to have a robot student,” she had said, her voice shaking with every word.


She had opened the door, beckoning someone inside.


An extraordinarily normal-looking boy had walked in, his eyes looking around the room like a normal person would.


When he had opened his mouth, the normalcy had ended immediately.


“Hello classmates, I am Artificial Robot That Has Unreal Resemblance To Humans Outwardly Mentally and Scientifically. But you can just call me Arthur, or Thomas. Or Arthur Thomas,” he rattled off in a tone that sounded devoid of any emotion.


The students looked at each other and back at the android.


He just raised his hand slowly and shook it from side to side, supposedly waving at them.


As he went from one person to another and introduced himself personally, shaking everyone’s hand, Theo felt a chill set in his bones.


This surely wasn’t normal.


Before he could run away, Arthur had reached his seat and extended his hand, asking his name. As they shook hands and introduced themselves, Theo was struck by how normal his hand felt. But the way the android stared at every person, almost as if he was taking in their details and appearance and storing it in his system, creeped him out and fascinated him at the same time.


They had a robot classmate.


******


After their first meeting, Arthur had demonstrated his abilities to the class.


Every person’s description was already in his system. He picked each person and listed out everything about them, from the names of their parents to the number of siblings to the place they were born. He even seemed to know their favourite movie, song and book.


If they had thought Arthur was creepy before, there was no doubt that remained after this demonstration.


Ms. Liwell assigned Arthur a seat next to Theo.


Theo had face palmed immediately at the thought of having to sit next to a robot, but he couldn’t do much about it.


He had just smiled, and Arthur had slowly tilted his head and pulled his lips to an acceptable smile.


When the bell rang, Theo ran to the washroom and splashed water on his face, still not able to stomach the fact that an android had become a part of their class.


When he looked at his reflection, his heart lurched.


The robot was standing behind him.


He turned around in horror, and Arthur just smiled that mechanical smile at him.


“Bro! You just don’t sneak up on people like that!” yelled Theo, trying to calm his rapidly beating heart.


Arthur tilts his head.


“What does ‘bro’ mean?” he asked, his voice metallic.


“‘Bro’ stands for brother,” Theo said, and Arthur straightened his head again.


“We are brothers?” he asked, and Theo facepalmed himself.


“No, it’s just a slang term people use among each other,” he explained, and hoped that he just got it and left him alone.


“I see. So, it is similar to ‘dude’ and ‘man’?” he asked, putting air quotes around the two words.


Theo gaped at him.


“Wait. You know what ‘dude’ and ‘man’ is, then how come you don’t know ‘bro’?” he asked, every moment talking to the android vexing him further.


“I just wanted to test your knowledge,” he said, and walked off in that funny way.


Theo shook his head, but there was a smile on his face.


******


“Theo.”


“Theo!”


He turned around and shot a death glare at Elena, who only rolled her eyes in reply.


“Theo, you can’t stop talking to me forever,” she said.


“Watch me,” he said, turning to face the front again.


“Look, I said that I was sorry, like a million times. What do you want me to do?” she asked.


“If you tell you what I want you to do, then will you do it?” Theo asked, still facing the front.


“Yes.”


“Anything?”


“Yes Theo.”


“Anything at all?” he asked again, just to confirm again.


“Yes,” she pushed out.


Theo turned back to face her and smiled. He gestured with his hand to come closer, until his lips were only inches away from her ear.


“Don’t talk to me ever again,” he spat out, and she winced at his bitter tone.


Arthur was watching this whole exchange with a curious look on his face, and when Theo turned back to the front, he couldn’t help but ask.


“Do you not like her?” he asked, his voice going up at the end.


“I don’t need to explain myself to you,” Theo said, shifting his body away from Arthur.


“Do you not like me either?” he asked.


“If I don’t, will that shut you up?” he said, still stinging after his conversation with Elena.


“No,” he said, and Theo’s eyes widened.


“I’m sorry, what?” he asked.


“Do you need a hearing aid? I said no,” Arthur replied, and Theo’s eyes widened even further.


