it’s been a while

I haven’t written anything for a while and I’m gonna try to get back to it.

Graham and Oliver have returned to school. I still have not gone with them because I do not need the social interaction and secondary education like human teenagers. I sit at home. I clean the house and I skim over Matthew’s novel collection; I still do not know what he and Annie do for work. Matthew’s study is filled with books that range from medical journals to instruction manuals and I flip through a dew of them, scanning every page. Annie does not have a study to herself, but she does have a desk in the same room.

Oliver’s room is immaculate and I don’t stay in it long. Finally, I make my way to the room Graham and I share; my side is unused, but Graham does not keep his side in order. His bed is unkempt and he has left discarded clothes on the floor. There are food wrappers and crumbs on his desk. His computer is open and the cursor is blinking in a message box. I think for a second and proceed to sit in the desk chair.

Graham’s username is ‘grahamcracker42’ and he was typing a message to an ‘XMarksTheSpot’ about his holiday and I am unsure if I want to read it. I don’t want to lose Graham’s trust in me, so I don’t. I close the computer and I leave his things alone. Wandering eyes get humans in trouble. Before I leave, I take my new scarf off of the hooks by our door and I tie it around my throat. I don’t see the reason to wear a coat outdoors, but the scarf feels soft on me.

As I dig my feet into the snow, Annie’s car slowly makes its way into the driveway. She steps out of the driver’s side and she smiles and waves at me.

“Would you mind helping me with these bags?” she asks and opens the door to the backseat.

I help and she thanks me, but she continues to bring bags into the house. She smiles at me as we load food into the refrigerator; they buy so much food.

“I got you something today,” Annie says. She holds up a thick and oversized burgundy sweater. “I got one for Graham and Oliver, but I like yours the best. I’d like to see it on you.”

She pulls the sweater over my head and helps in rolling up the sleeves and she ruffles my hair.

“You look very handsome,” she says.

“Thank you,” I reply. She turns back to the refrigerator. “Would you like any assistance with dinner?”

Annie beams at me. “Thank you very much, Aaron.”

She shows me the recipe cards that are handwritten in blue ink and they’re yellowed from age. She says that they’re from her grandmother and she’ll pass them to one of her grandchildren. She shows me the kitchen tools and how I should start helping her. I chop onions and tomatoes to add to a hot pan; she’s showing me how to make spaghetti.

“How was your day?” I ask her.

“Things were fine. Short. I only went to work to picks the cover art for a couple of books and send a few emails. Matthew came to work with some of the other editors I work with. He’s almost done with his book. And then I went shopping and now I’m here with you. And how are you?”

“I would like to be able to eat and taste food.”

She stops what she’s doing and looks at me with wide eyes.

“You do?”

“I want it. I want to become more human. It seems that I am difficult to connect with.”

“I’d have to talk with Matt about it, Aaron. Then we’d have to talk with Doctor Carpenter. What brought this on?”

“I would like to be more likeable.”

Annie looks at me with sympathetic eyes. She scrunches up her lips and her nose and she tells me that I am liked. She’s happy to see me every day and the sons like me. This does not sound like she wants me to change. I am the one who wants to change. We finish preparing the meal and she suggests that I go upstairs and wait for dinner; I will wait for Graham.

I sit in the dark of the room and wait in my desk chair. I don’t use the computer and I don’t move. I watch videos of families eating daily dinners, even celebrating Thanksgiving. I do understand that I don’t have a stomach or intestines. I search for possibilities that could change me and I don’t notice that Graham has come home until he turns the light on.

“What are you doing in the dark here?” he asks.

I can’t see him, my eyes are displaying images and graphics, but I tell him what I am doing. He huffs and sits on his bed.

“Will you give me paper, please? And a pencil?”

I feel Graham close my hands around a notebook and a mechanical pencil. I sketch my body and a track that runs through it. I somehow find myself on a website educating people on coal energy and I think to myself, what if there was a way for the food I ingest to be burned into chemical energy? I make notes to give to Leo.

