Someone once told me that it was easier to love the perfect, than to love the imperfect.
It’s strange how something imperfect can seem so perfect in another’s eyes.
I guess it’s true then.
That beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.
I’ve seen this many times before.
My father types a command into the laptop, and he jerks upright with a shudder and a wheeze. Compressed air flowed beneath silicone skin, triggering actuators that raised his arms and lift the corners of his mouth into a demure smile.
He seems to compose himself, eyes panning the room where he stood fixed to the platform—tubes and wires running down to his ankles. He blinks, lashes casting beautiful shadows over royal blue eyes.
He registers my father first, lowering his head into a gentle bow.
“Master,” He greets with the most pleasing voice to my ears—gentle, soft, and surprisingly, human.
Father nods, bowing his head with an acknowledging smile.
He approaches his creation with something in his hands.
He—it—lowered his gaze to register the item in my father’s hand.
It was a pair of glasses.
He places them upon the bridge of his nose, sliding the slim, almost unnoticeable tips behind his ears.
“Better?” Father asks.
His creation nods with a grateful smile. “Yes Master.”
He blinks, then turns his face toward me.
I cannot help but meet his—its—mechanical gaze.
“Good evening,” The last droid paused to adjust the material sitting on his nose, “Young Master.”
I was five when I first fell in love.
Strangely enough, I didn’t fall in love with the girl who sat beside me in school. Neither did I fall in love with the girl next door. Nor did I fall in love with the daughter of my Mother’s best friend.
I fell in love with AI.
The second his beautiful, mechanical gaze met mine. I fell in love with what I thought was perfect.
Something that did not exist in this world.
He was lovely.
His eyes held the gentle waves of the ocean, the beauty of the night sky.
I remembered asking my Father how he made them. Those eyes that felt as if they contained every single fragment of our broken skies.
How he made something so perfect.
And surprisingly, he told me: “He’s not perfect.”
Curious, I asked why.
He laughed, and said: “He is almost blind without his glasses. How is that perfect?”
Then he told me to pick one.
“Now, come—there are far many droids who are perfect. Look,” He gestured to a female with green eyes and blonde hair. “Look at JI. She’s perfect. Won’t you pick her?”
“What for?” I asked.
“To serve you, of course,” My father’s eyes laughed.
I scanned the row of droids that looked so, so human. The type of humans that were perfect in every manner.
I was five then—but as every other child knew how to do: I knew how to love the perfect.
And to me, he was perfect.
I stared at the last droid which my father deemed imperfect.
“Why can’t I have AI?”
My father’s eyes dulled, and they seemed to smile sadly. “Suoh, have you ever seen something that is…created, to be imperfect?”
I looked at all the droids before AI. “No.”
“You see—everyone prefers something that is perfect, over something that is imperfect. I can’t sell AI, because no one wants a droid who cannot see.”
“So…why did you create something that is imperfect?” I asked.
My father looked at me strangely, as if seeing me for the first time, and then bowed his head.
“I don’t know.”
[9 years old]
I hear someone calling me.
“Young Master, breakfast is ready.”
I opened a lazy eye.
“I told you not to call me that.”
AI held his smile, as if he had not heard a word. His raven fringe fell over his glasses as he fixed the covers.
“Young Master, I still have to dress you.”
“AI, I told you not to call me that.”
Only then, did he pause, and look into my eyes.
“I’m afraid I am obliged to do so, Young Master,” He straightened up and opened my wardrobe.
I frowned, kicking off the covers and sitting up lazily. “You don’t call Father ‘Master’ anymore.”
AI turned to look at me. “Why—that is a different case.”
“I don’t see a damn difference.”
He did not register.
AI came over to the bedside and I stood up, letting him unbutton my pajamas. “You’re growing very fast, Young Master.”
“And how the hell would you know, AI?” I shot back, annoyed by his lack of submission.
There was a twinkle in his eyes. “Because I know that you have grown 0.87 centimeters and gained 30 grams since Wednesday, Young Master,” He replied without hesitation.
That side of him irked me.
But I didn’t say I didn’t like it.
He slipped the white dress shirt over my shoulders and proceeded to button up with slim, pale fingers that strangely resembled a female’s.
His dark lashes fluttered as he blinked unnecessarily, and I couldn’t help but notice the translucent, milky skin of his elegant neck.
Just a few more years.
I’m not sure when AI started falling ill, but apparently, droids aren’t immune to illnesses.
His eyes were half-lidded with exhaustion, and he seemed sickly pale.
