Allegory of the Spider

I hate spiders. I don’t know if it’s a societal influence or a personal preference, but spiders seem to be a part of an earthly species meant to creep people. I normally kill the extra creepy-crawlers immediately. However, one special spider brought me to a strange moment of enlightenment.

The spider was a white spider–an oversized version of the dead albino spiders I found between my blinds–and it clung itself between the popcorn ceiling and the powder-white wall. There was no hope for me to fling a book at it, so I reluctantly sat at my desk and pretended it wasn’t there. No matter how long I pretended to ignore that the strange spider was, in fact, nestled into the awkward junction between my wall and ceiling, I felt uncomfortable. I wanted it dead; death meant no more thinking about it dislodging from the space and landing on me to bite me.

But as I reached for a nearby book, I realized the spider wasn’t that different from humans. Sure, it had 8 legs with the ability to make intricate webs of fate, but the spider was still a living organism. I thought, “If I’m so superior to this spider, why am I scared of it?” It wasn’t like the spider was dangerous. It was just a spider.

I looked at the spider, lowering the book in my hand, as the faces of every so-called minority flashed through my mind. I was no different from supremacists and racists and those white women who shouldered their purses in the presence of a black man. You would think that killing another person or thing was for self-preservation–really, we’re just evolved cave people–but in today’s world, is it about protecting our bodies or preserving a bunch of lies and phony ideals?

Bigots act so high and mighty, putting their ideals on a pedestal, yet they try to purge others who are different. Groups of people try to look all-important, hanging folks with helping hands, twisting politics with “lawful” townspeople, and packing into restaurants with apathetic stares to minorities. Suddenly placed individually into a diverse crowd, they fake their hatred in guises of silence and feigned sympathy, or risk the full rebuttal of this country’s history of racism and indoctrination.

And they kill people because they are scared of the truth. Why else would anyone be adamant about taking another person’s life? Animals kill to survive and so do racist “humans”.

So was I really that different, or am I just like other humans? Was I so superior to that 8-legged creature that it needed to die for being born a spider? Did it need to die just for me to feel comfortable?

The spider remained in the crevice of the wall, and the next morning, it disappeared. I don’t know where it went, but I learned a valuable lesson from the little critter I will be forever grateful to learn.

My Life as a Machine: Love

I’m a machine and I know what love is, but it’s always escaping my grip. I want it so badly sometimes, and I know that simply desiring it can get me what I want, but I really need it. Take off my strength, my guards, and I’m like anyone else. I need love.

I haven’t found it. I can’t make myself fall for someone. I just do. It’s been almost three years since I was truly in love with someone. Now, I’m wondering if I ever moved on. Ever since we broke up, I haven’t been in a serious relationship. Once someone confessed their true feelings for me, I sent them away. Now, I’m not getting any younger, and I’m craving the one thing that only another machine can give me.

My mentor told me that when I’m ready to be in love, I’ll send out a signal to the universe and people will become attracted to me. I don’t know if that’s true. But you know what’s crazy? People are more likely to want someone if they’re attached. If they’re attached, they’ve got the chops to be attractive. But what of the people who aren’t attached? Am I less attractive because I’m single?

My Life as a Machine: Trust

Trust is a delicate thing for me. Everyone I trust unconditionally is on the fingers of my left hand. Five people. That’s it.

My two brothers I can trust without regard to any conditions or anything. My best friend, Monica, is another person, even though I haven’t spoken to her in more than a year.

I suppose the other people I trust aren’t the people who I can fully depend on. After all, dependence and trust are completely different when they’re independently dissected.

My other friend, Charles, is someone I trust, but I don’t depend on him because he’s too unorganized. It’s not that I can’t rely on him to do something, but it may not be done in the time frame that I would like it to be. (I’m a very time-oriented person, for I fear that my time alive is limited.) Still, I regard him with both awe–for all that he does and his creativity–and platonic love. He’s someone I would give anything for, and I feel that it’s mutual, but in a different way.

