Factory Reset

My double mouse click bounces off the polished concrete floor and bare brick walls. The silence swallows it after a time, leaving behind the patter of tiny rain drops against the only window in the apartment. The cursor on screen is a small blue circle and spins with a Sisyphean determination. All I can do is wait and listen to the never-ending rain and think of you.

Your lopsided smile accompanied your braying laughter as we walked through mist—both of us without jackets—and you explained that if I wanted to seem like a native of the city I must never get caught with an umbrella, even when it pours. I asked about the dangers of rusting. You laughed again and said every robot here has a little bit of rust on them.

A dialog box pops up with instructions to plug myself into the CPU via a hyperlink USB. The cord already dangles down the side of the computer tower, an end plugged into one of the four slots at the top next to the power switch. The other end reflects the green LEDs that light the CPU’s guts, ready whenever I am.

With trembling fingers, I plug myself in.

The first box disappears, and another appears in its place.

Begin factory reset?

Without giving my servos time to rationalize their way out of it, I strike enter and release a definitive click from the mechanical keyboard. A sound that used to bring me so much joy now reverberates numbly in my hollow chest.

A third box.

WARNING. Performing factory reset will clear all short and long term memory caches except those essential for base function. Are you sure you wish to proceed?

I had to put in a request for the hyperlink USB needed to complete a factory reset. It takes a year for these requests to be approved, per governmental regulations. Robots can’t go around resetting themselves all willy-nilly, after all. During the wait period, I had to go to four different government mandated counseling sessions to prove I was serious about wanting a reset. Show the powers that be that I was sure I knew what I was getting myself into.

I was sure a year ago. I’m sure now.

Sure about losing the 5074 movies we saw together. Sure about rewatching forty-eight thousand hours of television at our typical double speed in an attempt to rediscover my favorite shows. Sure about forgetting the lyrics to myriad songs intrinsically attached to you. Sure about not remembering the house we bought and moved into and loved inside of. Sure about looking at our cats as three strays who broke into my cold studio apartment and brought their own litter boxes and food with them.

So sure about all of it, as long as it finally gets you out of my head. Because I can live without those things. But living without you is impossible.

I hit enter again, and once the sound fades, nothing remains but the rain.