Dyllys was unsure whether she had thought the words, or if someone else had spoken them. Regardless, they had the desired affect: she awoke. She stared at the cascading light. The morning sun was shining through the window at the end of her bed. She could see the tight beam it sent through the trees outside as the light reflected on the dust in the room. She passed her hand through it trying to catch the light even as she knew that she couldn’t. She was more intent on feeling the warmth of the light on her cold pale skin. She had no warmth of her own; after all, Dyllys wasn’t alive.
They called her an android, as they called all her kind, but they had never treated her like one. Had she understood feelings she would have called their treatment of her kind, but Dyllys couldn’t feel. She merely was; for something had to be alive to feel.
Today, her mind was full of confusion. She wanted to talk to her mistress and so she pushed herself up from the bed and stood. She understood that she was to wear clothing, which her mistress required of her, but she never had understood the purpose of the clothing that they required her to wear. Practicality called for tight fitting clothes that would not hinder her performance in her duties, but her mistress always insisted that she wear loose fitting dresses that rippled in the wind and caused more problems with movement than Dyllys would ever admit. Her duty, however, was not to question her mistress, but to obey. What she had come to understand about humans in the duration she had been active, was that they rarely made sense and always acted on emotion, something that Dyllys did not comprehend. She only knew that it made her mistress do illogical things and more often caused Dyllys a great deal of problems.
Dyllys put on a white dress nearly the same color as her soft skin. She looked at herself in the mirror. It wasn’t that she was at all concerned with the way she looked; it was merely an imitation of what her mistress always did. As her mistress was always insistent that Dyllys act more human, Dyllys always made a point to copy what her mistress did, regardless of whether or not she knew why she was doing such things.
Dyllys was perfection in the eyes of a human. Her pale skin was unmarked, her face almost childlike in innocence. Her eyes were a piercing blue, so perfect in color they looked like ice. Dyllys understood that her eyes captivated humans, captured their attention more than anything else her body possessed, merely because they were such a radiant color that belonged to no human. She always thought that this feature of hers would be the least liked as her mistress was always aspiring for Dyllys to be more human. In fact, the rarity of their color always made everyone feel more comfortable with Dyllys, like the mere color of her eyes made her more human. Another thing she couldn’t comprehend. Maybe they were easier to stare at than the more mechanical look of her ‘wings,’ the memory modules that were affixed to her temples. They were large metallic structures that grew from beneath the surface of her skin forming metallic feathers that looked, with intricate detail, like the wings of crane, white with black tips. Her ‘wings’ were what held back her long silver hair. Staring at herself in the mirror, Dyllys couldn’t see a human at all. She saw just what she was: a machine, built to serve. She moved away from the mirror, casting no second glance, and walked out the door.
Dyllys lived in the guest house, away from the constant noise and prattle that issued constantly from the main house. The estate she lived on was large and was always busy. Her mistress’s family had owned it for generations, a vineyard of the finest quality. Dyllys had a fondness for this place, though she didn’t understand the attachment. All she knew was that her thoughts centered around it when she was gone, and she was always asking her mistress if things were being done to satisfaction while they were away. Her mistress always told her not to worry so much. Dyllys didn’t know what worry was, but she would always stop asking questions then as she understood that it made her mistress feel as though she had given Dyllys comfort.
Dyllys entered the main house through the east entrance. This was her normal route. She always felt compelled to go this way for reasons she didn’t understand, but felt no need to resist. It followed a logical course and so the compulsion was indulged. It brought her through the drawing room and no matter how many times she entered this room, she could not just go all the way through to the other door without stopping to stare at an empty space, a space which she felt should be filled, by what or whom she did not know, only that it being empty was unnatural. She stood staring at it unmoving, unflinching, until she heard movement begin in the rest of the house. Giving one last look at the empty spot she turned and saw her mistress.
“Padrona,” Dyllys said bowing slightly to her mistress, “I did not hear you come into the room.”
“Were you surprised?” Her mistress asked.
Dyllys just stared back at her mistress passively, “I do not feel, Padrona.”