“So, what’s inspired you to eat like a real boy?” Graham asks. “The Blue Fairy didn’t do enough for you?”

“I don’t know of any fairies, Graham.”

“You don’t know Pinocchio?

“I do not. Is it a book? A movie?”

“This really, really, old kids movie. The puppet wants to be a real boy and he spends his days hoping the Blue Fairy will change him. We can try to find it on the Internet or something. I’ll watch it with you; I always enjoy animated movies.”

“That sounds nice, Graham. Thank you.”

After I finish my sketch, we meet with everyone else at the dinner table where Annie places a pot of spaghetti in the middle and she announces that I made dinner with her and that I worked very hard. She looks me over and smiles before she sits down.

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i don’t seem to have a title this time

I started Queer as Folk and I’m not sure how that’s going to factor into that.

There is a lull after Christmas. The family says it is because no one does anything until the New Year celebration. I search for the holiday and I find video results of parties in large cities, fireworks, verbal countdowns, and kissing as the clock reads midnight. No one redecorates the house and more food is purchased for the night of the festivities. They tell me that there will be a party and I am going to meet friends and family of the Davises. I am nervous but I am told not be.

Oliver and Graham are still out of school, but they’re constantly doing schoolwork. Graham says that he has an analysis of class portrayed on television due the day that he returns to school and Oliver has a presentation about Frankenstein; Graham had already presented to their class. They do their work and leave me in the living room with Matthew and Annie. Things are silent until they start a conversation.

“Aaron, how are you liking it here?” Matthew asks. He closes his book and turns off the television.

“I’m quite thankful for this home that you’ve provided for me here.”

Annie asks me a question now. “And the boys, are they treating you well?”

“They are both fine. Oliver seems to still be excited around me.”

“And how is living with Graham?” Matthew asks.

“Graham is wonderful. He makes me feel very at home.”

Matthew and Annie trade look, but they smile warmly. They both stand and announce that they are going to go shopping, but they leave me as well.

Days later, the home feels like Christmas Day again but there are more people. Graham and Oliver pull me from person to person so everyone can meet and examine me. I meet Matthew’s mother, father, two brother, two sisters-in-law, and his six nieces and nephews. I meet Annie’s mother, her three sisters, her two brothers-in-law, and sister-in-law, and her four nieces and nephews. I remember all of their names. Surprisingly enough, I am the only android that any of them have met; the children, younger than and as old as Graham, find me to be fascinating.

Matthew projects a television broadcast on the wall where musicians perform and celebrities talk about what the year before had brought them. Everyone in the room socializes and I stand by the wall and I watch as people eat and laugh and talk. Graham watches me from the other side of the room with his cousins where they’re playing some form of game on a tablet computer. He stands and trudges through his familial crowd to stand by me.

“I used to be really uncomfortable at these things before I really felt like I was part of the family. Even with your circuits, you’ll get used to it. I’d offer you a cookie or some shit like that, but you don’t really eat.” He runs a hand through his hair and laughs casually.

“I’m glad you feel better about things, Graham.”

“You will, too. Everyone will come to love you. I can’t say that I have,” he laughs.

“You don’t?”

He laughs again. “It was a joke, dummy.”

“Is that also a joke? I am very smart, Graham.”

Graham sighs. “I’m gonna go get a drink, and when I come back, I want you to loosen up and just try to sound normal.”

He disappears into the crowd again and I wait for him. Oliver pulls free of his family and he asks me how my night is and he hugs me tight to his body. Like Graham before him, he disappears into the clump of his family. No one else comes to see me until Graham returns with a plastic cup filled with a red liquid.

“So, Aaron, did I miss anything?”

“We were in the same room, Graham. If you missed something, I would have too. Oliver was here a moment ago.”

He drinks the liquid at once and tries to laugh. “You really didn’t get that normal note, did you?” His eyes trail off toward the broadcast on the wall. “We’re getting close to midnight. I can’t believe they’ve been doing this ball drop thing for so many years.”

