“Master, must you really get up so promptly? I prepared numerous methods of waking you should you fall back asleep and don’t want them to go to waste.” complained Mila. When I went to bed last night, I had asked Mila to make sure I didn’t oversleep no matter how tired I seemed. I never considered she would go beyond making loud noises at me. “Sorry, Mila. I do appreciate your efforts, but they really are unnecessary at this point.” I told her. No one could have slept through the rush of cold air I felt, sirens and gunfire I heard, and flashing lights I saw. I literally dove out of bed in fear for my life first thing this morning. When I asked her what that was, she calmly explained clear through my shower what all inspired her to wake me in such a manner. An A.I. with tremendous processing power, internet access, and an abundance of time was capable of doing a vast amount of research. Throwing Mila’s quirky personality into the mix, I was forced to cut off the stream of horror movie references far before she was finished explaining her inspiration. “Sorry, Mila. I don’t want to be late for my date. Do I look alright?” I asked. “Oh, master… If I had a body, I’d…” she started. I cut her off quickly, asking her to bring the car around.
There was a chance that Mila was about to say something humorous, not suggestive, but those words coming out of the Alma-like avatar sent my mind down the wrong track all too quickly. I wasn’t entirely certain why I let Mila turn her avatar on again. She seemed to miss it was the best explanation I had, but I didn’t really feel I could handle it, at least not when she talked in such a way that I felt hot in a few words. On the way to meet my date at the mall, I attempted to engage Mila in safer conversation, asking how the Institute of Autodidacticism’s training was going for Brandon, Brenna, and Jarod. I really needed to step up my game if I wasn’t going to be the last one to get a degree through the program. “Please, take over driving, and don’t randomly be showing me pictures of Brenna in a bikini without reason,” I said after swerving a bit out of my lane. “But master, employee records should have pictures included.” pouted Mila. I started explaining that having such a picture as part of Brenna’s company profile would look bad, but Mila then informed me that the picture was from a recent photo shoot Brenna did when she was hired as a model through Best Friend For Hire.
I was tempted to complain to Aaliyah about adding things like that to our repertoire without informing me, but I noticed Brenna’s salary was good and none of the pictures were indecent in any way. I started perusing through job records to see what else everyone was doing. Most of the jobs were fairly run-of-the-mill, helping countless people who didn’t have any other friend available when they were in need. Some were far more surprising. In the past week, Jarod started doing consulting work for a couple different car companies. Asking Mila about how we were contacted by them, she explained that Jarod’s electric engine design incited a bidding war for who would have rights for its use. The bidding war sparked global interest in his design, which earned Jarod a considerable number of contacts. I was surprised he never mentioned this to me, but maybe he was waiting for the right time. Things were rather tense lately between the fear of Alma burning us to death and the realization that she was just manipulating us. Alma. She was the most infuriating girl I ever met, and I was currently stuck with her residing in part of my home. I was somewhat tempted to look into throwing her out, but I was probably safer not trying it. Besides, I was more capable of keeping my eye on her with her nearby.
After verifying with Mila that Alma had not set foot in the central section of my home, I transformed her dashboard back to its classic look and walked toward the mall. Much to my surprise, my date, Phèdre Rivera, was waiting outside the door instead of in the food court as she had stated in the email. As I approached, I noticed all too well how lovely the girl looked in a black dress with lace sleeves and trim. Her wavy, dark brown hair hung past her shoulders, and a silver crucifix drew my eyes somewhere I didn’t want to be staring, even with the dress covering her. “You’re late.” she told me. “Actually, I believe I’m still at least five minutes early.” I replied. She smiled and grabbed my arm as she leaned against me and started pulling me forward, into the mall. “Haven’t you been told that if your date beats you to your destination, you’re late? You should live by that.” she claimed. “Does that mean you arrived extra early to try making me late?” I asked. Laughing softly, she said, “Maybe, but that doesn’t mean you’re not late.” I stopped walking, which brought her to a stop as well. “Hold on. What if I would have came through a different entrance?” I asked. She smiled and said, “Then you would have been on time, since I would have been making you wait.”
