“It’s over, John.”
He didn’t answer. Misha knew that it would take him a moment to process what she had said, but quickly grew impatient.
“Did you hear me? It’s over.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s over, we’re done, I can’t take it anymore.”
It took him a moment to reply, his face a blank screen. “Why?”
“Things just aren’t the same. What we had isn’t good enough anymore. I need something more.”
“Is it me?”
Misha choked back a bitter laugh. “Do you really want me to answer that?”
“Of course I do.”
Misha didn’t want to hurt him, but didn’t want to drag it out either. She fell silent, the hustle and bustle of the restaurant seeming to grow louder. She stared at the candle sitting on the table between them.
It flickered out. Misha wondered if that was a sign.
“I’ve met someone else,” she finally said.
He didn’t blink at this.
“What I’m saying can’t be a surprise,” she continued. “Things have been rough for a while now, don’t you think?”
“Who is he?” John asked.
“Someone who looks at me, who touches me, who holds me when I’m sad and smiles when I’m happy and takes me to bed when I’m horny. When was the last time you did any of those things?”
He didn’t know how to answer this.
“What do you want from me?” he asked instead. “You knew when we started this that things would a be a bit different?”
Misha frowned. “If back then I’d known how hard it would be, I wouldn’t have brought you home.”
John didn’t reply.
He still didn’t reply. He didn’t even react. It was like he’d gone to sleep.
“Well, this is a first,” Misha said. “Anyone else would shout or cry or fight back. But not you. How can you be so cold? Don’t you feel anything?”
“You know what I’m like, and who I am. What more can I say?”
“Something! Anything! It’s like you don’t even care.”
“I care, Misha, but you’ve obviously made up your mind. And we both know I can’t change that.”
This time, it was her turn to clam up.
“It’s like you want me to be something I’m not,” John continued. “I’m sorry, but you know that’s beyond me.”
Misha sighed. She knew that he was speaking the truth, that he couldn’t change and that she was expecting the impossible.
“I’m sorry, John.”
“I guess that’s it, then.”
He didn’t reply.
Misha reached across the table and closed the open window on the laptop opposite her. She double clicked on the application folder, scrolled through the list that appeared then right-clicked on the app she was searching for. She selected “delete”. The app disappeared. She closed the application fold and right-clicked on the desktop’s recycle bin.
A message appeared: Are you sure you want to delete the application John.synthetic?
Misha clicked “yes” without a second thought.
(Originally published in AntipodeanSF #254, November 2019)