Old Girl

He lets me ride up front all the way to the clinic, lets me hang my head out the window and feel the breeze rush through my hair the way he knows I like but seldom lets me do.

He doesn’t talk to me the way he usually does. Even when we’re sitting in the waiting room, he just stares at the tacky sail boat wallpaper and runs his fingers through my hair. I’m not sure what’s wrong. None of this feels the way it did the other times we came to the clinic.

I try to nestle in close to him. To comfort him, even though I’m not sure what it is that’s bothering him. He pushes me down and there’s no brightness to his eyes when he looks at me.

I feel the weight of his sadness on my heart and I too sit and stare and wait.

The doctor comes in and lays a blanket on the metal examination table. It’s a dingy pink with cartoon characters from an old movie for kids.

Master stands and helps me sit on the table. It’s hard to sit on, even with the blanket there, and it hurts my butt to sit still. The doctor puts a hand on my back to steady me, looks down at me with a smile plastered on his face. Doing his best to help me feel at ease.

But why shouldn’t I feel at ease? I’ve had shots and vaccinations so many times before.

The doctor looks over to master.

“How old is she?”

“Eighty Seven.”

Doc makes a low whistling sound. “She’s an old girl. What’s wrong with her?” He glances at my arms and legs, turns my face with his hand.

“She’s not been herself. Doesn’t have the energy she used to. Spends most of the day laying around.”

“Well that’s pretty normal, especially at her age. Has she been getting sick?”

“Yeah. She’s been throwing up a lot. Blood in her stool. I can tell she doesn’t feel good.”

My heart skips a beat. I’d wondered why he’d spent so much time looking at me the last few days. I swore it was just something I ate. Did he really think something more was wrong with me?

“Well at her age, this kind of animal, you usually see the liver and kidneys go first. A lot of what you’ll see is that sort of sickness before the end.”

“I know. I put it off as long as I could. I just don’t want her suffering.”

“You did the right thing bringing her in. Its the hardest part of pet ownership,” the doctor says.

So that’s what this was about. Dread tingles my spine. Cold clutches my heart.

“Do you want to be in the room?”

Master looks at me with those sad, dim eyes.


The doctor nods and turns his back to us, opening one of the cabinet drawers and grabbing a prepackaged disposable syringe and a vial of clear fluid.

I breathe out a ragged sigh. I don’t blame my master. I’m not what I was. My health degrades each day. I did feel sick, I wasn’t myself.

Master pets me gently. Holds me firmly on the table.

I start to shake. Tears form in my eyes.

The Doctor grabs my arm, turns it over, exposing the veins. He sticks the needle in, flushing the reservoir.

Master looks away, to the wall behind me.

A smile twitches at the corners of my lips. He’s an old robot. But always kind to me. I felt his love. We’d had a good run together. I hope, as the chilly fluid swirls through my veins, that he finds another human to help comfort him in this lonely world.

Eric Fomley’s stories have appeared in Clarkesworld, Daily Science Fiction, Galaxy’s Edge, and elsewhere. More of his stores can be found at ericfomley.com.

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