The skies in his eyes felt as if they had been eclipsed by darkness—and the enchanting stars in them vanished without a trace.
“AI, what’s wrong? Have you been overworking yourself?”
My Father’s droid smiled weakly, turning to me with sad eyes.
It’s so strange how people say that droids didn’t have feelings.
Because I was so sure this one had.
“Don’t worry Young Master. I…will be fine,” His gentle voice quivered, and so did his fingers as he lit the bedside lamp.
I shouldn’t have trusted him.
It had been two whole days since I’ve last seen AI, and whenever I asked Father, he would cease to have any expression—only to respond with a simple answer that never satisfied me.
“I sold him.”
I saw red.
There was nothing that could describe my anger—it boiled within the pit of my stomach, burning, gulping flames of fiery heat. I could only clench my teeth and fists, powerless.
How I wish I had the strength to threaten the old man, demanding the right to know what happened to the one I love—but no. I was powerless.
How, I wonder—was my wish granted?
There was an itchy guilt in my chest that told me it was my fault. But I couldn’t deny the mirth I felt when I found out about his death.
Father left the world behind a month later—with no instructions, no will, and no last words.
He disappeared from the world without a trace, just like AI.
And then I was alone.
The morning piano plays softly in the background.
The clinking of utensils.
“ZI, where’s my tea?”
“I have it here, Mistress Mary.”
My sister raised her teacup, checking her reflection in the clean spoon. “Hurry. George is waiting for me at the gates.”
Her droid nodded, smiling despite the horrible tone of her owner. “Yes Mistress.”
“RI, is my bag ready?” Jane sipped her tea quietly, and turned to the male droid standing behind her velvet chair.
“Yes it is my lady,” Said he with a bow.
“DI I don’t like these sandals. Get me the pink ones.”
“VI this tea is bitter.”
“MI, change my fork.”
“JI, my shoelace.”
“YI, I don’t like—“
All of you.
I bear the pain of watching my sisters at breakfast every single day—ordering their droids around as if they were any less capable of doing any of the tasks by their own.
Their voices irritated me.
Their beauty irked me even further.
This family made me so sick, I had a permanent frown on my face.
I looked angry, annoyed, every single second of my life even though I wasn’t.
It became such a natural feeling.
What’s worse was that neither of them shared the same blood as me. Every single one of them was a simple product of my Father’s idiocy.
Sometimes, I never understood him.
Sometimes, I just wish he didn’t leave me here—alone, in a mansion full of beautiful idiots.
At this point of time in my life, where I already had a permanent frown on my face and looked fucking pissed, scaring off everyone at school—can you believe, that I’m only 10?
I stopped hanging on to the hope of him ever coming back.
The absence of the voice that lulled me to sleep and brought me back from my nightmares was something that I had to bear with almost six years of emptiness.
That, and the never-ending speeches of passion from my half-sisters.
I wake to their orders and calls for their droids to do the simplest things ever, and lived with almost no purpose.
Fuck this world.
I found myself sleeping my life away—drowning in the slight possibility of seeing those pair of eyes that captured the night sky again. And for what seemed like eternity when it was a mere six years—dreams were better than reality.
It was a cold Saturday afternoon. Skeletal fingers of rain slid down the window panes, almost begging for entrance. It was a kind of afternoon where you didn’t feel like doing anything, what with the storm raging outside and the warm lights inside.
Just that the lights inside weren’t as warm as you thought.
The rain fell in whispers, and I sauntered into the drawing room, stretching my legs out on the velvet couch. The metal chain attached to the pocket of my black jeans clinked melodiously as I shifted to comfort.
I closed my eyes, waiting for sleep to drown me.
And nothing happened.
I was stubbornly aware of the drumming of rain on glass, and the small warmth coming from the fireplace.
It was a cold Saturday afternoon, the kind of afternoon where rain fell in hushed whispers. The kind of afternoon where you felt as if exploring the house might be a good idea.
The kind of afternoon where magical things happen.
I’m not a kid.
Stuff like that don’t happen to a lazy teenager like me.
But there was this itch in my feet. A kind of itch that willed your feet to move like an instinct. I moved towards the door, turning the knob and exiting the drawing room.
Mary’s droid passed me, and greeted in a tone that resembled a human’s. It was rare to see her droid by her own.
“Where’s Mary?” I asked.
“Everyone’s over at Lord Caversham’s for afternoon tea, Young Master,” ZI replied with a smile and I raised my eyebrow.
