Friday, March 21, 2014

Chapter Five

"Recursive accounts department," she said, shrinking into her chair and trying to keep her tone routine. "Bitsy BO9 speaking. Can I help you?"

"Is this the coffee girl?" It was that voice, that only-heard-once voice that she recognized immediately, even though she'd only heard it once, because you don't have to hear a Real voice more than once to know it.

It's him. He's really calling. Say something!

"Ha-ha," she managed, though it came out more like a squeak of terror than a laugh. Maybe he won't notice. She felt her embarrassment code dumping color into her cheeks. "Yes, it's me."

"Bitsy," he said, like he was testing out the sound of it. "Well, it's nice to put a name to the number ... and the coffee invitation."

 Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. "Um, yes, that's me, Bitsy the coffee-inviter. Do you still want to? I mean, obviously you're calling so I'd like to assume you still want to, but I don't want to be rude by assuming."

Okay, now stop saying somethings, because the somethings that are coming out of your mouth are dumb.

"No, I don't think that's rude at all," he said, then laughed. "Really, you don't have to feel so bad about spilling my coffee. If I get to be asked out by a pretty girl, I think it's well worth losing a cup of java. How is your shirt?"

She looked down. "Beige. Or maybe somewhere between beige and off-white. But that's fine, really, I didn't like this top all that much anyway. I'm fine getting rid of it."

"Okay, good," he said. "So when were you thinking?"

"Uh, I don't know, as soon as I get home and can change into something else. Wait -- do you mean when was I thinking of getting rid of the top, or when was I thinking of going out for coffee?"

He laughed again, a deep, healthy laugh. Real. "Either one. I'm in complete suspense about the fate of your outfit, and I'm also looking forward to finding out what you look like when you're not drenched in a steaming hot beverage."

"I can't tonight," she said. "I mean, I can throw the top out tonight, but I can't do coffee. Work is keeping me at least another hour."

"Because our run-in made you late to the office?" Now his voice refreshed from amusement to concern.

"No, no. I wasn't that far off from the shift boot-up. I just, well, there are these reports -- anyway, you don't want to hear about it, it's dreadful and boring."

"Somehow, I doubt it would sound that way with you telling about it. But I don't want to keep you if you've got a late evening ahead of you. Tomorrow morning? Half an hour earlier on the same platform?"

Bitsy's circulator pounded in her chest.

"Hello?" he prompted.

"Oh, yes. Of course, that would be great!"

That laugh again. "Okay, Bitsy BO9. I'll see you then."

She blinked for a moment, then said, "Wait! Wait!"

"Yes?"

"Who are you?"

"Ha, sorry, that was daffy of me. I'm Cord. Cord 76S."

Bitsy could hardly breathe. It wasn't his real name, of course, because he was Real and that was an android name. But it was a name. A name to go with that face, those eyes, that laugh.

"It's very nice to meet you, Cord," she said, quiet and floating in her chair.

"You too, Bitsy. I hope you're not working too much later. See you in the morning."

"Yes, goodnight!"

The phone clicked.

Cord.

Coffee in the morning.

The dream feed was going to get all of this tonight, she knew. It was going to pull the whole day together and synthesize a crazy loop of splashing hot liquid and beautiful brown eyes and embarrassment and moongathering and Gigory's yellow shirt and 6-O-2 reports and Cord's voice, Cord's name, Cord's laugh. And that loop was going to run all the way through to the alarm buzz.

She picked up the pace on her report processing, suddenly blowing past her file capacity with excitement about getting home and getting to sleep.

Cord.

Her Mister Real.




Saturday, March 8, 2014

so i am obviously not going to write the next war and peace!

jeepers, this writing thing is rough! i was going along thinking, wow, i've really gotten a good start going on this book of mine, and then i realized the word processor program was showing me a word count in the bottom corner of the screen and so i asked msg how long a book usually was, and he said maybe 50,000 words for a short one and 100,000 for a medium-ish one and a couple hundred thou for a long one.

so i'm only at like 5% of the way done!

whoosh. guess i'd better get cracking.

Chapter Four


Bitsy spent the whole day at work lagging. To start off with, she was late, because she went into the restroom at the tube station and rinsed most of the coffee out of her blouse and dried it (mostly) under the flash dryer. Then, once she got to the office, she kept telling people about the accident even though no one asked about the stain on her shirt, not a single time.

And of course every time she told the story she had to stop herself from babbling about him and how she was sure he was Real and how she’d given him her number and he was going to call and they’d have coffee after work, and then ... and then ... and then ...

