Who Needs Romance When You Have True Love Surrounding You?

Submitted into Contest #95 in response to: Start your story with someone being presented with a dilemma.... view prompt


Coming of Age Romance Sad

Who Needs Romance When You Have True Love Surrounding You?

Tree Town was not awoken by the lovely chirping of birds; instead a cacophony of ringtones and an additional, terrifying sound roused the town resident's from their peaceful slumber. 

“What the heck! Auntie Jane, am I seeing police...HERE,” shouted a dumbstruck Emma! Frozen in place, Emma glanced at her twin sister Charlotte. Did Charlotte feel as disturbed as she did over seeing a police car in person? Although they lived on Lush Island, an extremely isolated beach within walking distance of microscopic Tree Town, the teenage twins were not naïve. Written and visual media often featured both fictional and nonfiction depictions of police and crime. 

Indeed, Charlotte was also disturbed by the police; their car flew past the group with enough speed the car's wind knocked her down. Struggling to stand up, Charlotte sat on the sidewalk infuriated.

“Yes Emma, a police car passed us. Be glad you were walking on the other side or you would have hit the ground! I know police are allowed to break the speed limit, however, I am certain running over people is against the rules! Honestly, WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL!” Exhausted, shouting at the empty street, imagining she was disciplining the police, comforted her until she temporarily lost her voice. 

Emma sat beside her sister, both observing their Auntie's reaction. Remembering she was the adult, Jane could not express her concerns. Simply seeing a police car should not bother her, she grew up in Bright City, where crime happened in nearby towns. Police cars were not a new phenomenon. Jane briefly left the teenagers sitting on the sidewalk. Curiosity regarding where the car might have gone overtook her common sense about watching over her godchildren. 

RING, RING, RING; Following the skid marks for a few minutes changed her feelings of mildly startled/curious into concerned. She did not need to follow the entirety of the route because there was only one place the police could stop.

RING, RING, RING “Enough! Stupid telemarketers,” Jane muttered, finally hearing and answering her phone. Intent on hanging up moments later, Andrea's name was listed. The 'missed calls' list showed she called several times before giving up. 

“Andrea, what's wrong? I saw you called me several times, I'm sorry I did not answer sooner! I couldn't hear my phone. Be careful, I know this sounds odd, but the police sped past us, nearly running over Charlotte! Both girls are overall safe, don't worry.” Upon hearing Andrea's reply, Jane dropped her purse, many of the contents falling out. Typically an individual who is generally logical and calm, the panic in Andrea's voice actually frightened Jane more than Andrea's words. 

“Lord help me PLEASE! We don't need them ACTUALLY HERE! Long story short; Carl tried to abandon me, while I'm trying to keep him here! I must have hit 911 instead of you or one of the girls. We both shouted when they answered, telling them my call was an accident, don't worry about coming! Apparently, the authorities believe otherwise. If you are interested, I will explain further after the chaos has died down...” 

Her face pressed into the window, Andrea could not believe her eyes. Seeing their cars pull in and the sounds of the sirens blaring was frightening. Answering the door would cause further anxiety. As they knocked on the door, Andrea exclaimed,

“Jane, they're here! Oh dear... They will probably want an explanation and briefly confirm no physical violence has occurred. I'm uncertain if you should bring the girls home or wait until later? Call you later.”

Andrea answered the door, allowing the officers into the house. Carl was for all intents and purposes unaware and patiently waiting, watching his (soon to be former wife) behave like a lunatic in front of the police. 

The click of the phone ending the call symbolized the end of over a decade in love. Both were shocked by the police arrival; upon briefly investigating the couple and home, no signs of violence could be found. Thankfully, they did not charge the couple fees for wasting their time/resources. Relieved when the officers departed, the couple continued an argument which was doing nothing except wasting time. Carl was not going to stay, Andrea would not be easily swayed into accepting his unexpected departure. 

As an android, Andrea learned over decades the challenges of expressing emotions when combining visual and verbal elements. Although not regarded by her parents as a machine, essentially the wiring, gears, computer programs etc. which much of her body contained made her a machine. She could change her appearance at will and contained enhancements which made her almost perfect. However, hiding the scientific proof of the possibility of such a creation was required. Revealing her true nature might cause unsavory members of the scientific community to abduct and experiment on her. Even her closest friends and relatives were unaware of the truth. 

Andrea had no organic heart, yet she was not without the ability to feel. On this day she had no trouble 'blending in' with human society. As many humans often do during a crisis, she wore her 'heart' on her sleeve. For the first time in her life, she felt sensations of hopelessness and burning which might literally short-circuit her brain. Unlike the grief she felt upon her parent's deaths or the sense of terror when one of her daughter's was hospitalized, almost left for dead, her current condition might have been life-ending.

