The Drive Home
"So, Sally, say hello to your new home."
"Yes, Papa. Hello, home."
"You'll have to follow some rules, but we're happy to have you."
As the car comes to a stop, Francis glances in the rear view mirror again. The little girl clutches a teddy bear, not because she'd wanted one, but because his wife had insisted that she would. A present for the newest member of their family.
Sally looks almost exactly like a little girl should, but he isn't convinced.
He and Laura could have tried to get a real child, of flesh and blood, and eyes that don't glow from the circuitry hiding behind them, but the laws of where they live make it hard, and robotic children are so much easier to take care of, the salesman at the store had insisted. Even if the behavior they grow into becomes troublesome, you only have to make a trip to a mechanic to adjust them, and your problems are solved. Sally would be easier for them. Better. There would be no risk of reproduction, repercussions, or ruination of their planet. Just a child. To love and cherish, but not feed or support.
So Francis had agreed - being able to skip the baby phase was a plus - but he wasn't totally sold. If his wife hadn't been, he most certainly would have been more likely to refuse.
Getting out of the car, Francis closes the door behind him as Sally waits obediently. When he unclips the seat belt, she hops out, and takes the hand he thinks to offer her.
"So, what do you think?" he asks, referring to the house they begin to approach.
"I don't know, Papa,” the robot says. “We haven't even gone inside yet. I can't tell for sure if you and Mama will like me."
At this, Francis stops, frowns, and kneels down so he can look Sally in the eye. "Well, just know this," he says after a few seconds of thinking. Kindness should help her become more human, like the salesman had said. "No matter what, we'll love you, understand?"
The touching words are somewhat spoiled by a wooden tone, but Sally doesn't seem to notice. As Francis squeezes his new child's shoulders in feigned reassurance, she instead flashes him a pre-programmed smile and says, automatically as ever, "Yes, Papa."