“I want to have friends, human friends,” said Arthur, and Theo could almost hear the regret in his voice.


“The scientists that made me, they said that I should get friends. They didn’t tell me what friends are, they said I should figure it out for myself,” he said.


“When someone considers someone else’s problem as your own, they are a friend. When someone is loyal to you no matter what and protects you whenever they can, they are called a friend. They are always honest with you and never break your trust,” he said, raising his voice, in the end, to carry that message to the person sitting behind him.


Arthur nodded thoughtfully.


“Will you be my friend?” he asked hesitantly.


Theo turned to him, and nodded, a smile on his face.


Maybe he imagined it, but this time, Arthur’s smile didn’t seem as robotic as before.


******


The lockers rattled as Conrad pushed Theo towards them.


He winced at the metal digging in his back and tried to get back up.


Conrad pushed him down again, this time with his foot, the sole of his shoe caked with mud.


He raised his hands to cover his face as Conrad’s fist readied itself to punch him.


But the punch never came.


When Theo slowly pulled his hands away from his face, he was speechless.


Arthur was holding Conrad’s wrist, and from the red on Conrad’s face, he was squeezing really hard.


As Theo pushed himself up, Arthur immediately let go of his wrist, brushing off invisible dust from his hands.


Conrad raised his hands in surrender and walked away, still nursing his aching hand.


“Thank you, Arthur. That was really nice of you,” Theo said, unable to keep the surprise hidden from his voice.


“Friends protect you whenever they can,” Arthur said with a satisfied smile, and walked away, leaving Theo again, just looking at his silhouette.


******


Theo jerks his head at Arthur, who is sitting beside him on the step.


“A friend pushes you away when they need you the most.”


“Who told you that?”


“I figured it out for myself.”


He had just seen Elena kissing Milo the moment he had entered the school. He had run out in tears, not wanting to be in their presence for even a second longer. He had checked to see that no one noticed.


But Arthur had somehow found his way next to him.


He can’t help it, he starts crying again.


This time, Arthur scoots closer, and tentatively puts his arm around Theo's shoulder, trying to comfort him.


Theo puts his arms around Arthur and cries on his shoulder while Arthur occasionally rubs his back.


They sit there together, until Theo’s cries silence to sniffles and the sun shines on them, just two friends sitting together.


“Maybe you’re getting a hand of this friend thing,” Theo says, and the android just smiles, having successfully completed his mission.


******

February 22, 2021 12:13

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78 comments

Writers Block 🎉
22:38 Feb 23, 2021

Hi Mania, first off, this story is awesome! It really satisfied me! I just wanted to let you know, that there is a contest going on for a whopping $540!!! I really believe that you would succeed in this contest! Sadly, I can't paste this link on Reedsy, but I can on email! If you want more details for this contest, can you please send me your email address so I can send you the link?

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Writer Maniac
02:11 Feb 24, 2021

Thanks, I'm glad you liked the story! My email is in my bio, so feel free to send me the email :)

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Writers Block 🎉
03:52 Feb 24, 2021

Okay! Also, good luck with the downvoting situation on Reedsy. I see that you are getting downvoted a lot. I am praying for you!

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Writer Maniac
03:54 Feb 24, 2021

Thank you, I appreciate that :) I've sent you an email, you can directly reply to that :)

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Writers Block 🎉
03:58 Feb 24, 2021

Okay, I just did!

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Writer Maniac
14:29 Feb 24, 2021

Hey, good morning to you, if it's morning where you are! Could you please send me that link you were talking about?

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Rayhan Hidayat
22:23 Feb 25, 2021

I love that “ARTHUR THOMAS” is an acronym, very clever. Touching ending for both characters, nice work.