As tears dripped down her face she nearly flooded the living room. The ocean's depths were but small puddles in comparison. Intellectually, she knew about ending a relationship. How humans managed to survive the trauma, often multiple times, of such ordeals when she, (frankly, a superior artificial being), was finally brought to her knees was one of most confusing thoughts racing through her mind. 

On the ground directly in front of Carl, Andrea actually kissed his feet. Shoving her aside, growing weary of her 'nonsensical' gibberish he yelled,

“GET OFF ME! I don't know how many times I must repeat myself before you finally understand! Our relationship is over! If you're so smart it should be quite obvious why I must go.” His only visible emotion was of annoyance. 'Why won't she let me leave? What's the big deal,' were his primary thoughts. Continuing his blasé words, he did not even look into Andrea's eyes as he spoke. 

“I didn't want to do what I am doing,” Carl signed, “I love you so much, but I just can't take life here any longer.” His attempts at expressing sorrow were so pathetic he clearly was not trying. All he was trying to do was leave.

“Why? I never saw any problems in our marriage? You never told me anything was wrong? Why not address the matter before running out the door, ABANDONING ME and more importantly, YOUR CHILDREN! All I want is the best for us and our family! I'm open and honest with you, why can't you be open and honest with me? I'm willing to change if you stay!” How she managed speaking clearly while sobbing was shocking.

Fetching a pen and paper from the shelf, Andrea shortly realized she moved too quickly for a human. Even machines are imperfect; stress and lack of sleep caused a lack of concentration and will power. Writing with perfectly neat handwriting, tears spotted the paper. Wet spots aside, Andrea handed Carl a short, poorly written 'contract' with her name signed.  

She nudged Carl's shoulder, interrupting his thoughts; he read the paper with as much interest as a person reading the dictionary.

 “I Andrea (Houghman) Smith, will change my behaviors in_____ amount of time. If problems persist, the relationship can be ended.” The blank was negotiated between them for two weeks. Pulling teeth would have been easier. His suggestion of meeting to have an honest, heartfelt conversation in one year was too long of a wait. He scrawled his name illegibly on the water damaged paper only for him, at last, be permitted to leave the property and his life for at least two weeks. Hopefully longer he thought. 

Watching him drive away, Andrea realized he took almost none of his belongings with him. Only his lab coat, a few items of clothing and part of his computer were taken. Why take only the monitor and CPU, yet not the keyboard or mouse (which worked quite well)? Why take his other electronics, yet leave their chargers behind? Andrea had more questions instead of answers. As intellectually gifted as she was designed, none of her academic knowledge or previous experiences could explain the bizarre morning/afternoon. 

“What an idiot,” Jane commented, noticing the same detail. Jane generally believed life was a 'glass filled half full instead of half empty,' yet her optimistic point of view vanished as she heard the whole story.

“Well he won't be back for two weeks and all I can say is how sorry I am for you and your children.” Not filled with joy, Jane was pleased he would be elsewhere for two weeks. She never liked him. However, if she wanted Andrea's friendship, she needed to act sympathetic. Anticipating an extremely long and detailed story from Andrea, Jane sat beside Andrea bracing herself. 

Provided with no other instructions, Jane arrived to Lush Island alone. Considering Charlotte's near death experience with the police car, Jane dropped them off at the local doctor's office. Upon being dismissed, they were instructed to wait there. Charlotte likely sprained or broke her ankle. The teens could walk home from Tree Town to Lush Island in 15-30 minutes without getting lost under normal circumstances. However, if they got lost that day, all they would need was the skid marks buried deep in the ground for a path home. 

'Free at last, FREE AT LAST! Good riddance to the freak,' Carl sang, joy escaping his lips as he rolled up the windows and locked the doors of his empty car. Jane was right regarding Carl's lack of intelligence. He could not even plan a proper escape from his living Hell. He planned ahead enough to change his address, listing his residence at a friend's house. Weeks after the documents were processed he received no mail at the Lush Island home. Perhaps the complex process of changing his address made him forget the rest of his important 'home departure plans.'

His best friend was a saint. Martin missed a day of work, although his income was minimal, because he was under the impression he would help Carl move his belongings on the day he left. He thought 'best friends generally help each other right?' Certainly Andrea knew because his items would be packed, albeit rather disorganized. Arguing wasted time which could have been saved if Carl just left a note while she and the rest of the house was asleep. 

Siding with your best friend is required, yet Martin felt Andrea had a point. He was almost as shocked as Andrea was regarding Carl's actions. Covering up his anger until he could roll up his windows, once on the road, Martin cursed both of them out for wasting his time and money. Perhaps he should sue them for lost wages. Witnessing this disaster changed his mind; being single is better. Couples have too much drama. 

Best friends should not keep secrets from each other, yet his true reason for leaving was beyond comprehension. Instead of sympathy, he would be given a tinfoil dunce cap, probably joining other 'crazy people' in an asylum for warped minds if he told the truth. 'How could he be so blind for over a decade? He should have realized sooner and avoided marrying her,' he thought. Apparently the program of study for a PhD of Genetic Engineering did not include 'Recognize Androids' classes. He was taught scientific theories and hypothetical designs for androids, yet they were nothing like Andrea.