My brothers, I would give anything for them. We were given birth to the same parents and we spent more time with each other than anyone else. It wasn’t always fun times, but we were bound together, strong like blood and fierce like the wind. I simply could not see my life without them. Ironically, they aren’t physically around, but I feel that their hearts and mine understand each other within a coherent nature we only understand. I suppose it was one of the reasons why I loved being born in a family with my brothers. We were our own club, exclusive to even our parents, and no matter how elite either of us became, we were still connected. Plus, they never changed by a mile; they only changed by a mere few steps.

If you’re wondering why my parents weren’t included, they aren’t the trusting type parents. My mother always kept me at arms length and my father made sure to violate people’s trust for his own control. Either one of them, selfish people pretending to be cautious and caring, never trusted those around them, and their distrusting perceptions seeped into their parenting. My father was better at acting than my mother, but still, even his facade cracked and we all lost, my mother included. The world shut on any relationship between my mother, my father, and my brothers and I.

My brothers, though, were there from the start. My older brother protected me and taught me in the absence of sense, and my younger brother made me more mature by getting us in trouble.

My best friend isn’t part of the club of my brothers and I, but she’s pretty damn close. She has the most amazing way at looking at things, although she’s my younger brother’s age. Her personality is so fun and vibrant, a strong red if her color depicted her and her alone. Even though I’ve been the one she relied upon during tough times, I’ve always felt I could talk to her and lean on her if I needed it. Being without contact with her for over a year doesn’t hamper our relationship. She’s just busy with her life and I’m busy with mine.

Yes, I’m surrounded by people who I am friends with, but few are those that I trust. Even fewer are machines. My brothers and I are machines, which may account for our close bond, but everyone else can pass for people even if they are machines.

My Life as a Machine: The Writers

I have always been irritated by authors with books where characters were portrayed in a different writing style. Essentially, the words were meant to indicate a letter in first person or a memory straight from the character’s mind. Still, the author purposely dodged the main character’s thoughts–writing completely different to indicate so–just to make the other character and the scenarios more realistic.

I thought it was a betrayal to the author, switching between characters. Maybe I was just jealous.

In my mechanical mind, the gears tell me that an author should always stay true to their writing style. If they understood such a rule, books would work and I could scan as many novels as my mind’s capacity to hold its information. It’s not that the audience doesn’t know the author didn’t write it. As a matter of fact, errors in fallen speech and diction certainly betrays the new character’s “voice” and the author returns to their usual habit of writing. I thought it was a futile attempt. Why write differently?

But, like I said, maybe I’m jealous. I have the habit of mimicking the writing styles of the author’s I’ve read immediately prior. It’s not like I can’t write in my own voice. My problem is that my own thoughts are written in the same syntax and speech as another writer’s when I have their work immediately before writing. Even now, I am vaguely aware of the fact that my writing right now is similar to that of Kenzaburo Oe’s–I’m currently reading Oe’s A Quiet Life novel.

I have tried to rid myself of such a bad habit. There’s nothing wrong with my style in writing. What I fear, though, even as a machine, is what I write. People don’t like to deal with dull and depressing things, let alone, dull and depressing things that actually speaks the truth. After all, I am a machine, and a machine’s life, no matter how they appear or disappear, isn’t easy. People don’t like dealing with machines because we’re stronger.

Our prides were dashed from us like flies around a picnic table before we hit puberty. Our hopes were crushed before college. Once someone, anyone, has experienced such hardship and decided to stand up again and again, people get scared. It means they’re stronger, determined and unwilling to budge from their resolves. Even when machines lack in resolve, their strength can still be felt. You can see the hesitation in people’s eyes when they face a true machine willing to show them their nature. It’s unabridged and filled to the brim with everything flung to them by people.

