Author : Rick Tobin

Tender tickles rippled through her as freshly wetted lips touched the delicate blonde hairs along her right wrist—slow, furtive, pressing hesitantly; the feelings were different than the peach or the park’s marble statue she so carefully disinfected.

“What in the world?” Silvia Martin’s trance allowed her older sister Amanda’s unannounced entrance. Silvia pulled her pursed lips away, staring arrows at the intruder.

“You knock, Amanda…you always knock!” She pushed her shoulder-length hair away so her sibling got the full fury of flashing green eyes.

“You’re fourteen. Things are different now, I know, but this is just too early.” Amanda moved towards her sister, concerned.

“He’s not a someone.” Silvia’s slender fingers furiously closed her computer tablet.

“Was that a special message from something chatting you up?” Amanda reached for the tablet. Silvia slapped Amanda’s hand. “How dare you.” Amanda looked down, glaring at Silvia’s rebellion.

“Get out! Don’t ever come back here again…ever! You don’t even live here anymore.” Silvia rose and pushed Amanda, slamming and locking the door.

Silvia restarted her tablet, returning her intensity on new messages. Her attention broke with pounding.

“Open up right now, Silvia Anne! Now!” Amanda’s hand reddened across the side from her pummeling.

“I said no more!” Silvia screamed back, while opening the door slightly. She fell back under her sister’s bull rush. A wide-eyed Amanda stood over her, pointing her finger like a revolver.

“You stupid twit. A stinking robot? Dad is the police chief and Mom is the head of nursing at the hospital. If this got out…if this…well it won’t.”

“You hacked my mail. I could have you…have you…” Silvia stuttered, falling into her handicap.

“What, have me arrested? Are you kidding? Wouldn’t Dad love that? This thing you write to is a hunk of plastic; not even a whole robot.”

“He’s not plastic. He’s polymorphic resins embedded with nano tubes allowing change of facial shape, color of skin, eyes and hair and voice.” Silvia righted herself, describing her secret friend by rote from his manual.

“You’re a minor and I’m supposed to protect you from this kind of filth.”

“Like that Japanese, talking party doll Uncle Jack brought back from Tokyo last Christmas?” Silvia’s reminder colored Amanda’s cheeks.

“You’re never to mention that. You aren’t even supposed to know. Damn him, anyway.”

“It’s not like that with Evan. When I volunteered at hospice I saw what he did for the dying—the Last Kiss. It gave them joy. He looked and talked like anyone they wanted him to be, man or woman. But now, with psilocybin injections, they just see God. They don’t need Evan anymore.”

“And real boys?” Amanda questioned.

“At school boys only want to have sex. They aren’t tender. They don’t want to hear my poetry. They laugh when I stutter. Evan is gentle, cares about me, and listens to all of my dreams and worries.”

Amanda explored her sister’s glowing face and realized nothing would change. “Alright, he’s only the head and shoulders of a robot. I’ll just forget all this. Just don’t you forget about real people.” She rose and left without turning back.

The hospice unsuccessfully sought the Last Kiss torso, quitting after a short investigation. It was merely outdated junk. That summer, night breezes swept jasmine scent through the delicate yellow curtains of Silvia’s room where she and Evan shared her first kiss…but not her last.

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