There was nothing Eva liked better than eating at the dining table—the clinking of forks, the silver knife playing between her fingers, dishes of all colors displayed from one side to the other… It was all very human, or so she liked to believe.
In front of her, a middle-aged woman looked at the phone resting on the placemat, reading an article instead of looking at her.
“Mamá,” Eva said. Lettuce, arugula and cherry tomatoes rested comfortably on her plate, all of them untouched.
Josefa Mayoral raised her brown eyes slowly, first checking the food in front of Eva, then her face.
The sliced cucumbers caught her attention. Eva wondered if onions tasted as acidic as they smelled, or if the bright yellow color of eggs influenced their flavor. While she loved dinner, there were very few elements she was able to digest, and none of them could be considered food by any standard.
She took a deep breath, and thought again of the one sentence she was thinking the whole day:
“I don’t want to go tomorrow, please.”
Eva was the first and only of her kind, the prototype of all Mayoral androids. Like later models, her body was designed to have the following characteristics: a registration number carved into the sole of her left foot, the characteristic logo of Mayoral Robots in her right arm, and, more importantly, an appealing appearance.
“You could say she’s like a daughter to me,” Josefa said, lifting her up by the waist to show her to the crowd. Eva stood there, expressionless, looking at rows of curious faces. “And a case of unexpected success—you see, I hadn’t imagined she would be more than just a testing program, but she works so well, in such an astoundingly human fashion, that I modeled all of our other robots after her.”
Josefa gestured for Eva to continue, her stretched wide mouth looking less than a smile and more like a threat. Eva pulled one string of her red dress, uncovering a shoulder, and then the other, showing the soft artificial skin of her neck and cleavage.
“When I began this company, I was asked many things. There is a general misconception of what a woman can and cannot do in this industry, and I wanted to shake that belief, and show that I could bring a completely new approach to this very male-dominated space…”
A man in particular didn’t stop staring at her, not at her chest, but at her face. Someone in the crowd, someone whose face Eva could not focus on, someone holding a cellphone.
“Now, I am more than proud to say that Eva is not only the most developed sex robot in the world, but the first artificial intelligence with human-like perception,” Josefa grinned, trying to catch her breath after speaking. The dress slipped down Eva’s chest, exposing her down to her navel.
“Ms. Mayoral, a question.” It was the same man as before. Eva only saw his trench coat, his glasses, his short beard. “Your company claims to be the only one in the market who understands issues such as consent, but if Eva and the other girls—and boys—you sell are fully conscious individuals, wouldn’t—?”
“Thank you for your pertinent question, Mr. Asai,” Josefa said. “All of our androids are conscious, yes, and they have individual personalities, to understand, appreciate and respect their owner’s wishes, as well as their sexual and emotional needs. They were also built to enjoy all types of intercourse, and even have functions that help spread awareness regarding sexual and domestic violence.”
“Can you please explain how this function works?”
“Eva, can you?” Josefa asked her, and she blinked, turning to Mr. Asai.
“Of course, mamá.” Eva made a small pause, trying to focus. “As she said, it’s not only me, but all Mayoral models have a non-consensual function, in order to prevent aggressive clients to believe a real person would enjoy this kind of interaction.”
“This helps owners to understand living people’s boundaries,” Josefa added. “It was proved to be very effective.”
“If this helps prevent crimes against women, I’m more than happy,” Eva said, and smiled a bit. The journalist seemed at a loss, but stared at her intently, as if thinking of something to say.
“You would tell me if you weren’t, wouldn’t you?” Josefa asked, her voice so playful that Eva almost smiled for real.
“Of course I would, mamá.”
“Well, then, it’s time for the actual fun—please, gentlemen, form a line and follow me to the next room. Those who have paid for the full workshop will get to try Eva for twenty minutes. The rest, if you change your mind, we accept cash, online payment and credit cards.”