Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Jacob sat as he always did, cross legged on the coffee table in the middle of the room, making himself the center of attention.

“You really have to get over us and move on, you know that don’t you?” His voice carried to the corners of the room and back to its only other occupant, enveloping her in the warmth of his familiar tones.

“I’m not ready to give up. I know we can make this work,” her voice seemed small and fragile by comparison, “we just need more time.”

“What you’re holding onto isn’t real, it’s just a memory. You’ve got to get past this Holly, you’ve got to live your own life without me.”

The woman blinked back tears, tucking her knees to her chin and burrowed deeper into the corner of the couch.

“It’s not fair, Jacob. I can’t give up, you can’t give up either.”

Jacob shook his head, smoothing back the stray stands of hair that refused to stay tucked behind his ears. “I’m afraid I had to give up a long time ago, and I’m sorry, but we’ve talked about this Holly, you have to let go.”

Holly glared, her eyes burning through the space where he sat. “You said you’d stay with me forever Jacob, was that a lie? You left me with all this money and this house full of memories but it’s not you Jacob, it’s not you and it’s not enough.”

Jacob laced his fingers behind his head, pulling his elbows in and straining as he lowered his eyes to the floor. “I left you money so you could live your life, not to watch you waste it waiting for me.” His stoic expression faltered slightly, revealing its undercurrent of pain, his eyes swollen with imminent tears. “I always knew this was a one way trip for me Holly, you knew that too. You can imprint the essence of the flesh on the machine, but you can’t reconstitute that essence back into flesh. You’ll be long gone before that’s possible; do you want to live out what’s left of your life waiting for a miracle?”

“When the time comes, I’ll imprint too, then we can wait together in there until they can bring us both back.” Holly’s eyes streamed now, her body wracked with sobs.

“Holly, sweetheart, this isn’t all of me. You know that. The computer has enough memories and thoughts to make a convincing persona, but I’m just a projection, a shell. I’m not the man you lost. He’s gone. You and I both know that he wouldn’t have wanted you to stay here wasting away like this, and if you can’t move on with me here, then I’m going to have to purge myself from this system.”

“You wouldn’t. No. Please, Jacob, don’t leave me. Not like this. It is you in there, I know it. I feel it.”

“I’m just a program, Holly. If you can’t let me go, then I have no choice.”

“No, Jacob, a machine would never kill itself for me. If you were a machine, you wouldn’t care, but you do care, don’t you? I know you’ll never leave me Jacob. Tell me you’ll never leave me.”

As the afternoon sun stirred dust up through the cloud of light that was Jacob, she could see rainbows glistening on his wet cheeks.

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