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The Glenda Project

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When I heard that Glenda had been going out with Shreve Conway, one of the executives at Humanistic Robots, I broke up with her. It was an ugly scene. I was devastated, and in my anger I called her a harlot. She slapped my face and called me a bastard.

In the three months since then, I had not wanted to see her, but lately I kept running into her. I would see her walking down Elm Street, riding in cars, in restaurants. When I saw her, I would cross over to the other side of the street, back out of the restaurant, anything to avoid confronting her.

One morning as I walking in front of city hall, I looked up to see her coming my way, just a few paces from me. She walked past me, looking right through me, as though I didn’t even exist. I thought, two can play that game, Glenda, and kept on walking with my eyes straight ahead.

Another time I went into a Seven-Eleven to buy a pack of Marlboros. I had taken up smoking again after I split up with Glenda. I didn’t realize it until I got up to the counter, but there she was at the cash register. I was so shaken by the encounter that I didn’t say anything except to ask for the cigarettes. She didn’t acknowledge me except to hand me the cigarettes and take my money. I didn’t even wait for my change. I just walked out of the store with the Marlboros in hand.

Once I was outside, I realized that there was something not quite right about Glenda. One thing was the hair. It was longer than she usually wore it and a much lighter shade of blonde than it had been. But it was more than that. I wondered why she was working in a Seven-Eleven. She had some kind of tech job at Humanistic Robots. Had she lost her job? I wondered.

About a week later I was sitting in McDonald’s enjoying a burger when she walked in with another woman. Glenda was in the lead. She started walking toward me and sat down right across from me. Again she gave me the cold shoulder. Why couldn’t she have the decency at least to sit somewhere else? I quickly finished my lunch and left.

Just a few days later I saw her on Elm Street. This time her hair was red. I popped into a nearby Starbucks to avoid her. When I ordered a latte, I saw that Glenda was the barista, except that now she had had curly black hair. I thought I was going crazy.

When a voice asked, “Do you mind if I sit here?”  I looked up to see Glenda.

“Go ahead. It’s a free country,” I said. Then as she sat down, I asked, “Why do you keep following me?”

“Charlie, I owe you an explanation.”

“That’s all in the past, Glenda. There’s no point in explaining it now.”

“Not that. I want to explain why you keep seeing me.”

I noticed that her hair was the way I remembered it, dark blonde in a pixie cut.

“Those other versions of me that you keep seeing, like the barista, motioning toward the figure with the curly black hair, are androids created by Humanist Robots. They look like me because they were modeled after me.”

“How did they get to look so much like you?”

“They encased my whole head in plastic. While it was drying, I had to breathe through a straw. Then it became a mold to create all those androids. It was a very popular model. That’s why you see so many of them around.”

It was clear why the model was so popular. I realized again what a beautiful woman Glenda was.

“That’s why I was Shreve so much. He was in charge of the project, The Glenda Project it was called.”

What a fool I was! A jealous fool!

Glenda got up. I started to rise out of my seat.

“Don’t get up, Charlie.” She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.

“Maybe we can get together for a drink sometime,” she said as she walked out the door. Before she opened the door, she turned around and said, “Don’t be surprised if you get a call from Shreve Conway. He’s searching for a good-looking guy to be a model for a male android.”

End

CARL PERRIN started writing when he was in high school. His short stories have appeared in The Mountain Laurel, Northern New England Review, Kennebec, Short-Story.Me, Mad Swirl, and CommuterLit among others. His book-length fiction includes Elmhurst Community Theatre, a novel, and RFD 1, Grangely, a collection of humorous short stories. He is the author of several textbooks, including Successful Resumes, and Get Your Point Across, a business writing text. The memoir of his teaching career Touching Eternity, was a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award

 

 

 

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