Author : Amy Monroe
By way of introduction: Sweit was the one who kissed like a file cabinet and she was the one who kissed like a plate of raw liver. Rays of light came through the subway ruins, skating through the upper Bronx and into Westchester, and they caught Mardi blinking, stretching, falling asleep. The sun was always out; the sun wasnâ€™t special, but the way it lit in her hairâ€”it seemed like a reason to wait till Poughkeepsie to wake her.
â€œI think itâ€™s beautiful to us because we know itâ€™s never going to change,â€ Mardi said, hitching her skirt, talking about the sun.
Walking, they saw a man turning a â€œCLOSEDâ€ sign, the old sign, the â€œCLOSED after duskâ€ sign.
â€œDo you think anyone would even know dusk, now?â€
â€œWhat, baby?â€ Her eyes were closed, face tipped up.
â€œThat sign. Does anyone alive today remember dusk?â€
â€œIt was when the sun went down. Come on.â€
â€œYou know that Iâ€™m never really complaining about you.â€
â€œOf course not. Hey, thereâ€”that guy thereâ€”dâ€™you see? Heâ€™s leaking.â€
â€œWere you still little when they changed the sun? Did you hear all the adults complaining and not understand?â€
â€œBy the time I could remember it was like this. But leaking! It was sliding down his ankles and dripping.â€ She rubbed the toe of her shoes in the dust, frustrated.
â€œIâ€™ve seen it before. Theyâ€™re still fixing all the kinks with liquid. Not all of us are perfect.â€
â€œBut you missed it. Thatâ€™s the kind of thing I mean. You miss so much with sim eyes. Theyâ€™re not made forâ€”â€ She scratched deeper, dug a trough. â€œTheyâ€™re not made for living, really.â€
â€œDoes it bother you?â€
â€œNo, baby, no.â€
â€œBecause Jimsum has some techs. I could be in on Saturday and noticing malfunctions with you on Sunday.â€
â€œI donâ€™t want you to change what you donâ€™t want to change.â€
She said this, but her eyes, the real eyes, her secret real eyes, they dripped all night.
Sweit went home and read about Anastasia, the other fakes, and he thought about his secret real girl, his girl who was not a file cabinet or made in any sense. He held his sim-fingers over his face, flickered them in front of his eyes and stared dimly at the blur they created.
Sweit called a number in the morning. Excited Korean on the other endâ€”Jimsumâ€™s girls waiting for the old country to call.
â€œJimsum. I need to talk to Jimsum.â€
More Korean, this time angry.
â€œSorry, hon. Jimsum, please.â€
Jimsum came on all laconic, â€œTechs.â€
â€œWhy havenâ€™t you told your girls that Korea is underwater?â€
â€œI canâ€™t fucking speak Korean.â€
Jimsumâ€™s excuse for an excuse.
â€œI wanted to talk about some eye tech.â€
â€œWe got blue, green, zoom lens, yellow cat-eye.â€
â€œYouâ€™re joking. I could get better from the hookers on Canal Street, man.â€
â€œItâ€™s what weâ€™ve got.â€
â€œFuck it. Iâ€™m going to Canal. Iâ€™ll see you.â€
Sweit fast-sim-thinking, he ran there. He knew Jimsumâ€™d heard about Canalâ€™s recent cleanouts and the hookers having fled to the subway tunnels; he knew before he saw Jimsumâ€™s girl at the Korean grocery.
â€œEyes? Jimsum say Saturday for eyes?â€
She articulated, hating the English words in every syllable. â€œHe say no-ow.â€
â€œTheyâ€™re on your communications?â€ Sweit asked instead of saying hello.
â€œJust the in-and-outs. I guess you want the meat eyes.â€
Jimsum was laughing while he put him under.
Mardi almost screamed when he came rolling up to her in the alley, with those horrible wet-bloody eyes.
â€œWhat color are they?â€ she said, and started to cry.