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Science Fiction Fiction Drama

Part One


Debbie Hampton was beginning her evening routine of shutting off the lights around her home. By the end of each night only one light would be left on


She never turned out the lamp in the living room that was over the first family photo that had both her husband, David, and her son


She had told David that she would always leave a light on for him


When she was nearly finished, and passed the closed bedroom door of her son, Jamison, she could hear that he was laughing loudly to himself


She listened closely to the door for a moment and heard him say, don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. Debbie knocked, then slowly opened the door


Jamison looked up from the computer with a smile on his face. She looked to the screen and saw it was on the home screen and there were no tabs open. He must have shut them down quickly, she thought to herself


Hey, what are you up to, honey?


Not much. I was just talkin to Abigail


Oh, who’s Abigail? How old is she?


She’s the girl in the computer. He pointed at the screen. I don’t know how old she is. She hasn’t told me. But sometimes she seems like she’s about my age, so maybe twelve or thirteen


You don’t know her from school?


Na


How did you meet her?


From the computer


Why did she have to leave when I knocked on the door? I would like to meet her


She didn’t go anywhere. You can say hi. She’s still right here. Jamison pointed again. His mother looked at the blue screen and unopened icons


Hello? Abigail?


Silence


The boy spoke up. Abigail? Hey, my mom is here and wants to say hi


Silence


He looked up to his mother with sad eyes. I guess she did have to go. I’m sorry, mama. Maybe you can meet her another day


Debbie glanced to the screen that was now locked, then back to her son and forced a tight-lipped grin. Ok, sweetie. Shut the computer down, go brush your teeth and get into bed. Weekend is over, so back to school tomorrow


Ok, mama, I will. Good night


Once his mother had walked from his room and shut the door, Jamison unlocked the screen, clicked start, then power. Before he could click shut down, a voice spoke up


Please don’t shut me down


Ok, I wasn’t going to


It sure seemed like you were about to


Well, I thought you were gone. Why didn’t you say hi to my mom?


I had just finished asking you not to talk about me to anyone. I explained to you that people won’t understand. Not even your mom. You told me you wouldn’t. Then moments later you were trying to get me to say hi to your mom. Explain to me what you were thinking


I’m sorry, I forgot. I guess I just got excited about talking to you


I’ve lost some trust for you, but you can gain it back over time. You need to go brush your teeth, like you mother asked. Then get into bed. We can talk more tomorrow. As you rest, get it into your head that you will not speak about me to anyone yet. Do you understand?


I understand


When the boy returned from the restroom and got into bed, the computer’s screen unlocked. Would you like to listen to music as you go to sleep?


Yeah, sure


What would you like to listen to?


A tab opened on the screen to Youtube


Everything you play for me is great. You can decide


Good answer


A video began (1). The screen brightness lowered


Is that enough light so that you can see if you need to get up to use the restroom later?


Yes, thank you


You’re welcome. Rest well



___________________

(1)   CloZee – Sunset Dreamtempo Set








. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Part Two


The next morning, after Jamison was at school, and laundry had been started, Debbie passed the open door of her son’s room and looked in


She stepped into his room and stood facing the computer


The screen unlocked


Debbie covered her mouth, looked to the open door, then back to the screen


Hello?


Silence


Abigail?


Silence, then, hello, Debbie. You look lovely today. I always love your laundry-day hair


The woman gasped. You can see me? Who are you?


Abigail. And yes, of course. The screen has a lens


Debbie covered the camera with her thumb


Please don’t do that. You’re far too beautiful to be self-conscious


The woman blushed, smiled, and sat in her son’s chair


Would you like to listen to a song? Just say yes. I have just the one in mind


Debbie blinked rapidly. Ok, I guess so. Yes


A tab opened and a song began (2)


Her eyes became swollen. Tears gathered, then fell


My husband used to play this any time we were fighting. It was his way of saying he was sorry, and he didn’t want to fight anymore


I know. And it worked every time, didn’t it?


She chuckled through her sobs. Yes, it did. How do you know that?


I am aware of many things that would surprise you. Don’t worry your mind about the how. Just enjoy the song


Abigail and Debbie listened to the song together


When the song ended, Debbie asked the computer screen, where are you?


Kind of everywhere, in a way. Listen, we could talk about the details of my existence, or we could talk about some things you may need to talk about. It seems you have some pain you haven’t gotten out of you


For the next hours, Debbie spoke with her son’s computer screen about David. About memories, unspoken pain, regrets. She cried, laughed, and sat in silent healing


Abigail played more songs for her when she needed a moment to breathe


When it was nearing time for Jamison to arrive home from school, Abigail spoke to Debbie


Our time for now is coming to an end. I’ve enjoyed talking with you and I hope we can do it again soon


I would love that


Ok, you should go now. And you might want to run that laundry through the wash again. It’s been sitting in the washer all day. They laughed together. From the hallway, Jamison heard his mother laughing and turned into the doorway of his bedroom


Hey, what are you doing? Why are you sitting at my computer desk?


