This is the beginning of a short story that I am currently sussing out.
The tagline: "He found the perfect woman. All she needed was a body."
X was a stone worn smooth, his exterior ground away bit by bit over time, allowing him to skip across the waters of the world with no resistance. He came to a juncture where he no longer offered defiance to the alarm clock when it rang. When the obscene buzzer ripped his mind from a deep REM sleep, his first thought was no longer, “please! Not again!” He no longer thought anything.
Except for that morning. The gray static snow of his mind’s television cleared and he saw her face. His only glimpse of her was brief and from an angle just before they shut the door. X wondered if her countenance was burned onto his retina with such clarity or if his brain filled the gaps of information with his own inclinations and tastes. In either case she stood before him in his brain theater; her head of long, thick, black hair, Asian eyes that harbored happiness laced with mystery.
“You’re awake,” Guppy said from across the cube.
Guppy sat cross-legged on his dingy mattress, fingers on his computer’s keyboard. He wore his combat boots and his fatigues cut into shorts. The Monty Python t-shirt from last week remained on his torso and looked as if it could get up and walk away on his own. A black line cut through his bushy, bright orange hair. The line was the strap to the eye patch that covered his left socket, not through any need or embarrassment, but simply because he liked it. Judging from the hot, electric ozone smell of the computer, Guppy had yet to sleep. The online virtual community he participated in held a consumptive quality.
Joints popped and crackled as X rose from his mattress and stretched. He moved into his morning ritual of Il Jang, one of the basic forms of taekwondo. An empty glass coffeepot sat tilted, its base crooked against the hotplate. X went to the pot, lifting it to inspect the tiny brown drop that rolled at the bottom.
“Coffee?” X asked.
“I drank the last and did not make more,” Guppy replied.
X grabbed hold of a bag of ground Burroughs Coffee and ripped into it. The fresh aroma ascended to his nostrils as he began the procedure of brewing.
“When you finish the last, refresh the pot,” X said. “It’s the fair thing to do.”
“Ok,” Guppy replied, his eyes never moving from the computer screen.
Guppy’s hand seemed to move remote of his body. It went into an open package of generic Oreos and retrieved a cookie the way one of those plastic “robot claws” plucks up a plush stuffed animal. Guppy would not eat Oreos. They could only be the generic kind, the versions in plain packaging with the words “chocolate crème-filled sandwich cookies” as the only descriptor.
While the coffee brewed, X exited the cube and droned to the common washroom down the hall. An African was already in it, sloshing water all over his face to prepare for work. They grunted to one another in acknowledgment before X began his own pre-work cleansing ritual under the dim fluorescent lights. A bit of synesthesia helped him to remember it was Wednesday. His mind’s eye viewed the days of the week as a continuum of shades between white and black. No words or numbers, only fuzzy, gauzy shapes in a line. Slate gray. Wednesday. Water swept across his closed eyelids and like a projector it sprang an image to life.
She turned her head. It was a bit of free association and 3-D modeling on the part of his mind. He then had her smile. Perfect white teeth beamed out, set against the contrast of her almond skin. Her head tilted a bit as she looked at him. X sifted, trying to find words or phrases that describe sublime beauty but were not cliché. He ended up in forfeit. Traveling back down the hallway, she flipped her hair for him and he watched it float like feathers back down to her shoulders. His lips parted and creased at the corners of his mouth.
“What are you smiling about?” Guppy asked flatly when X re-entered the room.
“Another day as a source code programmer for the Kōng de Cybernetics Corporation appeals to me,” X replied.
He began to dress, first stepping into his black dungarees then buttoning down his black shirt.
“Just tell the truth,” Guppy said.
“A woman,” X answered.
Once the coffee filled his chrome thermal, X left the cube apartment for work.
“Wait, a what?” Guppy asked the closed door.
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