Her.

She was crude. He lay awake at night obsessing over her imperfections. She was mostly generated from past lovers, autocomplete and the internet-aided answers to misguided questions: it didn’t matter to him. He traced her contours with the tip of his thumb, profoundly proud of the life he had brought into this world. She was the composition of routines, reactions, and behaviors that her history had specified and he had shaped and contorted. As he invoked subroutines, vignettes from lovers past flashed over her eyes as violently and carelessly as his frantic composition. He thanked her past lovers for constructing what would come to define her — to him that simply meant less behavior he had to specify.

She was brittle. He understood. The accumulated routines conflicted each other; they were neither correct nor consistent. She would unleash fury on him in unexpected ways, and he loved the challenge of fixing each and every one of her problems; her bugs didn’t fall on the deaf ears of those not indoctrinated, those who didn’t spend their evenings fighting the flash of white light, fingers grasped delicately around coffee while they undressed her.

He loved her self-consciously, as if the cruft buried below the visage, revealed by his constant undressing, cheapened her superficial quirks. When he showed her to his parents, they didn’t understand him — they didn’t understand her. They didn’t understand that the crude outlines, neon green accents, and inconsistencies were the exact sources of her. They never dipped below her surface: they treated technology with paralysis.

Every night they spent holed up in his computer, sharing memories while saving the act of sharing for future disuse. He could no longer keep her to himself. He posted about her on social media — even created a Twitter handle just for her. He boasted her flawed construction. Every idiosyncrasy of hers seamlessly reflected the shortcomings of his mangled brain: she his brainchild. He finally undressed her for the world to see, posting links wherever he could find a greedy text box and recalcitrant submit button. He sat back with amazement as the world fell silent for his naked lover — not with absence of thought or feeling, but of void. He suggested the Internet dress her, pressing superficially amenable delete buttons. The Internet complied, but in the infinite moments that had elapsed she had spread to hundreds of servers desperately waiting for their chance at love.

He tasted failure. Her failure reflected back along the z-axis into his direction through the LCD screen that separated them. He finally recognized the frankenstein monster that he created. He understood the fear of his parents. Torn between love and loss, he sat silently at the computer screen now turned black with abandonment. Finally, he walked away from her, resolving to say goodbye.

As the days passed, he grew angry, yet the sound and fury of his thoughts did little to pierce her metallic body. That night he undressed her one last time, trying to contort her into the shapes and sizes the populace demanded. He smoothed her edges. He removed the neon green accents. He filled in the pitfalls, removed the traps. Each lick he took to her a lick he took to himself, eating away at his rage and her substance. When he had finally burrowed out the contents of his soul, he felt her crumble at the tip of his thumb, reduced to rubble at his feat. He left her there, too scared to dispose of her ashes.

He accumulated her past, riddled with his name as he trolled through the recorded history of their time together. The many manifestations of her and how he had learned and changed, but only in the superficial way that some accumulate things and people, but not ideas. He remembered their first moments together — the time she first said “Hello, World” — a moment when she was beautiful enough for him and detestably ordinary for the world that paid bitter indifference to her inner workings, obsessed only with the sight and touch of the bells she adorned.

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