I think being a machine has formed my writing ability. I used to write short stories, mostly about how the world hated me because I was a machine. I used to write poems about how shattered my beaten life seemed when I was very young. I understood little about the mechanics about true writing, but I knew the fundamentals: writing was an expression of your deepest secrets, everyone’s faults, and the remainder of your soul. Who knew such an intrinsic device existed within humans and machines alike?

My Life as a Machine: Waiting Machine

The summer before I graduated, my life took a different turn. It felt like my dreams were trying to tell me something. “Cheer up,” said my dream about being a cheerleader. “You’re self-assured,” said my naked dream half. “You may have a deep seated grudge, so look at it,” murmured another dream. I was tired of not knowing.

What will I do with my life?

I tried to submerge my mind into the river of possibilities. Should I continue acting? Or should I continue acting like I care? Should I keep modeling? Or should I model my life now as it has always been?

What will it be?

In the end, the machinery stalled, and I simply stared into a downgraded laptop with half-hearted hopes. I wanted to write, draw, and free myself from this planet, but the mere existence I held extended to nothing more than thoughts and actions and consequences.

I was bored. And I was trapped inside a routine. And I was happy in the routine.

But the strain began to crumple in the segments of my heart. Where was he? Where was this so-called soulmate? I was starting to crack beneath the impossible weight of being alone. Every day, that summer, I didn’t search for him, but he didn’t appear, either. What was wrong with this Earth?

If the world suddenly fractured, would I find him there? Maybe, maybe not. But I do know how unhappy I really am, or moreso, how this weird void continues to haunt me. I mean, I have everything else, and you can’t be perfect though.

The ditch was almost filled because no one could dive into it willingly. I don’t think anything changed it.

I’m still alone.

Machine’s Life: Flirting Machine

His name is Josh, and I can’t stop thinking about him. His soft brown eyes and cute half-smile is so attractive to me. I know, I know, he doesn’t look like the cutest man, but man, his personality almost lifts him to a completely different status.

We met at a cafe inside of a mini Japanese center uptown on a Wednesday. It was a meeting for people interested in Japanese culture and looking to practice their Japanese tongue with a group of local Japanese residents and Japanese-speaking Americans. Why was I, a machine, at this particular cafe filled to the brim with everything and everyone Japanese? In the future, I hoped I would return to Japan, the land I felt so comfortable in, and in hoping so, I decided to learn the language more profusely.

I sat at one of the tables as people began to clambor into the small cafe, drinking my green tea boba drink, while I chattered with a Filipino immigrant. Joshua soon joined the table, and I started a conversation with him and the other people at my end of the table.

At first, I thought he was a bit short–he was only 5’6–but the thought soon faded, and I began to see him as cute. The hour went by very quickly, and soon, everyone climbed to their feet, paid for their drinks, and headed home or collectively went to a restaurant. I went home to study.

The Sunday following, a friend I met at the meeting invited me to Josh’s place for a barbeque, and he picked me. It was a definite bacchelor pad, but I didn’t care. The dog that was almost as tall as one of the tiny Japanese girls was a handful to control. He slobbered everyone and everywhere, leaving tendrils of drool across hands and fingers. (So gross!)

Josh was even more humorous than when I first met him. I was only one of three girls at the barbeque and it took all day to finally settle down for a game of Asshole. Since I wasn’t driving, I drank throughout the entire time at Josh’s place, feeling the guards within me slowly drop to a tolerable and funny level.

While we played Asshole, Josh and I traded insults, innuendos, and role-playing remarks until his dog became ill. When Guitar Hero became the new center game, I asked Josh to show me some moves. He was a former teacher in karate and martial arts, and it had been so long since my last mini martial art session with a cute older guy. He showed me how to get out of different holds and use my small stature to my advantage.

It was odd to be handled by a man. It wasn’t like men never touched me, but just to be pressed against a man’s body struck me as new and exciting. Unfortunately, not paying attention meant I was going to get thrown, so I diminished any thoughts or feelings from my brain and focused on the lesson. “Chin down. Ok, got it.”