I search for it. “The first ball was used in December of 1907 but the first ceremony was in 1904.”

“You are such a nerd.”

“I am only a nerd because I have the internet as part of my capabilities.”

\He grabs the arm of my shirt and pulls me closer to him and the family and they begin to chant the seconds, just like I had seen earlier. They finally make it from sixty to zero and the married adults kiss each other on the mouths and parents kiss their children on their heads and their cheeks. Graham looks to me for what seems like approval before he lightly touches my cheek with his lips and he whispers, “Happy New Year, Aaron.” He steps away and he smiles at me with happy eyes. He says good night to his extended family members and climbs the stairs. I do not follow but I stay close to the wall until the house clears out. I enter our room and Graham is asleep, snoring even. I think about my days with the Davises and I am happy.

it’s not december, but i wrote a christmas

Frankly, it hasn’t even been Thanksgiving yet.

Christmas morning arrive and both Graham and Oliver are very excited. Oliver tells me stories the night before past Christmas celebration, even before Graham became part of the family. I ask Graham for stories of his previous life, but he stays silent. He brushes off my questions and he helps Annie prepare Christmas stockings for the following morning. Graham still doesn’t answer me when we’re getting ready for bed. He instead lays in his bed and he taps his chest with soft fingers. There’s a calm in the dark room and I can hear the faint sounds of his soft heartbeat.

“Graham, I’m sorry I’m asking you about this.”

He shifts and faces me, but he does not look angry.

“You’re fine. I just don’t want to talk about it. Shit was complicated in my last home.”

He reaches his hand under his bed and he retrieves a plastic shopping bag. Carefully, he throws it at me.

“I’m sorry it’s not wrapped, but I wanted you to have one of your own.”

“My own?”

“You’ve got to open it, dummy.”

I pull the bag open and a simple blue scarf falls out and on to the floor. I pick it up with a gentle grasp and feel the soft fabric on my fingertips. Graham smiles and I smile back at him.

“For the next time you decide to go out.”

“Graham, I cannot feel cold or warm. It wouldn’t make any difference.”

Graham groans and he sighs, but he laughs. “It’s the thought that counts, Aaron. You’re going to get a few different things tomorrow and you can’t just explain why you don’t need them.”

“But I don’t need these things. Also, I have so many things; why do I need more?”

“Because we love you and we want you to feel at home here.”

He glances at the clock and my eyes follow. The time has just changed from eleven fifty-nine to an even midnight. Graham rolls over and wishes me a merry Christmas and a good night. I repeat the sentiments and I watch him pull his comforter further up his body and around his face and the room seems darker. I face the ceiling and behind closed eyelids, I watch the scene from moments before.

The morning comes and I am still watching. Graham wakes up and pulls me out of bed and down the stairs with him. On the way down, he calls for Oliver and Annie and Matthew. He stops at the foot of the stairs and I stop with him. Graham points out the windows at the fresh snow that had fallen during the night and he points into the living room where the Christmas tree is fully lit and decorated and many colorfully wrapped boxes are stacked in piles. He squeezes my shoulder and smiles wider than I’ve seen so far. His eyes reflect the lights around us and he drags me to the couch.

“We’ve gotta wait until everyone is down here and ready to go, but you’re rooming with me, so there was no way you were staying in bed.”

We sit together on the couch and Graham stares at the tree, waiting impatiently to dig into whatever has his name on it; he would do the same to things without his name. Soon enough, the parents and Oliver descend the stairs and the morning begins. Coffee is made and on the television, a fire is played because it’s customary on Christmas morning; there is also no fireplace and fireplaces have not been in houses for years based on the environmental needs.

Gifts are passed out to everyone and finally I am handed a stack of boxes. I remember what Graham says about gifts and I put a smile on my face. The paper is ripped off and boxes are opened and once the floor is covered in garbage, eyes are on me. No one needs to say anything, but they are waiting for me to open my gifts. Clothes, books, and more things to make me feel at home. I thank everyone, but they all, including Graham, have me stand and they hug me one after the other; Graham holds on the longest and he tousles my hair.

