All stories begin with a look across a crowded room. Some smoky eyed glance, hidden hints within seductive lips: the curl, the curve and a careful sip looking up from a wine glass.
I first spotted mine in a store window. At roughly six feet tall with a definitive athletic build, strong jawline and cheekbones to die for, he was the perfect specimen of man.
At the activation desk his first words were like the birthing echoes of morning issued on a blissful beach somewhere to me, and me alone. My hand deep in my trouser pocket, I felt around for something. He was quite expensive, really, but – as I found out – a love however short can never be overpriced.
He didn’t start walking until I took him home from the store. Didn’t even have a name until four days later. His skin was taut and perfect, and I settled on Julian.
Jules, come here, I would say in the evenings – sometimes even in the day, though not often – and he would approach me with his big arms in a sort of raised position. It always started with an embrace.
I remember our first day trip to the beach – the long swathes of sand seemed like eternity to me. Some people – most, sadly – judged. I held his hand even tighter then, and he just rotated his neck halfway in that funny fashion and smile at me with those polished teeth, white like his innocence. They might have even contained real enamel, I can’t quite recall.
I just wish he could have said something to me then.
Unfortunately, the responsibility to remember his charge lead had completely eluded my lovesick mind, and halfway along the promenade I had to sit him on the bench for shutdown – carrying him back to the car was a struggle, if I’m truthful. The things we do for those we love.
Another fond memory that comes to mind is the day he spoke his first words to me. We were lying in bed on a Sunday morning. The sheets were strewn across our entwined bodies and in amongst the litter of Viagra foils and torn underwear we lay, satiated in a sweet harmony as the breezes and the blossoms blew in through the French doors.
Head on his chest, I could hear his body whirring with all the internal mechanisms straining with the weight of such a power – such a moment as this in which to exist and become something more than an artless piece of machinery. I traced my fingers in a circular motion around his shoulder blade. His artificial breaths grew heavy as he mustered a mighty courage to use the voice our love had given to him. His only word – “service” – may have meant many things to those naïve enough to think him something abstract or inhuman, but only I knew.
His truth was my truth, and to both of us it was a passion.
Not long afterwards he fell desperately ill. We’d been strolling up in the high hills one day overlooking the grey and desolate world – all those meek little villages nestled in amongst the rolls and folds of the purple moors. Little stone walls and all the weathered unhappy people going to and fro with marks of woe written in to their small parchment faces.
Before Julian, I hated the country.
We stopped at a stile to let him catch his breath – his joints had been loosening from all the exercise – and whilst I cast my eyes over that bleak scene I sensed the depth of the sky and all its dark rage building above us. The storm poured its profanities and my poor Julian took the worst of it. His cries of “service!” cut into my heart as I heaved his failing frame down the mountain to the rhythms of thunder and my own racing pulse.
Once we’d made it back home, there was nothing more I could do. He had almost gone from me in all sense and spirit. My very soul ached from the separation that then came between us. He slipped away with a click and an infinitesimal puff of steam. His very complexion seemed to sag as life and love left him. My poor Julian. I wept myself into a distress greater than any imaginable for three and a half days and at the end found, once again, that I hated the hills of the countryside more than ever.
At 3 o’clock on the third day I returned his lifeless body to the store in the hope of obtaining any pittance of a compensation for my trauma. Of course, money could never repair the damage done by such a strain to my poor mind – but it was the only language those duds of modernity understood. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I achieved no financial consolation for all my efforts to convince them that their manufacturing was wholly inferior and that my Julian had been doomed from the very start. Their deadening reply to my heartache drew the last mite of hope from my heart and crushed it under the insufferable boot of eternal disconnection in this tired technological age.
They said he’d have loved me so long as I kept his parts working, but they were wrong.
A love so purifying as ours neither knows nor needs any maintenance.