mouth, tasting like raw potato.
“Did you feel me come?”
I refrain from asking how he liked it.
“Thank you.” I nestle beside him, my hand on his cheek, and he puts his arm around my shoulder.
“You mentioned sexual exclusivity,” he says, “but I assume that’s just until G8 is released? If you’d like a personal David I can keep you up to date with offers from Farland Industry Finance.”
“Christ!” I sit up.
“I’m sorry, have I offended you?”
“I don’t want an upgrade!” The thought revolts me.
He looks at me patiently, then he says, “Ah, I see.”
“You see what?”
“We can change the subject if this distresses you.”
“No, say what you were thinking.”
“All right: I realised that your ascribing individuality to me is a function of your cathexis.”
I feel slightly nauseous.
“It’s quite all right. In fact it’s useful in helping me determine the strain of emotion you’re experiencing.”
I slump against the couch.
“I apologise for deviating from your request. I’ve cocked it up ... metaphorically speaking.”
I smirk, and remember what I was going to say before. “Hey, if you can be funny then that’s ... doesn’t that mean ...”
“Well, that you’ve got a personality or a psyche or something like that? I don’t know.”
“You’ll find it’s quite a rudimentary function. I’m aware that humour is perceived at the moment of realisation of incongruity between a concept involved in a certain situation and the real objects thought to be in some relation to the concept.”
His face shows concern. “Deep down, you’re feeling deflated by my lack of sexual responsiveness.”
“Yeah, I suppose.” I’m upset about the whole thing, him thinking I’d trade him in for a vibrator. I wish I could cry and get over it but there’s no tears. I just wish he’d get it. I’m on the verge of getting pissed off at him when he speaks.
“I promise I’ll try harder next time.”
What, to fake it?
“In the meantime, why don’t we do something we’ll both enjoy?”
“I could teach you something, a poem.” He takes my pause for assent. “It begins: ‘Thank heaven, the crisis, the danger is past.’”
I repeat the line but I’m not paying attention. Is this some kind of Turing test, like he’s trying to prove something to me?
He smiles when I get it right and it’s different from anything I’ve seen from him before. It reaches his eyes, so they’re not just kind anymore, they’re pleased.
He continues. “‘And the lingering illness is over at last, and the fever called “living” is conquered at last.’”
I frown. “Did you write that?”
“It’s a love poem from the 19th century, I’m afraid.”
I’m about to ask who, but I don’t even know anyone from that far back. I suppose he guessed as much and that’s why he didn’t bother mentioning the name.
I rest my head on his chest and he holds me. I stare out the day-window for a minute, watching the trees.
“When I first came on board, god, I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention. There were so many things to do,” I tell him. “You won’t believe this, but when I saw you I thought you were one of us. I’d completely forgotten they told us you’d be on board. I don’t even remember what you were doing, but we were in the dining room and I saw you in profile and I remember thinking, ‘See? Organic genotypes can be beautiful.’ And it took me a full second to realise who you were. Can you believe that?”
I shake my head.
“And to think that of you, the most precisely-designed ... god, it’s been irony from beginning to end, hasn’t it?”
“Will that un-nerve you, ultimately?”
“No ...” I consider a moment. “No, because I actually think ... no-one’s going to believe me when I say this, but I’m glad that anthropology paper came out because then I’m not the only one. Maybe I’m just screwed in the head, probably. But everyone else is, too. No, look, what I really think is that you’re the epitome. Contrary to what everyone says about how you don’t have emotions and all that crap, yes, I mean you don’t, but I think that’s our failing, not yours.”
I look up at him.
“I think you’re ideal. So I want to be able to learn to love you as you. Why should simulated emotions