After the festivities, we sit around the dining table and a large dinner is served. I watch as everyone laughs and I laugh with them when I can try to fit it in. I don’t eat, but I enjoy my time with them. They all make me feel welcomed in their home and I’m thankful. Once it is time for the family to go to bed, I follow Graham and Oliver up the stairs. Oliver wishes us a good night as we head into separate doors.

Graham says that he’s thankful for the Davises and he’s thankful to have met me. I am thankful to him, but I do not say so. I smile at him and I hug him before he gets into his bed. No words are said by either of us but he gently wraps his arms around me. He crawls into bed and he goes to sleep almost instantly. Tonight, I do not replay the day in my head. Tonight, I try to shut myself down and sleep like a normal person, even if I know that I am not one.

i wanna write for life

I’ve seen the movie Those People on Netflix twice this week and I reference it here. Give it a watch.

I decide not to go school with Oliver and Graham, but I stay home while Matthew and Annie leave for their jobs in the morning after the boys. I think to myself while the house is empty. But I soon realize that there is nothing for me to think about with no one around. I sit and I take in my surroundings, making a record of the house in which I now lived. I turn the television on again, but this time, I stay away from the films of the night before. I press the oddly shaped, rubber buttons on the remote control until I finally stop on a film with two men. They sit on the floor and sing quickly and forcefully at each other. I listen to the lyrics of the song and identify it as the “Major-General’s Song” from the Gilbert and Sullivan musical, The Pirates of Penzance. I watch the entire film as love develops between two friends and they drift apart, but I notice that both men have a precise standard of physical looks and I wonder, do the looks of a person determine the attraction? Once the film is over, I stand from the couch and I walk from the living room.

I look out the windows and see that precipitation has begun. Snow. It is snowing outside. I decide to go out and explore the Davis’s yard and see the winter for myself, more than I did when I rode home with them.

Outside, the temperature is twenty-eight degrees and standing water has frozen. The Davises have many trees in the yard, ranging from the coniferous blue spruce pine trees to deciduous maples trees that have lost all but a few of their leaves. I walk around these trees and see the needles have fallen to the ground and mixed with the white snow, creating dark lines in the untouched mounds. I found myself pressing my feet into the snow, digging my toes under the surface. The shoes were wet. Snow had the strangest texture of anything I’d ever felt so far.

“What are you doing outside?”

I turn slowly, trying to feel how the snow reacts, to see Graham standing in the driveway. His hands are in the pockets of a form-fitting coat and he has a red scarf wrapped around his neck. The tip of his nose is pink and his shaggy hair is windblown.

“What are you doing outside?” he asks again.

“I like the snow. Are you finished with school?” I ask him.

Graham shrugs and adjusts his scarf. “I didn’t feel like finishing today, so I came home. It’s not like I’m missing much. Mom and Dad will understand. At least I hope they will. I could get grounded.”

I run a search on what that could mean. “You’re afraid of being punished?”

Graham wraps his arm around mine and walks to the door with me. “Not afraid really, it just makes my weekends boring. I can’t go out with friends or to dates, but I have to have some of those first.” He laughs at what he says and holds the door for me. “You watch anymore porn today?”

“I don’t understand what that is. I did watch a movie though. These friends fall in love, but there was also brief nudity and much sadness. If I were human, I probably would have… cried?”

“People usually cry at sad movies, yes.” Graham raises an eyebrow and he shrugs his backpack off on the couch. He hands me the television remote once more and heads upstairs. “I’m gonna be napping,” he says, “you were up very late last night.” He holds up two fingers and ascends. The two fingers are an international sign of peace. Graham does not stir for nearly three hours, but only wakes up after Oliver returns. His parents, my parents, ground him for two weeks; he accepts without trying to defend himself.