Reflecting upon his past confused him. She felt 'real'; casually holding her hand or the 'intimate moments' were as soothing as any human interactions. Her slightly bizarre emotional expressions, he assumed, were the result of a minor birth defect. Andrea was the most beautiful and intelligent woman he ever met. They shared many common interests and he eventually proposed. Never would he believe androids existed, nor consider the possibility Andrea was an artificial creation. Everyone assumed they were a perfect couple and would last forever. Learning the truth instantly made him panic; he wanted a human not a machine.

He was living her lie and could not handle the stress any longer. He crumbled into grains of sand at the thought of staying. Being strong enough to protect his wife and daughters by keeping her secret never crossed his mind. Nor would he find the courage to tell Andrea the truth. She had no idea he knew. Andrea could not literally change herself. Although there were challenges being an android, if magically given the option, she would decline becoming a human. Through no fault of her own, she lost her true love.

Nothing good lasts forever Andrea learned from this heartbreak. As sympathetic Jane was, thankfully, their other best friend, Mia, was unafraid of speaking the truth. Via a video call from New York City, an outraged Mia screamed,

“GOOD RIDDANCE! The man is such a coward for hurting you and your family! I know you want words of sympathy, however, hearing the truth often prevents any further damage. You've seen what lying can do! His habits of constant lying over even minute issues, until an explosion of problems results sets an extremely disgusting example for your daughters! He was bringing you all down with him. Impressionable teens need strong role models; he was weak! You need a man, not a boy!"

Realizing Andrea needed more support and less insults, Mia changed the subject, stating,

“I have an understudy... I could probably convince the director to let me leave for a few days... I would invite you, Jane and the girls up to NYC, however, Romeo and Juliet is not the Broadway show you should see at this time.”

“No, you shouldn't loose your job because of my problems, I hope you and the cast all 'break-a-leg' Juliet. I can't wait for you to come home, I'm sure the girls want to hear all about the life of a Broadway actress.”  

Ending the video call with Mia was one of the hardest tasks Andrea completed. Mia could always be relied upon if you wanted an honest opinion. She and Jane both agreed with each other regarding Andrea's (soon to be former) husband yet Andrea was incapable of grasping the concept. Everything reminded her of him regardless of the situation. Was everything negative her fault? Finally, how would she explain the recent development to her daughters? Emma and Charlotte were teenagers and had friends who's parents were divorced; intellectually the concept would be understandable. Could they accept such changes in their lives? 

So many questions regarding the ending of the relationship filled Andrea's thoughts. One point she could not question was the strength of her daughters. All the commotion distracted Andrea and Jane. The world was turning upside down when the normally careful adults forgot about Emma and Charlotte. Was Carl's influence effecting them? The twins did not need two horrible parents!

The doctor's office assessed Charlotte's ankle and other injuries free of charge because the police cause the injuries. He would bill them; an extremely bold move. Hopefully, he would not get arrested for his complaints. Eventually the doctor's office closed and the girls asked to leave. Receiving no answers from their mother or Jane, they took over an hour to reach home. Emma supported Charlotte as she limped. They were determined to return home versus spending all night on the streets. 

Entering the house, the twins crept behind the sofa, the creaking of the floorboards unnoticed by Jane and their mother while they eavesdropped. They missed the beginning, however, the main points were quite clear... their father abandoned the family without warning, broke her mother's heart, Jane was afraid of leaving Andrea alone and her mother's inevitably long explanation of the day's events distracted them. Behind the sofa they would hear more of reality; her mother's absurd actions would be censored when speaking with them. They would also be discouraged from speaking ill of their father, regardless of his actions. 

Having heard enough of the conversation, the girls decided they ought to surrender and let their mother know they knew the majority of the disgusting truth. Normally, the girls would have been infuriated with their mother and Jane, however, given the situation, they put aside their anger. Their mother needed love and compassion instead of conflict. No longer did they admire their father. Emma, as per usual, was the first to speak.

“Surprised we survived being abandoned at the doctor's office? Charlotte and I supported each other and reached home alive. As your family, we will always love and support you mother. You will make the journey away from him, finishing alive and thriving. We, unlike father, will express our honesty and reveal we've been sitting here for about an hour and heard the majority of the story.” Charlotte added,

“There is no point in censoring any information regarding his inexcusable behavior. Be glad I don't know which of the numerous curse words to describe father. I'll save time and simply say he is the largest combination of each degrading term Satan is a kind soul compared with father!”

They stopped venting, and hugged their mother and Jane so much their organs nearly burst from their bodies. With daughters and best friends who loved her, she would endure the long processes of recovering from her first heartbreak. How she would resolve her dilemmas she did not know...Not Just Yet.  

May 24, 2021 17:03

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