A love story with a Sci-Fi twist…
“It’s not you, baby,” he said. He tried to look her in the eyes, but failed. A sickly grey light came through the blinds, the early morning sun being filtered through the cold grey March cloudscape.
The weather was certainly fitting, he thought, and turned away.
“I don’t understand,” she said in a soft voice. She was always so understanding. It broke his heart. She’s never had a harsh word for him in the six long years they’ve been together. “Why?”
Why. The inevitable question. And how to answer that?
He walked to the kitchen and picked up the steaming mug of coffee she made him. She really made an excellent cup; just the way he liked it.
“Thank you,” he said, and raised the cup in a half salute. He felt like a weasel. He took a small sip, and put the mug back on the counter. The prospect of a cup of coffee suddenly didn’t sound so appealing any more.
“Only a pleasure,” she answered. Was that a small hint of sarcasm in her voice? That would be a first. “I still want to know why. I think I deserve an answer.”
“I…” he stopped.
“Where did you meet her? When?”
“Online,” he said. The only way out is through. “Three weeks ago.”
“That’s a bit sudden.” She sounded concerned. Concerned, and certainly hurt.
“That’s how we met, dear.”
“I know. And we’ve had a great time.” She paused for a beat. “Do you remember the time when your whole family came over for Christmas?” There’s a nostalgic laugh in her voice. “I had to cook for twenty people. But we pulled it off, didn’t we?”
“Yes, I remember.”
“Or the time you had the accident, and I took care of you?”
He paced up and down the wide expanse of the lounge, checking his watch every now and then.
“Don’t do this,” he said. “I feel bad enough as it is.”
“Is she pretty, at least?”
“Beauty is subjective.”
“Is she pretty to you?”
“Of course,” he replied.
She kept quiet for a minute, like she’s gathering her thoughts. Or trying to control her emotions. Knowing her, that’s not impossible.
“Am I pretty to you?” she asked eventually. There’s an insecure edge to her voice.
“Of course you are,” he said. He avoided her eyes.
Again, the inevitable.
“Our profiles matched perfectly. We’ve had a 99% match on our list. The site notified me three weeks ago, and I met her in town.”
“Our profiles matched 100%, six years ago,” she said, accusingly.
“I know, dear. But people change. What people want changes over time.” He glanced at his watch again, five minutes to nine.
“And if you’ve been notified by the site it means you’ve had your profile up there for a while. Which means that you’ve been unhappy with me for longer than three weeks.”
Her demand for an explanation was now turning into a full-blown interrogation session. Even after six years, she still managed to impress him. It always seemed as if there’s more unplumbed depths to her personality.
“I never took my profile off, to be honest,” he said. “I’ve just amended it over the years.” He didn’t intentionally try to hurt her, but he felt bad the moment the words left his mouth.
“So what will happen now?” she asked. She sounded like a little girl, fearing the future.
He gathered his courage and tried to explain to her, but he couldn’t find his voice. Six years is indeed a long time. And they’ve been through lots. They have laughed together, loved together, beaten the odds. And him going behind her back, looking for a possible replacement from the first day they were together was really unconsciounable.
“What will become of me?”
“I will take you back to the agency, I’m sure they will set you up with someone else.”
“I don’t want to be with anyone else,” she said. “I want to be with you.”
“It will be fine, dear. Really.” His vision became blurry.
“I’m too old,” she said. “Nobody would want me.”
“Don’t be silly.”
A knock on the door interrupted the conversation.
“Is that her?” she asked.
“I think so,” he said, and walked towards her. He pulled out a chair next to her and sat down. “The agency said she’ll be here by nine.”
“There’s no way for me to change your mind?” she asked. “I really don’t like this. We can all live together.”
“That won’t work,” he said. “I can’t afford you both.”
He slid his hand over her face, caressing her cheek like a lover would. She looked up at him and he saw the glint in the corner of her eyes as tears welled up. She didn’t say a word.
She was beautiful. That’s what drew him to her initially. And over the years his impression of her beauty was replaced by comfort; the secure knowledge that she will always be there for him. Only for him to stab her in the back like this.
But still, it has to be done.
His hand slid lower down her face, down her neck, and around to the back of her head.
“I will miss you,” she said.
“And I, you.” He leaned over and gave her a tender kiss on her forehead. It lasted longer than what he intended.
“Package for you,” came an impatient voice from the front door.
“If you think this is for the best, then do it,” she said softly. “You know I love you.”
“I love you,” he whispered, and found the button under her hairline in the back of her neck. He took a last look at her teary eyes, a hopeful expression on her face. He pressed the button, and seconds later her eyes froze in an expression not un-deathlike.
God, he thought, and shuddered. It was getting harder and harder to upgrade hardware these days.