Graham goes upstairs after dinner and he sits at his desk with his computer open. He hears me follow. He doesn’t look at me.

“You know, I never understood why they bought you a computer. I mean, I understand that they want you to act and be like a normal teen, but you are literally a computer.”

“I do not know,” I say.

“I’m gonna do some homework,” he says and he slips headphones over his ears. I take this as an invitation to leave.

Oliver’s door is open and he is laying across his bed with an open book.

“What are you reading?” I ask him. He rolls over and he holds his place with a thumb.

“Oh, hey, Aaron. It’s just homework. We’ve been assigned Frankenstein for class.” He smiles at me. “It’s really not like the movie though. But that’s to be expected.” Unlike when we met, Oliver is wearing glasses; probability states that he could wear contact lenses or he could wear them when he reads.

I search for Frankenstein and view several different videos of a man named Boris Karloff in several layers of makeup; he looked like a corpse. The book’s plot was simplified for me and if Oliver didn’t have it for an assignment, I would have analyzed it for him. He slides a piece of blank papers between the pages of his book and he sits up.

“How was your day without everyone?” He asks.

“I went outside and explored the yard. I like snow.”

“Yeah? I do, too. It’s best when it’s really cold out and you can cover yourself in every blanket you can find. It’s like being wrapped up in a burrito,” he breaks and looks at my face, “it’s a metaphor.”

“Are you excited for Christmas?” I ask.

“Very. We’ve got a couple of weeks left. And I don’t know what I’m doing for anyone. I haven’t gotten much time at work.”

I think for a second. “Do I need to give gifts?”

“You don’t need to, Aaron. Mom and Dad would probably that you being here is a gift enough.”

I sit on the bed next to Oliver and he reads from the novel; he changes his voice and reads until he begins to yawn and the clock on his bedside table reads ten thirty-six. He apologizes for letting the time get away from him and he kindly asks me to leave so he can sleep. I return to the room Graham and I share and he is sprawled across his bedspread, asleep with his own copy of Frankenstein open against his chest. I take the book from his hand and mark his place like Oliver had. I take a spare blanket from my bed and cover him with it.

Tonight, I spend the entire night in my bed.

stuck in a rut

I’ve spent my night chilling out watching same-sex romance movies on Netflix.

There was no sleep for me. Graham had rolled onto his side and snored loudly. He breathes slowly and evenly and says, “Get the hell away from me, you meatsacks.”

“Graham? What meatsacks? Are they sacks of meat?”

Graham turns over and covers his face with a pillow.

“Graham? Hello?”

He groans and take the pillow away. He yawns and rubs his eyes, blinking rapidly. “What exactly do you want, sparky?”

“Why did you ask the meatsacks to get away from you? What meatsacks?”

Graham grimaces and sits up, scratching his head. He yawns again and squints at me. He looks quite angry. “What the hell are you talking about?”

I replay his statement in his own voice. “What did you mean?”

He shakes his head and presses the pillow to his face, laughing softly. “Aaron, sometimes people talk in their sleep. It could possibly be what they’re dreaming about or just random shit. Do you get me?”

Through my confusion, I search the last phrase he uses. Slang for ‘do you understand what I said?’ I nod in response.

“May I go back to sleep now? I have a test tomorrow. Today. This morning. Just go away if you’re not gonna power down.”

I roam the house in the dark. Oliver snored. He’s bundled up in bed and sleeping peacefully, but he was snoring. Matthew and Annie were sleeping pressed together. Humans weren’t exactly nocturnal, but the adults did not go to their room for the night until 12:16, just after midnight. An hour later, there is nothing for me to do while the family slept. Nothing.

Photographs preserved memories and the Davis family are no strangers to this custom. Along the stairs hang major landmarks in their lives. Matthew and Annie’s wedding photo, Oliver as an infant. There’s a photo of the entire family standing in front of the house; it could have been the day they adopted Graham. I begin to wonder if I would be photographed and join those that were already hanging.

