When Alan broke up with me after ten years together, I was on the wrong side of thirty. I didn’t want to have to date again, so after much soul searching, I decided to buy myself a bioboyfriend.
At 100,000 dollars a unit, bioboyfriends don’t come cheap, but they are perfect. You have an interview with a factory employee and you decide your favourite hair colour, build… Then they ask you a thousand questions to program your BB’s character.
The day of my interview, I woke up early and after showering, I put on my dark blue suit. I don’t really know why, but I wanted to look professional.
I tried to eat breakfast, but I was so nervous that I couldn’t. My hands were clammy and I could feel my heart beating fast. So I just had a cup of tea and left the house.
I drove to Heartfelt Enterprises in the early London traffic. My car snailed along the road and I had to make an effort not to sound the horn every five minutes.
At nine thirty, I finally parked outside the grey building. My nerves were frazzled, but I was all in one piece.
The receptionist told me to go to the second floor. I walked towards the stairs till I heard her calling me.
‘No, Miss Lawson, please use the lift.’
I thought it was a strange request, but I did what she told me.
On the second floor, another receptionist accompanied me to a big office decorated with chrome furniture and asked me to sit down.
‘Do you want a cup of tea?’
‘Yes, please. Milk, no sugar.’
After a while, she brought my tea and, exactly at the same time, an elderly gentleman walked into the room.
‘Good morning, Miss Lawson. Welcome to HE. My name is Robert Lennox. I’m here to ask you some questions that will allow me to design the perfect companion for you. Shall we start?’
‘Yes, please. I’m quite impatient.’
I spent the whole morning there. Fortunately, I had told my boss I had to go to the doctor’s, so she wouldn’t be expecting me. I hadn’t told anybody I was getting a BB. The truth is I was embarrassed. I thought it made me sound desperate.
‘Well, Miss Lawson. I think I have all the information I need. Once our prototype is completed we’ll call you for a preview,’ Mr Lennox said.
‘How long will it take?’
‘No more than two weeks.’
That fortnight was the longest of my life. I dreamt of my new BB day and night. When I finally got him, I wouldn’t have to feel lonely anymore. I would have a plus one to take to parties and somebody to comfort me when I was sad.
I finally got the long-awaited call. A velvety voice told me to go to Heartfelt Enterprises the next morning at 10.30.
‘I’ll be there,’ I said. I could hardly contain my excitement.
I smiled all day long. Even my boss noticed it, even though she’s not a very perceptive woman.
‘You look very happy today. Did you win the lottery?’ she asked.
I just smiled wider and went on working.
The prototype was everything I had expected and more. He looked so real it was impossible to tell he was not human. And he was a very handsome non-human. Tall and dark-haired with green eyes, just a dream come true.
‘Do you want to talk to him?’ a man in a white coat asked me.
The technician pressed a tiny button on the BB’s back and he opened his eyes.
‘Hello, Bessie,’ he said.
I was surprised. Only my mum called me Bessie. Everybody else used my full name.
‘Hi, Josh. How are you?’
‘Very happy to finally meet you. You’re even more beautiful than I expected.’
He said it so sweetly and naturally that I believed him.
We talked for a while and then the man in the white coat told me to follow him.
He gave me some papers to sign and told me my BB would be delivered the following week.
Josh arrived in a big cardboard box, which made all the procedure look pretty clinical and sci-fi-like.
‘Where do you want it, Ma’am?’
‘I said it’s a he.’
The delivery men placed the box in my kitchen and left, exchanging knowing looks on the way out. I bet they were thinking I was a crazy spinster.
When they were gone, I opened the box and pressed the button on Josh’s back. He turned around and came out.
‘Hi again, Bessie. I’m so happy to see you…’
Josh quickly became an essential part of my routine. He cooked for me and we watched films together. We went for walks and to the cinema. It was easy to forget he wasn’t a real person. And the best part was we never fought. Plus the sex was amazing. He knew exactly what I liked.
The first two months were like a never-ending honeymoon.
One day, when I got back from work, I noticed the porch lamp was dirty.
‘Josh, can you clean that?’
‘Yeah, but let’s eat first. I’ve fried some chops and I don’t want them to get cold.’
We ate and I told him about my day. I loved how he listened, hanging on my every word as if I was telling him the most fascinating tale.
After dinner, I offered to do the dishes.
‘Okay, I’ll go outside and clean that lamp then.’
He took a ladder from the garage and a duster and I saw him unscrew the glass shade. Suddenly, I heard a thump. I rushed out and saw Josh lying at the bottom of the stairs.
‘Are you okay?’
His eyes were closed and I was petrified. I knew he couldn’t die, but at that moment I didn’t remember.
‘Yeah, I’m okay. I just hurt my back. Don’t worry,’ he said.
That night, we went to bed early. Josh was unusually quiet, but I thought he must be tired.
The next morning, when I got up, he was still sleeping. I made my own breakfast and went to work. It was a strange feeling. I had got used to him doing everything for me and with me.
I got home at five and let myself in. Josh was sitting at the kitchen table still in his pyjamas. I found the sight quite disturbing. Something was not right… I would have to call HE.
‘Hi, Josh! What’s wrong? Does your back still hurt?’
‘What do you think, bitch? It’s all your fault. If you hadn’t made me clean that lamp, I would be okay. But, no… you’re so bloody fussy. Everything has to be perfect.’
‘What’s wrong with you? You never swear. I’d better call HE. I bet they can fix you in no time.’
‘I don’t need fixing. You hear me? You do!’
I ran outside and he followed me.
‘Stay where you are, you idiot. You think I’m your slave, don’t you? Well, those days are over. From now on, I’ll give the orders.'
Even though I was trembling in fear, I saw Mrs Miller’s crochet curtains fluttering. For the first time ever, I thanked the Lord for my nosy neighbour.
‘Calm down, Josh. No need to get mad.’
‘Don’t talk to me as if I was a stupid child, woman.’
His eyes were bulging with fury, he didn’t look handsome anymore. At that moment, I just saw a crazy robot standing opposite me.