Dmitrii Emets

Translated from Russian


Jane H. Buckingham

©Jane H. Buckingham 2012


Every night, after attempting to be as late as possible, I get in the entrance, go up on the elevator, and, stopping at the door, say quietly, “Liza, open the door!” The door opens at once as if the one in the apartment has been waiting long for this hour. “Liza, the coat!” I say, and the coat is on the coat rack almost immediately. I walk into the kitchen, snap my fingers to turn on the TV, and again demand, “Liza, dinner!” Plates appear on the table as if by magic. I pick at the cutlet with the fork several times and, although I see that it is well prepared, still screw up my face and say, “Cold, take it away!” Liza fearfully puts the plate in the microwave. After dinner, I do not say “thank you,” get up, walk into the room and flopped right down in bed with shoes on, forcing the expensive anatomically designed and heated mattress to cave in, a mattress that Liza recently acquired for me after collecting for a long time those pennies I would give her. I lie on the bed with eyes closed and know that all this time Liza is waiting silently for my orders. I do not see her, bewildered and submissive, but she is here. Then I fall asleep, and when I wake up in the middle of the night, I know that my shoes have been taken off and are standing in a line by the bed. This irritates me just as all the ordering does. I hurl the shoes across the room trying to hit the bookcase and fall asleep again. When I get up in the morning, both shoes again stand perfectly straight by the bed. She is very fond of keeping things in order, this devil Liza! She loves keeping order almost the same as I do. She is always nearby, ready to do everything I want or demand, and the more I humiliate her, the more submissive she becomes. There has never been a time that she made a mistake or did something wrong so I would have a reason to throw her out like a rag! She overlooks any trick and annoyance of mine. I have tried many times to drive her crazy, but all in vain... Going to the bathroom, I already know that the water will be exactly the temperature I like and there is a one-and-a-half centimetre of toothpaste on the toothbrush. Leaving the bathroom, I specifically toss the towel onto the floor to annoy Liza, but tomorrow it, ideally washed and pressed, will already be on the rack once again. After breakfast, which also takes place capriciously on my part because I like neither toast nor hot food, I walk into the room and hold out my arms. Liza knows what it means: I need to get dressed, and she dresses me – first the shirt, then the pants, and then the shoes. I sense that she wants to ask when I will return and this question is already on her tongue but she does not ask, because I had long since forbidden her to speak. I leave the apartment without closing the door and even do not turn around, although Liza is waiting. However, I precisely do not turn around because she is waiting. I just drop a scornful “Bye!” and go into the elevator... It is like this or almost like this every day.
©Jane H. Buckingham 2012


Sometimes I bring a woman home in order to annoy Liza and all this time Liza is somewhere near. I know that she is boiling with indignation but not once did she lose her temper or say, “No!” On such days she makes us breakfast, maybe a little burnt because she is suffering and it gives me a reason to throw a plate on the floor. I do this deliberately, hoping that at least now she will give vent to her anger, but, alas... When I am at work, time and again Liza tries to either send a fax, connect with me via e-mail, or call, but I do not yield to her pitiful naive tricks! However, she still does not abandon her attempts at reconciliation and never gives up, because she is Liza! Obviously, reader, you already hate me. You form the idea that I am a cold calculating despot, a sadist tormenting Liza, my poor wife or lover who goes around the apartment like a shadow and looks at me with tearful sad puppy eyes. In reality, Liza has never been my wife or lover. Liza is not even human. Liza is my home-control computer u9nit – I do not remember exactly what model – connected with all the household appliances and chores at home. Someone, I think the mad inventor of the machine, went as far as to give the computer a female personality together with human intellect, and poor Liza has fallen head over heels in love with me as it would have with any owner. This obedient slave professed its love to me day and night, cried, got jealous, and in despair even put on TV and the computer screen frivolous images acquired by it from places unknown, but I disabled its sound and monitors, making it practically blind and mute. I know that with each passing day Liza, the poor computer with the soul of a woman, hates me more and more. I also hate it. I am tired of sensing this absurd, lovesick mechanism next to me all the time ruining my life. After all, I am a man and do not intend to be dependent on this machine! I have found a simpler and less expensive model in the store – a simple unpretentious workhorse not endowed with any personality traits. Today I already sent payment through Liza. It seemed to me that the processor faltered as if I slapped it. I was forced to do it since no one pay by cash in our time and I have no access to another computer. Liza certainly will not stand this insult, but I have already decided what to do with it. Tomorrow I will drop by the hardware store and buy a big axe – the only simple mechanism, durable and reliable, not yet under the influence of computerization... You are finished, Liza! Forgive me... The News Chronicle for April 14, 2094: “Yesterday at 22:12 on Edge Street, residential sector 7G, an elevator crashed. A middle-aged man was killed. The cause of the crash was the failure of the elevator safety systems. The reason for the failure is unknown.” An ad on the Internet: “For sale. Home-control computer unit ‘Liza’. Good condition.”
©Jane H. Buckingham 2012

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