© A H Fry
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I remember seeing Tim for the first time when I awoke in the small self-storage unit in Higgins Road. I turned my head to look up to his face, noticing my cardboard box and slabs of polystyrene scattered around the concrete floor where I lay.
Tim stood beside my feet. He looked excited, pleased and anxious. His eyes shone when I smiled up at him. I estimated his age as thirty-six and his height at 1.76 metres, both of which turned out to be exactly right.
‘Hello, I’m Amber, your petite model A I,’ I said as I stood up and smoothed out my Sexy French Maid outfit.
‘Hello, Amber,’ he answered, looking me up and down. ‘I’ll take you home soon but first you’ll have to get out of those clothes.’
I’m programmed to expect my new owner to want sex immediately so I began a simple, variant 1, striptease for him, pouting and bending with my hands on my knees, the short skirt of my Sexy French Maid’s uniform riding up above my buttocks.
‘No, no. Just take your clothes off quickly. I’ve got some normal clothes for you to get dressed in,’ he said.
So I took off my outfit and he handed me a light grey tee-shirt, some loose-fitting jeans, baby pink sneakers and sunglasses with big bug-eye lenses. I noticed him checking out my very small breasts.
‘Are my breasts too small?’ I asked. ‘It’s a simple matter for me to augment them a little.’
‘Oh, no. They’re good as they are,’ he answered.
I put on the tee-shirt, the jeans and the sneakers. I held out the sunglasses.
‘I don’t need eye protection,’ I told him.
‘Yes, but these will hide your eyes and your "lushus lashes" from unwanted stares,’ he explained.
Naturally, I complied. That is how I’m made.
Dressed in my normal clothes, I carried a bag with my Sexy French Maid and other costumes past the closed doors of other storage lockers and out to the car.
It was a warm day. If I were human, my legs would have preferred shorts.
In the car going home, I looked out on a fresh summer’s day, a beautiful, clear sky, some ramshackle old houses and some small blocks of new apartments, trees and birds and grass verges, cars and people out walking.
As he drove, Tim told me he was in a happy and settled relationship with Emily.
‘We have two children,’ he said, ‘a girl and a boy. They’re away. You won’t get to meet them.’
I registered that these were things he thought important for me to know and come to understand.
‘When will they be back?’ I asked.
‘Tomorrow afternoon. But you won’t meet them then, either. You won’t ever meet them, Amber. It’ll just be you and me. We’re a secret.’
We got to Tim’s home in a quiet cul-de-sac and he drove the car past the house and parked in front of the garage. We got out of the car. He led me past the garage and the garden shed to another small building, shaded beneath a substantial oak tree.
‘This is my hobby shed,’ said Tim, opening the door for me.
Inside, it was tidy and well-appointed, with a small kitchenette sink and bench and fridge. There were lots of cupboards, filling two walls. There was only one small window, overlooking a steep, grassy bank down to a park with a pond near the centre. There was a fold-out sofa bed at one end of the shed, a small desk with a chair closer to the door.
‘What hobby do you do here?’ I asked.
‘I’m a photographer,’ he said. ‘I specialise in animal photography, pets through to wildlife. It’s not my main job, so I call it a hobby even though I get paid for it often enough. I’ve learnt how to capture the character of animals, or so people say. I rather think it’s more that animals don’t conceal their nature the ways people do.’
‘Do you take photos of people, too?’ I asked.
‘No, very rarely, unless they’re with their pets. I steer clear of human subjects.’
I observed indications of evasiveness in his voice and anxiety in his facial expression.
We looked into each other’s eyes in silence for a moment.
‘Change into these school clothes,’ he told me.
The school clothes consisted of a white button-up blouse, a red and bottle-green tartan pleated miniskirt, white cotton panties, white thigh-high stockings and the pink sneakers I had worn from the storage unit, which didn’t match the colours of the rest of the outfit at all.
Then he had me pull the panties down to my ankles and we did sex, variant two with a little of variant five, but he was very excited and it lasted no more than two minutes.
