Author : Suzanne Borchers

I polish the sterling silver door handle for the 103rd time this morning. I have been a master’s valet for more years than that. My duties have been reduced but my importance to him has never waned. His father’s father said to me, “Alfred, you are my most special invention.”

I wish I could smile.

Then that pesky microbot, Fred, whirs into the room. Of course he crosses the floor in a master’s heartbeat and stops in front of me.

I peer down at him from my superior position. “I suppose you will begin the usual argument about old versus new and large versus small,” I say. I am ready for him. I have spent 102 swipes of polish posturing new angles and configurations of opinion. I have him this time.

He shakes his tiny head.

I focus on the details of his face. Does he look sad? Microbots cannot look sad, but he does. Perhaps he knows he will lose the argument for the first time. That would make him sad. He likes to win.

I wish I could laugh.

“I am ready for you, Fred.”

I wish I could puff out my chest.

Fred murmurs at my shiny feet. “Master gave me orders to decommission your service.”

My circuits rage with heat. “Never!”

“I will miss our chats, old boy,” Fred says.

“I shall too!” I stomp down a foot where Fred stands. When I raise my foot and scrape at the bottom with my finger, nothing is there. Where is he?

There is a tingle within my chest.

“I am so very sorry,” his voice fades.

I wish I could cry.

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