CHILD ROBOT ON THE FRONT PORCH

Drive to this town, go to this neighborhood, stop at this house, then this house, then to the next neighborhood, next town, the car drives itself, the voice tells me what to deliver, and whether I need a human signature or not, it’s easy money, dull is all, sometimes I’ll grab the steering column and pretend to be driving, mostly to kill boredom, we were all trained to use it in case of an emergency but that’s never happened, good thing since I probably have forgotten all my training anyways, mostly I lay back, smoke some weed, turn on a couple screens, maybe chat, maybe go live when I eat or when there’s some particularly interesting delivery, rules say we can’t name the recipient but that’s always easy for anyone to figure out if they’re willing to put in the work, which not many are, the pay is pretty good, though, it’s one of those jobs where it’s too expensive to pay robots, sitting still most of the day and night, selecting the exact right package, getting in and out of the car, making sure the signer is an adult, a waste of a robot but it’s still an important service, I’ve been doing it for about 15 weeks now, longest job I’ve ever had, and there’s never been any trouble, not really, but there was that one house, I walked up to the front, package in hand, and there’s this little girl seated on the granite, eyes closed, legs crossed, arms folded, I said hello, she said nothing back, it bothered me, I asked if there was an adult home, and she didn’t respond again, didn’t even move, but the door cam alerted the mother to my presence and she came out and signed for the package, I get back into the car, look back and the girl is still there, still not moving, which I should let it go, I know, but it was also the last delivery of the morning, we’re told it’s cheaper for the cars to drive to a new town at night and then have us deliver the packages all first thing in the morning, so the car finds a space and stops, I try and sleep as much as I can, the pills that clear out my waste without me having to use a toilet give me insomnia, but what little I did sleep I thought about that little girl, her posture, her look, the family was obviously rich, there was no excuse to have a non-optimal child, and so I took hold of the steering column, re-learned how to make the car go and drove back to that house, she was still there, who the fuck are these people, was she ill, in pain, mute, I’d never seen anyone that different, it wasn’t right, and so I rushed out and I grabbed her, it wasn’t for anything weird, but something was obviously wrong and the parents didn’t seem to even care, children should smile, and I quickly wrapped packing tape over her mouth and shoved her in the back of the car, she didn’t really put up a fight, and I turned off all the screens and told the car to drive to the next town, which it refused because of the hour but I demanded, so it complied but only after telling me that my pay could be docked, and when I knew I was far enough away, I spun in my seat and took off the tape from her mouth and tried to have a conversation with her and fuck me but it’s one of these newer robots, the kind with the human skin, shiny, too, the kind grown from stem cells, why the fuck someone would buy a child robot that does nothing but sit on the front porch I don’t know, I smacked her a couple times, no way else to get rid of my anger, felt bad about it, though, afterwards, but I wasn’t going back to that house, fucking freaks, so I dropped her at the side of the road and drove to the next town.