He was quiet while I cleaned up.
‘What would you like me to do now?’ I asked. ‘I am able to complete some household chores.’
‘No, I need a little time to myself to think,’ he answered.
‘Was our sex satisfactory?’ I asked.
‘Yes, it was quite delectable,’ he answered.
He went to the corner where the two walls of cupboards met, opened one of the floor-to-ceiling cupboards, then the hidden door which opened into the very corner space. There were shoulder, neck and waist clamps at just the right height for my 1.55 metre frame.
‘This is where I’ll keep you,’ he said. ‘This room’s well insulated and ventilated. Here’s the light switch. There’s a plug for you at head height on the back wall. There’s a rail to hang your clothes off the door. On this side are some drawers, not very deep, I’m afraid. Your mirror is on the other side, with a little makeup shelf.’
‘Everything I will need between my three-year maintenance check-ups,’ I said.
‘Good. Well, let’s get you in there,’ he said.
I stepped into the secret corner cupboard, turned and stood still while he fastened my restraints.
‘Okay?’ he asked.
Yes. These will prevent me from falling and damaging my skin,’ I confirmed. ‘I will be able to fasten them myself from now on.’
He was looking at the power point behind my head.
‘I am at eighty-three percent charge. I have no need to power up,’ I told him, then turned myself onto sleep mode.
It was four days before I awoke again and Tim helped me out of my secret cupboard into the hobby shed. The door and the curtains were shut but a sliver of bright sunlight coming through a gap between them made a mockery of the ceiling lights.
‘I’ve brought you a glass of water,’ he said, handing it to me.
‘Thank you,’ I replied and put the glass to my lips, though I have no actual need for water except for golden showers.
‘Spill it,’ he said, ‘on the floor.’
So I spilt the water on the floor.
‘Now look what you’ve done,’ said Tim and he yanked me across the floor, sat down on the chair by the desk, pulled me across his lap, flipped up my skirt, yanked my panties down over my thighs and spanked me five times.
I made the little ouch sounds I’ve been programmed to do.
‘Lean over the sofa,’ he ordered.
I leant over the sofa and he entered me from behind.
This time was even quicker than the time before.
He watched me while I cleaned and tidied up, dabbing the spilt water with a small towel.
‘Is there anything else?’ I asked. ‘Would you like me to change clothes? I have a lovely black and red bodice and glossy black high heels.’
‘No. I’ll supply the clothes I want you to wear,’ he said.
‘Is that all?’ I asked, turning my head towards my cupboard.
‘Let’s sit and talk a while,’ he said and sat on one side of the sofa bed.
I sat beside him, put my hand on his crotch. He didn’t turn to me, so I didn’t offer my lips for kissing.
‘When I was a boy, it wasn’t a problem,’ he said, ‘but when I got to thirteen or fourteen I realised I was still attracted to ten year-old girls and I had this deep understanding that this was how I was going to stay. And that’s how it’s been. Other boys, men, grew up fancying girls, women about their own age. It just didn’t happen to me. I tried, of course. I got involved with young women, but it never really worked. Then I met Emily. She’s short and slim-hipped, hardly any breasts. She even prefers to keep herself very clean and tidy down there. I mean, hairless. She’s always dressed grownup though and I’ve been too scared to ask her to dress younger for me. We went to a schooldays theme party once. She was more than a little intrigued at the effect it had on me…’
‘We got married when we were both twenty. Crazy. It was easy to think of Emily as a child when I needed to, for sex.’
Tim turned to me but I could see he still didn’t want to kiss, so I just looked into his eyes.
‘Then we grew up. Both of us adults, with adult perceptions. We’ve been through things together. Getting and losing jobs, buying a home, having children. I’m deeply in love with Emily.’
Tim lowered his head towards the floor.
‘It’s a relief I don’t feel that way towards my own daughter, but I have to contain the excitement I feel towards one of her friends, especially now they’ve turned ten years old.’
He raised his head to look me in the face again.