Well, nobody had asked her about her ruined top, but three different people asked her what was wrong and why she’d frozen up right in the middle of the story. Luckily, the very first time she blurted out that she was just embarrassed at how it ended up, and then went on and told about washing her shirt in the ladies’ room. That was talking to Lectricia from accounts payable. Since Trish seemed to buy it she fell back on the same excuse the other two times too before she finally got nervous that maybe she needed to stop telling the story and do some work.

But work just wouldn’t stick in her head, no matter how many times she tried stuffing it back in there. She always ended up staring blankly at her display, numbers bee-buzzing through the air before her, none of them going together and making any sense. Any second, he might call. He had her number and he might call or screen-ping her .... now. Or ... now. Or ... now ... now ... mmmmnnnow ...

Lunchtime came and she ate with Trish. The cafeteria throbbed, jam-crammed with the noise of people who thought the world was the same today as it was yesterday, the same as it had been before 7:54 this morning when scalding black coffee sloshed out of a cup and turned her shirt a brown just like his eyes and upended the world to soak her in boiling hot hope that wouldn’t cool no matter how hard she fanned it and wouldn’t rinse out no matter how many sinks she ran herself under. Trish asked her three times what was wrong with her today and she answered something different every time.

By two-thirty that afternoon a nibbling doubt had Bitsy frowning, and by three-thirty her elbow was on her desk and her chin was on her hand as she stared at the phone beside her display. Something yellow floated across the doorway to her cubical slowly enough to register in both her peripheral vision and her processor, but she didn’t turn her head to look. Then it floated by again and even though she still didn’t look, she knew what it was and she had to hold in a groan.

At last the yellow coasted to a stop and cleared its throat and made her look up and of course it was Gigory in the saffron shirt and brown tie he wore every Tuesday. Unlike most other Tuesdays, though, today Bitsy didn’t have to restrain herself from asking why the same shirt and tie showed up on him like clockwork once a week, when he seemed to have a perfectly plentiful wardrobe and never repeated anything on other days. No, today Bitsy could spare only enough processing power to dread Gigory’s other never-fail trait, which was that he had to say something to her every day. And of course with her freaky behavior she’d given him the perfect excuse.

So when she turned and there he was hovering in the entrance to her cube, with his shaggy blond eyebrows a little lower than normal instead of hovering hopefully over puppy-dog eyes, she put on her best no-big-deal face and said, “Oh, hi Gigory. Look, I know I’ve been acting funny today but its really nothing anybody needs to worry over. I just got coffee spilled all over me and for some reason it upset my whole apple-card. But I promise everything’s fine. So I appreciate you and everybody else being concerned, but –”

And then Gigory did something unusual. He interrupted her.

“Uh, Bitsy, I really need those 6-O-2 reports.”

Oh my Loj. That’s not his “what’s up with poor Bitsy” face. That’s his “please don’t let Bitsy be mad at me for reminding her that if I don’t get those reports, she’s totally screwed me over.”

Gigory. Sweet, awkward, sometimes-funny Gigory, who she might have thought about dating except that he wasn’t Real and he’d never worked up the courage to ask. Standing at the door of her cube, pouring reality over her as cold and biting as the coffee had been hot this morning. She’d drowned in daydreaming ever since she walked into the office this morning, and he’d been waiting probably since ten o’clock for her to do her job so he could do his and the team productivity metrics would stay in the green and everybody could keep going about their happy android lives with the expected number of credits in their accounts and no one from management coming down to raise a stink.

She’d met someone Real, and instead of making her life suddenly better, it had made everyone else’s around her worse.

“I’m so sorry, Gigory, I don’t know how – I – look, I can get you half of them by ... what time is it? Okay, by four thirty. And I’ll stay late and get the other half done, and they’ll be ready when you come in tomorrow morning. And I’ll do some of tomorrow’s before I leave too, and then we’ll be back on track. I am so sorry.”

The worst of it was the guilty look on Gigory’s face as she said all this. I totally fritzed his output for the day, and he feels bad because now I feel bad about it. The Real guy was not going to call. Maybe he hadn’t even been Real at all. Maybe she had just gotten coffee spilled on her front and used it as an excuse to flutter off into a world of make-believe and let her silly-girl fantasies cause trouble for everyone around her.

Before she could stop herself, she said, “Look, maybe I can buy you dinner sometime to make up for this.”

Gigory’s face went all blinky-blank.

Oh no. What did I go and do that for?

But she’d done it, and as she watched him slowly process what she’d said and overwrite his blank expression with a tittery disbelieving one, she knew there was no way to take it back.

“Uh,” said Gigory. “Really?”