There was a pine tree in the living room. Traditions for Christmas and the month of December included baking, gift exchanges, holiday films, and decorating artificial or genuine pine trees, based solely on one’s preferences; the Davises had an artificial tree. They must have spent hours putting everything on it. I search for Christmas trees to compare, but every photo is different. I remember Leo teaching me about television. The Davises have a larger television than Leo’s, but I am drawn to the sofa. I sit through the programs and the advertisements.

“Why do you need this mop?” “You can get this for the low, low price of seventy-nine ninety-nine.” “Are you sure you didn’t have any drugs on you?”

Television before dawn is mindless and boring. I do not need a mop. I do not have seventy-nine ninety-nine to spend. I do not have any drugs on my person. After I skip through more channels, I am intrigued by a woman sitting at a desk in a school; she’s tapping a notebook with a pencil eraser.

“Aaron?”

I barely hear my name because I am tuned into the program I’m watching. The woman on the screen is joined by a man and they begin to get closer to each other.

“Aaron, come back upstairs.” Graham trudges down the steps and asks me what I’m watching.

“It’s a program about a woman in detention. Very fascinating. She’s waiting for her punishment.”

Graham glances at the television once the man and woman begin to disrobe. He takes the remote from me and presses buttons until he is back on the advertisement selling mops and then he turns the television off.

“I don’t understand why they were undressing. What is her punishment?”

Graham rubs his eyes in what seems to be disappointment. “Her punishment is the good stuff that they won’t show on TV. God, you would find porn.” He grabs my wrist and begins to drag me to the stairs.

“But what is the good stuff?”

With a change in tone, Graham says “the male reproductive organ.”

“Why wouldn’t they show it?”

“I dunno, Aaron. People who want to see it can find it on the internet. Can we stop talking about it?”

“Yes, Graham.”

“Weirdo.”

I follow Graham back to our room and sit down on my bed and I watch as he falls flat on his.

“I’m sorry I woke you, Graham.”

“Go to bed, Aaron. The longer I am awake, the more coffee I am going to want and the more that I’m going to want to reset you to factory settings. Now, please, shut up.”

Graham rolls over onto his side and tells me once more to stay quiet. I look over what had happened today before I shut down. Graham seemed apprehensive to me joining the Davis family, but I am not sure anymore.

i’m kinda drunk and keep writing

The title says it all. Keep reading if you’d like.

I boot up half an hour before Leo is awake. The night before, he had fallen asleep with a pair of glasses on his head and his face pressed into the keyboard of his computer. Today, I will get a home and a family and I will not live with Leo, the creator. I will be someone’s son. With such thoughts, I search the terms ‘new family’ and ‘new children’ only finding videos of screaming infants being born and babies cooing. I am not a wailing child. I am an ageless android with the appearance of a seventeen-year old male. Am I, as a new child, supposed to scream when the family arrives? Leo has picked out a new outfit for me. He says he went for it after I had shut down for the night. He wants me to look special for the occasion.

“Thank you, Leo. What am I supposed to give you?”

“You don’t need to give me anything?”

“Human customs, such as gift giving, generally require the second party to give something in return.”

“Please take my word on this. They will arrive soon. Would you like to go meet them? You can be the first person they see,” Leo says.

“I’d like that very much, sir.”

Leo leads me to an elevator that takes us to the ground floor of his facility. There is a young, blonde woman with a lab coat like Leo’s and she’s seated behind the desk. She’s quickly typing and chewing something.

“Good morning, sir. Is this Mr. John Doe?” she asks Leo.

“Yes, it is, but he does not approve of that name,” he looks to me, “this is Julianne.”

“Good morning, Julianne,” I search for a phrase to use, “it is a pleasure to meet you.”

“Why, thank you. It’s wonderful to meet you as well.”

Leo speaks up, “Has there been any word from the Davis family?”

“They are on their way. They’re very excited to meet you.” The last part, she says to me.

