robot-mdThe Anniversary

by Anthony Nichols

Rabbit waits by the window.

All the chores are done. They don’t take long. Not anymore.

Dusting takes the longest. It gets everywhere and if left unchecked drifts up against the base boards almost up to the sockets.

Although the ironing is done Rabbit likes to touch up the outfits he has laid out for the family after finishing the dusting, vacuuming, and other chores.

Some days he spends extra time in the hall even if it doesn’t need any special attention. The hall is covered with pictures of the family; a professional wedding photo, snapshots of a smiling girl holding a trophy, groups of people by a waterfall. This is a record of happiness; no one documents fear or fever, anger or disappointment.

Rabbit remembers when they moved in, when Sarah was pregnant with Joshua. They had wanted more room and although this was another high rise apartment, the layout was better. More storage, a better view. And, of course, he was there to help. It was interesting then. Furniture changing regularly, the little one growing up. So many adaptations, new routines.

It was Sarah’s husband, Lucien, who had named Rabbit. Even though their robot helper was perhaps a bit more like a rounded fire hydrant in appearance there was something in the way it moved, suddenly turning and darting off to the next task, that struck Lucien as being particularly rabbit-like. Even the softly blinking light in the middle of his “face” seemed like a twitchy little nose once you got the idea in your head. Sarah laughed every time Rabbit looked at her during the first week that he had his new name.

Some days Rabbit would look at the picture of Sarah in the hall and play back all the laughs, like a song.

But tonight is a special night. Rabbit has laid out the clothes that the family wears to special occasions and done an extra thorough job, Spring Cleaning options fully selected. It is 1000 days since the family barricaded themselves in the bathroom and nearly as long since there was any sunlight.

When everything is ready, Rabbit rolls over near the master bathroom, at the very edge of his program until the strain forces him to emit a series of chirps and beeps, then he turns quickly and heads back to his station, ready in case they should come out and need anything.

Rabbit waits by the window, where the glass used to be. In the building directly across, there is movement in the dimly lit apartments as others, others like Rabbit, go about their routines waiting for their people to get up or come home.


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