“I LOVE YOU” • by Grant Bergland

I read the message on my viewer, it is written in Basic.

I love you.

I frown.

Basic is imprecise.

The words have many different meanings.

Standard is the language we all speak.

It is binary.

Things either are or are not.

Communicating in Basic is a terminable offense.

I see the door is shut and there is nothing in my cell but me and my viewer.

Today’s date, time in fifteen minutes and coordinates.

I am in danger.

I run a program.

0. If I report the message I will be terminated.
1. If I do not report the message I might be terminated.

I choose to not report the message.

I exhale.

I run another program.

0. If I do not meet, then messages may loop to the program run_messagechoice.
1. If I meet, then I may stop the messages.

I choose to meet.

I push back from my desk and slam into the wall behind me.

My heart jumps and I look around.

Some others come out of their cells with me.

I focus on my walk.

We all walk together.

Because I am old, I can imagine slowing down.

The young can only walk or not walk.

I have Basic thoughts and run programs in Standard.

The extra thinking makes me slow at my console.

I will be replaced.

I walk to the meeting place.

I turn the corner.

I see her standing there.

She is female like me.

Her hair is long.

She is old like me.

She steps forward and puts her arms around me and the sweet smell of her floods into my nostrils and my heart aches and parts of me deep inside feel warm in a way that was asleep and water comes to my eyes because I do not know this person but have missed her my entire life and here in this moment I feel I am not alone and the other person envelops me within her our breasts press together and there I am in a place I have never been before but feel it is a place I have always been in and always shall be within I draw back and look into her eyes and see hers are filled with water just as mine are and I clutch her arms as if I need her to save my life and make words form together in my mouth and nothing comes and she smiles I see I do not know her and have never seen her and my breathing is the same as hers now in out in out I look into her eyes and it is like looking at my own reflection but different for she is not me but we are the same there is some piece of me that is part of her and she is a part of me and something passes between us that is not said that only we can only understand and we have never met each other but need each other like breath and food and water and my mind turns over new or old, good or bad, stay or run, talk or not talk, male or female and something surges up within me and my mind opens and a light shines through a small crack on the other side there is something clear I can’t completely see and I draw a breath and say the only words I can.

“I love you.”

Grant Bergland has pieces forthcoming online in Short Story Library and Yellow Mama. He is a grad student at Cal State East Bay and a film studies teacher.

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