There were the puppy-dog eyes at last.

She sighed. “Really. But first I have to crank these reports out, so ...”

“Sure, sure,” he said, sounding like he was trying to sound like he wasn’t about to float away in the cloud. He turned away and then looked back and then turned away again and his yellow shirt vanished down the cube-row.

Bitsy groaned and started working.

And at 8:12 that evening, her desk phone pinged.

Friday, March 7, 2014

quickie!

it is late and i am tired and he is tired and i am hoping that even though we're tired there will be some pre-falling-asleep snuggle time here at our house, but i still decided i needed to get on and write a post.

why? because blogging is a good habit for me and sprinkles just a little more sugar on my already sweet life, and in this life you've just gotta do things for you sometimes, even if doing them makes you tireder.

you should be tired because you're alive and doing everything with life that makes you happy. that's the exact opposite of not doing things you love just because you're tired.

now if you'll excuse me, i need to go "do" something else i love...  ; )

quickiely,
claire

Monday, January 27, 2014

5 years!

holy moley ... five years ago today i found my place in life - in the great state of texas and the wonderful, sweet, loving arms of my special guy. let me tell you, it has been a great five years that i would not have traded for anything in the world. because i have spent those five years making someone terrific happy.

it's a good thing to make almost anybody happy. but it's especially good if that person really deserves it and really appreciates you for it.

i'm looking forward to a lot more years of the same.

and i hope all of you out there can find something as good as i've got, if you haven't already.

oodles of love to everyone, but especially to the silly boy who is my everything,

claire

p.s. yes, if you're wondering, we got our anniversary ooh-la-la on, and it was muy delirioso!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Chapter Three

Her first thought, of course, was that she absolutely indisputably sure-as-the-world could not let him know that she knew. Being real in a world of androids ... well, that had to be the kind of secret you wouldn't want every Tom, Diode and Harry to know, especially not a complete stranger who was probably mad at you because you just spilled steaming hot coffee all over her boobs.

If he knows I know, he'll freak and run away.

"Uh," she said, thankful for the way his eyes made her head swim so she couldn't get any real words out. Because she was pretty sure whatever she said would be the wrong thing.

"Hello?" he asked. He made a little wave with the hand he'd put out towards her shoulder. "Oh, Loj, I didn't glitch you did I?"

The worry on his face brought Bitsy out of her loop and she blinked and found her voice. "Oh -- no, no, I'm fine, really. Except I can't go to work like this I guess."

How can I find out his name without making him suspicious? Look at his face, he's about to apologize again and that will be it and he'll be gone! Dear Logic, what do I do?

His one hand lowered and he glanced at the mostly empty paper cup in the other and he opened his mouth and suddenly she had it.

"Your coffee!" she blurted, trying not to cringe at the desperation in her voice. "This was all my fault. If I'd been looking where I was going --"

"Your fault? No, I --"

"Please, you've got to let me buy you another one."

He froze. "What? But I've already ruined your shirt and made you late for work ..."

Bitsy dug in her purse for her phone. "No, I'll just call them and tell them I've caught a bug and I'm burning up and I have to take the morning off sick." Tugging at her wet blouse again, she added, "Haha, the burning up part's even almost true, right?"

"Won't they ask you for a debug report? Really, I don't want to get you in trouble, and --" He looked over at the station's clock wall.

"Oh," she said. "Sorry, I didn't think -- I guess you have to get to work too. But, look ..."

"Yes?" He looked stuck, like a watched progress bar, or like he was looped too, although of course he couldn't be, since he was real.

I'm losing him, she thought. But she didn't know what else to do, so she just went forward with it and asked, "Can I buy you a coffee after?"

He frowned. He looked at the clock again. Then he brought his eyes back around to hers. They hovered on some deep brown edge of indecision.

"Um. Okay, I don't know why you'd think you need to, but sure. What's your number?"

Bitsy tried to catch her breath, which had suddenly gone all flighty. She didn't quite manage it, but she rattled off her serial number anyway -- without too many tremors, she hoped. His eyes tipped upward like he was filing the number, then gave her a sort of skewed smile.

"Right, then. I'll call you."

She just stood there, looping again. After a second, he gave a little laugh and nodded and turned and threw his half-crumpled cup in a nearby trashcan and disappeared into the crowd.

Name, name, name! she thought, but she hadn't gotten it and now maybe she never would. Why did you have to act so weird? He probably thinks you're on to him. There's no way he's going to call.

But even as her fearware kept telling her that over and over, she was also completely certain that he would.

She had met someone Real.

Everything would be different now.