Author: Brian Maycock
Peter’s hand was cold as she led him down to the beach. She was unsettled so wanted to talk but they had run out of conversation weeks ago.
Peter can talk on more than two hundred topics. She had read that somewhere. But she had not focused on the blurb as she had entered her details. She had been wishing she could have afforded more than the basic model. Still, she had thought, you have to begin somewhere.
Peter stumbled. The path down to the beach – a generous term for a narrow patch of pebbles and seaweed – was littered with empty beer bottles, fast food wrappers and, this morning, a pair of abandoned trainers.
She gripped his hand tighter and wondered if coming here had been a mistake.
They had made love on this beach on their first night together. The only things missing for her from realising this particular dream had been a full moon and the feel of sand on her skin.
Not long after this the problems with battery life developed and having to keep Peter plugged in became a real passion killer.
“Let’s sit here.” She brought him to a flat rock onto which they could both just fit, and rested her head on his shoulder. He still released the pheromones she had chosen during set up overnight, and she enjoyed the remains of the latest lingering batch for a moment.
It was a cloudy day with rain threatening, and they were alone apart from an old couple who sat on striped deckchairs and stared out over the sea.
She sat up, wrapped her arms across her chest and told Peter, “I want you to walk into the water and keep going.”
“You are breaking up with me?” he asked after a pause to run through the possibilities.
She had made the decision days ago but had been putting it off. You see adverts online, you see them in charity shops or simply abandoned and left to fend for themselves on the streets, which of course they cannot do.
She did not want that. She wanted it to be romantic.
“Take your clothes off,” she said.
As he undressed, she ran a finger down the line of his back. “It says here you’re bio-degradable.”
His clothes were not. She would take them to the charity shop, along with the rest of his things. It was time for a fresh start.
“Goodbye Peter,” she said.
He looked at her. “I can’t swim.”
He began walking towards the water.
Once upon a time, some people thought that the A.I.s would become the dominant force but like other technologies as soon as the sheen wore off they became disposable.
Peter was all but invisible to the man and woman sitting on their deckchairs. Neither commented as he was enveloped by the grey water.
She was already back on the path. She hesitated over the discarded trainers but decided to leave them. They were too dirty for the charity shop.