Disclaimer: I don't own Big O, but I love it.
This story is one of a series of short stories and vignettes being posted to the "Story a Day" thread in the Amadeus Bar and Grill forum at the Save Big O website (see my profile for the link since the site won't let me put it here) .
Feedback is welcomed.
The Measure of Love
She liked to watch him when he was sleeping.
Dorothy wasn't sure exactly how long she had been doing this and couldn't be bothered to review her memories to extrapolate the exact date and time.
There was a time that such imprecision would have disturbed her.
Roger muttered in his sleep, snuggling deeper into the pillows. She wondered if he would be having bad dreams tonight. When that happened, he cried out and thrashed and sometimes woke, which left her at a loss. She felt that she should try to offer some kind of comfort to him at those times but had no idea how.
She wondered if he knew that it was exactly six millimeters in a straight line from the corner of his right eye to his nose, or that in repose, his eyebrows were at a fourteen degree tilt from the horizontal and the ends of them were almost a perfect 90 degrees from there (87.3, to be precise), or that it took, on average, four days for a cut he'd made when shaving to be fully healed.
She knew these things and more.
It took approximately twenty minutes for him to fall asleep, forty-three minutes after that for his hair to explode into tangled curls, and fifty-one minutes thereafter for his eyes to begin moving rapidly beneath his closed eyelids, a sign, she had learned, that he might be beginning to dream.
She did not know why she measured these things, but she continued to do so anyway, calculating the relationships between the planes and angles of his face until she knew it better than her own.
Perhaps it was because she was a machine and could not love.
Love was not precise and could not be measured except, perhaps, in a look or a touch or the bridging of the infinite distance between two hearts and minds.
He cried out something incomprehensible and kicked away the blankets, seemingly fighting to free himself from some enemy's grasp, and she knew that he was trapped in his nightmare. The last time it had happened, it had been nine and a half minutes before he was wakened by his own shouting.
It was one hundred and four centimeters from where she stood to where he lay curled almost in a ball, shaking and whimpering in terror, and three steps to cross the distance.
She brought the blankets over him again, her hand gently brushing his hair back from his face, and he quieted. Her whisper was precisely twenty decibels. "I love you, Roger."
His eyes opened wide and he stared at her for exactly fifteen point eight seconds. "I love you" he said, reaching for her and pulling her close.
As he kissed her, she suddenly understood that the measure of love was no distance at all.