Not being condemned for a violent crime, Faith wasn’t put in a cell. She shared her ward with a middle-aged inmate who didn’t look very happy doing small talk, which Faith was grateful for. She spent most of her free time reading books on her bed.
Together with the activities that she shared with all the inmates during the prison routine, Faith was also supposed to take classes because of her rehabilitation. Since she was the only one there for that kind of crime, she had private lessons with the young sociologist assigned to her classes. She was a small woman with dark skin and long hair called Sonya Maddison. Since the very first moment, she wore a smile on her face while speaking to Faith.
Specialized in civil right for androids, Sonya taught Faith every reason why her relationship with Galatea was a social problem. Most of it was made through videos showing androids being exploited and suffering in the hand of people who either hated them or felt pleasure seeing their suffering. Sonya explained how without any laws protecting them, androids faced that kind of violence every day and how now they could be protected.
After one month of classes, Faith started to open up to Sonya. One day, she started to speak to her casually.
“I can understand there are terrible people like them out there,” she said, sitting on her chair. “But I really loved my wife.”
Her black hair was already on her shoulders since she didn’t bother to cut it anymore and she had lost weight. She was still wearing her glasses and her prison uniform.
“I understand,” Sonya said with a sympathetic smile. “Your case made the news months ago, so I know about it. And I believe you when you say you love her. But that still isn’t right, and she’s still the one that’ll suffer in the end.”
“How so? She’s the one suffering the most right now.”
“Maybe she would be happier with you. Maybe you would treat her well and protect her, but what about after that? You’re not eternal, but she could as well be. If we start to open exceptions to your case because we don’t believe you’re a bad person, we’ll have to do the same again in other cases. The law will become meaningless. What happens when you die and someone else becomes responsible for her?”
Faith stood in silence. She never thought before about what to do when she died. It wasn’t one of her worries while building Galatea. She didn’t even have relatives who could take her in, so Galatea would need to live with her own strengths.
Watching Faith making a complex face, Sonya smiled.
“The laws are for everyone and if we make an exception for anyone, others will ask for it. It could destroy any system. I won’t deny that maybe we’re wrong. Maybe there’s a better way to solve this and maybe someday we’ll find it. But that’s why respecting what is the law now is important,” She paused and looked to the side. “Who knows, maybe someday you’ll be able to be with her again.”
Faith didn’t say anything, but she understood Sonya’s point. She had thought about whether what she did was right since the beginning, and she still didn’t have a clear answer.
“I just wanted her to keep smiling,” Faith said in the end.
Sometime after that, she was visited by her lawyer, who said her sentence had been revised to six months. She thanked him, pretending to be happy, but she didn’t care anymore. He didn’t bring any news about Galatea.
It was Saturday morning when a male guard called out to her. She woke up and stood up from her bed confused. He made her a sign with his hand.
“Come on, you’re being transferred to max security today.”
“What?!” Faith let out a confused face. She looked at her roommate who didn’t seem interested in what was happening to her. “There must be a mistake. I want to talk to the director.”
“No mistake, the director already confirmed it,” the guard said, making a signal to her again.
She thought about complaining again, but the guard looked angry, so she followed him along. She would call her lawyer after getting there to ask what was going on.
She was put in the back of a police van. Soon after that, the vehicle started to move. From inside, Faith couldn’t see anything outside, but she remained calm. She knew something was wrong and her lawyer would surely bring her back to the prison ward. Still, even if she was put in max security, locked up inside a cell, she didn’t think she would mind.
After some minutes moving, the vehicle stopped. Faith was guessing it was just the traffic light turning red, but she started hearing sounds in the back door. Suddenly, the door opened slowly, revealing someone who stretched her hand to Faith.
“Come on, hurry,” Galatea said with a serious expression.
Confused, Faith just obeyed and Galatea pulled her out of the van. The two women ran through the street until they reached a black car parked on the side of the road. Galatea got inside and opened the passenger's door to Faith, who got inside after her.
She turned on the car and drive out. The police van was still stopped at the intersection, in front of the traffic red light.
“Didn’t they realize it?” Faith asked, not taking her eyes away from the van.
