Author: Kathryn Smith

I see them at night the most, the cogs turning in her head. She thinks I don’t know that she’s awake, going over thoughts again and again and again. She’s always been too open, maybe that’s what drew me to her in the first place. I tried to persuade her not to do it, but she didn’t listen; she let them get inside her mind.

One morning I wake up to a letter placed at her bedside table. It’s addressed to her but I open it anyway; if she can let them inside her mind then why can’t I read her letters? I quickly trace my eyes along the words: ‘Dear Mrs. Jones, you are required for an update at your nearest Think Clear centre next week on 07/04/2038). This update is a legal requirement for all our customers and as such, if you do not attend there will be consequences. Kind Regards, Think Clear.’. I crumple the letter in my hands and hold in a sob, still trying not to wake her. Another update; a lesser wife.

Three weeks later we’re in bed together and I can hear the cogs turning as they always do, but suddenly a great screeching noise pulls me out of my half slumber and I turn to face her. She lays motionless with eyes wide as the cogs creak, screech, and grind against one another causing sparks to fly into the air above us. A tear falls from her eye for the first time in five years as a cog drops to the floor beside her. She attempts to pick it up, but she can only bend down so far before the cogs start grinding even more ferociously. I pick it up instead, wipe away the dust, and read ‘Think Clear cog. No.3746. Last Updated 07/04/2037’.

I never had the heart to tell her parents that I’d put the letter in the bin.