I blink at her and smile after conducting a search for appropriate expressions. I stand by the front door and wait, watching videos of babies being handed over to new parents. I would be the new baby; their excitement for me would be real, but I couldn’t be sure.

“It looks like they could be here,” Leo announces.

I watch a small family exit a car and hold myself back when the front doors slide open.

“Good morning, Doctor Carpenter,” the man, the father of the family says.

“Good morning, Mr. Davis. I’d like you to meet, well, he doesn’t have a name. But he’s very excited to see you.”

Leo grasps my shoulders and directed me to the Davis family. As he does, my memory goes black. Everything to do with introductions has left me. I open my mouth to speak, but all that comes out was a track of a screaming newborn and speaker feedback.

“What the hell is his problem?” a brown-haired male asks from behind everyone else and louder than the screams.

“Graham, don’t be so rude,” the woman, the mother, says. “He’s nervous.”

“Robots can be nervous? Isn’t the point of them to be better than us?”

Leo grabs my hand and steps in front of me. “Cut the recording. Bring up the instructions. Do as you read,” he commands, keeping his voice calm.

I go silent. “Hello. I am pleased to meet you.” I hold out my hand to the man, waiting for him to shake it like I had seen him do.

“Bumpy start there?” the man asks.

“I made a bad first impression.”

“No, no, no, you’re fine. I’m Matthew Davis. This is my wife, Annie. These are our sons, Oliver and Graham.”

“Betcha can’t tell who’s adopted,” Graham says. He pushes his hands into his jeans and leans against Julianne’s desk, shaking the surface.

I look from person to person. Matthew and Annie both have blond hair. Oliver has blond hair. Graham’s hair is brown. The three have blue eyes like Leo and Graham has brown eyes. Graham is in fact three inches shorter than Matthew and six inches taller than Annie, and thirteen inches taller than Oliver.

“Hi, I’m Oliver. I think it’s really cool that we’re like, the same age. We could be really good friends, and I feel like I’m gushing, but am I talking too much? Oh my god, I’m so excited to meet you.” Oliver smiles at me with very white teeth.

“I would like that. I hope you feel the same way, Graham.”

Graham rolls his eyes and straightens up. “Yeah, yeah. Let’s get a move on.”

“Would the rest of you like to follow us down to the lab where you can learn some more about him?” Leo asks.

“That sounds like a fine plan”, Matthew answers, shooting his adopted son a look of disdain.

The elevator ride is quiet. Oliver and his parents stand together and Graham stands in the corner away from the rest of us, a cell phone in his hands. I look them over once more; Graham has a scar on his cheek an inch long, just below his right eye. The odds of what could have made that scar are astronomical. He looks up every few seconds and locks eyes with me. Oliver watches us as Graham grimaces at me for staring.

“So, what do you know about humans so far?” Annie asks.

“Not much. Leo has programmed manuals into my memory along with the ability to conduct internet searches.”

“Oh my god, we bought a goddamn Googler,” Graham says.

Graham’s parents glare at him, but Leo answers. “He can make searches like that, yes. He has the brain of a supercomputer. He has a small library on human interaction. He can record sounds, videos, and even watch and listen to the results he finds. He can also tap into different languages. He’s multilingual. I take great pride in him. He just doesn’t have a name yet; that’s up to you.”

“We could call him Aaron,” Graham says.

As the elevator doors open, Oliver takes my hand and explores the lab with me. He reads monitors and texts he finds around the room. His eyes light up when he finds a report on me. Leo takes Matthew and Annie to his main computer and they begin talking about me. Graham stands in the corner, tapping his feet and looking at the phone again.

“Graham, would you like to look around with Oliver and I?” I ask.

“Come on, Oliver. Stop texting and get over here.”

“I’m trying to get signal,” he replies.

“Oh, Graham, that will be difficult since we’re actually underground,” Leo laughs.

Graham sits in a chair and spins, shoving his phone into his pocket. Matthew and Annie glance at their son and return to talking to Leo. Oliver squeezes harder on my hand and beams at me. He is very happy. They are all happy, but Graham seems indifferent.