I considered arguing that we would both be late, since neither of us had made it to the meeting spot yet, but I decided against it. This girl was weird. Thinking of the others I knew, perhaps they all were. Maybe, if I was generous, I might concede that every person was quirky in their own way, but I currently preferred the idea that girls were the weird ones. Jarod never really cared if I was late for anything. We could hang out, have fun, and enjoy the memories later. Girls complicated everything with romance and their feminine attractiveness. The way this girl was holding my arm against her chest was not helping me relax at all. “Phèdre! How are you?” asked a girl who came at us from a nearby store. “I’m doing wonderful as you can see. How are you?” she replied. Though the new girl whose name I didn’t catch was obviously looking at me occasionally, neither girl really invited me to the conversation, leaving me standing stupidly for several minutes with Phèdre still clinging to my arm. When the other girl left, Phèdre pulled me along and told me “Sorry about that. Renée will be my roommate when college starts. I remembered reading on her profile that she was studying to be a pharmacist, so I asked her how rough the chemistry courses were.
Phèdre then said, “Oh! I forgot to tell you in my email that I haven’t actually started yet. I put in my profile that I was a sophomore, so college guys wouldn’t think I was too young. I’m also not nineteen. I graduated early, and won’t be eighteen for a couple months still.” Huh. Did that actually work? “Wouldn’t being honest from the start be better for a relationship?” I asked. “Not really. It’s not like I’m looking for anything long term. I just want to have some fun, ya know?” she declared somewhat nonchalantly. I was fairly certain that her profile had claimed she was only interested in long-term commitment. Aaliyah expressed my intentions beautifully, clearly stating that I wasn’t opposed to long-term commitment but was only looking to start with a friend. “I guess I can’t say too much. I didn’t even write my profile.” I confessed. “Who did?” she asked, pulling me to a stop again. “My…” I started, and then wondered if I should admit to having a secretary. Who would believe that someone my age did? Even less people were likely to believe in Mila without me taking them to the car and showing them. I ended up lamely saying, “friends,” instead of admitting the whole truth. “Were these friends girls?” she asked, looking into a store we passed. “Yes.” I told her.
“Oh, so are you one of those types that mainly hangs out with girls?” she inquired. Uncertain of the right thing to say, I told her “No, not really. Well, I suppose I have since graduation, but I did do stuff with my track team regularly before that. There are a couple guys with whom I still hang out often.” Instead of responding, she pulled me into a jewelry store and said, “I love this place! My earrings are from here.” She pulled back her hair to reveal a diamond stud in her ear. “Lovely.” I told her, not knowing what else to say. “They’re princess cut. A lot of girls prefer the round brilliant cut, but I just don’t see it. There’s less diamond there. Might as well get as much sparkle as possible!” she enthusiastically asserted. I was at a bit of a loss. Mother made me look at jewelry before, trying to explain the different types Regina liked, but I never had much interest in looking at it, probably because I didn’t want to be buying Regina jewelry. This was the type of place for committed couples to… “Are you hungry? I’m feeling famished, since I skipped breakfast.” I told her, suddenly feeling a need to be elsewhere. “We can get something in a bit. I want you to look at this ring I found. It looks perfect on me,” she said, sliding a ring onto her finger the moment the assistant handed it to her.
I replied “I really think we should be going. I, unfortunately, don’t have terribly long for our date today.” Just a few hours left to kill before the fight with the demons in Ancient Trials of earth. Then I added “Let’s have a nice dinner and get to know one another better.” I was shocked to see a tear go down her face. “Don’t you care about me at all? You’re probably sleeping with one of those other girls, aren’t you. I’ll forgive you, but you have to show me that you really care.” she said, making one of the store clerks gasp and another hide a smile behind her hand. This was ridiculous. I started walking away. Phèdre had things in her life she needed to sort out long before dating, and I wasn’t such a part of it to try helping her. I looked back in time to see her coming after me and started running away. Very few people I knew, excluding the girls living in my home, could keep up with me, and Phèdre wasn’t one. By the time I reached Mila, she wasn’t even in sight. Nonetheless, I drove away far more quickly than I probably should have, luckily not running into a cop on the way. By the time I was almost home, I was smiling again. I once had heard that everyone needed to have a bad date at least once in their lives, so they could treasure what came after all the more. Mine was now behind me.