“How nice of them not to invite me.”
“Yes indeed,” Said Zi, not understanding my sarcasm.
“Whatever,” I turned on my heel in the other direction, walking aimlessly on marble floors, wandering up and down the glassy steps.
Then I realized that I was alone in the house.
It was rare.
My stepmothers never really bothered about me, but they were always sure to leave several droids at the mansion to watch the house.
But there was only ZI.
I turned towards the steps that led to his bedroom, hearing the click of my boots on the spotless floor and the clink of the chains attached to the pocket of my jeans.
It was unlocked.
Was someone in there before me?
Or perhaps stepmother forgot to lock it.
I gripped the handle and pushed, opening the double doors to Father’s bedroom.
It looked just like how it was when I last saw it a few years ago.
Someone had been maintaining the room.
It was dust-free, the sheets were made, the papers tidied, and the windows cleaned.
There was a glow in the wood of the fireplace.
Someone had been here a few minutes ago.
Flicking the lock into place, I moved towards Father’s study table, scanning the spotless mahogany and then proceeding to search his drawers.
I turned towards the shelves that lined the walls, the painful sight of leather-covered books making my eyes hurt. None of the spines were labelled with the title of the books and my patience ticked.
There were only a few that were labelled, gold letters emblazoned on the spines of red.
26 books labelled A-Z.
Obviously, I picked ‘A’ first. It wasn’t because ‘A’ was the first letter of the alphabet.
I learnt the alphabet slightly different from how other people learnt it. I learnt it from the back.
Father always told me ‘Z’ came first. I never knew why.
The reason I picked ‘A’ was obvious.
I turned the page.
“Manual,” I read out loud, and all of a sudden, the whispering of the rain seemed to die down.
I turned the page, and the letters that jumped out heightened my senses.
The letters slipped out of my lips in a strange manner, and I never knew I could sound like that.
There were footsteps.
My fingers fumbled with the spine of the book and it dropped to the floor—
Something slipped out from the gap of the spine—
It came in contact with the marble floor and clinked melodiously.
The double doors rattled.
The person—ZI probably—paused, confused. And then I heard her voice through the wood. “Young Master? Are you in there?”
A vice-like grip grasped my throat, and I couldn’t find my voice. I grabbed the key and slid it into my pocket, placing the book back on the shelf.
“Young Master? Are you in there?” The doors rattled harder.
I crossed the room and unlocked the door, only to find ZI staring at me with blank eyes.
“Young Master, how did you get in there?”
“It was unlocked.”
“Are you certain? Mistress Lucinda locks it every night, it is impossible—“
“I said it’s unlocked,” I snapped, losing my patience.
Shoving the droid aside, I exited Father’s bedroom, hands in my pockets.
I could feel the cold surface of the metal key against my skin.
I could feel it calling to me.
What kind of magic is this?
I knew where the key led to. Don’t ask me how I knew it—I just knew.
It felt like a primal instinct to know.
My feet led me towards the underground passage and to a rusty, ugly door at the end of the cold, underground hallway.
The dim light flickered once, twice.
I pulled out the key and it slid perfectly into the lock. It was no surprise.
The reader beside the metal door of my Father’s lab beeped at the click of the lock, and there was a voice.
“Please enter your password.”
I tried his birthday. His day of invention. His ID. (And ironically,) My birthday.
I cursed under my breath, feeling my patience exceed the limits.
How the hell would I—
And then I got it.
I tried Mother’s birthday.
There was a metallic click of the second lock, and then a soft whirring sound before the door creaked open automatically. The lights flickered on, sensing my presence.
I entered Father’s research room, already familiar with the pungent scent of silicone and polished metal.
I’ve seen this many times before.
His laptop sat atop his workbench, glowing an electric blue. The air conditioner above whirred.
And behind the workbench, attached to the platform with wires and tubes running down his ankles, wrists secured above his head with a pair of metal cuffs, was the one I fell in love with.
I inched closer, the sound of my boots coming in contact with the cement echoing in the empty lab.
A meter away from the platform, I caught a sign of movement.
His lashes fluttered beneath his glasses.
And then I saw those eyes that contained every single fragment of our broken skies, and I knew I had fallen in love with him all over again.
AI’s eyes widened, and then he leaned forward unconsciously, only to register the cuffs on his hands.
“Master? Is that…you?”
A/N: Hi my dear <3 Cuppie here, and I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of my new idea, Human ~>-<~ *hugs* You are amazing. Thank you for letting me participate in this wonderful competition <3