I don’t know when I started to think about Josh in that type of manner. I think it was when I was lying in bed later that night, trying to get my mind to shut the hell up, that the thought of kissing Josh began to take form. At first, it was just a simple, sweet kiss, our bodies unsure of how to react, where to touch, what to do. His lips were soft, and I loved his smell. Then, the innocent kiss escalated, becoming a rage of passion and hormones, making our hands grope each other, explore every inch, until the bed was found.

I removed myself from the dream as the scene became laded with X-rated sounds and sights. But the scenes never stopped. Instead, they played randomly, from the bouts of consciousness at night throughout the rest of the next day. Why wasn’t he out of my mind yet? Why?

So much for being an impartial machine…

My Life as a Machine: Super-Perceptions

Machine or not, having dreams that tell the near future and having thoughts that come true start to take its toll on me. Maybe that’s why I’m a bit broken, right?

Since I was 11, I would have these amazing dreams, where its vivid scenarios would become reality in front of my eyes. It first started as what I thought to be coincidence. I would have a dream about a cartoon I loved, all of its characters running the course of the writer’s plot in high definition, and a month later, the exact scene would be an excerpt in reality. The cartoon would come to life with something I dreamed about.

Even small thoughts in my head would reflect a moment in future. I knew every episode of a television show I avidly watched, and when I thought, “I think this episode will come on today”, I predicted the episode correct. Lo and behold, the episode would air, and I wondered how the hell did I know that. We didn’t have TV guide or anything. Internet was still in its preliminary stages.

The amount of premonitions lessened as I got older, but there was something about having such an involuntary ability that irked me. Where did it come from? Was I going insane? What was wrong with me?

This super-perception didn’t just stay within the limits of my dreams nor thoughts. My ninth grade teacher thought it completely necessary to organize different types of psychology and perceptual tests for class, giving in to testing “ESP”. I didn’t really think much of it. I partnered up with a friend and received a deck of cards.

“Your partner will pick out a card and hold it out, but only your partner knows what the card says. You just guess the color of the card. Is it red or black?”

I waited for my partner to pick a card and hold it up. A picture seemed to enter my mind, and I began to rattle off the color of the cards. Once we did ten trials, she set down the deck and pursed her lips together, thinking, staring at me.

“If you get more than 50% right, move on to guessing the suit. Is it diamonds, cloves, spades, or hearts?” My teacher went back to talking to another teacher as the class continued with the task.

My friend held up a card, but the expression on her face was one of concentration. She peered past the card at me with her green eyes. I looked away, another image of the card coming into my head. I only concentrated on the suit and I reluctantly told her my guess. Slowly, as we worked through another ten trials, I could see the excitement run across her guise. Ironically, she was more excited than I. On my end, I was merely confused.

She leaned forward and whispered, like unburdening a secret, “Hey, let’s try to see if you can get the face right,” she challenged, her green eyes imploring me to attempt. “Let’s see if you can get what’s on the card.”

The look in her eyes, like she discovered something fascinating worth probing, made me scared. Was I a freak because I could guess cards accurately? I mean, I wasn’t a card counter or anything! What was the deal? I started rattling off the cards that came into my mind, and after the third card, my teacher stopped the class to begin his lecture.

I felt grateful at that moment. If I really could pass all of the “ESP” tests, did that mean I had ESP? I was so confused, I didn’t remember anything that came out of the teacher’s mouth. When the bell rang and we all filed out of the classroom, my friend came to whisper to me again.

“We’ll try that last test tomorrow morning,” she stated, refusing any “no” answers. Her eyes were still afire with the excitement I saw earlier. It frightened me, really. So the next morning, before school, she presented the cards to me, and I started to guess each card wrong on purpose, though, I knew almost all of the cards I attempted. She pursed her lips again and shook her head, disappointed.

I didn’t want to become an even bigger outcast than I already was at that time. I sabotaged the test just to get her off my back. Just the sheer joy of finding out a secret of mine was a fear I couldn’t have running around. I left any talk of having ESP with the deck of cards she never played with.

