Two years ago (has it been that long???) I wrote a little story about a guy and his synth. I thought about continuing the story but with the pandemic I never went back to it. So, two years later almost to the day, here is part two. This story is about Maia and the questions around whether we can have a meaningful relationship with an artificial being- but it's also about a very human relationship between the protagonist and Joy.
Waking up to Maia was sometimes startling. She doesn't need to sleep, of course, but she would dutifully lay there to preserve the illusion. She doesn't have anything else to do, I guess. She would sometimes be staring at me and other times at the ceiling. She smiles when she sees me wake up, which is nice, although it doesn't entirely dispel the realization in the back of my mind that she could kill me at any time while I sleep. At any rate, she is nice to wake up to.
Joy hasn't been over in a while. We still talk at work- she said apologetically that her boyfriend Ian thinks I'm that weird synth guy and doesn't really want her coming by- which, I get. There are lots of us that have them now but not everyone is onboard with the whole artificial person thing. As for me, I'm torn. I like Maia, she's beautiful and smart (in her own way) and I have companionship. What's not to like? I do wonder though, at times, what happens when I have a real relationship again. Do I just deactivate her? I could always just... leave Maia as is. No, I have standards.
Joy, though. I think about her quite a bit. Sometimes when Maia and I are together I'm thinking about Joy instead. I feel bad, but then again... synths don't have feelings, right? I'm not being unfaithful if she's a machine, right? And where did this come from? Joy and I were always just friends. I mean, there's an attraction there- I hope it's mutual- but nothing else. Maia's actually the one who got me thinking about it one night. Who knew she'd be the most insightful person in my life?
I have had other visitors though. Everyone wants to see the hot synth. And make their comments. She's a machine so I can just rent her out, right? Eww. Some people. This opens the can of worms thing everyone talks about. If you have a relationship with an artificial person- and they're a machine, let's be honest- where are the lines? Are there rights? And who decides what those are?
Anyway, this morning Maia was looking especially hot. Tousled hair, voice a little husky. Am I sure she wasn't sleeping? We lingered a little and talked - we'd been binging movies and she gloms onto anything that looks like an interest of mine, looking for common ground. Shared interests, as it were. Again, my interests because she's artificial. It's just not the same. That feeling again...
The thing is, I have so many feelings. Mixed feelings. ONE News has been running segments on synths and how they're antithetical to faith. Maia sits impassively through such broadcasts, although occasionally she looks at me like she's trying to gauge my thoughts. Kinda awkward. There's been talk too- conspiracy message boards, of course- about rogue synths and synths coming "alive", or having more personality than advertised. Glitches. I sometimes wonder what if Maia glitches? Would that be better?
Ironic that we create artificial beings for companionship and then call them glitches when they actually have... you know, personality. Do we want to just have slaves? Appliances with benefits? I do wonder, though... what happens if they all wake up?
Maia was in her docking station one night when the doorbell rang. I was surprised to see Joy on the step with Chinese.
"Hey! How are you? Come on in!"
"Hungry?" she asked.
"You bet. Starving! You're a sight for sore eyes."
"Well, you have food..." Did I seem too eager?
She came in and marched right to the living room. Started getting all the food out and digging in. I like how she does that- just comes over and makes herself comfortable.
"Want a beer?"
Why was I nervous? I was never nervous around her.
We sat for a bit just eating. After she say back with a sigh and stretched her legs out.
"Ian know you're here? I asked. "Probably. He doesn't control my life, you know."
"Oh, I know. No offense."
"No, it's okay. I just... yeah it's a touchy subject. Anyway, it's been a while and I wanted to see what's up. When's the last time we got Chinese?
"She's, uh, recharging," I said with a smirk.
"Oh, so I have you all to myself?"
"Yup." Wait, what?
"Mmm. You know, I've been kinda jealous of your little lover you have there..."
"You have? What about... you know, Ian?"
"What about Ian?" She moved closer to me.
"Aren't you guys... you know, still together?" I was all of a sudden very nervous.
"It's complicated. Ian and I haven't been "together" for a while. And I've had somebody else on my mind,"
"Anyone I know?"
"Damn straight somebody you know. "
I was babbling now. I'm sure I was saying something but had no clue what it was.
She raised a finger to my lips.
"Shut up and kiss me."