“The van had a sensor that should sound an alarm if you got out. I hacked it and prevented it from triggering. I also hacked the traffic light, so it would take a little more time to turn green again. They won’t realize you got out because they trust the alarm too much.”
Faith threw a surprised look at Galatea.
“W-Where did you learn that?”
“I had to,” Galatea smiled, keeping her eyes on the street. “I couldn’t stand being away from you anymore, so I was desperate to find a way to get you out.”
Faith remained sitting in silence for some minutes until she looked at Galatea and smiled. Her heart was beating fast seeing her wife so close to her, at the reach of her hands.
“I missed you,” she said with tears in her eyes. She touched Galatea’s face gently. “I wanted to meet you so badly.”
“Me too,” Galatea said, keeping the eyes on the street while smiling.
After some driving, Galatea parked on the side of the street and pulled Faith out of the car. Asking Faith to follow her, she started to run down through a grass ground. On the other said, Faith could see a big lake. There was another city on the other side, but on their side, there were few houses.
Faith reached to Galatea’s arms and grabbed her, making her stop. Galatea looked at her confused.
“Where are we going?” Faith asked her.
“There,” Galatea pointed to the lake. “We can’t get a bus, they’ll find out. I’ll rent a boat and then we’ll spend one night on that city until I can figure out what to do next.”
“Then what? We’ll spend our whole life running away?”
“We’ll spend our life together,” Galatea said. Her face had a worried expression. “That’s all that matters. All that matters to me.”
“I just want you to be happy.”
“And I need you for that!” Galatea’s voice was almost desperate. Slowly, she ran her fingers through Faith’s hair. “You let your hair grow. It looks good on you like this too.”
“It wasn’t my choice,” Faith said, avoiding to look at Galatea.
Galatea pressed her lips. Using her hands, she forced Faith to face her.
“I don’t like it,” she said. “I don’t like the way you’re speaking. You’re not…” she stopped as if trying to process her words. “You’re not leaving me, right?”
Faith remained in silence. At any moment, the guards could appear after them. Galatea had left the car on the side of the street. It was peaceful around them, as there were few houses around and very few noises. Faith sighed and looked at her wife’s face.
“I missed you,” she said.
She hugged Galatea and kissed her lips. Her kiss and her grip on Galatea’s body was intense as if she was afraid to let her go. She could feel her frail body in her arms and her warmth. As before, it didn’t feel like hugging a machine. It was her wife, Galatea.
After she finished kissing her, Galatea let out a nervous smile. Her fingers brushed Faith’s hands and she showed her a timid smile.
“So let’s go?” Galatea said, her voice failing.
“I’m sorry,” Faith said, standing where she was.
Galatea’s smile disappeared. She threw a scared look at Faith. Her lips were shaking and she looked like she was having a problem keeping steady.
“Don’t joke with me,” she said, putting her hand on her forehead. “I can’t… I can’t…”
She froze. Realizing Galatea’s processing was probably struggling with her feelings, Faith hugged her tight again.
“Don’t worry,” she whispered in Galatea’s ear. “I promised you, right? I would always protect your happiness.”
“I’m sorry,” saying that, Faith whispered a word in Galatea’s ear. A word only her wife could listen.
At the same moment, Galatea’s body froze. Her blue eyes were fixed in front of her and her body convulsed twice. Faith hugged it tight the whole time and could feel it when her wife’s body lost strength and her legs failed to keep steady.
Faith took her wife on her arms. She looked at the peaceful face Galatea had as if she was sleeping. Her blue eyes were shut and her blonde hair sticking to her cheek. Faith felt a tear running down her face while looking at the body of her wife. She felt like crying, but she couldn’t risk losing her strength. She had to carry Galatea to safety.
She walked to one of the houses nearby. An old woman threw a surprised and frightened look at her.
“Please, don’t worry,” Faith said, controlling her wish to cry. “Can you call the police?”
Marco entered the room Faith was waiting followed by a young woman. The woman had bright green eyes and beautiful red hair. She had pale skin and was shorter than Faith.
Faith, who was sitting on a chair in the room, threw a look at him. Galatea was lying down on the big bench on the side of the room. The young woman went to where Galatea was and crouched in front of her, looking straight at her face.