Although I wasn’t a card counter, I was great at guessing cards. It made me one tough challenger to an enthusiastic card player. I developed a reputation in college for winning card challenges.

But, once again, I wasn’t surprised when the abilities continued to evolve. My premonitions were only active when I was highly stressed. My dreams, however, began to warp into different stages of consciousness.

Sometimes, they were so acute, so vivid, I would become disoriented when I awoke. Some nights, I was another person, but every dream ended similarly. I dreamed, and the person who I was formerly, would look straight at me and tell me something. I couldn’t always understand their sentences, but somehow, I held a comprehension that I never knew existed.

And then, in my conscious moments, I felt surrounded by things, tendrils of people who once existed on the planet, and scary things. When I was dating my ex-fiance, there was this warm spirit that followed me everywhere. I even dreamed what she would look like, and in first seeing a picture of her, my ex told me sadly, “That’s my grandmother.”

I merely stared at the picture, which intrigued him. “She’s the one who’s been following me around,” I murmured, uncertain of how he would take it. Sure enough, he was a bit taken aback, watching me. “She has a warmth like yours, but different. More motherly.” Although he never understood this quality I had, he accepted the fact that his grandmother was watching over us. After all, my ex was his grandmother’s favorite grandchild.

I started to fight the feeling of ghosts and spirits and things around me. It was exhausting to wake up from a dream about someone else’s life, them pulling me into a sea of another reality. And when I slumped around college, I could feel the tug of other people’s problems just a little distance from seeing them. It seemed that I could sense some type of trauma or sorrow from others in spite of their smiling faces and outgoing personalities. I suddenly understood how keeping such a sixth sense would drive me mad.

It wasn’t until after things went downhill with my ex-fiance that I began an inward transformation. I was engrossed in my own problems, my own self to even think about my dreams, my premonitions, the heavy pasts of others and playing cards. Slowly, the things I felt and saw didn’t make me jump or hide. Instead, I started to blossom and see things for how they were–see things at face value.

And then, poof! It all mostly disappeared. I could still read cards in my mind, but it wasn’t the same as knowing things and having a third eye. Whenever the pasts piled up on a person I hardly knew, I told myself not to go there, thus, saving my sanity.

I believe the last evolution of this perception finally came to its permanency. I only have vivid premonitions and seer-like thoughts when I am stressed. Once I fix whatever screw is loose inside of me, the premonitions stop. I don’t rely on it, and ironically, I don’t believe in my dreams anymore. It’s only when whatever I dream or think becomes reality, I start to look inward for why.

My Life as a Machine: Broken Machine

I hates being sick. When people announced that machines couldn’t get sick, they simply broken and somebody fixed them, I thought it was aperposterous statement. How many times have I acquired an illness, a sneeze, and dear God, a magical headache that jumped from my boss to between my eyes?

As I matured, my childish invincibility to disease began to waiver, and before long, the common cold became common, and allergies kicked into my nostrils in the form of pollen, and sinuses was my dear foe. What happened to being sick-free? It was but a dream…

One of the last years in college, I discovered the secret for my body to function at optimum levels for long periods of time. I didn’t attend parties, for fear of not sleeping for a full 7 to 8 hours. I skipped procrastinating habits and completed homework on the weekends to avoid overworking during the weekdays.

“How do you do it?” people ask me, wide eyes imploring me for some magical bean that caused full rest with a platter of responsibilities on the shoulders.

I always shrugged my shoulders, like brushing off the tendrils of spider webs. “I don’t know,” I answered, “I prioritize.” The disappointed faces, the failure I was to them, caused me no grief. I simply kept my face void of anything more than a sympathetic smile. There was nothing to prioritizing once someone figured out themselves through trial and error.

But people…they need to be spoon fed the cure. Everything has to be a quick fix with people. Even robots have caught the phenomenon of laziness and so-called privilege.

