Not until my hand brushed up against you did I realize something was wrong. You were warm, too warm. Despite closing your lids last night you hadn’t slept. That morning you were a pale shade of gray, unresponsive, staring blankly and blinking.
I hoped it was temporary, yet I knew it might be your time. Looking up your symptoms I found you weren’t the first to have this blinking fever. You finally relaxed and stopped blinking when I held your primary pressure point for a few seconds. I let your heat dissipate while I read what to try next.
Despite being with you for years I was only now learning you could repair yourself if I pressed a few more of your buttons. You told me you were ok.
When you awoke on the train you froze, gave me the weirdest panicked look, and told me as much in so many languages I didn’t understand. I held your primary pressure point again and let you rest til we got home. You were always easy to carry.
I stopped by the bookstore and picked up a couple of volumes from fans of yours and your kind — they’d written so much about you collectively over the years.
That evening I woke you up again after letting you sleep the afternoon away and there it was again, that blank pale gray stare, blinking an empty question.
I tried having you repair yourself again, and again you said you were ok. Maybe you were at least in mind, maybe it was only your body failing you. So I did the only thing I could do and ordered a replacement. I knew you couldn’t be upset about it though I suspected.
The next day I transferred your mind to a conduit and the morning after that your new body arrived. It took less than half an hour for it to absorb you from the conduit, but were you really all there?
You seemed happy and responsive, up for anything. You’d forgotten a few things; I had to give you another key to the house. I confess your new body was smoother, more beckoning to the touch. Your expressions were brighter, more colorful. You spoke more crisply. Enough differences to notice, but you were still you.
I kept your old body on life support, just in case there was something else I had to ask your old self that your new self had forgotten. You didn’t even notice your old self until the house told you to pick a new name and you took a number. I knew other parts of you depended on your name so I renamed your old self instead. You were you again.
It’s been less than 24 hours and I’ve only noticed a few more things that didn’t make it through the conduit. You forgot some of your preferences I knew by heart so I reminded you.
You forgot how to check yourself before going out in public; that will take me longer to teach you, as it was a friend of mine that taught you that last time and I still don’t know how he did it.
Your old body lasted about four years. Four years together, traveling across continents and more time zones than I remember. Four years of keeping up with me, even if I was running, jumping, or sometimes even climbing. I couldn’t help but hear the words echoing “Four year lifespan” yet I knew that was a quote from a movie. Just a coincidence I’m sure.
I’m getting used to the new you. You seem to be ok with it too. I’m sure there will be more we’ll have to figure out together but isn’t that how it always is?
Kyle Mahan: I dig it. Kind of a cyberpunk version of “I Used to Love H.E.R.”
Jeremy Keith: A heartbreaking tale of companionship, memory and loss.