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.
a poem for my studly love hunk!
2 years ago