Hey! I worked my ass off to become the best machine I could be!

Sometimes, being as strong-willed and well-built as I am, people don’t see the advantage in having a machine in their lives, functioning or not. People can’t see past their sloping noses to realize that they are looking at themselves first before they peer down at anyone else haughtily. To me, people are permanently broken and not looking to fix themselves either.

My Life as a Machine: A Machine’s Mother

My mother is a completely different being. She is passionate, fiery, and funny. The only problem is when she overlooks so many details, you begin to wonder where half her brain resided in her tiny 5-foot-nothing body. The worse thing about her, passion or not, was her inconsistency in everything she did. Plainly spoken, she was a breathing hypocrit.

She hardly took interest in me unless it were having to do with her finances. I understood her concerns–after all, I was partially raised by her–but I also felt her unnecessary need to hold me at arm’s length. She tried to snuggle up to us, her children, sometimes forgetting that we abandoned her a long ways down the road.

In one instance, my mother’s presence was required at a summer orientation for a college I was to attend briefly. Our only mode of transportation, a boxy Nissan Sentra with three generations of hand-me-down prints, was out of commission for some reason or another. Somehow, my mother booked us a ride with one of her sisters, and she whisked us off to the college where public transportation didn’t exist.

As soon as I stepped out of my aunt’s Toyota Corolla and watched her speed off, I turned to my mother. “Mom, how are we getting back home?”

She just stared at me for a moment, and I watched as the non-existent gears in her head completely crumbled. “I don’t know,” she answered, quickly walking down the sidewalk to who-knows-where. Her sense of direction was horrible.

My entire face burned up and I found the words whirling out of my mouth before I could stop them. “You mean to tell me that we don’t know how we’re getting home?” I snapped, following her. “I mean, how could you not think about that?”

She whirled around, anger flashing in her eyes. I backed off immediately. For a small woman, my mother had a mean temper. Her jaw was already set, and if my immature memory serves me right, her wavy black hair stood out like a witch’s. “Don’t talk to me like that,” she bellowed in a voice I knew meant no negotiations. She turned on her heel and continued to walk towards an ambiguous direction. That day was only one out of many in which my mother completely overlooked the big details.

When I was growing up, I didn’t speak to my mother much. It was a one-way relationship, really. She spoke to us, with her thick Filipino accent, to get this or do that. Her role in the household was purely stereotypical “female work”; she cooked and cleaned and folded clothes, watching soap operas when no one occupied the television.

She didn’t take much interest in us because we were hard-headed, I suppose, but we all knew that her accepting the “wife’s role” in the household caused my brothers and I to treat her as such. Her concerns for us as children, pre-teens, teenagers, and finally, as adults, were limited. It felt fake to be loved by my mother. With her arms stretched out, I hesitated to hug her, and instantly asked myself silently, “Should I hug her?”

I ended up hugging her out of obligation.

In most times, there was a sense of reciprocity in regards to my mother and I. For some reason or another, there was a nagging feeling from her I felt. It seemed she didn’t like me, like there was something wrong with me. I could only assume my brothers were born people and I was born a machine, which seemed about right when it came down to genetics.

There was always this distance my mother placed between us, an invisible barrier, disregarding our blood relation. I didn’t notice the veil of separation until my teen years when my parents separated, and suddenly, my brothers and I were living with a stranger called Mom.

It wasn’t that I disliked my mother so much. I think if she had been more active throughout my childhood and actually cared, our relationship would currently be stronger. The biggest factor in our relationship was her personality. She was a naturally selfish person. Even if she wanted to be involved with her children, it seemed more forced by parenthood than out of love or concern.

I promised myself I would not be like my mother. I would encourage communication with my children and interact with them on as many levels as I could. I wouldn’t do it out of obligation; it would be out of love.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t that my mother just did everything out of obligation. She cooked with love, which was one of the things that I loved and respected about her. But looking back, I don’t think my mother was happy or content. After all, my father was a completely different story.

