The Velveteen Heart

Sep 06 2012

Jane loved her work at the data archive, but she couldn’t help looking forward to her weekends with John. Tall, handsome, strong, brilliant, sensitive – always thoughtful and considerate of her needs and preferences – he seemed to have it all. They’d been together for six months now and it was too good to be true. She was waiting for everything to go wrong.

So when he called her up and told her he had something important to say to her, she knew it was all over. As she flew along the highway in the passenger seat of his silver convertible, in a hush of tension and not knowing exactly where they were going, she prepared herself for total devastation. Imagine her surprise to find herself on a picnic rug at serene Ocean Park – a place of remarkable natural beauty – with a champagne stem between her fingers and John kneeling before her. “Jane,” he said, “these last months have been the best of my life. I have fallen in love with your flawless complexion, your strange intelligence, your velveteen heart. Will you do me the honour of being my wife?”

Her reaction was not what he had been hoping for; the question was too unexpected, and her face had fallen. “Jane? What’s wrong?” he asked. “Oh.” she said. “Oh, nothing.” She gave a little nervous laugh and passed the back of her fingers over her brow and upper lip, to conceal the appearance of a little perspiration. “Jane, I’m worried. I understand if you can’t choose me to spend the rest of your days with, but please tell me what’s wrong,” he pleaded.

“John, I’ve been meaning to tell you for some time, but didn’t know how,” she began, and paused, choking back sobs. “I’m so sorry to have kept this from you, but I am a robot. I am a bot, bot, bot, bot, bot.” She burst into tears.

“Darling, I have known all along, and it makes no difference to me,” said John, “I love you for you.” He swept her up with his big arms, and in the warmth of his embrace all of her fear and sorrow melted away. “Really?” she asked. “But oh John, how I wish I could be a woman for you. A real, live woman.”

“Don’t you know Jane, that’s just what you are.” And just as he said so she knew then that it was true – in those moments, a metamorphosis had taken place, and she had become exactly what she had dreamed. The blood was pulsing through her veins – real, live, human blood – and rising to her face in a delicate flush. And as they became lost in the depths of each other’s eyes, to Jane’s chagrin, she began to menstruate.

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