After dinner, the…

After dinner, the roboticist has a fight with her lover
of eleven years; it starts small, the result of an awkward
moment on the phone, with his mother, but it doesn't
stop there. It picks up momentum, as it twists its way
through the memories of slights (real or imagined),
the times when he had forgotten things only important
to her -- but they were important; by sunset,
she has travelled back eleven years, to the first
mistake he ever made, the time when he claimed
he didn't love her, and he let her walk away. He regretted
that almost immediately; he came after her, and he is still
coming after her now, still listening to her complaints,
his arms held fast around her, his face tilted down, wearing
a faint frown of bewilderment. He listens, he responds,
he reassures, and only occasionally does he even try
asking -- why is she bringing that up now? how does that
possibly relate to a ten-minute, unimportant, phone
call with his mother? She cannot answer that, but he
is apologetic anyway; she is reassured, and by star-rise,
they have made up, they have made love. He falls
asleep and she wanders down twelve creaking steps
to the basement lab where she works on the days she cannot
bear to leave him. She sits at her computer, pulls up
the program tracing the brain of her newest creation,
and begins reprogramming, rerouting the circuits, offering
the young creature a little more potential to grow, to learn
from its mistakes, to move on. As she works, she
considers the first roboticists, the ones who broke
the barrier, who learned how to teach a machine how
to learn -- she considers them and she wonders if she
will ever learn herself how to reroute the circuits of her mind,
how to retrace the pathways of a once-bruised heart.

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