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I Waverly, You Nicole

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“This is ridiculous!”  Nicole Haught slams her laptop shut as if it has deeply offended her.  

She picks up her glass of whiskey and takes a long draught, continuing to glare at her computer.  I can just get a dog!  Well, no, dogs take a lot of work.  But maybe....?  I like pussy...cats. She rolls her eyes at her own stupid joke.  Knock it off!   Cats need attention too.  Any animal, any living thing, will need more than you can give right now.   Hell, you can’t even keep a plant alive!   She glances at the browning houseplant in her office and makes a mental note to water it, even though she knows she’ll forget before the end of the night.

After a few minutes, she slowly reopens the computer and waits for the webpage to load.  It’s the homepage for Chearp Robotics.  Nicole hasn’t been able to get it out of her head since she saw the owner, Jason?  Jake?  Jeremy, that was it! , on one of those corny morning talk shows, describing how his company makes robots that look, talk, and feel like actual humans.  He even had some sitting next to him, although Nicole thinks they could’ve just been paid actors pretending to be robots.  They were VERY convincing.   But she had done her due diligence, read through various news articles and testimonials, all swearing that Chearp Robotics was the real deal, as were their products.  

And so, here she is, clicking on the link to bring her to the page where she could design a robot friend of her very own.  It’s not like she didn’t have friends in real life!  They were just hundreds of miles away, living their own lives.  And here she was, basically in the middle of nowhere, merely existing.  

The first page allows Nicole to pick the physical characteristics she is looking for.  Her mind immediately brings up a vision of the most beautiful woman she has ever seen.  It was only a quick glance, as she stepped out of a bar in town in the early afternoon.  Far too early for the place to be open.  Nicole had gone back a few times, thinking she must work there but had no luck tracking her down.  But the picture of her has been burned into her memory, at the forefront of her mind every time she closes her eyes.  So she starts - female.  Long, wavy brown hair.  Tan skin.  A little on the shorter side compared to Nicole, maybe about 5’3”?  Thin, athletic, and about 27 years old. Nicole didn’t get a close look at her eye color, so she chooses hazel, since it seems to fit the rest of her face.  The avatar on the side of the screen updates with every choice and she tweaks it until it perfectly matches her memory.

At the bottom of the screen is a checkbox with one simple question - anatomically correct?  Nicole isn’t an idiot.  She knew what probably 90% of these things were being sold for.  And while that most definitely was NOT the reason she was buying one, well, in for a penny and all that.  She checks the ‘yes’ box.

The next page asks about personality.  They had provided check boxes with some of the more common traits that were requested to help the process along.  Dominant or submissive?  Sexual or demure?  Intelligent or flighty?  Outgoing or shy?  And under each option, more boxes would appear to narrow down her choices.  

Nicole starts thinking about what her ideal friend would be like.  Outgoing, friendly, quick-witted, strong.  Definitely smart.  She reads over each option carefully to make sure she doesn’t contradict herself.  Multilingual?  Sure, maybe that would come in handy in Nicole’s line of work.  Able to cook?  Absolutely!  One less chore that she would have to do for herself.  Gay - how is that even a personality trait?!?  And this is a machine!  Wouldn’t it just act the way Nicole tells it to?!?  But she clicks the box anyway.

Once she’s done entering everything, she clicks on the next page that will take her to the price.  It’s a very good thing Nicole hadn’t taken a drink or she would’ve choked or maybe even done a spit-take.  Holy crap!  I could buy a car for that!!   She sits back, picking her whiskey up and tapping her finger against the glass, staring at the screen.  Finally, she puts the glass back down, maybe a little harder than is strictly necessary, and drags the mouse over the ‘buy’ icon - click.