I’m in love with a robot.
His name is Orange Matthews. His inventors gave him that god-awful name because they didn’t want him to have a name that rhymed with anything. They worried about kids teasing him about his metal body, his LED eyes. What if his name was Byron? they thought. Then those mean kids could call him Iron Byron, even though that doesn’t really rhyme and that name would make him sound manlier than he really is. I don’t understand his inventors, but I understand him pretty well.
He sits in the back of every classroom and doodles things on the desktops with the tips of his metal fingers. Sometimes I go and look at his drawings, lingering after the bell to drink them all in with ample time. They’re usually etchings of lips or hands or eyes and sometimes boobs and dicks. I think he thinks about skin a lot. I think he wants freckles. I overheard him confess that once, on the south field, when he was talking to David Yu about the future of technology. David Yu is his only friend, because David Yu is the only person who can physically fix Orange Matthews. This is because his inventors stopped caring a long time ago.
Orange Matthews really is a robot. I swear, Diary. I’m not lying to you. Cross my heart, put a poison mushroom in my eye, and all that bullshit. The great love of my life has wires instead of veins and metal plating instead of skin. Once I saw him sitting in the cafeteria corner, staring at his wrist. I walked by and glanced at him—he had the wires at his wrist exposed, some of the copper and red plastic snipped and frayed. I wondered if he was waiting for David Yu to come fix him, but at the same time, I knew that wasn’t what he was waiting for.
I’ve never really talked to Orange Matthews, but I think he’s beautiful. He’s not like the other boys, who pretend to like me but then leave me when they realize I’m a little round at the hips and a little lacking in the bosom. I think Orange Matthews would like me, if he had a heart.
Yeah, I forgot to mention, Diary—Orange Matthews doesn’t have a heart. He has a uranium core.
I asked Mr. Cho about it once. He’s my chemistry teacher. He said uranium cores are very powerful and the one inside of Orange Matthew’s chest cavity is very powerful indeed (Mr. Cho likes the word ‘very’, dear, simple Diary, because it makes him feel intelligent, I think). He said that the half-life of uranium is seven hundred and four million years long.
“That means,” said Mr. Cho, “when seven hundred and four million years have passed, Orange Matthews will only be half dead.”
That’s when I stopped talking to Mr. Cho.
(I think that’s also when I fell in love with Orange Matthews, who really is a robot).
So. When Orange Matthews dies he will be one-twelfth the age of the universe. I calculated this just a second ago, in my head, thank you very much. I’m surprisingly good at math, but no one believes me when I say that I want to become a mathematician, much like they laugh when I tell them Orange Matthews really is a robot.
He is. He really is.
The next time he sat in the corner of the cafeteria, I sat with him. He looked up when I took the seat across from him and dropped my tray on the table. It landed with a metallic clang.
I said, “Hi.” He said nothing. He was still staring at his wrist.
I asked him if David Yu was around.
He was silent.
I asked him if he knew how old the universe is.
I asked him if he knew he’s going to be one-twelfth the age of the universe when he dies.
He nodded again.
That’s when Orange Matthews stood up and walked away, the joints in his knees creaking as he went. He hadn’t oiled them in a while, I think. Still, he looked beautiful, arms gleaming silver in the fluorescent glow of the cafeteria lights. I thought I saw constellations in the scratches and rust on his metal plating, but I’m not sure. It might’ve been a trick of infinity.
Now I’m wondering if I could invent a way for Orange Matthews to die before his one-millionth birthday. I think I can do it, Diary. I’m good at math, and I’m in love with a robot.
Yours always and forever, Diary,