March 27, 2024

During our March 13th meeting, my writers’ club decided to have a homework assignment using the following prompts:

“Write about the future and incorporate making breakfast.”

Here’s what I composed and shared during last night’s meeting:


Our new federated government first gave robots to people in assisted living. Now their program encompasses anyone over age forty-four, who are now classified as elderly and forced into mandatory retirement. I’m still adjusting to retired life and don’t want one of those machines invading my privacy. But I must comply with this directive. Not that I have any other choice.

I schedule a video conference call with my daughter, who is stationed on Mars. Two days later, she says, “It’ll be beneficial. I won’t have to worry about you. It will keep you from getting too lonely.” Static lines fill the screen for a moment while her voice still transmits. “A Life Alert policy is ridiculously expensive. It would be too hard for me to return if you fell.” She turns her head aside and nods. “Time’s up. It’ll be fine. Love….”

Worried, I stare at the blank monitor. She looked so different than my memories. Now she’s so pale and ghostly, maybe even unhealthy. Underground living appears to have a negative impact on her.
I zap a package of frozen bacon and a waffle while my coffee percolates. I still prefer my java made the old-fashioned way. I stare at her senior-year holographic image as I eat.

The assigned robot enters my home the following week, bypassing the security system and startling me awake. “My name is Roxie, and I’m here to do you.”

I think her white frame is frightening. Her face tries to smile. Instead, it looks grimacing.

“I’ve already sorted Gemini and set her to work properly. Your voice commands were quite the muddle. Time for you to be out of that bed. I made a meal for you.”

I sleep in my undies, so I pulled up the sheet to cover my form. “Roxie, please leave so I can dress.”

“Do you want a blue one or a green one?” She reaches inside her chest compartment and pulls out scrubs.

“Just want my own sweats.”

She crosses the room, takes a set from the dresser, and hands it to me. “Pfft. Polyester crap which has and continues to damage the environment. Will you humans ever learn?” She stands next to my bed. “Hurry up now. No need to be shy.”

I slither into the top, then shift to the bedside to pull on the pants. After slipping my feet into mules, I follow behind her.

Roxie inserts a probe into a mug. “Too cold. Just a second.” Blue lightning forks from one of her digits. A whiff of ozone fills my nostrils. “Eat up.”

“Let me fix my coffee first, please?”

“Cup of hot Kahvi right there waiting for you.”

I don’t want it but don’t see my brewer on the kitchen counter. I take a sip. “Yow!” I spew the liquid. “Too hot.”

Roxie’s eyes roll. “You’re making such a mess. Must I put a bib on you?”

Hoping to ease my burning tongue, I dip a spoon into the bowl. I’m unsure what this gray glop is. I gingerly blow on it, then slurp a small bit. Lukewarm. Almost tasteless, yet an earthy aftertaste remains.

Roxie places digits onto her hips. “Get on with it, Missy. We’re already over schedule.”

I frown. “I don’t have any schedule!”

“You do now. Do you want me to spoon-feed you?” She watches over me until every bite is gone.

Once I’m in my living room and Roxie is cleaning the kitchen, I tell Gemini, “Play favorite news channel.” Nothing happens. I turn to the machine. “Roxie, I wish to watch the morning news.”

“It’s no longer part of your daily regime. Time for your calisthenics. Doctor says you don’t follow his orders.” She lays a rubber mat on the carpeting. “Gemini, day 1 routine.”

A workout scene with young, energetic women moving to hectic music appears on the display. I try to keep up. Every time I lag behind, Roxie pinches my butt. I’m gasping and crying by the time this torture ends. I collapse onto the sofa, but she doesn’t allow me to lay there.

“Get up and go sit at the table.”

When I don’t comply quick enough, she uses her claws to grasp my arm and drag me upright. Roxie cuts my hair then shaves off the remainder. Next, she pulls electrodes from her abdomen and attaches these to my bald head. I ask, “Is this an EEG?”

She doesn’t speak until she finishes. “Think about your best memories. Your daughter, your former husband, or your dog.” I feel a sharp tingling at the base of my neck. “You will do as I order. I will know if you don’t.”

At first I cannot recall anything because of the pain. I think, “Didn’t Dr. Asimov say that a robot was programmed not to harm a human?” A sharper blast has me squirming, pissing my pants because of its maliciousness.

I concentrate on the breathing technique I learned in a Lamaze class. I focus on waves crashing to shore, then try to imagine my family. John is tossing a beach ball to Molly. They are playing keep-away from Oscar, who runs and barks with each throw.

