I was an American refugee entering Johannesburg, or maybe Havana. I was with four others, from northern Africa, and Canada, and somewhere else.
One of us wasn’t from anywhere. She was an android. A beautiful android. She processed our fake identification and gave it to us laminated, our faces smiling up to us.
We made it through customs. The woman who examined our I.D.s was beautiful too, with straight white teeth. She remarked that I looked much older than what was printed on my card. Through a glass partition, I saw a bearded man with a ponytail check the android.
It was hot. We sidled past colorful buildings, past an armored vehicle sitting squat in the middle of an unpaved street. Flags and laundry shifted on lines above our heads.
We entered a hostel, ascended to the second floor, where everything was soft light and sleek, dark wood.
The android was dying. She had contracted a virus – harmless to humans, but deadly for androids. She caught it sharing a joint with the bearded man at customs. He had sent an email to her operator saying he was a carrier and had passed the virus on. He was sure of this, somehow.
The android was not sad because she was an android. I was sad. I told her I loved her. She told me that there are other ways to express love than through sex.
I took her upstairs to the room that was mine. It was narrow, a twin bed and toilet sharing a long wall, each at either end. It was my childhood bathroom, a bed where the tub had been.
The android and I looked at each other. Blue circuitry glowed under panels in her head. On her arms, planes of perfect chrome were broken only at the joints.
I took the android in my arms. I could not bring myself to disappoint her.