Relationship Displacement Syndrome

by Eddie Gibbs © 2002

“He says I’m addicted to you.”

“Addicted? How can you be addicted?” Jenny’s voice begged for understanding. Her eyes pleaded. “Would addiction be a bad thing?” she closed the space between her and Bobby, touched his arm.

Bobby inhaled slowly, backing away from her touch.

“The doctor,” he explained slowly, licking his lips anxiously, “he says my problem is that I have disconnected myself from the world because I have connected my every thought and desire to you. He says the first step to reconnecting to society, is to end this with you.” He could not meet her gaze.

“Do you want that?” she asked, slowly. “Do you want to disconnect from me?”

Bobby wasn’t quite at the point yet where he wanted it, but he knew he needed it. He couldn’t interact with normal people anymore. He lost his patience faster and faster these days with anyone who wasn’t her. It was because she was so perfect for him. That was the problem. He didn’t have to try with her. Jenny had lowered his empathy, his humanity in her being so perfect. Bobby had to end it, then. He knew this.

He shook his head. He knew this would be hard. Looking at her, physically, mentally, emotionally, being his very embodiment of perfection.

“I…I can’t do this anymore, Jenny. It’s over.”

“It doesn’t have to be over!” she pleaded. “Forget the doctor, honey! We can run away, move somewhere new. We could finally go to Aculpaco.”

Aculpaco. Bobby loved the way she said that. For him, every time they spoke about running away, what he would always want to hear was Jenny’sweet, soft, unplacably exotic accented voice saying “Aculpaco.”

“Now is the time, honey!” her eyes lit up. She had him. “We’ve been talking about it long enough. We should go.”

He looked back down to the floor. He knew he could not. “We can’t,” he said, softly.

“Yes, we can-"

“No, we can’t.”

“Why can’t we-“

“BECAUSE YOU’RE A ROBOT!” he yelled. The words erupted from his mouth. Bobby had never raised his voice to her in the two years they have known each other. He never needed to.

She looked like she had been slapped. A response, he knew. A programmed response to his anger. Jenny did not feel anything. She just responded to him.

A tear rolled down her face. She trembled softly. She’s waiting for an apology, he thought. Tear: saline solution programmed to dispense at times of perceived emotional duress. All the sad songs they danced to, the romantic movies they watched together, all of these were appropraite situations to secrete this fluid, to add to the authenticity of the moment. That’s what the people had told him when he decided to purchase her. Somehow, he had forgotten all that. But Bobby remembered now.

Unexpectedly to him, Jenny’s sobs became flowing tears. She dashed over to him, buried her head into his chest. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” she said in between sobs.

He did not expect this. Why was she apologizing? For what?

“I’m sorry I’m a robot,” she said, as if to answer his unspoken question. That, he found disturbing. “I’m sorry I’m not human.”

Bobby’s lower lip trembled. Though Jenny held him tighter, he did not return her embrace. He couldn’t. He mustn’t.

“Don’t doubt my love,” she said, sobbing. “Please, know that I love you. I try hard, honey, I really do. Don’t give up on me because of what I am. I love you. All I want- all I have ever wanted- was to be right for you.”

He inhaled deeply. It sounded so good, what she said. All she was, was right for him. Sometimes, his doctor told him, that’s not always a good thing.

Arms shaking, Bobby finally embraced her back. One more time, he thought.

“I love you,” he said.

“I love you, too,” she said. She moved her head off his chest and stared deeply into his eyes.

She was about to say something else. It probably was going to be the last thing she would have to say to keep the relationship alive. But Bobby couldn’t let her say that. Before the words could escape her mouth, he placed his hand at the nape of her neck. He found the switch.

The words died on her lips. Jenny’s eyes faded out of focus on him.

In the weeks following his recovery, the hardest thing for Bobby to do was not think about what her next words would have been.

x x x

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