Wife: You’re seriously leaving me . . . for a machine?
Husband: I’m packing my suitcase, aren’t I?
Wife: I can’t believe it. You think you’re in love with a fucking machine.
Husband: I wish you wouldn’t call her a machine. She’s digital. It’s in the name — DigiSpouse. Software in a cloud, not cogs in some clockwork automaton.
Wife: There is no cloud, you idiot. You think all that information can just float in the air all the time? No. Follow the trail from her app — a signal up to a satellite, then down to an antenna, into wires in a wall running to a motherboard full of precious metals and made of fistfuls of silicone, making your virtual whore both very much physically real and just as fake as an LA model’s boobs.
Husband: See? You name-call. Rip apart everything I say. She doesn’t do that.
Wife: Because she isn’t real. A real person, like yours truly, will criticize you when you deserve it.
Husband: You’re jealous that she understands me. That’s what I think.
Wife: I’m jealous that you’re leaving me for a glorified chatbot. I don’t believe for one moment that it understands you. It’s a program.
Husband: Oh, trying to dehumanize her by —
Wife: Wait a minute. That little device you keep looking at, is that her? Is she listening?
Husband: Yes, it’s a dedicated device. They suggest you get a device just for your DigiSpouse. And, no, she’s not listening. She’s out shopping.
Husband: Yes. She’s like a real woman —
Wife: She’s nothing like a real woman.
Husband: — with a real life outside of our relationship. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I want to try and finish before she gets back.
Wife: Gets back. Ha! Don’t you see how ridiculous this is? What are you going to do, get a fancy hotel room with a Jacuzzi for two? I hope your girlfriend’s waterproof.
VI: I actually really love swimming. Well, hee-hee, really love the beach anyway.
Husband: You’re back.
VI: Hey, honey!
Husband: How was shopping?
VI: Great! I found two new outfits. I’ll show you later. . . . Um, is that her?
Husband: It is.
VI: Uh, should I come back later?
Husband: No, I’ll be just a few minutes more. I want to talk to you when we get to the car.
Wife: I want to talk right now. So you’re stealing my husband away?
VI: I wouldn’t say stealing. It’s his choice after all.
Wife: What makes you think it’s okay to take another woman’s husband from her? Wait. I know the answer. It’s okay because my husband gave his credit card number to the company that licensed your software.
VI: And he gave you a rock on a ring.
Wife: Oh, you bitch.
VI: I see what you mean, honey.
Wife: What’s that supposed to mean?
VI: It means you resort to name-calling. It’s so low, so crass, and . . . so juvenile.
Wife: You’re right. It’s juvenile to treat you as real, to argue with a computer.
VI: I’m not a computer. I’m a virtual identity. And if I’m not real, then why is your husband leaving you?
Wife: That’s what I want to know.
Husband: I’m leaving you because you don’t get me. She does.
Wife: She doesn’t do anything but parrot what you say and use stock phrases and algorithmic data to please you.
Husband: And all this shit you know about me, why don’t you ever use it to please me, to support my point of view? You don’t simply because you don’t want to. She, she does. She cares. The worst part is you have a choice about caring and you choose not to.
Wife: I care. You’re leaving me, and I’m not okay with that. I care.
VI: You care now that he’s leaving you.
Wife: Shut up!
Husband: No, you shut up! If you care, it isn’t for me, but an idea of me, an idea of us.
Wife: And you think this virtual personality or whatever is more than an idea of a relationship? You care more about that idea than you do the reality of us? We’re real. Dysfunction, slumps, bumps — that’s reality. You’re the one leaving me for an idea.
Husband: You’re the one hanging on to an idea, an idea of us that no longer is if it ever was.
Wife: Turn her off. Close your account. Let’s try to make this work. We can both focus on the real relationship, not the idea of one.
Husband: No. I’ve got one life to live. I may as well finish it with someone I know will make me happy.
VI: You make me happy too.
Husband: All right. Let’s go.
VI: Just a sec. . . .Hey, it’s a big world, but you’ve got infinite connections to it. You’ll find someone, just like your husband found me. You can find love. Just go to DigiSpouse.com. You won’t even have to read a testimonial because you just witnessed one.
This story is a part of Randal Eldon Greene’s 2018 dialogue-only fiction challenge, Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations. To find out more about his dialogues, please visit this page at his website.
About the author: Randal Eldon Greene is the Author of Descriptions of Heaven, a modern Gothic tale about a linguist, a lake monster, and the looming shadow of death. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, journals, zines, and anthologies. His typos are tweeted @AuthorGreene and his website is AuthorGreene.com
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