To Be a Machine
Her hands are different. They are white, tipped with gray, and she had not considered that they would be noticed and marked as strange. She has always looked like this, her hands have always looked like this, but the girls who look at her now think they are odd, amusing. The approximate word for the emotion she feels is shame. She is different. She is not human.
Alone, she goes to the strip mall, staring at the clothing displays in the windows. She contemplates a pair of gloves, slender and elegant like the ones Mitsuru-senpai wears. She is impervious to external temperatures. It matters not whether it is hot or cold, only whether she has overheated. She has no need for gloves in the winter, but her hands, white and tipped with gray, are different, distracting. Mechanical. They must be covered. She dips them into her pockets. She has no yen. She turns away from the window, begins to walk towards the dorm.
Her hands remain in her pockets.
"When she moves, she makes this weird noise. Like a drill."
"Like a dentist's drill?"
"Eww! I hate dentists! She must be a freak."
The girls, sitting on the other side of the roof, erupt in giggles. It is lunchtime, and she is alone, staring at the Iwatodai skyline. The wind turbines rotate in the sky, performing the duty humans designed them to do. They are not sentient. They do not see themselves as so very different from humans, do not feel...shame...by their differences. She wonders what life would be like were she not sentient, performing her duties without doubt or self-perception – without shame.
She can hear the girls walking behind her, suddenly quiet for fear that they could not control their laughter otherwise, and she wishes she could stay here always, staring at the skyline, without moving, without making a sound.
The couple walks away from the shrine, the woman's hand on her pregnant belly. She looks at Koromaru and smiles, saying wouldn't it be great to get the child a dog? "Maybe," the man says. They walk down the sidewalk without noticing Aigis at all.
She is unfamiliar with the concepts of jealousy, of envy, within herself. She is contented with who she has, but what she has... No, she does not envy the couple for their love, nor for their child, but she wonders what it feels like to be in love, to have a child and watch it grow. To grow old together. Mortality has been on the minds of everyone, and understandably so. It has made her realize that even if they survive they will all, eventually, die. They will age. They will change. They will move on.
She will always stay the same.
Unless she returns herself to the lab she must watch her friends age, change, or forget her, reject her for being a machine who does not age on the outside. Inside she will become rusty, outdated, an obsolete piece of technology masquerading as human until she could no longer operate – a form of "death" that was not permanent so long as she could be restored.
She is contented with who she has, the friends she has made, but, at times, she is not contented with what she is. A machine.
The feeling is not envy. The feeling is shame: shame that her artificial life so poorly imitates human life, and shame that she, a mere machine, would aspire to live as humans do.