A New Man In Time For Christmas
by Dustin Adams
I didn't like him.
They said he'd be exactly like my late husband, only better, after my suggested changes, but this lump of Brent-looking plastic-rubber wasn't Brent.
I called the factory. They said their return policy was ten days. I'd had him for twelve. After ten days, they said, free replacements were allowed only if the model became violent. New Brent couldn't hit me, I'd seen to that in his programming.
"We're going to start over, Brent. You and me." I set my empty wine glass down on our wooden coffee table. "Lay here." I indicated the wrapping paper rolls I'd unfurled, side by side. Dutifully, he did as I asked.
His eyes flickered--the way they did when he was processing something new--never focusing on me for long. He rolled, crinkling all the way until paper completely covered his 6'1" frame. Tiny Santas with red cheeks repeated again and again, round and round.
I put him in power save remotely then tucked him under the tree where he lay motionless, cocooned. Christmas was weeks away. I'd probably make it without unwrapping him early.
I'd survived alone all right in the months after Original Brent's suicide. I could do it again for two short weeks.
I awoke before the alarm, just after 6 A.M. like I was a kid who still believed. I padded down the rug-covered stairs. The coffee pot remained dry and our open, hollow living room was dark except for the too-near streetlight beaming through the bay window onto a man-sized present.
I knelt, then began to unwrap my husband.