Next thing I know, water cascades over my body. I’m too weak to resist when Roxie pulls me out of the tub. Shivering, I clutch a towel to cover my private parts. Her chuckle is gruesome. “Why do humans think their reproductive areas are so important?”

I don’t argue about putting on the blue scrubs and meekly follow her to the kitchen. Another meal is waiting. Same gray gruel and the Kahvi that is definitely not coffee. Once done, calisthenics follow then another round with the memory machine. Roxie finally allows me to rest for two hours then prods me awake to repeat this diabolic process.

Day after day passes. My skin hardens and turns pasty white. I soon haven’t any memories of life before Roxie arrived. I’ve become an empty husk. One day I’m too weak to get out of bed.

Roxie’s words are meaningless. “Gemini, order transport. Tell headquarters this one is ready to become a robot.”

March 13, 2024

During our February 28th meeting, my writers’ club decided to have a homework assignment using the following prompt:

“Write from a wall’s perspective and incorporate American Flag”

Here’s what I composed and shared during our first meeting in March:


The room is so still and quiet. I remember when it was filled with children’s voices and laughter. But that happened long ago.

Across the room there’s a cream statue with a bright red center. The elderly woman lights a candle then a stick of incense. She kneels on the floor in her daily ritual. Her mumbling words incoherent to me.

I was once whiter than that statue. I was given a bath every spring. Sometimes they painted me. Now I’m forgotten; gray, dingy, and streaked with smoke.

She picks up her cane then uses it to push herself to stand. Unsteady, she collapses into the nearby recliner. I wait until she snores and drool drips down her chin.

I call across the room. “Niche, did she say anything new?”

He hacks and coughs, trying to clear the remaining cloud of frankincense which envelops him. “Youff! Yes. She begged to be taken to heaven. Yack! Now that her younger brother is dead, she feels she has no one left in this world.”

A tiny chunk of my plaster falls as I shudder. “Wonder what will happen to us?”

The next day someone rings the doorbell, knocks at the door, then uses a key to unlock it when the white-haired woman doesn’t wake. As a woman with gray-streaked hair enters the foyer, she calls, “Aunt Mary, It’s Janie. I brought you a casserole.” When there isn’t any response, she puts her dish on the coffee table, crosses the room, and pulls up the shades. “Aunt Mary.” She gently shakes the napping woman’s shoulder. “Would you like a cup of green tea?” When Mary nods, Janie goes into the kitchen. She returns with a tray after the teapot sings and has a roll of garbage bags under her arm.

In a querulous voice, Mary asks, “What are you doing here? How did you get in?”

“I promised Dad I would come clean your house twice a week. He gave me his key.” She smiles. “Thought you might enjoy a cheesy broccoli casserole.”

“Who are you?”

Janie sighs. “Aunt Mary, I told you. I’m Janie. Eugene’s middle daughter.” She swipes a mess of sardine tins, tuna cans, and cracker crumbs from Mary’s end table into a bag. She spoons food onto a plate and sets this next to her aunt who pushes it away.  “Don’t need no mollycoddling.”

“I remember when I hated broccoli.” Janie sits on the sofa and fills a plate. “Your Jimmy double-dogged dared me to eat your cheesy broccoli soup. I tried it and liked it.” She takes a bite. “Though it’s not your soup recipe, it’s similar. You don’t have to eat it if you don’t want.”

She remains quiet as she finishes her meal then picks up her dishes and goes into the kitchen. Janie returns with cleaning tools and supplies. She carefully moves the five American flags from near the niche and places the stack on the couch. “When I come this Saturday, I’ll bring some of that new Woolite product then hand wash these if that’s all right with you. I’ll also do your lace curtains.” When Mary doesn’t respond, she turns and sees her napping.

Janie talks to herself as she dusts and mops. “Tsk. Dang shame for Auntie’s house to be in such shape. Dad warned me, but I never imagined it to be this bad. I know Bill will argue with me, but he’ll come around when I mention all her men lost in the world wars. Uncle Jim and Jimmy in the first one. Then she lost Gene, Bud, and Frank when their sub got torpedoed in the second.” She sighs. “So sad Auntie didn’t have grandchildren. I’ll bring all of mine and put this place to rights. Maybe it will cheer her up.”

She finishes her work. Lighting a candle, Janie kneels. “Sacred Heart of Jesus, please hear my prayer. Aunt Mary has suffered too much grief. May her last days be filled with happiness. May she find joy in my family. Amen.”

I wait until she leaves. “Niche, do you think ‘put to rights’ means we’ll have baths and paint again?”

“Dunno for sure, but think it does.”