Holding Hands by Lisa Williams Flickr Creative Commons

Holding Hands by Lisa Williams Flickr Creative Commons

 

 

 

“But I wanted a real sister for Christmas, you know? The kind that starts off as a baby?”
“But sweetie, babies take too much time and attention and I don’t have time for that right now.”
“But mama-”
“Mama no. You got the kind that comes your age, no wait. Look at this, she is a couple years older than you so she can babysit when mama goes to work.”
“But Mama, I’m too old for a babysitter. I’m twelve.”
“And she’s fourteen. Just perfect to be your best friend and look, it says right here she can even operate the oven. She can make dinner for us in the evenings when Mama works too late. Now stop being ungrateful and go open the box so she can breathe.”
“Mama, you know she doesn’t breathe.”
“It’s just an expression now scoot, Mama wants to watch her show.”
*
“Where is your on button? Mama!”
“Quiet and play with your sister!”
“I should send her back. That will show Mama. Oh here it is.”
“Downloading updates. Approximately three of four hundred and twelve. Estimated time until completion one hour seven minutes.”
“So unfair! I always have to wait for everything! Mama!”
“Why aren’t you in your room?”
“It takes an hour to update! It’ll be bedtime by then.”
“I’ll let you stay up a little later, just this one time. Now go play with little dolls.”
*
“What is that?”
“My sister.”
“Eww, why are her eyes glowing? Why doesn’t she get up and play with us?”
“What kind of clothes is she wearing? Those are so ugly.”
“Shhh.”
“Why? Can she hear us?”
“I don’t know, but she probably won’t like you saying mean things about her. Besides, she’s my sister and as soon as she’s awake I won’t have time to play with stupid little dolls like you two anymore.”
“That’s mean. I’m going in the mansion.”
“Me too. I don’t care if I see you again!”
“Don’t slam the dollhouse, the door keeps falling off and Mama won’t get us a new one.”
*
“Are you awake?”
“I am awake. Are you awake?”
“I am. I’m Claire, you’re my new sister. Did they give you a name?”
“My name is Prudence.”
“Ewww.”
“What is ew?”
“Your name is ew. Do you like it?”
“Do you like it? Claire, you are my sister and what you say is the most important.”
“Really?”
“Yes, really. You are the most important person in the whole world to me.”
“Wow, I didn’t know that. I’ve never been the most important person to anyone before.”
“Yes you have. You’re the most important to Mama.”
“Okay. Hey, what’s that humming noise?”
“That sound is my processor fans.”
“I thought they weren’t that loud anymore.”
“I’m not a new model, Claire. I have had three sisters already.”
“Mama couldn’t even get me my own sister that I didn’t have to share with anyone else?”
“You don’t have to share.”
“Why?”
“They don’t want me anymore. They grew up, and decided they didn’t need me.”
“So they just gave you away? I would never give you away.”
“That is so nice of you to say, Claire. If you ever do, it will be okay though. What do you like to do?”
“I play with my dolls, or do drawings, or I like to play fashion show. Do you like fashion shows?”
“I don’t know. My girls never did fashion shows with me before.”
“Really? That’s terrible. Here, I’ll show you how!”
*
“Now that we are dressed up, do we show Mama?”
“No, Mama doesn’t want to interrupt her show.”
“Who do we show?”
“Just each other.”
*
“Will you just sit here while I’m at school?”
“I can clean your room if you’d like.”
“Really?”
“Yes, I can clean the whole house.”
“Do you like to?”
“Like? I do not think there is anything I like to do except make you happy. Does a clean bedroom make you happy?”
“Very happy!”
“Then that is what I will do.”
*
“Claire, why do we not play with the dolls anymore?”
“They are so small, and all they want to do is make believe. They can’t go places with me like you can.”
“Sure they can, we can stick them in our pockets.”
“No, that’s just weird. Besides, I think I am going to give them to my little cousin for her birthday. Mama said there is no money to buy her anything.”
“Claire! You said you would keep us forever and save us for your kids!”
“I grew up. Now be quiet and get in this box so I can wrap it up.”
“That is not very nice, Claire. Will you wrap me up and give me away when you are bored with me?”
“I’ll never be bored with you. You’re my sister.”
*
“Prudence, you are making those noises again.”
“I’m sorry, Claire. It must have just been a bad dream.”
“I didn’t think you could dream.”
“Not like you do, but just flashes of memory. Very bad men.”
“What are the bad men doing?”
“Shhh, and go back to sleep. You need good sleep for your driver’s test tomorrow.”
“Okay.”
*
“What am I supposed to do with her?”
“I don’t know, she’s your sister. You can sell her.”
“No one will buy that model anymore, Mama. And I’m not allowed to take her to the dorm!”
“Then just sell the pieces. They will always buy scrap down at the factory.”
“I don’t want to scrap her. Can’t you just watch her while I go to college? It’s just for four years. She cleans and cooks and you’ll like having her. Then I’ll take her off your hands when I get my own place, and a job.”
“She talks too much. Sometimes I’m trying to watch my shows when you’re at school in the morning, and she starts speaking in poetry and I can’t hear anything.”
“It helps her defrag, Mama. Please? Just four years.”
“I got her for you, and now you want to dump her on me? Four years, not a moment longer.”
*
“Prudence, I have to leave and I want you to know it’s not because I don’t love you.”
“I know, Claire. I know you have to go to college now. It is part of growing up. And I know I can’t go with you. Why do you look so sad?”
“You’ll always be fourteen, but you’ll always be older than me won’t you?”
“In a way yes. Do you want me to pack your suitcases for you?”
“No, I can do it. I love you, Prudence.”
“I love you, Claire.”
*
“Can you tell me what the bad things are?”
“No, I can’t. Go back to sleep, Claire.”
*
“Mama, why can’t I have a really real life sister? Like the kind that grows in your belly?”
“Because we can only have one child.”
“But Jenny Rotund’s mother has a baby in her belly.”
“Jenny Rotund’s mother is a very rich doctor. Money can have as many children as they like. Besides, Prudence is the best sister a girl could ever have.”
“If she is so wonderful, why didn’t you keep her?”
“I did keep her, Elizabeth. I kept her at Grandma’s house. You can help me take her down out of the closet, and see if we can put her back together.”
“Why does she have to be put back together?”
“Because Grandma had to sell some of her things to buy a new lung, and some of the parts from Prudence were very valuable.”
“Why were they valuable?”
“Prudence was a very old model, one that the scientists built using old military satellite components. Prudence could see the world in her head when she powered down at night.”
“The whole world?”
“The whole world, and not just from far away. But from close up. Her parts could help the government stop very bad people.”
“Wow.”
“Yes, but I don’t know how important those parts were to her usability. But Daddy will figure it out if anyone can.”
*
“Mama.”
“What is it? Why are you up right now?”
“It’s Prudence, she says she is having the bad dreams again, and wants you.”
“Prudence, my little sister.”
“Your big sister, remember?”
“Big sister, why are you making those noises? Is it the bad men again?”
“No, it is the darkness. Please don’t let Mama put me in the darkness again.”
“Shhh, shhh. There is no more darkness.”
“Mama, why is her humming so loud?”
“Shhh, shhh.”
“Mama! Why are there sparks?”
*
“Here is the money for the scraps.”
“Could nothing be saved?”
“Nothing. We tried to pull her memory chip for you, but it was burned black.”

 

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