Marco sat across Faith and asked for her to start explaining. When she finished, he threw a look at Galatea’s body.
“So, when will she awake?” He asked.
“It should be soon,” Faith said in a cold voice. “And I don’t wanna be here when it happens.”
“And the only thing different will be her memory?”
“Yeah,” Faith nodded. “Every trace of me will be gone from her memory.”
“I see,” Marco threw another look at Galatea. The red-haired girl was still in front of her.
“Is she your daughter?” Faith asked.
“Yes. She wanted to come with me no matter what. Since I was called as an emergency, I couldn’t run away from her.”
Faith realized how kind Marco’s eyes were when he looked at the young woman.
“Anyway,” he said, turning back to Faith. “You’ll be going back to prison, right?”
“Yeah. I want to finish my time. Will my sentence get bigger?”
“Why? You were kidnapped, you didn’t run. Your sentence wouldn’t be affected by that.”
“Galatea won’t be in trouble, right?”
“Don’t worry. The laws protecting her actions are strong. She won’t be held accountable by it. The ones who should have watched her will be the ones to blame. In that case, even I could get a penalty.”
“What about erasing her memory? Isn’t that a crime?”
“Only if she was forced,” he threw another look at Galatea, who still looked like she was sleeping. “Unfortunately, we can’t know if she didn’t ask for it. Since her memory of the incident is gone now.”
“Is that really okay?”
“It shouldn’t. But I don’t think you did anything wrong.”
Marco stood up and put his hand on his daughter’s shoulder.
“Will you wait until she’s awake?” He asked and the young girl nodded. “Okay, so I’ll get everything ready.”
Saying that he left the room.
Faith looked at the young girl, who still had a curious look directed at Galatea.
“So, miss…” Faith said, making the girl turn to her.
“Alma,” she said. “My name is Alma.”
“Alma, huh? It’s a beautiful name.”
“Marco...huh...Father gave it to me.”
“So, Alma, are you interested in Galatea?”
“Interested?” Alma threw a look at Galatea’s body, then she made a curious expression. “I guess I am. I’m not as advanced as her, so I can’t understand love. Father says he loves me.”
“Don’t you love him?”
“I care about him. But I don’t know about love. Father said having sex with anyone I don’t love is bad and makes him sad, so I don’t offer myself anymore,” she threw another look at Galatea and caressed her hair. “I saw your trial. Even if I don’t understand love, her words reached me. I get her.”
“Her words? You mean…”
“No one listens to us. They say they'll protect us, but they don’t treat us as equals. Father is the same. He says he cares about me, but he treats me as a child. She said you treat her as an equal. Was that true?”
“No, it’s not true,” Faith gave out a sad smile. “Maybe I believed it was, but that was wrong. Just the way I made her is proof enough,” she paused, then added: “But I love her. That’s not a lie.”
“Is that so? As I said, I can’t understand love, so I can’t understand her either. But I want to, so I wanna be her friend. Father promised to take me to meet her, but he never did.”
Looking at the look Alma was giving Galatea again, Faith understood it. That was admiration. Maybe even a little hope. She couldn’t understand how someone like Alma saw those things, but Galatea’s independence probably made her look like a goddess.
“Say,” Faith called Alma’s attention. “Since you’ll be her friend, can you do me a favor?”
“A favor to help you or her?”
“Mostly her, I guess. It’ll make me feel better, too, though.”
“So come closer.”
Alma got close to Faith and Faith whispered something in her ear. Alma looked confused.
“Can you keep that word in your mind?” Faith asked.
“I can,” Alma said, still confused. “But I don’t get it.”
“That’s a keyword that used in Galatea will trigger a certain function. It’s the same function I triggered today. That function will erase the one she loves the most from inside her mind.”
“Why you made a function like that?”
“Well,” Faith let out a bitter smile. “As I said, I don’t think I treated her as an equal.”
“What do you want me to do with it?”
“That’s on you. If you’re her friend, protect her, please. If you need to do use this word someday. If you think it’s right…”
“You’re asking me this because you love her?”
Faith paused a little and looked at Galatea lying on the bench for the last time.
“Yeah. I guess I am.”