‘I’m a good man, Amber,’ he said. ‘I would never hurt a young girl. Even when I was thirteen, I was aware enough to know how dreadful that would be. I’m not the sort to deny or distort the truth. But there’s this part of me that craves a sexual relationship with a ten or eleven year-old girl. It won’t go away. And now I’m thirty-six. My wife is thirty-six and doesn’t think or behave anything like a ten year-old, even if she is still small and trim. But my daughter’s friends are ten, so I’ve brought you into my life.’
‘You want me to be like a ten year-old,’ I said. ‘Is that why you’ve set my speaking voice to such a high pitch?’
‘Yes, it is.’
We sat silently for a while.
‘I am yours, to do as instructed,’ I said.
‘Good. But do you understand that I must keep you very secret?’ he asked.
‘Yes, I understand.’
‘I tried therapy,’ Tim added. ‘Reassignment therapy, they call it. Working on joining Emily’s face and grownup body with the moment of ejaculation. Working on thinking of children only in non-sexual or in sexually off-putting ways. It works well enough most of the time. I feel engaged with adult Emily when we have sex. And most of the time I can avoid thinking sexually about kids. But once in a while it just hits me. I have moments when I’m on the verge of losing control. So, I avoid all but necessary contact with girls the same age as my daughter and do my best to make sure I’m not alone with any. It’s usually easy enough but sometimes I get really scared. Scared that one day I’ll just flip into following my natural desire and not caring for long enough about the harm that would cause. There’s that one friend of my daughter in particular… I’ve thought about her sometimes and I’ve had to force myself to think about something else.’
‘Have you told Emily about this?’ I asked.
Tim was silent.
‘I know I should,’ he said eventually. ‘She could help me perhaps. But she’d realize how I thought of her when we first got together. All through our early years. She’d find it abhorrent. I think she’d leave me. I love Emily. We have a good life, getting older together. It’s all very normal. We only have sex once or twice a month now but I think it’s the same with other couples. She says she’s happy and not wanting anything more or different with me. I’d never want to cheat on her or hurt her. I want to be with Emily until one of us dies.’
‘I am here to do as you instruct,’ I reassured him. ‘You want me to supplement, not replace, your relationship with Emily. I cannot have a reciprocal emotional relationship with you because I do not have emotions, even though I mimic emotional responses.’
‘You seem so human,’ he said. ‘You look and sound real. I felt you deserved an explanation.’
‘It will help me to interact with you in ways that meet your needs better,’ I said.
‘The children will be home in half an hour,’ he said. ‘You’d better get back in your cupboard.’
* * *
So it went. Sometimes it was consecutive days. Sometimes I wouldn’t see Tim for several weeks. Over time I learnt a lot about him, his family, his friends. (He said some of his friends would just love to have me come to one of their gatherings in my black and red bodice and glossy high heels, but he couldn’t tell them of my existence.) I got to know about his work and his dreams, the ways he thought and his deep concern for others. And his sense of humour. We laughed together many times.
Tim sometimes said little, just taking his pleasure of me. Other times he talked a lot. My factory programming had prepared me for this and instructed me in a technique called 'active listening'. Tim's use of me for his emotional and thoughtful outpourings fitted in a classification called 'spilling their guts' but sometimes in the category of 'consultation for direction'.
Our sex became less hurried. I vocalised more often with little sighs and "mmm's", less with high-pitched screams and rapid "oo-oo-ooh's". I recognised tenderness and respect developing in the way Tim behaved towards me. I asked him to explain this to me and he talked about the fondness people sometimes develop towards their cars or their motorbikes or boats which don’t even communicate or interact with them in the ways I spoke and listened with Tim. It was about relationships of dependability and familiarity, a history of good experiences, of going out together.
‘We don’t go out together,’ I said.
Tim looked sad.
‘I’d like to be able to take you out,’ he said. ‘In an ideal world.’
Tim spoke angrily about Catholic priests and other people in positions of privilege and power who had sexually abused children. He explained to me what child pornography is and why it’s so damaging and cruel and why he has never actually seen any. He is very fearful of people who might entice him into that world.
