Angi Becker Stevens

My husband said it was a stupid, frivolous use of money, but I bought the "anticipation" emotion upgrade for the robot, anyway. I thought it was unfortunate for anything to go through its life without looking forward to things.

"It isn't life," my husband reminded me. "It's metal and wires, microchips."

"Still," I said. "Still."

I was having an affair then, not because I wanted something better, but because I wanted something different. I never learned how not to long for something new: that sudden jolt of mutual desire, the delirious rush of bodies toward their first collision, the thrilling uncertainty of never knowing when the next opportunity for transgression would arise.

After the anticipation upgrade, the robot looked forward to all things equally. He was inordinately excited about his impending chores: taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher. It was, I thought, more tragic than looking forward to nothing at all.

"Is it time for me to clear the table yet?" the robot asked eagerly. The glee in his mechanical voice was unnerving.

"If you wanted to make it more human, the chip you should have bought was 'disappointment,'" my husband said. He fixed his eyes on me: steady, unblinking. I looked down at the table and thought how he wasn't exactly right. The most human thing wasn't to be disappointed, but to disappoint.

I picked up my wine glass. I asked the robot to take our empty plates away. And he would, all in one arm, without ever dropping a fork or a crumb, because he was not human, he was not designed to fail.

Angi Becker Stevens is finishing up an undergrad degree at Eastern Michigan University. She has stories in or coming from The Collagist, Barrelhouse, SmokeLong Quarterly, the 30 under 30 anthology and others.

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