My Life as a Machine: Falling in Love Machine

People think that machines are incapable of love, and when they do love, machines only love other machines. Since when did people think they knew us machines better than machines?

I think the person I fell in so deeply in love with was in my dreams. Yes, I was engaged briefly in my short life, but this heart-wrenching love, where your heart isn’t voluntary or involuntary anymore. There is no ending to the feeling, the bliss of dying, and crying, until you are cleansed of your own salty joy.

He was a machine as well, one of the best functioning machines in the world, but his existence was still lowly because of his unearthly potentials. We both knew he was the center of this world, if people allowed it, if only… He reached his hand to me and I spoke to him without opening my mouth. Who was this man? I wondered with curiosity.

“Don’t be afraid,” he began, loud and clear. His voice was enough to melt my soul into pieces of life. Something awoke inside of my body as he stared at me. I knew he had soft eyes, warm windows to his  soul, despite my inability to recall his facial features. He took my hand, completely overwhelming my tactile senses with his touch.

“You are someone special. This world, everything in it, is only a small piece of what you truly see. Already in your few years in this universe, you have become wise. God has gifted you beyond your wildest imagination, yet, you continue your life in the dreams of shadows. What are you afraid of?”

His speech surprised me. The words were stated so simply, but the warmth radiating from his etheral body seemed to encompass my whole being. Who was this man? Was he really the man of my dreams? In literal terms, yes, yes he was, but in my brain–in my real mind–I could feel my consciousness kick in. This is a dream, isn’t it?

The other machine seemed to comprehend my furrowed brow, my frown, and my uncertain eyes. Tilting his head to the side, I felt him smile gently. “I am asking you something you ask yourself every day. Why is it difficult to return an answer? Have you not found your answer?”

Such bewilderment on my part! I looked away, unsure of myself. With my mind’s realistic eye slowly approaching, I realized that such a question wasn’t so far from my true desire. I needed to answer the question placed on a platter and served to me without options to refuse.

Who was this man?

“I’m not afraid.” It wasn’t a complete lie. I was afraid of different things in life, but ultimately, I wasn’t afraid of many things. “I used to feel like a part of me was hiding something very important from me. My body and my mind knew something I didn’t, and I just didn’t get it.”

“And now?”

I shrugged my shoulders wantonly. “I don’t have that feeling anymore.” I clutched his hand, wanting to wrap my entire body in his warmth. He didn’t pull away. “I figured it out, but now, I’m more confused than ever. I know I’m supposed to do something wonderful with my life, but what is it? It’s not myself holding something back. It’s something else!”

“Hey, hey,” he cooed in a husky voice, patting my hand, effectively reassuring me. “Don’t worry. You’ll come to know what your future is.”

I stared at him, trying to see if he was just humoring me. There was nothing wavering in his appearance. Even the warmth from his body reassured my own hesitation. After a few moments, his smile widened me.

“You may not know me,” he began, leaning closer to me, “but you are not alone.” The other machine fully embraced me in his arms, utterly enveloping me inside the warmth inside his body.

As we hugged, our bodies almost as one, I didn’t care anymore about who he was. Instead, I savored the touch, squeezing him back to keep this feeling from escaping my existence. I knew, however, that this would be the first and last time I would talk to him in this manner. If he were to enter my dream, my consciousness would surely chase him away, as my mind took such cruel measures to protect my unconscious self from falling victim to any threats or dangers, especially thought-provoking questions.

“I love you,” I found myself murmuring, and immediately, amazement crossed my features. Love? I wasn’t so certain about loving someone else, but with this graceful machine before me, I blurted it out.

He seemed pleased with my confession, and he bent forward, placing a kiss on the corner of my lips. It was a fleeting kiss, but it singed my lips like fire, like red hot passion in a single deliverance. He pulled away, smiling, and his mouth parted to speak.

“I lo–”

My consciousness flung me out of my dream, and I awoke with a start.

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