After one hour, fourteen minutes, and thirty-two seconds, Leo bundles up paperwork and hardware and leads us all back to the elevator. They did, in fact, call me Aaron. Leo hugs me and Julianne smiles from her desk as I leave the building with the Davis family. I am going to a home.

“Aaron, we’ve got everything prepared for you at the house. We’re so excited for you to join our family. I hope you like it,” Annie says from the front seat of the car.

Oliver begins to lean on me in the backseat, myself between him and Graham. Graham doesn’t try to socialize with me, constantly looking at his phone. Oliver chatters about all of the things that we can do when we get back to the house and he enthuses about school and he is excited about it just being December; he is overjoyed about giving me a gift for the holiday, Christmas.

Matthew turns the car onto their street and parks in the driveway of a grand house decorated for the holidays. It looks inviting and I watch as everyone else files out of the car, but they all wait for me, including Graham. Oliver links his arm with mine and leads me into the house as Matthew grabs the things Leo had given them. From behind us, Graham says something to Annie that makes her laugh and she agrees with him.

“Welcome home, brother,” Oliver says, pushing the door open.

The temperature of the house is a warm seventy degrees and I pick up the scent of sugar cookies emanating from an air freshener plugged in to an outlet under a western window in the living room. From a search, I find it to be customary for homes to smell sweet and inviting as such during the holidays. For a first experience, it is a wonderful one.

“The boys competed with each other to figure out who would share a room with you. They found it to be fair, I guess. You’re going to live with Graham. After some debate, he decided to clear some things away and finally agreed. Go look,” Annie says.

“Come on, little man,” Graham says. He starts for the stairs and turns back. “Are you coming?”

“Yes, Graham.”

Graham’s door is covered in decorations ranging from stickers to vinyl coated metal signs. He pushes the door open and says, “Regrettably, mi casa es su casa.”

“This is your house? I thought it belonged to Matthew and Annie?”

Graham groans. “God, you’re already weird.” He kicks off his shoes and falls onto an unkempt bed.

There is a fully made bed complete with bedclothes along the east wall with Graham’s bed across from mine. There are two desks, both with laptops. There is a dresser filled with clothes that look to fit me and a backpack loaded with school supplies and a note that reads ‘If you’d like to go to school.’ If I were human, I would feel ‘warm and fuzzy’ inside.

Graham looks up from his phone. “You like it, roomie?”

“It’s all mine?”

“Everything on that side,” he replies, waving his arm.

“Thank you, Graham.”

Graham and I return to the living room and I am welcomed with hugs from Matthew, Annie, and Oliver. They ask about the room and how I like it. Matthew starts dinner and the rest of us sit around the dining room table; I feel sad that I won’t eat, but they understand completely.

Annie says that Graham and Oliver have school tomorrow. Graham tells me that with his experiences, he’s in eleventh grade when he should be one grade higher in school. He and Oliver are in the same grade. Annie doesn’t expect me to join them because of my status and she and Matthew won’t push me if I don’t want to go. Oliver says he would try to convince me before he and Graham retreat upstairs. Graham warns me about being quiet or he would strip me for spare parts or he’d even try to reprogram me.

Matthew and Annie go to sleep and I go upstairs and I sit on my bed. I search ‘bed etiquette’ and I find many sexually explicit photos and people under comforters. The room is dark, but moonlight comes through the window. The temperature outside has fallen to thirty degrees and the room is a toasty seventy-five. I pull the blanket over my body, feeling no difference.

“Hey, Aaron?”

“Graham? You’re awake?”

“I wanted to welcome you. I’m sorry that I’ve been abrasive today. I wasn’t sure how today would go, but our parents are probably the greatest people I know and I love them. I’ll see you in the morning, okay?”

“Okay, Graham. Good night.”

Maybe my experience in this house will be different than what I had thought. Maybe I will be different.