One would think that Margot would forgo ever taking baths again, considering what happened the last time she was in a bath. Yet here she was, up to her neck in warm water, splashing her feet, and having a grand old time. At least that’s what she kept saying in her head. Margot was one to defy people’s expectations just for the sake of it, and that included her own. She had heard about something called “immersion therapy,” so she had put in an effort to take as many baths as possible since the incident. If she just immersed herself in it, surrounded herself by it, it will feel normal. She’d get over it.
Margot closed her eyes and tried to relax. She needed to get over it. Her mom was coming over today for her monthly “check to see if my daughter is still alive” visit. The entire point of her moving into this apartment was to get away from her mom. But Margot thought she’s been fine enough during the last few visits. If she seemed happy this time, maybe her mom would leave her alone again. The thought of finally regaining some distance from her mother began to put Margot at ease, and she started to slowly sink into the now lukewarm water.
“BEEEEEEEP,” beeped the Safety and Health Insuring Techno.
A mechanical hand grabbed a fistful of Margot’s black hair and yanked her head back above the surface of the water.
“Jesus Christ! Aaaaaaahahhhahahah!” Margot kicked and screamed as her entire body is lifted out of the bathtub until she was placed on her feet on the tile floor. The hand let go of her hair and retracted back into the main body. The robot looked like a traffic cone with a rounded top and the coloring of a bowling pin, though if you asked Margot, she’d say it looked like Hal 9000’s buttplug.
“What was that for?” shouted Margot. “You think I’d just drown myself in a bathtub?”
“Beep,” beeped the robot. Margot had developed a bad habit of trying to talk to the thing. It responded to her speaking, but it never listened. Its job is to keep her alive, not happy.
“What are you looking at?” Margot said, still rightfully very upset. “Doesn’t Mark Zuckerberg have enough pictures of random naked women saved on his hard drive?” The robot did not respond.
“Welp!” Margot raised her arms in the air, “Bath’s over I guess.” She grabbed a towel and stormed out of the bathroom. The Safety and Heath Insuring Techno followed her. The robot watched as Margot put on a yellow t-shirt and a pair of jeans. The robot watched as she combed her hair straight until it reached her shoulders. The robot watched as she dug around in her dresser to find the perfume that she only put on when her mom comes over, sprayed some under her pits, and tossed it back into the dresser.
The doorbell rang. “Ask not for whom the bell tolls,” muttered Margot under her breath as she walked towards the front door, the robot whirring behind her. She reached the door, grabbed the handle, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She always had to put herself in the right mindset before talking to her mother. A lying mindset. She opened her eyes, forced a smile, and threw open the door to see her mother, with eyes just as wide and a smile just as forced as her own. Margot hated even looking at her mother. She reminded Margot of white Michael Jackson and she dressed like she was going to a funeral.
“Mom! So good to see you.” Margot forced through her teeth as she wrapped her arms around her mother.
“It’s good to see you too,” said Cassie. Truthfully, Cassie was disappointed that this is how her daughter dressed when she knew her mother was coming. She looked like a lesbian. She stepped inside and patted the robot on the “head”. “And how about you? Have you been doing a good job of keeping my Margot safe?”
“Beep,” beeped the robot.
Cassie made her way over to the couch in the middle of the living room and sat down. Margot cleaned up before her mother got there and thought she did a pretty good job. One visit, Cassie saw that there was some dust on the coffee table and thought Margot was living in a pigsty. Margot didn’t have to see the slight scowl on her mother’s face to know that she was judging her.
Margot closed the door and sat at the other end of the couch, and the Safety and Health Insuring Techno rolled in front of them.
“So, my favorite daughter,” Margot was Cassie’s only daughter, “how’s the job search coming along? The gap year is almost over.”
“Great!” Margot lied, “I actually have an interview lined up for Monday. Yep, I’m really getting my life together. Soon enough you won’t have to visit me anymore and you can take away this iTrashcan.” She softly kicked the robot. The robot did not respond.
“Look,” said Cassie, “I enjoy coming in to check on you as much as you do. If you’re finally getting your act together then I can stop coming. But the Safety and Health…whatever has to stay.” Cassie leaned in and lowered her voice. “You tried to kill yourself. I can’t trust you to be completely on your own.”
“Seriously?” Margot stood up, “This thing sucks! I’m 22 years old. How long am I supposed to have it babysit me for?”
“Well, you’re at risk of dying for as long as your alive so…yeah.” Cassie tried not to smile and failed. The humor was lost on Margot.
“God! ‘I can’t trust you,’” Margot mimicked, “You’ve never trusted me.” She turned away from her mother and walked to the other side of the room. She stared out the window, refusing to face her. They were on the fifth floor of the apartment complex. It was a beautiful May afternoon. “I’m not proud of it, you know. I’m still trying to move past it. And what’s not helping is you bringing it up again and again as an excuse to keep treating me like a child.”
“I’m trying to help you,” pleaded Cassie, now also standing. She was not going to lose. There’s no way that she was going to be the one in the wrong here.
“Oh, what great help you’ve been. Don’t talk to me like a person or anything. Just send that cyber dildo to me in the mail and pop in for 10 minutes once a month. That will fix it. But you know what?” Margot opened the window. This will show her. Worst case scenario she dies and her mom finally feels guilty for once in her life. Win-win. “That thing can stop me from falling, but it can’t stop me from jumping.” She got up on the ledge and leaned out the window until she fell.
“Margot!” cried Cassie.
“BEEEEEEEP!” beeped the Safety and Health Insuring Techno as its hand extended out of its top and reached out of the window. It grabbed Margot by the waist before she had fallen even a story and carried her back into the apartment. “Oh, thank God.” Margot thought to herself. The
robot placed her right in front of her mother, who’s eyes were starting to glass over with tears. Cassie was an expert at crying at the perfect time.
“Oh,” Margot said, shocked by her mother’s reaction. “I’m sorry. I knew it was going to save me.” Margot was 90% sure that the robot would save her.
Wordlessly, Cassie turned around and left the apartment, slamming the door behind her.
“That went about as well as I expected,” Margot said to no one in particular before turning to the robot. “So, got anything to say for yourself?”
“Beep,” beeped the robot.
Bravo! Great short story. Great writing. I love the ‘mommy issues’ angle 🙂