When Marco came back, Faith was sent back to prison. Knowing Galatea wouldn’t be suffering anymore, the last months she needed to pay was more bearable, and Sonya’s classes did help when she was feeling bad. So, in the end, her time there passed faster than she thought at first.
When she was back home, though, the depression hit hard. She couldn’t forget the nights she spent with Galatea and her presence was all over the place. She moved away from her home and changed jobs. But it didn’t get better.
She knew Galatea was doing fine. Marco made sure to let her know. Still, she never asked where she was living, knowing they would never tell her. It was likely she was in the same city, but it was a big city and they could never meet again. And even if they did, Faith had no right to approach her again legally.
After some time, the memories became unbearable. She felt like if she did nothing to change it, she would break.
Organic memory erasure was such a risky technology that it was illegal but possible. Thinking that even death was better than living with the regret, Faith applied to an underground clinic to remove from her mind everything related to Galatea. That meant erasing pretty much all the months she spent with her. Before the surgery, Faith was crying, feeling like she was killing a part of herself that she loved too much. But the pain or not having Galatea close was stronger and she went along with it.
The surgery was a success and one week later, Faith was living her life without remembering the pain she had to carry through the previous months.
“I’ll finally confess to her,” Galatea said and took a piece of ice-cream to her mouth.
She was sitting in a crowded Cafe. A chocolate ice-cream in front of her. Across from her was sitting her best friend, who didn’t seem to care for the chocolate cake in front of her.
“So you’re finally doing it, huh?” Alma said with an expressionless face.
“You should be happier for me,” Galatea pouted.
“Sorry. I was always under the impression that you would eventually fall in love with me instead.”
“Eh?!” Galatea gave her friend a startled look. “Alma, are you…?”
“I’m not in love with you. I said I don’t understand love and I mean it. But you were always saying you love me, so that’s confusing.”
“Well, I do love you, but as a friend.”
“Just like Father loves me as a daughter. So he doesn’t wanna have sex with me. I don’t get it. You wouldn’t wanna have sex with me, too?”
“Ahaha,” Galatea laughed nervously. “I wouldn’t say I would refuse it. I mean, I would. But it’s not that I wouldn’t like it. It’s more like, it would be awkward.”
“I don’t get why. It’s just sex. You’re really curious.”
“Everyone is different,” Galatea said with a smile.
“You’re saying that again,” Alma finally took a piece of cake to her mouth. “Using words that don’t fit. Saying I’m different instead of saying I’m outdated.”
“No, that’s rude! You might have been built different from me, but that’s still part of your identity. It’s not wrong saying you’re different.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter. Tell me, what this woman makes you feel different from me?”
“I am happy when I’m around both of you. But when I talk to her, it’s like. I feel a jolt of electricity run through my body or something.”
“That looks like a malfunction to me.”
Galatea laughed and held Alma’s hand.
“I think your father should let you meet more people. I’m sure you would find your own way to love,” She took her hands off her friend and concentrated on her ice-cream again. “In fact, he talked to me the other day. He told me again I should work with him.”
“No, you can’t!” Alma said in a harsh voice.
“He said even among high tech models, I’m special. I don’t get why, but if I can help others like us.”
“You help us enough already. You created a network where we can interact and that was a huge help. If you expose yourself, you’ll only become a target. You don’t need that,” Alma clicked her tongue. “I already said father to forget it.”
Galatea giggled, making Alma throw a confused look at her.
“What is it?” Alma asked.
“See? You love me in your own way.”
“I just don’t want to lose you.”
“That’s the same,” Galatea said with a smile.
“Anyway,” Alma tried to change the subject. “Do you think she’ll say yes?”
“I-I don’t know?” Galatea took another piece of ice-cream to her mouth. She looked embarrassed. “She did say she doesn’t mind I’m a gynoid, so I don’t think she’ll be offended.”
“Calling yourself a gynoid? Why is that so important?”
“Why? Well,” Galatea remained in silence for some seconds. Alma waited for her answer. “Because being female is important to me. But I can’t remember why. I just remember it’s very important, but I forgot the reason. It’s kinda like the dreams.”
Alma looked at her friend with a serious look. Then she touched the side of her head, ate the rest of her cake and stood up from her chair.
