Author: George Morales

I woke up early to make breakfast for my daughter and my wife. It was going to be a grinding day at work. Even though everybody denied it, it sure felt like there were quotas to fill up the cells. The immigrants had been in those cells before the current occupants. But the immigrants were gone now.

I heard Rebel stir in her room so I pulled out a panel of eggs and a loaf of bread from the fridge. I tossed a few slices of bread into the toaster and cracked the eggs into a bowl. I looked around the kitchen as I beat the eggs. When we moved in, Athena had marveled at the size and beauty of the kitchen. It was open concept, just like she had always wanted. I remember I walked her over to the little laundry room outside the kitchen and thinking it was the first time either of us lived in a place with a washer and dryer inside the unit. In fact, we were no longer in a unit. We were in a house.

I almost tripped over Felipe the cat as I moved to pour the eggs into a pan. A little bit of salt and some stirring to keep them from setting. They didn’t need much time, just a few minutes. Long enough to toast some bread. I heard Rebel yell in the room so I knew Athena was probably changing her diaper. This moment was probably one of Athena’s most difficult ones in the day – changing Rebel’s diaper before drinking her morning coffee. Her morning coffee!

I dashed over to the espresso grinds and scooped some into the coffee maker, grabbed some water and started brewing. Felipe followed me to the fridge where I grabbed some blueberries and strawberries. I cut the strawberries up into quarters how Rebel liked them and plated everything before the girls came downstairs. I felt like one of those fancy chefs on the telescreen shows. Chang was always watching those shows while we were on patrol.

But I wasn’t a fancy chef. I was just some schmuck. And cooking breakfast for my girls made me feel good. Working a job to provide for them made me feel good. And yeah, maybe it was selfish deep down inside but I was just like everybody else, caught up in a job that I didn’t really want to do. When it was the immigrants, I used to say – I could never do that to people. But when it became the robots that had gotten out of hand … well … I had my credit card bills and my conscience to deal with every night. And I could only pay one of them away to buy sleep.

Rebel ran straight to the table and pulled out her chair. She still struggled to get up on her own, but insisted on doing so. She’d get upset if we tried to help. Athena came over to give me a kiss and, more importantly, to grab her coffee. I smiled and hugged her. She grunted as I almost made her spill her coffee and Rebel yelled at me from the table for her breakfast.

“Rebel, ask politely!” Athena flung the words through the steam rising from her mug. Rebel pouted and signed for food by bringing her hands together a couple of times. I smiled and said “thank you” as I signed back by lowering my fingers from my chin.

Athena grabbed her plate and I grabbed the other two. “I’m going to call one of the gardening services to cut the shrubs out front,” Athena told me as we joined Rebel at the table.

“No, don’t do that,” I looked down at the bright creamy eggs, the slightly browned toast and the bright polished fruit in front of me. “I know a bot that’ll do it for cheaper.”