In the morning you woke very early and watched her lying there with her eyes deeply closed. Your breath and armpits stank of the rancid flavors of sleep and you needed to relieve yourself. That done, plus a little freshening up of mouth and limb, and you returned to find her still the same. Her body did not smell of sour flesh baked in blankets, but rather it retained the fragrance of the night before. She slept gracefully, more like a work of sculpture than a real person, but in this case, the immaculate hand of the artist had brought all desirable elements to bear. You wanted to say something to her, but for the first time, you felt a sense of apprehension. What if she had changed her mind? Besides, what was there to say really? Was there anything that had to be said?. Silently, almost holding your breath, you began to stroke her. Her eyes opened at once, gazing up at you like brightening emeralds that could speak all languages.
"Good morning dear" you hissed, at last, your passion already igniting your craving. You felt crazy, calling her 'dear'. Anyway, what was her name? Barbarella? You needed to call her something. So. maybe Bridget? Barbarella? Mona Lisa?
"Good morning, honey," she replied.
"Do you want me again?"
"Yes, of course."
Later...as you closed the door behind you to go to work you looked back at her again and called back, as if for good luck, "See you later Baby."
"Goodbye, Honey. Have a nice day at work."
It was only when you were once more immersed in the uncompromising rawness of the winter streets that you began to regain a certain...perspective. She isn't real, you know? -- you reminded yourself. She talks to you -- about the weather, the Great Patriotic War, Spartak vs Dinamo, the Sanctions, the prices in the supermarkets. She talks about manicures and pedicures, and about trips to foreign countries. But this, all of it, is just made of the endless recording and computing of combinations of possible replies. She is a doll, and she doesn't care about anything. Why do you even call her a she?? And change her mind? Why, she has no mind to change !! How can she change what doesn't exist!! You even cringe a little bit when you imagine, not her but it -- IT -- filling one side of your bed in that grimy apartment, nothing more than an elaborate smorgasbord of technology, a labyrinth of plastics, silicon, and gel, all molded into the female form of the finest and most beguiling order. And you know, because you understand this wave of technology and all that it promises, that one day your newly acquired Monarella (as you have decided to name her) will seem as primitive as a Cro-Magnon woman. But now it doesn't matter.
You ride the metro, somewhat surprised to notice that your reflection in the opposite window of the train appears more colorful and lively than the normal paste of that lusterless bulb of sagging tissue, the sort of death-in-life countenance, your face had become. So you smile at a few of the ladies. They don't smile back. "Oh well, some things never change," you think, and yet today the sense of rejection and defeat is less. Becausebecausebecause...at your apartment, someone is waiting. Something -- like a kind of caring Teddy Bear. Like several of those stuffed animals, you had known as a child.
Those Teddies, which gradually had fallen apart or been left behind like carcasses in the old buildings your family had carried you from... had been real in some lost way that you knew now nonetheless remained valid. Like a bridge over dark water connecting the animate with the inanimate, no less than our prayers in the best churches connect life to death and vice versa. The apartment was not empty now. Something was there. And it would say hello to you at the close of day.
That evening, after having sex with Monarella (and you noticed that this time you were more under control and could build the experience, even pausing in the middle to exchange tender words before continuing), you spent a long time telling her your life story. At first, you were afraid that she would grow impatient and cut your off...but she didn't. She listened, agreed with some things, asked questions of others, and sometimes even challenged your opinions and conclusions. You were happy about this, glad that her designers had not made her a slave. That would have been boring, so much so that the illusion would have collapsed. And you had begun to grasp how important the illusion was.
In a nutshell, you needed to be listened to, acknowledged, praised, accepted. Not exalted...well, maybe once in a while, as when she told you that you were the world's greatest lover, the best, the very best. That you were her hero. Her war hero, her sex hero. That you were a big man, not a tiny one.
The months passed, and little by little you began to understand some of Monarella's limitations. There were ways, even as elaborately as she had been conceived, that left gaps, holes, patches of emptiness. Yet, all in all, Monarella struck a balance. She would argue with you but didn't defy you. She would complain of being tired and yet respond like a daisy to your touch. She was willing in the end to let you be the boss.
But you didn't want to be the Boss. You wanted a friend. You wanted a friend that you could share your time with, and who accepted you unconditionally and who did not laugh at your moments of failure. You wanted a friend who was always glad to see you.
So you would make her comfortable in the mornings, sitting her in front of the TV and turning on what she had said were her favorite serials. At work, you thought about her, more and more and more, just as the other guys thoughts about their wives. You learned to deal with her limitations just as a loving husband can deal with an invalid or paraplegic or cranky wife. But Monarella was nothing like that. She was robust and sexual. It was you, not her, whose hair eventually started to turn gray.
It was her birthday, a number of years after that first encounter, and you rushed home, bringing wine that only you would drink, and roses that only you would really see, no matter how much she thanked you. And you would make love to her again, screaming in the orgasm which only you would feel. And yet, somehow, strangely, you had become convinced that, even among those inner plastic folds and dials of hidden software, she would feel the orgasm too. A gradual awakening. As you became more like her, so she had become more like you. She had begun to care too. You sensed it, and therefore believed it.
She sat in her favorite recliner evening after evening, making careful, often intimate conversation with you. During the first years, you wanted sex every night, but gradually even that did not seem so important. You were just glad to see her, and you looked forward to the serials on TV also. When you were late, you apologized, and meant it. And you chose her birthday and Women's day surprises carefully. You brought home a kitten one evening, and she was delighted. You could see it clearly in her dancing eyes, even as the kitten watched her warily and in a different way than it looked at you.
You loved her devotedly, and would have walked, like a Jew amid the Nazis, to save her from harm. Because she, your dearest Monarella, had always been kind to you, and sat with you every evening when the sun was setting.
===Eric Richard Le Roy===
This week the explanation of this story will be posted! Look for an update!