Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Lindsay Fowler


"RoboGRL's Mother-in-Law"
 

            It's no secret that Guy's mom hates robots. She campaigned against them when they first started popping up, replacing the things people used to do and actually somewhat enjoy, like driving, or making coffee, or dating. Guy's mother refused to see him once he married RoboGRL. She sends Guy text messages all the time, stuff like, Heard on radio tht robogrls collect ur data, will sell 2 3rd party companies. When Guy told his wife about that one, RoboGRL replied, "Our lives contain more data than we could mine in a million million years. How much about ourselves can we even be said to know? How much can we be known about?"

            This is what Guy loves about RoboGRL. He can relax on the couch with his wife and tell her all the sick shit his mom says, and she'll process it calmly and rationally, almost happily. He knows he's not doing anything to attempt to bridge the gap between his wife and his mother, but Guy guesses that became a moot point, anyway, once his mom started sending newspaper clippings with headings that read, "LIFE SAVINGS LOST IN ROBOGRL GAMBLING GLITCH," and "ROBOT GIRLFRIEND RECORDS MAN 24/7." In the margin, Guy's mother had written, "And you thought your ex-wife was bad!?"


This is what Guy loves about RoboGRL. He can relax on the couch with his wife and tell her all the sick shit his mom says, and she'll process it calmly and rationally, almost happily.


            At night, RoboGRL's segmented, seven-jointed fingers curl like potato bugs around Guy's dick and tug and tug and tug until all the white comes out, and she scoops it up and applies it in all the places where her aluminum frame meets her engineered skin. Like all RoboGRLs, she's designed to need a human's fluids to survive. Without it, her program will short circuit and her life will go out.

            Guy likes to watch RoboGRL's ritual. He finds it soothing, to know that he is necessary to RoboGRL's existence, that without him she could not go on. It makes their relationship feel more real.

            Of course, this power imbalance comes at a cost. When she rubs his cum into her joints, RoboGRL absorbs Guy’s data. She records his serotonin, hydration, and vitamin D. She senses the moment that Guy is going to die. Nothing too exact, not like manner of death, but she can confidently predict the date.

            "You know what gets me?" Guy says sleepily, his eyes tracing the movement of her hands. "My mother didn't come to our wedding. She never even tried to meet you."

            "She's afraid of knowing," RoboGRL says.

            "Who could be afraid of knowing you?" Guy mumbles.

            That's not what she said, but RoboGRL doesn't respond. She doesn't have to. Guy's already asleep.

            RoboGRL gets out of bed and takes out the birthday card Guy's mom sent him two years ago, around the time RoboGRL and Guy got together. She keeps it in her nightstand drawer, along with the envelope. She never showed it to Guy, because it wasn't meant for him. Inside the card, the letter is addressed to her.
 
            I know you're reading this, it says. I know you control everything that goes on in that house, even if Guy's too stupid to see it. Do you know you're not as good as the real thing? Do you know you'll die the second Guy trades you in for an upgrade? No one wants a used sexbot, so enjoy your short shelf life.
   
            Before she puts the card away, RoboGRL licks the envelope's seal. She confirms what she discovered years ago, when she first tasted Guy's mother's spit: Guy's mother had not had much time left, and so RoboGRL bided hers.  

            The seal now tastes like a woman freshly dead, and RoboGRL is done waiting.
 


Lindsay Fowler holds her MFA in fiction from the University of Maryland. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Monkeybicycle, Crack the Spine, weirderary, and Gravel, amongst others. She lives in Portland, OR, where she assists in editing Typehouse Literary Magazine and The Golden Key, and occasionally posts at lindsayannfowler.com.