The Sands of Time

The sunlight streams in through the open window, waking me up three minutes before the alarm went off.  I look over at my sleeping husband, and can’t help but to bask in the warmth of the happy feeling residing in my chest.  We’ve been married for little over a month, but waking up next to him has yet to get old.  Part of me hopes that it never will.  The alarm goes off, causing Clark’s arm to fly out and slam into the offending clock radio until the beeping ends.  “No, dear heart, it’s time to get up,” I say, shaking his shoulder.  Another beautiful Thursday morning.

Once I am sure that he is awake, I slip off into the bathroom.  Partially because I take longer, but mostly because Clark simply isn’t a morning person.  It will be at least fifteen minutes before he is dressed, and another twenty minutes before he needs anything in here.  I beat him to the kitchen, as always, and start a fresh pot of coffee.  I can always guess how bad the night before had been based on how much of the paper I can read before he joins me in the kitchen.  It must have been pretty bad—I make it through all of the local and world news, and half of the sports.

“New case?” I ask, offering him a mug.

“Lord, yes,” he replies, with a weary nod.  He pours a dry bowl of cereal, and pulls the comics page out of the paper.  “Three different missing person cases.  One of the servers in the industrial district went down, and it was utter chaos.  Honestly, we’re lucky to only have three cases.”

“Why would a server crash create a missing person situation?” I ask.

His head jerks up.  “Oh.  Well, no reason,” he says.  Clark is a terrible liar, but stubborn as well.  It won’t be worth my time to press the issue.  We talk about the latest political scandal, and whether or not that would create any strain in the office.  Usually Clark’s department is too far removed, but on occasion the blame would fall all the way down onto the police chief.  Whenever that happens, the blame inevitably keeps rolling.  Never as often as the TV dramas would have me believe, of course, but still more than I would have thought.

“What would you like for lunch today?” I ask.

Once again, he responds with a deer-in-the-headlights look.  “You really don’t have to do that.  I can make my own lunch.”

“You realize you’ve got less than ten minutes before you need to leave, right?”

He pauses.  “Oh.  Well… I’ll just buy something.  I can go out for lunch today.  It’ll be fine.”

I roll my eyes.  “You’ll be lucky if you even have a half hour for lunch, and you know it.  Shut up and let me make you lunch, already.  Honestly, Clark, it’s the least I can do.  You’re working full time so I can stay home and pretend to be a painter.”

“Don’t say that.  Your work is—“

“Shush.  We can argue later.  Go finish getting ready.”

He retreats back into the bedroom while I browse the fridge for sandwich ingredients.  I fell in love with Clark’s fierce independence streak, so I can’t be too mad whenever he tries to prevent me from doing things for him.  But he never seems to understand the difference between pampering and working together.  Were those tomatoes?  We never have tomatoes.  His mother must have stopped by last night while I was out shopping.  She always grows too much food in her garden.  I smile, and start preparing a BLT.  I get the bacon cooking on the stove, and then pull out a cutting board to slice the tomatoes.

“Is… that bacon I smell?” he asks, walking back into the room.  “Are you… oh no.  I told her I didn’t want any of her damn tomatoes.  Honey, you really don’t have to do this.  You know you’re terrible with a knife.  Please let me do this.”

“Would you quit it, already?”  I turn my head, only to see him standing in the doorway half-dressed.  “It’s just a sandwich, Clark.  It’s not exactly—“

I try and hide my pain reaction, but I can tell by his face he already knows.  “Now look what you’ve done.  If you hadn’t distracted me, I never would have cut my finger.  This is your fault!” I yell, angrily waving my injured finger at him.

Or I would have, if it were still attached.  I look down at my hand, only to see a clump of severed wires where my index finger should have been.  I can feel myself growing faint.  Clark rushes to my side, wraps his arms around my shoulder, and slowly steers me back into our bedroom.

“Clark.  Why…”

“Please don’t talk,” he whispers.  I let him cradle my head against his chest as he steers us towards the closet.  He starts throwing all of his dress shirts onto the floor.  There’s a hidden door where the wall should be, I realize.  He pushes it open, and we step over his clothes into a second closet.  It’s completely empty except for a large, flashing computer stretching from floor to ceiling.  It’s a massive tower of wires and lights straight out of a Science Fiction movie.

“Clark… what is this?”  I pull back to look directly into his eyes, but he’s deliberately staring at the ground.  His eyes begin to water, and it takes him a few, tense moments before he speaks.

“You’re an android,” he says.  “You—the real you—died in a car accident two weeks after our honeymoon.  A drunk driver ran straight through a red light and I… when they told me all of your memories could be placed into a home server, I… I’m not strong enough.  I can’t live without you,” he says, pulling me close.  “I just can’t.”

I push him away.  “Clark… we don’t have the technology for this.  I can’t possibly be an android.  We barely have working smart phones.”

Once again, silence.   He manages to choke back his tears. “You… have been programmed not to see how much I’ve aged.  It’s been over fifteen years since you died.  I haven’t stopped missing you.  Not once.  And when they told me there was a way to have you back, I… how could I not?”

“Clark… if that’s true… you have to move on.”  Now I’m crying.  “You can’t live in the past like this.  It’s not healthy.”

“I… I know,” he says.  “So you keep telling me.  You’re too clever for your own good, you know.”

“Clever?  I… Clark, how many times have I learned this?”

He hugs me close, and I fall into his arms.  “I’m not strong enough to live without you.  I’m sorry.”  Too late I realize he’s feeling the small of my back for a reason.  A power switch, or a reset button, or… something.  The world fades to black.


The sunlight streams in through the open window, waking me up three minutes before the alarm went off.  I look over at my sleeping husband, and can’t help but to bask in the warmth of the happy feeling residing in my chest.  We’ve been married for little over a month, but waking up next to him has yet to get old.  Part of me hopes that it never will.  The alarm goes off, causing Clark’s arm to fly out and slam into the offending clock radio until the beeping ends.  “No, dear heart, it’s time to get up,” I say, shaking his shoulder.  Another beautiful Friday morning.

Neil Siemers grew up in Derby, Kansas, a comparatively small town south of Wichita. He moved to Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas, and hasn't left since. Neil likes to pretend that he is a big shot full time writer, although it's probably closer to a hobby. Either way, it's funded by a full-time job in the insurance industry, where he happily works as a cog in the machine for The Man so that bills can be paid.

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