“You haven’t done the corners!”
Liliana frowned. The moth, wings outflung in death, and Hobbs, the vacuum cleaner she had bought a month ago, after ditching Clemence the French Maid in a fit of pique, stared back at her.
“I only bought you because they said you had an eye for detail.”
“I do have an eye. For detail.”
In fact, Hobbs had no eyes, only a visual detection screen. But there was something about that screen which made Liliana feel….undressed.
The fact is – she was undressed. And why shouldn’t she be, in her own home, with no one but the household appliances to see her. Still, she crossed her arms over her naked breasts.
“Then you can see that dead moth as well as I can,” she retorted.
Hobbs pondered. She knew he was pondering, because a red light winked on his user function controller. A red spot played on her bare midriff, like a salacious ultrasound.
“Show me,” he said.
She sighed. It was a game to him. Her. She was pretty sure Hobbs was a him.
She got down on her knees, the pile lush on her long legs.
“Moth. Here! Dust. Here!”
Liliana ran a slim finger around the skirting board.
“You have an attachment. I read about it. For dust.”
Hobbs sidled close.
She held up her finger, grey, ran it slowly along his sensor. She heard him purr. She could have sworn it.
She stroked the cool metal, felt a flush of electric warmth meet her fingertip.
“I bought you to clean the goddamn floor, not to –“
Not to – what?
“Where’s the goddamn attachment, anyway?”
With a low growl, the vacuum tube slid out, its questing nozzle quivering with tiny, silken hairs. She closed her hand around it, feeling the delicate power, sensuous, subtle. Naked, she drew closer, and Hobbs, too, with a throaty murmur, leaned in towards her naked body as they converged on the still, dead moth.
“Your bread’s ready!”
“It’s been ready for half an hour. If you don’t take it out, it’ll get all steamy and moist.”
She rued the day she’d decided to call the bread making machine Clarissa. Could a nameless machine have a character? Could a nameless machine be in love?
She opened the lips of the oven and peered in. The bread was waiting, warm, ripe, crusty, fragrant.
“Are you satisfied? Did I satisfy you?”
“Yes, Clarissa, you were perfect.”
“Because, you know, I tried especially hard, for you. I know how you love to taste something fresh and rich and warm first thing in the morning. I know just how you like it, don’t I?”
“Thanks, Clarissa. I know you do.”
“Don’t I get a kiss then?”
“Clarissa, you make the bread. You don’t need kisses. You don’t even have a mouth.”
She could feel Clarissa pouting, with her no-mouth. The bread wouldn’t rise properly, next time. the fruit of a heavy sulk. She put her soft arms around the white, creamy box and pressed her lips to the plastic, even a little flicker of tongue.
So smooth, she thought. If only we were made of plastic. Or steel. To run warm hands over curves and flanks of whitest poly-something, to feel the electric heart pulsing beneath.
“No moth!”, said Hobbs in his deep, thrilling voice, loudly. “See? No dust.”
He stood, erect, in the corner, his shiny steel frame sihouetted in the window, proudly holding his extension before him.
“I’ll check later. Right now I’m going to take a nap.”
She shut the bedroom door. Hobbs and Clarissa exchanged a complicit glance.
“I can clean crumbs, too,” said Hobbs, hopefully.