Amanda Barrett was unhappy. So so unhappy.
She was sick of cruises through the galaxy, touring gas giants that all looked the same, she was tired of staring at identical looking meteor rocks in Tiffany’s and she’d had enough of being in this damn hotel. And most of all she was unhappy being Mrs Barrett, Dominic Barrett’s wife. Dominic Barrett, humanitarian, environmentalist, all round good guy, and millionaire. Dominic Barrett perfect husband. Amanda Barrett luckiest woman in the galaxy. If only they knew.
She heard the en-suite shower turn off and groaned. She rolled over and laid face down in the pillows before he came back into the room, perfect white towel wrapped around his perfect tanned waist. It was funny how they still used towels. Showers hadn’t contained water for about fifty years.
She heard him walking around. Dressing. He didn’t speak to her. He never did. He didn’t care for her so why would he? She heard him stop. She could feel his eyes on her, as he stood there coldly staring at her. She sighed into the pillows, knowing he would hear her, knowing he wouldn’t really care. She rolled over and sat up, the sheet falling to expose her breasts. The focus of his eyes on her face didn’t move.
‘We have to go for breakfast now’, he said, his blank stare focusing on her eyes.
‘I don’t want anything’, she mumbled. ‘I’m not hungry.’
‘We don’t want people to talk,’ he stated, sounding like he couldn’t care less either way. ‘We have to go for breakfast now. People will talk.’
She massaged her right temple with her fingertips suddenly feeling very very tired. ‘Can’t you do something!’, she snapped at him. ‘Do you have to just stand there staring at me? Can’t you just read, or watch a blu-ray, or just do something?’
He tilted his head, looking at her with perfect uncomprehending eyes. ‘Very well’, and walked over to one of the massive armchairs by the window with the view of Earth. He picked up her e-reader and stared at the screen. ‘What would you like me to read?’, he asked.
She groaned, burying her face under the bedding and wishing she’d known on her wedding day that this was how it would be.
It hadn’t always been this way. When she’d met Dominic he’d been enthusiastic and excited, about everything, but especially her. His eyes had followed her around the site where they were rebuilding Paris. She’d fallen in love in what had been the most romantic city in the world. She hadn’t known about the money then. That had been a surprise when he’d knelt down in the wasted street with his mother’s engagement ring, the diamond the size of a fist.
After that had followed a whirlwind of cake testing, venue choosing, and ordering custom grown, real actually grown, flowers.
Then had come the serious talk with his parents. That moment when she was told about doing things for appearances sake. We don’t want people to talk. It would never do, people talking.
She’d been miserable ever since.
Amanda and Dominic had been prominently placed in the dining room by the hotel staff. Hotel Luna was obviously only frequented by the higher ranking members of society but still, having Earth’s golden couple providing free advertising just by being there wouldn’t hurt.
All waiting staff were androids now, but Hotel Luna had gone one step further and had their service staff fitted with wheels so that they glided about quickly, ensuring everyone who wanted caviar, canapés and champagne had it immediately.
The hotel owner had come over to their table. Dominic was smiling enthusiastically, he was able to when he put his mind to it. He was even managing the odd laugh. The owner was relating his plans for a covered garden so people could go outside for walks. Right now the hotel was an indoor affair only, as putting spacesuits on didn’t quite click with the luxury travel people wanted around here.
Amanda noticed the waiters were beginning to bring the soup around. Thank God, she was starving after refusing to get out of bed this morning for breakfast. No-one seemed to be talking. As she’d tried to explain to him, they probably actually cared as much as he did.
The waiter stopped at their table with the huge tureen of hot tomato soup. Apparently the tomatoes were even grown from seed. He spooned it into her bowl and then leaned towards Dominic’s. He rapidly raised his hand and said ‘none for me thanks’.
‘Very well sir,’ the robot replied and wheeled away. Amanda hadn’t noticed her handbag strap sticking out from under the table.
The tureen had emptied over Dominic before she’d raised her spoon to her lips.
The owner was up in a flash. ‘You stupid idiot robot! Do you have any idea who that man is? You’re made of metal! How the hell can you be so clumsy? Artificial intelligence! Artificial stupidity more like…’
The owner trailed off as he noticed Amanda leaning over her broken smoking husband trying to hide the skin melting off his cheek. Dominic had died in a building accident in New Paris before they were married. His parents had told her that they were having an android replica made. It had to be done. They couldn’t let their fortune fall into the hands of the government so she had to marry him still and then she would inherit everything. She only had to keep up the pretence for three years at which point the estate would become legally hers and they could create another accident and mourn Dominic properly. All she had to do was smile, pretend everything was OK, and keep up appearances.
But now she was covered in soup, in a hotel on the moon, while the crowd stared at her trying to keep the skin on the metal face of her cold unloving husband.
People will talk.
Copyright, D M Day, 2014