A short story from my Fiction Workshop with SNHU.
“Are you ready?”
The glazed eyes of Harold Kingston vainly attempted to straighten, to refocus, when he closed the bathroom door. Five varied craft beers, three sodas saturated with sugar, two shots of Cuervo, and one funny tasting liquor that Maria, his girlfriend, said was “from France, silly,” pushed upon his aching, drunkenly misjudged bladder. His jeans dropped to the floor and his feet kicked out of the leg holes, falling upon the metallic automated scale Maria got him in support of his weight loss venture. When they hit, an automated female voice spoke.
“Are you ready?”
Harold laughed as he steadied in front of the toilet and began to pee. He mocked the mildly aggressive voice. “Are you ready?” Harold mimicked, giggling as his stream diminished.
“Powering down,” the robot woman announced.
Harold became fixated on himself in the mirror as the woman faded back into the recesses of her electronic haven. His cheeks wore a bold hue of red and the gloss of his beer goggles had not faded. But to Harold he saw the kid from ten years ago staring back at him. The high school running back whose body had never failed him. When he washed his hands an instinctive smile crossed his lips as he recalled shirtless summers sprawled across the beaches of the southern coast, engaging the world as if he were a Greek god scouring to find Athena. As he turned the water off he stumbled back into the scale and the woman from the cave of caution reemerged once more.
“Are you ready,” she bellowed.
“Ha ha ha, I’m not wearing pants,” Harold mumbled as he pulled his jeans off the floor and squirmed back into them. Maria told him skinny jeans were the style to wear. The red lines around his waist disagreed.
“Powering down,” the she-bot spoke once more.
When all articles of clothing were back on Harold he realized he needed to go back to his friends at the kitchen table. He steadied himself, before reaching for the bathroom door, and found his eyes in the full-length mirror on the door. Harold inhaled deeply and exhaled quickly.
“I am not drunk,” he asserted.
The door to the bathroom closed behind him and Harold made his way to the sink, stubbing his toe on the scale as he passed by it.
“Are you ready?” The female cyborg awoke in Harold a bevy of feelings.
Through the door Maria heard the voice emerge and her familiar laugh mildly annoyed Harold.
“I can’t believe you hit it again!” she teased.
Harold stood staring at himself in the bathroom mirror as his girlfriend’s voice echoed in the shower.
“I keep forgetting it’s there. I need to get used to it” he lovingly replied through the closed door. Maria laughed once more and Harold resumed preparing for his shower. Harold took off his shirt and his a-cup chest-line appeared in the reflection of the mirror. For a moment that bordered on a millennium Harold took in the apparition, quickly cataloging the deficiencies ranging from wrinkles to scattered pimples, and divergent hairs. Upon completion of his self-loathing, a shudder of shame sprung up his spine and he turned around to finish stripping away from the evil gaze of the bizarro Harold trapped in the mirror. Harold kicked off his pants and his underwear, turning on the shower and slipping through the curtain.
“Powering down” the recording startled Harold more than the tepid water whistling across his body, triggering vines of his lunch date with Maria. He knew she meant everything with the best of intentions. She had to, he thought. But as the scenes played over and over in his recollection, her words took on double meanings. When she opened the menu and said, “Oooo, look at the salads,” she meant, “You know this is the page you are ordering from.” When she took her first bite and delighted in the taste, oddly using her orgasm voice, she really meant “Good things can happen from eating this way.” When he paid the bill, and she caught his eye stalking the desert cart, she coughed, almost cementing the pavlovian existence of his upgraded, bizarro self. He loved her. But in that moment, as the water crashed upon his head, Harold hated Maria.
The pipes squeaked as Harold turned off the water. He unearthed himself from the shower and grazed the scale as he reached for a towel.
“Are you ready?” Maria’s voice came from the scale. Harold thought he imagined it.
“Powering down,” the scale sulked.
Harold’s eyes were fixated on the ceiling, straining to stay awake. He laid motionless but his mind raced on. Maria’s legs enveloped Harold. He wanted to hold her back. He yearned to do it. But every time he turned over, every time he even thought about touching her, her voice burst throughout the room as if it were part of a celestial storm.
“Are you ready?” it would assault, thrusting Harold away from Maria.
Harold closed his eyes.
“Are you ready?” a scale in the shape of Maria’s face sprung out from his sub conscious, tearing his eyes back open. Fear mainlined into his heart.
Harold rose from bed and nervously walked downstairs.
A strange noise permeated from the kitchen. Harold knew not to go in the room. His spirit detached from his soul and looked down at its corporal form.
“Don’t go in there, fool!” Harold shouted at his body as if he were in his own midnight movie.. But the noise persisted. The noise grew. Harold’s spirit watch the zombie move towards the epicenter of sound. The refrigerator begged to unleash the much maligned music. His body reached the handle and pulled the door open.
“Are you ready!?” Maria’s deafening twang blasted through the house, reattaching Harold’s spirit back to his body. Harold slammed the door back shut and raced to the bathroom, picking up the scale and sprinting to the back yard.
Harold stumbled out of the slider, across the wooden porch and down to the grass. He picked up a bat that leaned against the house and threw scale down to the ground.
“Are you ready?” Maria’s voice burst through the speaker.
“Fuck you!” Harold flailed the bat down upon the metal.
“Are you…” the scale began.
Harold brought the bat down to the machine another time, sending broken pieces of the device flying through the star-lit sky. Harold thrashed and he thrashed and the voice, her voice, subsided with each stroke.
Maria ran through the slider door and stopped at the top of the porch.
“What are you doing?” she screamed down to Harold.
Harold stopped and looked up at Maria. The moonlight spotlighted her on the porch. Harold dropped the bat from his hand, clanking upon the shattered remains of the scale. He paused for a moment but then spoke.
“I think I need to get a new scale,” Harold sheepishly replied.
Maria came down the steps and stood before Harold. She surveyed the damage and looked at her boyfriend with an expanding smile, starting to laugh.
“Why?” Maria eventually managed.
“Because…” Harold started, taking a breath to reflect on the hysteria of the past three days. “Because I really really really really really really want to keep loving you.”