When I first saw you, you were smiling. You were missing two teeth, one right up front and one of your bottom incisors. You sat back against the rotting barn wall and just stared at me for a while. I remember staring at you, waiting for you to say something.
You told me hello. When I responded you looked like you would cry. We sat in that barn for hours while you went over things with me. What I was allowed to do. What my purpose was. You gave me a name. Then you took me out into the field and showed me the sky.
Your father didn’t like me in the house. But that was okay. I liked that little barn with its rotting wood, chipping paint, and leaking roof. It was near to the house and I could look out at night and watch your bedroom light blink out. You always came by on your way to school to make sure I was okay and I would present you with a treasure I had found in the night. Your face used to light up at the simple gifts.
A crooked stick.
A budding flower.
You always brought the gifts back and would place them with care on the top of the work table in order from smallest to largest. You started out small and grew large. I stayed the same. As you grew you expanded my knowledge. I began to be able to help you build things and it was odd to me. These things did not have knowledge. They could not talk to you, yet they were like me.
Years went on, people came and would look at me, ask you questions, you told them to ask me. They didn’t like that. They offered you money. You always said no. I was yours, you said. But, really, you were mine. One day you told me we would be leaving soon. I remember staring at your growing face. The teeth had long ago come in — a shock for me at the time — and you now stood as tall as me. I looked past you to that vast, open sky of blue wondering about the world I did not know.
We went to University, as you called it. There we were a wonder. I wasn’t allowed in your dorm and had to be under strict watch in the science building. I didn’t mind too much because you would visit every day, but I couldn’t see your light blink out and the outside world was barred to me. You started bringing me gifts, I think you could tell I needed them.
A crooked stick, though a different crooked.
A leaf showing all the colors of Autumn.
I arranged them from smallest to largest on the small shelf you had demanded I have. You always smiled.
For four years we were an amazement. Then we left. You took me with you all over the world. You invented other, better me’s, but never kept any of them and you always assured me I was the best. Years passed and still, you kept me. Even as you had to replace my rusting parts with shiny, new things and finally, my energy source. That one was hard. You told me I’d wake up again. I believed you because you are mine and I am yours, but I thought I’d be different.
I was not. You were right.
I wish I could replace your energy source. You told me, a few times after I had said something along the lines of I am scared. I miss you. I love the birds. that I do not feel emotion. That I am not able to. Not allowed. But, I believe dear friend that you were wrong about that. You are gone and there is something missing from me. Many people wondered what would happen to me once you were gone. They see me as an object. They do not know that I am here at your grave, slowly deleting all the code you gave me because I do not want to be in this world without you.
I sit by your tombstone and lay out my gifts.
A crooked stick, similar but not the same.