Breakwater and the Broken Sea
Once, a broken robot named Sea lived.
Half-empty pieces, yellowed memories and lost dreams comprised her body. Everything only half-functioned. Everything halved.
Everything missing something.
Most of the time, she felt sad.
Most of the other time, she steeled herself against imminent sorrow and pretended that she believed that everything worked perfectly.
She kept up this facade for a very long time, scared that somerobot somewhere would uncover her untruth and reveal her as the imperfectly broken-robot that she was.
This robot, she spent many years searching for the other parts of her body.
She tried to pour gasoline and ethanol into the hollow tubes, wondering if maybe she just needed some fuel.
She stuffed the emptiness with cotton balls and cheesecake. She squeezed schwarzwälder kirschtorte within the crevices between her arms and her chest. She force-fed herself a mountain of white sugar in between her thighs, thinking that it would save her.
She always tried desperately to ask other robots, other robots who always seemed so much more whole than her, if they would lend her their ears, their mouths, their own machine parts.
She would borrow one of these exterior parts for days, months, even years at a time– but in the end, her fragile, broken body would reject them all as foreign objects and keep her wandering.
One day she decided to plug herself into another broken robot. She thought that this would finally answer her incompleteness. If anything, anyway, she and the other robot would at least both sort-of-function, right? At least two semi-working robots fared better than two robots that were completely useless alone.
But after a few years of this, she woke up, one morning, to the truth. She functioned no better plugged into someone else. Even worse, she began to forget her own programming, the original capabilities they created her to have. Once upon a time, she ran scripts of light and hope, of love and truth, of art and aliveness. Of divine, poetic, programming creation.
Now, her programs consisted of the same old scripts, over and over again, with neither change nor transformation. In her years of being plugged into some else robot, she could no longer remember what it was like to create new scripts, to weave new poetry out of code.
She knew, after she awoke that morning, that she would have to let go of the wires connecting these two half-functional half-pieces– even if the cord stretched long enough to extend for thousands of miles.
So, instead of letting gently go of the reinforced strings; she cut them, instead.
Months later, without even knowing it, without even realizing it…
She took a leap.
She let herself fall out of the sky– no, she did not. She chose to step off the promise of safe ground and jump off the bridge, out of the machine town where she had always lived– where she had met all of the robots she loved. She made the decision to fall from the sky-city where everyone kept their lofty dreams but never cared to do anything about them.
She decided to fall, but then realized once she had stepped off, that instead of falling, she let the wind carry her instead.
And something miraculous occurred: she discovered that the growths on her back existed not out of disorder or deformity as she always imagined, but just so she could keep herself afloat and have the power not to drown.
She realized that her programs had always run just fine.
She realized that the only brokenness about her was her own lack of willingness to create her own code.
She realized that all the parts that she thought had been shattered were completely complete to begin with, and completely wonderful.
She realized that every time she tried to borrow someone else’s parts– which to her always appeared “more” functioning– it actually dismantled her more.
She realized that she was already whole, she was already functioning, she was already beautiful.
She realized that everything about her that she believed needed to be fixed shone with the illuminated truth of already, enough.
She already had everything she needed to be an amazing, world-changing robot on her own. Imperfect, off-kilter parts; damaged memories, shining code poetry, and all.
She woke up.
Anthologized in Bon hiver.