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Writer Maniac
02:04 Feb 26, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I knew I had to make an acronym, spent a long time on it so I'm glad it worked out :) I would love your feedback on a story of mine called 'Still Have Each Other', my first venture in writing in the second person, and a story called 'Not Worth It', a story which a lot of people have connected with :)

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That hatred between Theo and Elena-well more like Theo hates Elena is just...The way you described it-how do I say it...Hmm...Well, in short: Short, simple, sweet-TGHIERFJIE THERES A BUG...HOLD ON IMA WRITE THIS LATER- (It's on its back...Flailing it's legs ARFJIDRJF THERES ANOTHER.) ((AhCK i just can't believe I saved it, oh well.)) BACK TO THE STORY! So, in the start, Theo hates Arthur in the beginning just as much as he hates Elena. But THEN in the end Theo and Arthur are best friends. You can practically F E E L the glow of friendship (...

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Writer Maniac
02:03 Feb 23, 2021

Thank you so much, I'm glad you liked it!

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You know what? I'm really upset by the fact you haven't won a contest yet.

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Writer Maniac
03:30 Feb 23, 2021

Aww, that's so kind of you to say! But I do know that I've got a long way to go to reach that level of story writing :)

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Ha, ya mean short way not long way? I think you got it confused.

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Writer Maniac
03:46 Feb 23, 2021

No I mean long way 😂

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Riya 🌺
19:49 Apr 15, 2021

Oooh! I love this story! I know I'm like two months late on this, but I was looked at your bio and was trying to find one of the stories you recommended and saw this one. I love the friendship bond that's starting to bloom between Theo and Arthur along with the mystery of why Theo doesn't like Elena.

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Writer Maniac
02:43 Apr 16, 2021

Aww thank you so much, I'm so glad you liked it! Please check out my latest story too if you want to :)

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Riya 🌺
05:22 Apr 16, 2021

Sure, I'd love to!

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Lynel Black
15:50 Mar 04, 2021

Nice piece of writing. A simple and believable story with nicely developed characters. Maybe a little to mundane tropes used, but short stories need to move along quickly and clearly to keep the reader engaged. You definitely succeeded in that. Thanks

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Writer Maniac
16:04 Mar 04, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I know, I was feeling a bit lazy while writing it :) I would appreciate some feedback on 'Still Have Each Other' :)

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Kate Winchester
02:33 Mar 03, 2021

Your story is really sweet. I enjoyed it.

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Writer Maniac
02:42 Mar 03, 2021

Thank you, I appreciate it! I would love to hear your thoughts on a story of mine called 'Still Have Each Other' :)

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Kate Winchester
03:08 Mar 03, 2021

You're welcome. :) Sure, I'll check it out!

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Siobhan Mulalley
20:22 Mar 01, 2021

Another really good story. Very sweet and the characters were well worked.

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Writer Maniac
02:28 Mar 02, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!

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Maya
16:50 Feb 27, 2021

Hey Mania, I was wondering, would you like to be a character in my reedsy-cast series? If you do you can fill out the form in my bio. :))

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Writer Maniac
17:10 Feb 27, 2021

Aww that's so sweet of you to ask, I'll be sure to fill it out! Make sure to send me a message when the story is out!

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Maya
17:20 Feb 27, 2021

Thanks! I have written parts one and two but I'll tell you when I finish part three! :)))

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Writer Maniac
17:22 Feb 27, 2021

I'll wait for it :)

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Writer Maniac
17:17 Feb 27, 2021

I've filled it out :)

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Maya
17:20 Feb 27, 2021

Thanks so much! I really appreciate it! :)) Ooh and one more thing, I'm so sorry if this is rude, but what pronouns do you prefer?

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Writer Maniac
17:22 Feb 27, 2021

Oh no it's not rude at all, it is actually really sweet and respectful of you to ask. I would prefer she/her pronouns :)

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16:17 Feb 26, 2021

WOW ...................... I'm I'm speechless, absolutely speechless. I mean a robot student it's an astonishing thought like no cap * I do an Italian kiss * beautiful incredible marvelous I hope you continue reading! Don't ever let people say you suck at writing cuz if they do they a damn lie! and that the Facts!👏👏👏👏👍👍👍😉

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Writer Maniac
16:59 Feb 26, 2021

Thank you so much, that's so sweet of you to say! I would love to hear your thoughts on three stories of mine called three of my stories called 'Not Worth It', 'Remember that Night' and 'Still Have Each Other', each vastly different from each other, but all ones I'm quite proud of:)

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Valerie June
16:03 Feb 26, 2021

This was such a sweet story! The flashbacks worked really well and the readers were really able to see Theo and Arthur’s friendship blossom. Overall, well done. I did find one grammatical error, though. “He even seemed to know their favourite movie, song and book.” [I believe that there should be a comma inserted between the words song and book. He even seemed to know their favourite movie, song, and book.]