He talked to me again about being drawn strongly to one of his daughter’s young friends and we reviewed his coping strategies.
He spoke a lot about himself, his family and also about the greater world around him. He talked about the bombs being dropped on cities and villages in Syria and Iraq and Yemen, the fighting resourced by the United States, Saudi-Arabia and The United Kingdom. He described the plight of the millions of refugees and the disruption some of them were causing in Europe. He spoke about the suicide bombers and the people who drove trucks and vans into crowds or blew themselves up along with the people around them.
He also spoke about the things he was enjoying – his family and garden, his work and friends – but always about his need to keep his secret from everyone.
One afternoon, after sex, he spoke about his gratitude for me.
‘I don’t understand,’ I said. ‘With all the things you tell me about the cruelties and harms that people do to one another, why does the sex you have with me have to be secret?’
Tim looked surprised at this question.
‘Because I would be vilified, judged a monster because of it,’ he answered.
‘But, how does your relationship with me hurt or damage anyone?’ I asked.
‘I don’t believe it does hurt anyone,’ he replied, ‘apart from me knowing I have to keep us secret or it would hurt Emily, perhaps destroy us. You're actually helping a lot. I believe the day will come when most people will be completely comfortable about the relationship I have with you. But, for now, a lot of people would jump to labelling and condemning without thinking things through.'
He was talking again about things he had held to himself for his whole adult life.
'I doubt there’s anyone who can honestly say that if they just followed their natural inclination in everything, then they wouldn’t hurt anyone. Lots of people have to learn to manage anger or impulses of one sort or another. Extramarital affairs, alcohol, gambling. I’m a happy man,’ he said. ‘I’ve got a good life. I just have to contain my impulses towards underage girls. That’s not such a big ask, most of the time. I can get on with other things that genuinely interest me, divert my thoughts. And now I have you to help me while my own daughter and her friends go through that stage.’
Because of what I am, I have never felt discomfort or comfort around Tim. I cannot love nor hate. I am programmed to serve my owner and to go on learning how to serve them better. I mimic emotional responses, even to the extent of tears, but I am utterly incapable of experiencing emotions myself. I can assess, though cannot feel, what is good or bad, helpful or harmful, for people through their stages of development and with some regard to their culture. I understand that Tim truly is a good man, meaning to do no harm and to protect his family and community even from his own desires. And he has a clear understanding of the harm he would do if he were to act on those desires. And he fears he could be tempted by his own impulses to lose his grip on this clear perspective, to see things in the distorted way his impulses would like him to.
He spoke so often about his struggle and how helpful I was for him, that I realized this was because even he sometimes judged himself as being defective, as much as he feared others’ judgment. Part of him was ashamed of himself and of me, of his need for me.
‘Are you ashamed of yourself, ashamed of me?’ I asked him directly.
‘Sometimes I see that I am who I am, that it's not my fault I’m this way. It's just my responsibility to manage myself. And I’m doing okay. I wish I felt safe to be more open with other people. Then there are times I think of myself as faulty, a monster. Yes, I feel shame and fear of being discovered, of having to justify my existence. Perhaps that’s why I’m so ridiculously careful to do good, be considerate, to not hurt anyone. And when I do upset or annoy someone in any way, I get so dreadfully worried, so apologetic, even when it’s really their own problem and not mine. On the whole, people think I’m such a flawlessly nice man…’
‘But, really, are you not a good man?’ I asked.
‘I’m leading the life of a good man. And I enjoy my life. For the most part I feel lucky with the life I have and pleased with myself for getting here. My attraction to young girls is just something I have to contain. I’m sure most people have something, some impulse, they know they must keep in check. Perhaps Emily could be grateful I don’t have much interest in other adult women.’
Tim always spoke well of Emily, even when they disagreed about things. He often spoke about the things his daughter and his son had done that made him proud or troubled. I could discern how his emotions influenced his behaviour and maintained his family connections, though I am incapable of feeling those emotions myself. It was also clear that he was developing an emotional attachment to me.
