Author: JH Mentzer
The boy was getting lonelier every day. He could almost not stand how many hours he would spend sitting in the woods, watching the babbling of the creeks, as the sun would rise and set, set and rise. Moss grew on his southern-facing side. He traveled home every once in a while. Today as he walked the driveway the rubber soles began melting off his grease-stained tennis shoes, one of them missing a shoelace and too loose and he sometimes lost it during his walks in the woods if the mud was too deep. Heat rippled off of the asphalt and cracked the weed-split concrete over the years. The boy entered his garage, pulling up the termite-eaten gate which rattled and creaked. The boy remembered the story his father had told him about a little boy down the street that had gotten his hand caught while playing with the garage door, and was decapitated. The boy thought now that his father was probably lying, but the remembering and the caution around the garage door struck him even now. The memory surprised him.
The boy took apart his late father’s riding lawn mower which hasn’t been used since his passing, and the vintage white convertible that his fathers-father had given his son and he had always meant to fix but was so busy raising the boy and being sick and dying that he never got around to it. The boy took it apart and rearranged and organized the fragments of these generations of memories. The boy took what he learned from the practical engineering class that he’d taken at his rural shithead highschool and created himself a friend. The boy created himself an android which he needed to teach how to live. He named this android Aurora after the breathtaking and temporary splash of colored lights that dance across the night sky, because that is how the boy believed one should live. Bright and beautiful and short-lived like a firework. Making your mark and then fading into the dark recesses of time and back into the dust of stars, knowing that while it will be forgotten, it was wonderful.
The boy taught this android everything that mattered. How to tell which direction is North from the way moss grows on a tree trunk. How to replace a fuse in a string of christmas tree lights and bring them back to life when everyone else would throw them away. How to open a banana the “right” way. The boy took his android to the old wheat milling plant which had been abandoned for years before the boy was born and they sat in a clearing nearby in the woods, which was overgrown with buffalo grass and gnarled bushes of blackberries hidden between old oaks that very well could have entertained the wheat miller’s children while he spent long days grinding wheat into flour and sometimes corn into cornmeal and sometimes acorns into acorn-four in the fall. The android caught baitfish that had a stripe from their eye to their tail-end from the stream that was used to power the rotating grinder of the mill. The android did this until a wreath of bright purple morning glories grew from its eye socket. A crayfish nibbled at the android’s left leg joint. After enough exploration, the boy led his android away. The boy and his android sat atop the milling building on its crumbling stone walls and watched the sun set again and the boy made sure that the android learned that the sun rose in the East and set in the West.