“Please Dyllys, call me Glory. You know I hate when you are so formal with me.” Glory reflexively put a strand of her black hair behind her ear – a habit that Dyllys understood meant that she was uncomfortable with something.
“It is my programming, Padrona,” Dyllys replied.
“Must we go through this every morning?” Dyllys could tell by her tone that she was not pleased and so acquiesced.
“I am sorry, Glory,” Dyllys said and then bowed once again. Glory stepped further into the room and took Dyllys' hand rubbing it gently. Dyllys just stared at their hands noting the difference in the color. She wondered if she were alive and had blood coursing through her veins instead of nanomachines if she would have the deep brown color that Glory had and if she would be as warm. Dyllys never wanted to pull away when Glory touched her; touching Glory was like catching the sunlight in her palm. It was always interesting to feel the flow of energy in such a way.
“Glory, I wanted to recount yesterday’s events with you. I have a memory that does not correspond with the rest of the events, a memory that appeared this morning that I did not have previously. I was wondering if someone had altered me.”
“A memory that doesn’t fit? How about instead of recounting the day’s events, Dyllys, we start with the memory and I will see what I can do about making it fit.” She sat in the empty spot and Dyllys stared at her for a while before responding. “Is something the matter?”
“You have never sat there before,” Dyllys replied.
Glory looked at the chair she was seated in and then back at Dyllys, “Does it bother you that I am sitting here?”
“My preference is irrelevant.”
“Of course it isn’t irrelevant,” Glory said and then moved to the sofa beside the chair patting the seat next to her, a gesture Dyllys took to mean she should sit, and so she sat.
“So?” Glory prompted.
“I was in a grove of trees I do not recall. It was autumn. I know this because the leaves were all a brilliant color, vibrant in flash frozen yellows and reds. The tree I was standing before and looking up at looked as if it had been dipped in paint and the paint was dripping down slowly from branch to branch changing the leaves from green to red. Red tips to orange, yellow, and green. I do not think I have ever seen a tree like that before. I did not want to stop staring at it. Then I heard a voice behind me, I could not properly understand what he was saying. I turned from the tree and looked at the bearer of the voice. It was a man I have never seen before, but I knew his name and he smiled when he saw me, like you do sometimes when I have done something that you like. I wanted to go to him, but I heard another voice; it told me to wake up.”
Glory was smiling and laughed softly, “That wasn’t a memory Dyllys that was a dream.”
“I do not comprehend this word. What is dream?”
“A dream is what happens when your mind is sleeping. It takes things that you have seen in your life and makes a new story. Most of the time, they don’t make sense. Some people think that dreams have meanings, and other people believe that they are just random synapses firing in your brain and it is only once you are awake that a person assigns any meaning to them. I for one like to think that they do mean something. In your case, I hope it means you’re starting to feel something for a change.”
“Androids cannot feel,” Dyllys replied.
“Androids also should not dream. Yet you did Dyllys. Maybe you shouldn’t make such definite statements.”
Dyllys remained silent trying to assimilate the knowledge she has just gleaned, “A dream is not a memory? A dream is random information that we interpret to have a meaning. Consolidation of memory. But Glory,” Dyllys said, looking at Glory, her expression that of incomprehension, “I have never seen such a tree, or such a man before.”
“Exactly,” Glory said and smiled. It was the same smile the man had worn in Dyllys' dream. She patted Dyllys’s hand and then stood to leave. As she reached the door she turned back to Dyllys who was staring at Glory with no expression, “We have a guest coming later this evening, my nephew, I’m sure he’ll want to meet you Dyllys. I’ll call you when he arrives, until then, why don’t you try and find that tree of yours, the painted one from your dream.”
“As you wish, Padrona.” Glory did not correct her this time, she just smiled. She knew that even if Dyllys was unaware of it, Dyllys always reverted back to calling her mistress whenever she disliked the task that was set before her. And Glory knew that the tasks that Dyllys disliked the most were the ones that she understood the least. Glory knew, however, that those tasks were the ones Dyllys most needed to do, for they were the ones that made her grow.