Antique

The TV keeps the quiet away. That's all it's there for. Nobody watches it. Nevertheless, day in, day out, the drone was a constant background as the orderly sat at the reception. The persocom sat next to her turned with a glassy smile.

"Visiting hours," it announced firmly, before turning back the correct way at the desk.

With precision and timing like only its kind could possess, it appeared at the desk; pale hair reaching almost to the floor and entangling with the crimson ribbons that dripped from the dress. It regarded the orderly with intelligent amber eyes.

"Motosuwa?" the persocom enquired politely. The orderly didn't need to look up the name; it had turned up and requested Motosuwa every morning for over two years.

"Go ahead," she nodded to the machine, who in turn bowed deeply, her hands demurely across her thighs.

The orderly watched as the persocom made her way to the left corridor. She was a nice archetype, aesthetically pleasing, but her bulbous ears gave her away as an old model; it must be at least five decades old, before her time. Practically an antique. The persocom was careful as she opened the door to the second room, the old man would sit right behind it in his wheelchair.

"Chii," Hideki murmured, as she carefully pulled the door open. Chii fell to her knees in front of the chair and embraced the old man as a lover as her pastel skirts billowed around the wheels. "Chii…" Hideki repeated as she kissed his puckered forehead; he didn't say much else these days.

The orderly shook her head as she saw the strange loyalty of the old persocom displayed once again in the open doorway of room 2A. She felt sorry for her. Old Motosuwa didn't have much longer, and it would be difficult to find a home for such an ancient computer. She averted her eyes from the scene and refocused on the television.

Chii clung desperately to Hideki; she had seen him less than twelve hours previously but… Chii was no stranger to the concept of death, even if it could not happen to herself. Every morning when she visited Hideki, a little more of him had left, gone somewhere that Chii could never follow.

It had been difficult, nobody had thought to consult her. She was deemed unfit to care for the man she loved in his old age and he had been taken from her. Sometimes, Chii wondered whether Hideki would have been taken from a human wife. But that was redundant. They cared for her Hideki here, and she was with him as much as she was permitted; seven to seven every day, the times engraved in her like a mantra. Chii had never been able to give Hideki children; all she could give was herself, a concept in the prosthetic body of a fifteen year old girl. Unsullied, unchanging – made to look younger and younger with each year of her human lover's life.

Chii was afraid now, more than anything. Decades ago, Hideki had taught her about fear, held her and assured her that she was safe from such a thing. Chii was afraid that one morning she would arrive and he would no longer recall her name. She feared that soon all she could wish for was for Hideki to die, to be free of his human body that had failed him, the shell that was rotting and taking her Hideki with it.

Most of all, Chii lived in dread of something darker than death. There should be no question of what she would do when Hideki left – she would touch herself and reset. Chii didn't know if she could continue in this strange world without even this semblance of him. But then it made a mockery of her time with Hideki – her memories erased, useless data, obsolete.

Perched on his bed, Chii fed him as Hideki regarded her thoughtfully, with dimmed eyes. Chii felt wrenched inside. Was this worse than not having the person just for you? Having them ripped away from you after only years? Time means nothing when you are immortal.

Hideki fell asleep early that day; it was almost symbolic of how the time Chii could spend with him was shortening. She leant across the bed and stroked a finger down his ruptured cheek as he fitfully dozed, his breathing laboured. Chii bowed her head, pale hair pooling on the brown bedcovers. Something in her was crying.