I LOVE YOU MORE

Eric S. Fomley has not only sold some stories recently, but has edited a pair of well-received anthologies: Sins and Other Worlds, and Timeshift. This is his first appearance in Galaxy’s Edge.

***

At first, Harold liked having Ella around. He found himself rising early in the morning again just to make her breakfast. They would work in the garden, make dinner together, and would even catch a Friday night movie.

Life almost felt normal. Harold felt young again. Happy. Everything was almost as it should be.

But it wasn’t long before the excitement wore away and Harold started to notice things.

He noticed the way Ella brushed past him without a kiss in the morning. The stiff, if not outright boring, table talk as they ate. He saw the awkward way she walked as she was all too particular with the weeds in the garden. And the way she looked at him or, rather, the way she didn’t. But above all, Harold noticed the nasty way other people looked at his Ella when they went out to the movies together.

None of it was the way it was supposed to be.

***

On one morning, Harold stood in the bathroom door and watched as Ella was preparing for a shower. He thought she was beautiful of course, but she didn’t look quite right. There was something off in the way she stood, her skin was too pale, and not to mention the scar on her back that was now missing. It was this morning that Harold decided he had had enough.

He marched up to Ella, and pressed his fingers as hard as he could on both of her temples. The rear access port popped opened on the back of her head and Harold reached in and yanked out the cerebral chip.

Harold spun and left the room and Ella’s mechanical body crumpled to the floor with a loud thud behind him.

***

In the middle of his office, Harold stood turning the chip in his hand. His chest was tight and tears streaked his face. He stared at the portrait on the far wall of the room.

He still remembered that night of the portrait. The roar of the circus. The lights. The smell of elephant ears. The giddy ride home with his new bride. The way they’d laughed and joked. Her smile. And the last four words Ella had said to him before the drunk driver took her away forever.

Harold looked long and hard at that portrait of her beautiful face. The face he would trade anything to have again. With grim resignation, he crushed the chip in his fist, letting the cracked and broken circuitry slip between his fingers to litter the office floor. Harold wiped his tears, sat at his desk, and plugged a new chip into his computer.

“Come back to me,” he whispered as he typed. He glanced frequently at the portrait on the wall and always her last four words echoed in his mind.

I love you more.

Copyright © 2019 by Eric S. Fomley