By Chan Jun Hong

[This work of fiction was part of The Lives We Do Not Own: 5 Stories from the Future published in Foresight: Tenth Anniversary Issue]

The apartment usually smelled clean, but tonight it was tinged with sickly sweet and sour three-hour old Chinese takeout. Eyes dry from fatigue, he straightened up, looked up at the ceiling and sank into the sofa. He was retrieving files from a “laptop” and converting them to a suitable format for storage at the National Archives. He was one of the few people left who could still operate one, but that at least gave him a niche. He was also arguing with Clara over the terms of their divorce. It was just one of those days.

The laptop went blank. He tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to reboot. He flung it against the wall, and it fell to the floor, screen cracked, quiet. He cradled his head in his hands and let out a moan. Sue

came in as if on cue to clear up the leftover food. He looked up and observed her as she went about tidying. He was struck by how beautiful she actually looked under the warm light — he had never noticed her that way before. He stood up, grabbed Sue by the waist and kissed her, as if making up for all the years he had ignored her. She resisted, but he refused to let go.

A voice called out from the doorway and it was Clara who walked into the study, just returning home from work. She quickly excused herself, soon returning with a large saucepan. Already contrite and slightly ashamed of himself, he stood in a corner, allowing Clara to repeatedly bash Sue’s head in. Sue’s screams soon died down and she crumpled to the floor.

A neighbour peeked in, looking concerned.

“Oh, it’s fine,” said Clara.

“She’s just the robot helper.”

Chan Jun Hong was Research Assistant at the Centre for Strategic Futures.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of Centre for Strategic Futures or any agency of the Government of Singapore

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