“You really shouldn’t write so much,” the boy said. He perched on the edge of an orange subway chair and jumped off as the train screeched to a halt, catching himself on the handrail and spinning around.
“If I didn’t write so much, you wouldn’t be here,” the woman said coolly.
“Well, yeah, but maybe we’re not all we’re cracked up to be, you know?”
The woman sighed deeply and folded the page of her notebook before placing it on the bench beside her. “Would you stop that already?” she said.
“What, this?” The boy pushed forward and caught himself on his hands, pushing off and spinning into a precisely controlled flip. It was the type of control that could only come from good programming, and she knew from the price tag that the boy had been programmed well.
“Yes, that,” she said.
“It’s not like I can get hurt.”
“Human beings have protective instincts. We don’t like watching kids do that kind of stuff.”
The boy smiled and jumped into the seat beside her. She picked up the spiral-bound notebook and flipped to the designated page, then pressed the end of her pencil against her lips. He rolled into her like a cat, sprawling across her lap and giggling. “I told you to cut it out,” she said.
“I didn’t write myself, you know.”
“You’re supposed to be inspiring me.”
The boy crawled over her and flopped into the seat beside her, tracing his thin finger over the thin lead lines on the page. “What am I doing now?” he asked.
“Being a nuisance.”
“I hope you don’t let that guy kill me. I’d be very sad.”
“I wouldn’t have paid for you if I was going to kill you in three chapters,” she said. The boy took her pencil from her fingers and stuck it behind her ear.
“You look silly,” he said. “Silly writer! You bought a fake boy.”
The woman retrieved her pencil and returned to the notebook, but as soon as the lead touched the page he grabbed it again and ran down the length of the car, giggling hysterically. “Get back here,” she ordered.
“Maybe you don’t want to write, did that ever occur to you?”
“I think I know what I want better than a cybernetic nine year old.”
“I’m a child prodigy!” he squealed with noisy excitement.
“In an hour you’ll be a decommissioned pile of circuits,” she warned.
“Nah. You like me! You just don’t like this pencil.” The boy stuck it between his teeth and smiled. “Look at me! I’m a writer! I think deep thoughts and put them on paper!”
Frustrated, the woman turned back to her notebook.
“Pay attention to me!” the boy demanded around the object between his lips.
“I am paying attention to you,” she said as she dug through her purse for her spare pen.
“I’m not in there, silly. I’m right here!” He grabbed the handrail and spun and jumped, landing beside her. She took the pencil from his mouth.
“Sit down,” she ordered.
With much dramatic pouting, he obeyed. He folded his legs beneath him and sighed in the heavy way that only children can sigh. “It’s probably a lot less fun when you can’t control it,” he observed.
“I told you,” the woman said. “Behave.”