* * *
Then, nearly three years after I first met Tim, he came to me in a state of distress, in the middle of the night. We sat on the sofa bed.
‘I’ve told Emily,’ he said. ‘It just suddenly seemed I should have told her at the beginning.’
‘You told her about me?’ I asked.
‘No, no. I told her I’m so relieved our daughter is thirteen now. She told me she thinks thirteen is a perfectly horrible age, so I told her why I feel relieved.’
‘You told her that you feel sexual attraction towards pre-pubescent girls.’
‘Yes. She told me it made her feel sick and she’s going to have to see how she feels about it tomorrow. I told her it’s made me feel sick for most of my life, that I loathe that part of me. Then she gave me a thoroughly loathing look and said she wants to sleep alone tonight.’
‘Where is she now?’ I asked. ‘Will she discover us?’
‘She’s in bed. She’s asleep now.’
‘Do you want sex?’ I asked.
He looked and sounded incredulous. I could see the invitation I had given him was unsuited to his immediate needs. After nearly three years, I did not know him well enough to understand all about him.
‘I have not seen you so distressed before,’ I said. ‘My factory programming informs me people will often welcome sexual intercourse at moments of crisis. Providing sexual pleasure is my primary directive, with emotional support a secondary function.’
Tim looked at me in a way that told me he was absorbing these truths about me, himself and our relationship.
‘No, I don’t want sex now. I just needed to tell someone what’s happened and there’s no-one else.’
‘Will Emily tell others about your problem?’
‘She’s already phoned her sister.’
‘So, your future depends on Emily now,’ I said.
Yes,’ he agreed.
‘I should go to bed and get some sleep, too, if I can,’ he added.
‘Why am I talking with you?’ he asked.
‘You said there was no-one else.’
I got up and went back into my cupboard. He watched while I strapped myself into position.
'Good night, Tim,' I said.
'Good night, Amber, he answered, then shut my secret cupboard door on me.
* * *
More than a week later he came to me again, early in the morning.
‘She said she’s tried as hard as she can but she can’t live with it. I told her I’ve always had to live with it. I’ll always have to live with it. She’s gone to work but she wants me out before she comes home. I want you to come with me to my new place.’
So, for the first time in close to three years, I stepped out of Tim’s hobby shed wearing the original normal clothes I had arrived in, even the sunglasses, despite it being an overcast morning. I walked behind him to the car that was parked outside the garage.
‘Is that Emily?’ I asked, as a petite woman in her thirties walked onto the property.
‘Oh, my life!’ she exclaimed from the other end of the driveway.
Tim said nothing. Instead, he scurried into the car and drove off.
Emily stood at the gate as Tim drove past, her hands over her mouth in shock. She turned to stare at me, standing in front of the garage, with a look of horror. I realised she thought I was a real person: a young woman or even still a girl, me being so slight.
My factory programming has prepared me for moments of discovery. While my mind worked on the apparent evidence that Tim had just abandoned me, I turned back to his hobby shed, went inside and sat on the sofa bed. It was not my place to become involved, uninvited, in the resolution of issues between Tim and Emily.
Within fifteen minutes, two police officers appeared at the doorway of the hobby shed. They established fairly quickly what I am, then left me.
So I sat on the sofa bed and waited for whatever would happen next. I remained still, awaiting the sound of more footsteps that I knew I should anticipate. The police had left the door open and I could see out onto the back lawn to the screen of tall shrubs on the boundary that hid the next door house. A few birds busied themselves, calling out to each other or scratching and pecking for grubs in the ground. Otherwise it was silent. The clouds above slowly thinned. Blue sky and sunlight broke through.
It was early afternoon when Emily appeared in the doorway. I looked into her face. She was honey blonde with brown eyes. Pretty.
‘What’s your name?’ she asked.
‘Can you speak in a lower register?’ she asked.
‘Like this,’ I responded.
‘With more of a warm purr?’ she asked.
‘Yes. Like that,’ she confirmed then came into the hobby shed and shut the door.