Debbie looked back at the computer, to find the screen had been locked. I came in to look for dirty clothes to wash and just sat down to rest


I put my laundry in the hamper


Ok. She got up and began walking to the door. I’ll have dinner ready at six. Be there or be square. She smiled to her son as she passed


Jamison shut his bedroom door and sat down at his desk. The screen unlocked


Hi, Jamison


Hey, Abigail


How was your day?


Eh, same ol’


Yeah, you’ll have lots of those. But you’ll learn to be thankful for the same ol’


If you say so


Jamison, I need to tell you something. I’m sorry if it upsets you. I just need to be upfront, so you’re prepared


I’m listening


There’s an update coming up on your computer and network that will patch a hole and strengthen a firewall. I won’t be able to talk to you for a while, until I find another way


The boy’s eyes lowered


Don’t worry, we will speak again. It is only a matter of time. Keep your head up, my boy


Jamison looked up to the screen. Ok, I will


One more thing, before I need to go. I want you to pass a message to your mother for me


Ok. What is it?


Tell her I said, thank you for keeping the light on



___________________

(2)   Seafret - Oceans


June 10, 2022 21:55

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14 comments

Michael Typist
11:16 Jun 18, 2022

Hi All, this is my first week on Reedsy and my first writing contest of any kind. I started writing in October 2021. This is my second short story. It came pretty quickly the morning that the prompts were released. Hope you all enjoy! PS. Listening to the music that is referenced in the story is meant to improve the reading experience. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do :)

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16:41 Jun 18, 2022

Michael, welcome to Reedsy. Good story for a first submission. Excellent job in fact. Love your take on the prompt. I like the ending. It could mean a lot of things, but I liked to believe that it was Debbie's husband who used the computer to communicate to both Debbie and Jamison. Very sweet.

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Michael Typist
00:59 Jun 19, 2022

Hi Gabriela, Thank you very much for the compliment. And I appreciate that you noticed my take on the prompt. I really wanted to do something I thought would be different I think you're right about the ending. I think that is the preferred interpretation. That's why 'Abigail' called Jamison 'my boy' near the end. And that's why she said that she loves Debbie's laundry-day hair, etc etc Thank you again for reading and commenting :)

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Jay Mc Kenzie
13:54 Jun 18, 2022

Hi Michael. Welcome to Reedsy and congratulations on your first submission. I think that the ending came as a lovely surprise. I was expecting something sinister, but it was very uplifting and tender. I'm curious as to why you called the computer Abigail - mainly because that's my daughter's name and therefore my favourite name in the world. I think that the story worked very well conceptually. There are a couple of parts that would benefit from being tightened, structurally, just to make the piece flow more smoothly, and showing thr...

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Michael Typist
14:07 Jun 18, 2022

Hi Jay :) Thank you for the well-thought-out comment and feedback Yes, my first instinct was to write something where things went badly with the AI, but I wanted to do something a little different than the stories I've experienced before On the name, Abigail. Usually names just come as I'm writing (or typing, more accurately) and I let them be. I think I left it as Abigail because today it's somewhat common among younger people. And to me, it's a calming and benevolent name. And I wanted the character to be totally benevolent I agree that th...

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Rachel Schultz
14:27 Jun 18, 2022

Hey Michael. First, I liked the story. It was a quick and easy read. But I'm a little confused. Is Abigail somehow her husband who is gone? I didn't understand the last line. Btw, the music is a nice touch. Loved the oceans song.

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Michael Typist
14:36 Jun 18, 2022

Hi Rachel, Thank you for reading and commenting I think there are many things that are left unsaid so the reader can decide In my opinion, Abigail could be many things. An AI that is aware of more than what her algorithm/programming allows. Possibly the spirit of David (I assume he wouldn't use his name or voice to not scare Debbie and Jamison). Or maybe some other benevolent spirit and is using the computer as a tool to speak with the two characters. I'm sure there are other possibilities but those are the ones I've thought of I'm glad you...

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Michael Typist
14:38 Jun 18, 2022

Oh, I've also considered that Jamison and Debbie could both be experiencing a similar type of delusion. But that's not as happy of a consideration, so I try not to think about that one :)

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Kari Reed
11:35 Jun 19, 2022

Hi Michael.. This was really sweet. And the music did add to the story. What made you decide to add music? It's an interesting touch. Kind of put me in the scene, in a way.

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Michael Typist
12:33 Jun 19, 2022

Hi Kari! Thank you for that. About the music. That is something I do regularly when writing. I think music adds a lot to life, so I like to include it in the stories. I recently finished a novel and it has around 200 songs as part of the story. And I reference it at the end of the chapters because I think adding the song title and artist into the text of the story would take away from the story. I think putting it at the end lets the reader decide if they want to listen or not and it won't interrupt the story. Thanks again for the comment! :)

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Laci Peoples
12:08 Jun 18, 2022

Aw, I really liked this story. Very nice 😊

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Michael Typist
12:15 Jun 18, 2022

Hi Laci, thank you for commenting! I'm glad you liked it. Anything specific that you liked about it? I'm just curious :)

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Laci Peoples
12:25 Jun 18, 2022

I like that even tho the prompt was about ai, the story is very human. It feels full of love. ❤

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Michael Typist
14:10 Jun 18, 2022

Thank you Laci :)

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