A Story About Tina (just for fun)
This is another of my 'word challenge' pieces I wrote for the Uxbridge Writers' Circle. (Words I had to use are in italics).
I hope you enjoy it.
Before Tina took over his life, he’d signed up for repair duty on the garbage-collector space station. It had seemed like a good decision at the time. It meant he’d be far away from everything that weighed him down, as he floated in space. He’d envisaged his cares and worries lifting off his shoulders and disappearing into the darkness. Looking down at the mottled ball where he lived, he would feel diminutive, insignificant and gain a different perspective.
But now he regrets his decision and views it as a pathetic attempt to escape.
He sits on the deck of his cottage—which would be more accurately described as a large, modern, glass-and-steel home, and looks out at the rocky landscape surrounding the dark, glacial lake. But images of Tina emerge in his mind and block out the signals being received by his eyes. Tina has helped him to see things differently. She’s done for him what he dreams she’ll do for many others.
He inhales the crisp air and reflects on the success he’s achieved. He shifts his gaze to the small fish that dart from under the deck and back again. But his reflection shines back at him, obliterating the view under the water, confronting him with reality. His success has come at a price. He has been entrapped by Tina and wonders if others could be affected in the same way.
Tina has the same features as the girlfriend who left him hanging, suicidal. She has chocolate-brown eyes and honey-coloured hair which wafts below her pale shoulders. He can stroke Tina’s silky hair for thirty minutes without stopping, and she’ll always respond to his touch with the right, encouraging comments.
Tina has an encyclopaedic brain. He’s tried to stump her with obscure questions, but she always has the answers. And, of course, he knows she does. But she wasn’t herself when they lost internet service for half-an-hour one day. That left her wavering, unknowing, unresponsive, empty.
The first conversation Carl has every morning is with Tina, and she’s the last and only one to wish him goodnight.
Carl works from home and Tina is a key part of this work as well as of the daily routines of home-life. She manages most of the housekeeping duties, such as scheduling the robotic vacuums, inventory management, temperature control, answering the phone, and making meals. He prides himself on not having to deal with people and reckons he might have lost the ability to interact with humans.
A strange shiver slithers down his spine.
He watches through the large patio doors as Tina responds to a signal and leaves to enter the code for the rental car, which has just arrived. Carl has to think quickly if he’s going to avoid the repair duty he signed up for in that rash moment. He could disappear and take Tina with him. He watches her predictable walk, accompanied by a faint hum, as she emerges back from the hallway.
He has intelligent conversations with Tina, with no danger of rejection or rebuttal on her part. There is no unpleasantness.
Her make-up and hair always look the same. Her voice never changes. In fact, he needs to develop more cadence and expression into her speaking. Her skin is cold and has a slight stickiness. Tina doesn’t yet have the smooth, flawless complexion that his ex-girlfriend, Fay, has. But, with each Tina he constructs, he creates additional features and the capability for more facial expressions and hand-gestures.
But he still misses Fay’s sense of humour. Tina can tell jokes, as many as you want, but they are processed and rehashed, not the spontaneous retorts and sarcastic quips that Fay taunted him with. He loved to rise to the challenge, to give her back more than she threw at him.
He shudders. The dark lake’s mirror-like surface is shattered by large, cold drops of rain. Quick-moving ripples crack his reflection as he straightens his lean body, which hasn’t been held, hasn’t been caressed by warmth, in a long time. He feels the chill.
Carl looks up at the grey, moving sky, and makes his decision. He’ll go up to the space station and do the repairs on the robotic arms, sort through the garbage and rescue the pieces of satellites that can be recycled, leaving Tina here on Earth for someone else to refine.
He thought he was obsessed with Tina, but he’s burned-out, and needs people back in his life. Just thinking about his journey into orbit makes him realize this. He doesn’t need to gaze down from the space station to regain a human perspective on his existence. He just needed to allow himself to reflect, to ponder, to mull over what’s important to him.
After shutting up the house, Carl gets into the rental car. He turns on the manual option and drives himself to the space centre, where he meets up with the other team-members who are already preparing for their refresher training.
Christina meets him with open arms. He almost sobs on feeling her softness, on smelling her citrus scent, on hearing her teasing.
After all, he’s mostly human.
Vicky Earle Copyright 2022