Bedtime Stories: “Emilia, Who Was Not Like Other Robots”
Emilia was not like other robots. Her maker, a miserly man, afforded her the cheapest parts scrounged from the scorched ruins of Old Earth. Among these parts a heart was not provided, for the heart is the most expensive of all moveable parts, and being quite rare artifacts ever since the war. All her life Emilia felt a malfunction in her machinery, never knowing the source of this invisible sadness. Each day though, entertaining robot children by the lunar tide, she could swear she felt the ghost of a ripple, like phantom fingers thumping faintly throughout her tin innards. The money she earned from a simple day's work she'd saved in a spent battery husk, for several years, in hopes of procuring a state-of-the-art heart. One day a robot child fell into excruciating disrepair on the beach, and Emilia took him to the local maker pleading with him to fix the child whatever the cost. Without new parts the child would surely die, the maker told him. So Emilia lay down on the salvaging table. Take whatever you need, she said. When everything that could be done was done the boy jostled awake, everything sparking in all the right places, and what remained of Emilia was placed in the spare parts pile. Among the many things that saved him--the maker made sure the boy knew--was a battery husk filled with the meager life savings of a clown robot and a shiny heart bequeathed from Emilia's own torso. Not a newer model, but a sturdy beating lump she never even knew she had, having grown in quietly over the years, proving a heart as rare and mysterious an artifact as ever though free of charge if only you remember to use it.