It happens every time, without fail:
Right when I’m about to fall asleep.
That moment where I’m dancing with dreams, my mind slowly succumbing to the beauty of rest. To the warmth of it, the necessity. It’s right when my mind is starting to go blank, right when I’m about to slip away. Away from the waking world and all its problems. Forgetting all the things that are bothering me, all the tasks I need to accomplish, all the orders I need to fill.
Its then that it always happens.
I’m on the verge again. Darkness whispers sweet nothings into my ear, assuring me that it can give me rest. That I can relax—
And there’s a knock on the door.
“Ugh,” I groan as the knocking persists, getting louder as I try to ignore it.
“Damn them,” I whisper, cursing whoever it is at my door. Doing everything I can to ignore them.
But, of course:
When the knocking starts shaking the hinges, I feel confident that I know who it is, and what they want. And I also know:
They won’t stop knocking until I answer.
“Ugh,” I groan again, growling as I throw myself out of bed.
Marching to the door, I throw it open with gusto, with fury. He stands before me a moment, mouth agape, looking utterly dumbfounded at the fact that I actually answered.
But, of course I did.
How could I not?
He was on the verge of breaking my door.
“Your leg looks like trash,” I grumble at him, already assessing what may or may not be damaged. Eyes roving over all the metal parts of his body.
The parts that I designed for him.
That I, myself, made.
He smiles sheepishly, taking a moment to gander at the mess of metal that is currently his leg.
“Sorry,” he mutters.
“What happened this time?” I ask as I step away, silently inviting him into the workshop.
As he enters, I add, “It looks like it got caught in a trash compactor.”
At that, I notice he flinches a bit, as if I’ve berated him.
“I was trying to improve the stabilizers,” he tells me. Spilling the truth as he hops onto the table, removing the robotic leg. “I was hoping they could absorb just a little bit more impact when I land.”
I glare at him as I take out my tool kit.
“You mean: you want to jump off higher buildings.”
That cutesy sheepish look is back on his face as he admits more truth. “…yeah.”
“As if being able to fall from over a hundred and twenty feet isn’t enough…” I grumble, placing the leg on a stand that sits under my work lamp.
“It isn’t!” he insists. “Yesterday someone was almost pushed from the Rottler building downtown. That’s nearly two hundred feet. They would’ve died if it were up to me to save them!”
I sigh, tinkering with the mechanisms in the leg’s covering as I do.
“So then: jump out a window from a lower point. Tackle the person midair, and land safely. Don’t think you can just mess with my tech. It’s very finicky. All my creations are well-balanced and organized. You trying to strengthen the shock absorbers seems to have messed with the wiring quite a bit,” I note that the metal seems to be scrunched together, too, and I know just what happened. “What height did you jump from to get it this compact?”
“Only a hundred feet,” he admits. “I was testing it out, so I figured I’d start smaller and work my way up. It went okay with seventy feet, so I wanted to try a hundred. That’s when the leg collapsed.”
“Tch,” I grumble, slightly peeved. “You’re an idiot. You’ve completely wrecked this leg. There’s no saving it. I’ll have to make you a new one.”
He looks disappointed, so I stick him with an icy look.
“Unless you think you can make yourself a new leg,” I challenge.
Aghast, his eyes widen and he shakes his head. “No! No way! Clearly, I have no idea what I’m doing.”
I nod at him, affirming that. “Don’t forget it. And, some advice for the future: you shouldn’t go taking apart good things.”
My words seem to strike a fire in him. Energy oozes from him as he protests.
“But—I could’ve made it better!” he interjects.
At my hard stare, he looks appropriately berated and adds, “I mean… that’s what I was trying to do.”
“Exactly,” I say, knocking him—gently—in the head with a wrench.
As he rubs the spot, I tell him again, making it clearer this time.
“Don’t waste a good thing for something that only has potential. Sure, it would’ve been great if you could’ve jumped off the highest sky scraper in the city. But: look what you did. You destroyed the good thing you already had in order to simply try. What if I wasn’t willing to make you another? What if I couldn’t? You’d be out of luck, wouldn’t you? Those shock absorbers only work with two legs, you know. You sacrificing a good thing for the potential of having something great could’ve cost you so much more than just a leg.”
Guilt overcomes him again.
Rightfully so, too.
I didn’t give all these resources—all this time, all this tinkering—for no reason. If he dies in a stupid stunt like that…
My reason would be lost, wouldn’t it?
“Yeah… I didn’t think about that. Sorry,” he says, sounding genuine.
At least he looks like he’s learned something.
Sighing, I get over my frustration, and get back to business. “Well, I’ll give you better shock absorbers in the next model. I’ll need to tune-up your other leg, too, though, or it won’t work. And I still don’t have enough gumption to get you to be able to land safely from two hundred—one-seventy is probably the best I can do. Got it?”
Spirit renewed, he agrees without delay.
“And don’t go messing with the next set,” I order, tone harsh again. “You mess those up for no good reason and I won’t be making you more. Understand?”
Fear in his eyes, his nods. “Yes ma’am. No more messing with the tech.”
“Good. Now: let me work.”