Once upon a time she had been called Chiquitta, and once upon a time there had been a family in the house. But they had gone now, and she had felt a little comforted knowing that she wasn’t the only one in her position.
It wasn’t that she was unloved, if something like her had ever been loved, it was just that it had come down to a matter of cost. Having something like her around, something that had been once revered – was now consider sinful.
She was just the girl in the corner; another girl in another corner.
Chiquitta was at the end of a long line of scientific advances – she was a walking computer, but she saw herself as more than that; she saw herself as a girl. Wasn’t she self-aware? Hadn’t she been lonely since the family had left?
She had felt like a daughter to them and she had understood what she thought love was. They had told her many times that she was loved, that she was one of them. But that had stopped.
For a long time now people had ceased worshiping gods, and had worshiped objects with the same fever they had kept for their churches.
Simple robots had become sophisticated machines, and in the end they had developed into self-aware beings. Yet they were not allowed to be called that – the label of ‘beings’ was for organics only. But hadn’t she laughed with the family? And cried with her ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’? They had even bought her presents and she had made gifts for them.
She had been an orphan, not an organic one, but an orphan all the same. And hadn’t she found people who cared for her?
She had always wanted to play football, or soccer as some called it. Males and females played in the same teams now – but a mixed national team was for organics only. Non-organics could not take an organic’s job, or have a relationship with an organic, or hold hands in public. They were created to be slaves and as such, had to behave that way.
But people had fallen in love with their robots and the feelings had been reciprocated. It was not talked about at first, but soon laws were brought in to make it illegal. Yet who were they hurting? Chiquitta felt the answer to that was no one.
When society had swung too far the one way – the religious seeped back into life and dragged the world the other way. Robots were not allowed into heaven (or indeed to sit in any of the new churches that had sprung up).
When the laws changed to reflect the new religious right, robots were taxed by such an increase that only the very rich could afford them. There were destruction camps where a family could take their robot for ultimate but thoughtful termination. Chiquitta wondered if there were ovens at the camps.
But others, like her family, had taken their robots to some abandoned building and left them there; hoping that they would survive or be taken in by the rich.
And so that is what she was – a girl in a corner. Who had known a family and had been deserted by them.
All she had wanted to do was be loved but there didn’t seem to be any room for that in the new world.
bobby stevenson 2015