Burner Magazine, issue 01 (September 2010)

Page 21

Electric Company by Jeremy Hanson-Finger

“What battery?” Lisa’s husband asks. He stands over her shoulder as she ponders the college-ruled page she has retrieved from their front door. “Maybe they saw the car’s lights on?” He looks out the window. “We haven’t used the car for a few days.” “I think it’s a metaphor. Someone’s looking out for my wellbeing, saying that I shouldn’t have accepted that promotion because it’s so stressful.” Lisa folds up the note and files it away in a green folder marked ‘Miscellaneous’.

open to reveal an ordered galaxy of wires and circuits and motors and pink fluffy insulation. He has never seen Naveed reach inside and slot a nickel-metal hydride battery into a cavity about the size of Hal’s stomach. If he had seen this bi-annual maintenance take place, he would understand the content of the note. But he still wouldn’t understand why Lisa needed a reminder on their door. ***

*** Hal has gone rock climbing with Lisa in Malta for their honeymoon and marveled at how far she could free-climb up the rock face before letting go and plunging into the Mediterranean. He has traveled with her to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, HeadSmashed-In Buffalo Jump near Calgary, and Wrigley Field in Chicago. They have been through two near-death experiences together: one canoeing in a thunderstorm and the other when the brakes on their U-Haul failed on the Interstate. Hal has not, however, been to the doctor with her. This is because she hasn’t ever been to the doctor, even though she says she goes every six months. Instead, she has gone to the repair shop where Naveed works arcane wizardry behind tottering stacks of Wired Magazine. Hal has never seen wispy-bearded Naveed peel back Lisa’s skin to reveal gleaming metal. He has never seen the panel of buttons that Naveed runs his elegant piano fingers over before flicking a switch to ‘off.’ He has never seen the silver art deco form, the life size Oscar award below her skin, clamshell

Three months later, Hal will inadvertently trigger a confession that will explain the whole situation. He will jokingly ask if she has ever changed her battery, because he will have come across the note while looking for last month’s hydro bill. She will start crying, huge racking sobs that shake her cold body. Then she will tell him that she is a sad robot. He will think she is kidding and say that now he understands why she never forgets the words for things. “I get the robot part,” he will chuckle, “but why are you sad?” She will tell him that she is not joking and that she is made out of aluminum and plastic and she goes to the repair shop on First Avenue once every six months to have her battery changed and her skin aged. He will think it strange that he spends every day working on a computer for human rights activist groups and yet he has failed to notice that his wife is not human. She will go on to explain that she has not been happy being a robot and that she would prefer to be human, and that she has been postponing her battery change because