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Writer Maniac
16:13 Feb 26, 2021

Thank you so much, I'm glad you liked it! I don't think that extra comma is necessary, but I'll look into it and see what I can do :) Thanks again! I would love your feedback on a story of mine called 'Still Have Each Other' :)

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Valerie June
16:46 Feb 26, 2021

I'm not the best with grammar, but I try. :) Grammar is going to be the end of me. I'll definitely check into that story soon. Maybe you can do the same on one of my stories?

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Writer Maniac
16:59 Feb 26, 2021

Grammar was pretty hard for me too at the beginning :) Which story of yours would you recommend?

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Valerie June
17:19 Feb 26, 2021

Hmmmmm, I'd probably recommend The Decomposers but any story would be fine.

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Writer Maniac
02:15 Feb 27, 2021

Sure, will check it out :)

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Izzie Q.
04:14 Feb 23, 2021

hey!! LOVE the new story and i'm totally gonna read more of yours! You have a lot of talent and i also love your name haha <3

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Writer Maniac
04:19 Feb 23, 2021

Hey! Thank you, I'm so glad you liked it! If you would like to read more of my stories, I would recommend 'Remember that Night', 'Still Have Each Other', 'Paper and Ink', 'Not Worth It' and 'Game Over', there are many more stories of mine which I'm proud of, but you can begin with these :)

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Izzie Q.
04:27 Feb 23, 2021

Oooh for sure! Thanks for sharing, I love confidence <3 hows life been for you recently hahaha? any good books or movies? are you doing digital school or going back in person?

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Writer Maniac
04:34 Feb 23, 2021

No problem! Life is as boring and predictable as it was yesterday, and the day before that. I'm currently reading the second book of Six of Crows, and it's freaking amazing! I'm doing school online, and I really hate it, how's your life going?

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Izzie Q.
04:39 Feb 23, 2021

OH.MY.GOD I love six of crows!! How far in the second book are you? I will try to keep my mouth shut cause if theres one thing I hate more than spoilers, its SPOILING!! thats really cool, you have amazing taste then~ it's good, thanks for asking! I impusivley bought 5 pairs of shoes and now i'm wondering why haha. I'm going back to school in person on april 8th! scary but exciting!!

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Writer Maniac
04:46 Feb 23, 2021

I'm so glad I found someone who loves SOC as much as I do! I just finished reading the Wesper kiss, which I've been waiting for FOR FREAKING YEARS!!! IT WAS SO PERFECT!!! It's cool that you're going back to school, it's gonna be weird for sure :)

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Izzie Q.
04:41 Feb 23, 2021

also yeah, i get what you mean by "predictable life". Covid has done that to us all :( I can literally guess what i'm doing tomorrow and have it happen! I just wish something would explode, or someone interesting would knock on my door once in a while haha i've been safely social on the weekends tho, so thats good!

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Amel Parvez
14:36 Feb 22, 2021

WOW!!! JUST BRILLIANT! loved it, especially their friendship <3

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Writer Maniac
14:48 Feb 22, 2021

Thank you so much, I'm glad you liked it! I would love to hear your thoughts on a recent story of mine called 'Remember that Night' :)

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Amel Parvez
14:49 Feb 22, 2021

sure!

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J.A. Blackmore
13:26 May 13, 2021

This is really good! I love how at first, Theo is totally against Arthur at first, then Arthur sticks up for him and they become friends.

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Writer Maniac
14:45 May 13, 2021

Thank you!

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Arwen Dove
02:38 Apr 29, 2021

:)

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