A love story of sorts.
|Writer's Cramp contest prompt (10/11/09): Write a poem or story that uses the following title: Can’t Get Enough. You can write whatever you think goes with such a title, but don’t forget to title your piece correctly!
Tied for winning entry.
Can't Get Enough
Jacob Perkins attached the last sticky electrode to his wife’s hairless scalp as she lay in her hospital bed. Lisa was almost as white as the sheets that covered her. He looked into her sunken, blue eyes and said, “Okay, Lisa. Are you ready?”
She nodded and managed a weak smile, struggling to touch his cheek with her bony hand. He took her hand in his and helped her reach his stubbly face. When he kissed her hand, the faint scent of her perfume unleashed a flood of memories in him. Shaking them away for the meantime, he placed her hand at the side of her tiny frame and sat by his computer array.
His memory imaging machine was one of only two in existence, borrowed from the science laboratory where he worked as one of the primary developers of this new technology. He typed on his keyboard, preparing his flash recorder to chronicle the rest of her memories. Over the past two years, he had hooked her up to the machine and prompted her to talk about different aspects of her life, beginning from her earliest childhood memories up to (he looked at his clipboard to see where they stood in the process) the summer of 2099, a year after finding out she had cancer.
Their bedroom, once a place of peace, sleep and lovemaking, had been transformed into a kind of medical research lab and no matter how much he tried to keep the wood floors clean and the bedding changed out daily, he couldn’t keep the fragrance of death from blooming. Jacob and Lisa knew it wouldn’t be much longer and they hated being reminded every afternoon when the Pine Sol and fabric softener faded.
Jacob turned on a small song player and her favorite tune filled the air. Her brainwaves began to register on one of the five screens. Different classifications of brain signals flashed in small text to denote its status: Sensory, emotion, visual, aural, flash memory all ‘OK.’
Before she became frail, she had worn a portable recording device while she walked, ran, read, wrote, ate, drank, cooked. She’d worn the thing while she played the piano, the guitar and Chess. She was attached by wires to the massive computer setup in the bedroom while she’d made love to Jacob, but that was before the cancer began to eat her from the inside out, leaving her just a shell of the woman she once was.
“I don’t want to do this anymore,” she said, her voice more a whisper than anything else. “I don’t want the end of my life to be digitized.”
“Sure, baby. Whatever you want.”
“You should have enough to work with. When I…go…do you think it’ll be just like going to sleep and waking up again?”
Jacob shook his head, not wanting to discuss her death, although everything he’d been doing for the last couple of years was in preparation for her passing. He wanted to capture her every memory before she died. “I think so, hon. I think it’ll be just like that.”
She smiled. “You never were good at lying.”
He knelt by her side.
She said, “Now take these things off of me so I can go.”
He gently removed the electrodes from her skull. When he peeled off the last one, she said, “Lie down with me.”
There was nothing else to say between them, they’d been saying goodbye for months. So, they lay on their sides, he behind her with one arm under her pillow, the other over her. She held his hand close to her face and they remained like this until her warm breaths on his skin faded to nothing.
* * *
Lisa 2 removed electrodes from her bald mate. Jacob still had most of his color but his skin was like crinkled paper. The only hair on his head were white wisps over his ears. Age had reduced the muscle in his arms and legs leaving him long and gangly. She moved so gracefully and smiled at him as she put the electrodes away, powering down the upgraded system she used to record his thoughts and memories over the last few years.
She scooted a chair up to the side of the bed and held both his hands in hers.
“Won’t be much longer,” he said. “Thanks …for everything.”
“You don’t have to thank me,” she said.
“You could have left this old man.”
“Why would I? I’ve loved you since my beginning.”
Jacob smiled. His eyesight was failing but he could still make out the long red hair and the blue eyes of his android wife, her body replicated to look like Lisa Perkins at age 35, her mind created with transplanted memories, emotions, abilities and processes. He recalled the day, a year after he buried Lisa, when he flipped the power switch, bringing her online. As soon as her eyes had opened, she climbed out of bed and embraced him, remaining by his side for the next 40 years.
How fast those years had gone by, he thought, as he lay dying, angry that he was not able to stop time from saying it was time to go. But time wouldn’t be able to end his love for Lisa, just like time wasn’t able to stop Lisa’s love for him.
“Lie down with me,” he said.
Lisa 2 crawled into bed and spooned him, holding him the same way he had held his wife when she passed.
He cleared his throat and said, “You know, I never could get enough of you.”
She stroked his cheek. “I know. I couldn’t get enough of you either.”
Jacob took a deep breath and fell asleep for the last time.
In another bedroom lay Jacob 2, eyes closed, looking like Jacob did when he was 35. When the time was right, Lisa 2 transferred Jacob’s memories into the android, ensuring Jacob and Lisa’s love for each other would never die.