ice creamA Sunday Well Spent

by Mileva Anastasiadou

I once was human, but I no longer remember much of that season. I am now a machine. The usual kind, with gears, accessories and all. The kind that consumes energy and produces energy in another form, as the human body does, only without consciousness and emotions. Residues of my old form still remain, due to poor construction. This happens to most humans that transform into machines after all.

The mutation is not as unusual as I once thought. Truth is, I once believed that this is all about a gene, since I watched machine people reproduce and give birth to new machines. I had not been accustomed to seeing the mutation develop gradually during life. I came to the conclusion that this had happened because I lived in a protected environment.

“Dad, there are children on the TV who are working. Should I be working too?” I had asked.

“A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.” My father tried to shun a direct answer.“I wish the shops were open, though. I would buy you the best toy,” he told me, smiling, and then he sang along with me one of my favorite tunes at the time:

“Today is Sunday, Sunday ice cream.
All you hungry children, come and eat it up.”

I was certain then that all machine people are born by their likes, to serve the needs of the remaining population. Sometimes, very rarely though, some of them manage to escape their destiny, but life is predetermined for most of them. Soon after their birth, they are plugged in. Education, technical training, then a job. Οnce the engine breaks down to an unfixable point, they are unplugged.

I am not sure when my mutation happened. It manifested slowly, without me noticing the gradual changes. Perhaps it could have been reversible, if I had managed to react, but it all occurred in such a manner that left me with the impression that I had no option.

As a very distant recollection, my mind still remembers the time I used to work in the way I suppose all normal people are supposed to work, those who have not been subjected to the mutation, I mean. I was glad to go to work every day, offer the most that I could offer, and then return home tired but proud of my accomplishments of the day. It all went downhill gradually. The eight-hour shift was not enough, and I had to work overtime. I did not complain because I was well paid for my extra time. I even had the chance to save some money to spend on my free time. And I still had the weekends. There was not enough time to enjoy all I wanted to enjoy, yet I somehow managed to diffuse the negative energy, so I could keep enjoying my job on working days. Soon came the time I was asked to work on Saturdays. I did not object, despite the voices in my head advising me to react. The voice of the realist in me prevailed, suggested I should remain obedient. After all, things had already started to get difficult out there.

I think that my life transformed into survival, and finally into plain machine maintenance, as soon as I started working on Sundays. I then mumbled some objections, yet I still chose to comply to the new rules once more. They convinced me that the new working conditions would better serve the needs of humankind. When I started wondering which humankind they were referring to—I was human too, after all, or at least so I thought at the time—they got rid of me as a broken machine, whose repair was unprofitable. It was too late. I had already been transformed into machine. A useless one.

On this sunny Sunday, I stand still at the side of the street, watching some other machines work, and humans walking by watching the machines work, almost happy that they are not in their place, but afraid that sooner or later fate might hit and induce the mutation. Without power to move, as nobody bothered to refuel me, I am trying to discern mutated machines from normal persons, but it is not always easy. I feel, as much as a machine can feel, that some of my components are falling apart, but no one around seems interested in repairing me. A passerby throws some coins in my hand, which will soon charge my batteries for a little longer. He stares at me for a while, then quickly turns his gaze the other way.

“Look dad! He is broken. Can you fix him?” asks the kid standing beside him. Children are better at recognizing the machines.

“He is not broken, son. He is unlucky,” answers the father. The kid is looking my way disappointed. “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content. Let us choose the perfect toy for you and have some fun!” he adds seconds later, as they walk away. The old tune comes to my mind and I start singing:

“Today is Sunday, Sunday ice cream.
All you hungry children, come and eat it up.”

The boy jumped with joy, but his father quickly pulled him away. I am not certain as to whether he was surprised at the machines having a voice, or if he got worried that the mutation might prove a contagious disease after all.


Mileva Anastasiadou is trying to make a living in Athens, Greece. She wishes things were easier (for all people) but they are not (for most people) and they will not be in the near future.
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