“I need to meet father in ten minutes, so I’m going. Good luck with your confession.”
Before walking out, without looking at her friend, Alma made her last question.
“By the way. What is the name of this woman you’re confessing to tomorrow?”
“Her name is Faith,” Galatea said with a huge smile. “Faith Hooper.”
“I see,” Alma said and walked out.
Faith entered the book shop again. On those days, buying physical books was a thing mostly for collectors. Faith had started it as a therapeutic hobby since her psychiatric told she should find something to keep her mind busy. Faith knew she had forgotten some of her memories and it should be very important memories for her, but she never found out what or why.
She looked mostly for fiction books, as the fantasy was nice to her. She still worked as a developer but was less invested in her job now. She mostly did some small jobs without the passion she had before.
She had her hair long and didn’t gain weight back. In her own memories, she couldn’t remember when that happened. And she was wearing contacts instead of glasses, trying to change her appearance.
Entering the book shop, Faith saw Galatea. Since the first time she saw the clerk, she sympathized with her. She wasn’t human, but she acted just like one. Faith found her smile beautiful. Somehow, she also reminded a girl Faith hated in high school, but that didn’t make her think worse of the young clerk. In fact, she found her gorgeous and attractive.
But on that day, while she was charging Faith, Galatea looked nervous. Her smile didn’t feel as bright, as if something was bothering her.
“Is there something wrong?” Faith asked.
“N-No…” Galatea said, passing the books to Faith.
“Well, thanks for that again. Have a nice week.”
When the young woman took her bag and headed to the door, Galatea called out to her again. She turned around, with a curious expression.
“What is it?” Faith asked with a smile.
“T-That might be weird,” Galatea said. Her lips were shaking. Faith gave another smile, encouraging the clerk to keep on. “Huh, I was thinking. If you’re free sometime. I wanted us to go out together.”
“Go out?” Faith lowered her eyes to the books she was holding. “You mean like a date?”
“Y-Yes,” then Galatea started to talk with hurry. “B-But, if that’s too weird. I know I’m not a human. I’m a gynoid and I’m just. I mean, I’m interested in you, but. I would be disappointed maybe, but. I don’t want you to feel bothered by it and…”
Faith chuckled and that made Galatea become silent. She looked at her client with anxious eyes.
“Ok,” Faith said.
“R-Really?!” Galatea almost jumped through the balcony. “You mean it?”
“Yeah, I have no issues with it. But just to make sure. When you say a date, you have an interest in starting a romantic relationship with me, right?”
“Yes. I do love you in a romantic way.”
“I don’t mind having a relationship with an andro...I mean, a gynoid. And that’s not the most important, but if I can ask. Huh, how far can we go?”
Galatea threw a serious look at Faith, who had a blush on her face.
“You’re talking about sex?” Galatea asked.
“Y-Yeah,” Faith lowered her eyes embarrassed.
“Don’t worry. I’m built in such a way that I can have sex with either a human or another android. I can give and feel pleasure without any problem.”
“I-I see. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go out with you otherwise, I was just…”
“Don’t worry, I get it. I also wanna have sex with you!”
Galatea’s bold claim made Faith heart beat strong and made her blush. She tried to avoid looking at the intense eyes focused on her.
“I-I see. Then, how about this weekend? Ah, I’ll send a mail to you later to confirm, so. Huh. So long!”
After saying that, Faith left the store in a hurry. She wanted to get away before her face could stay even redder.
Her heart beating strong and a smile she couldn’t make disappear on her face, Faith didn’t realize the person keeping watch over her inside a car as she passed by it. Nothing else could register in her mind except the smile of the girl who called her out.
“So, should we arrest her?” Pamela asked Marco, who was working behind his desk. He just lifted his tired face and looked at the officer.
“Why?” He asked her.
“Why?” Pamela repeated his question in confusion. “She wasn’t allowed to approach the android again, right?”
“That was decided after her trial, yeah. I ask you, though. For what crime would you arrest her this time?”
“For the same crime?”
“The same crime doesn’t exist anymore.”
“Officer Brent, if you want, you can look in the records of that case. We did a scan in Galatea’s memory after what happened. All memories of Faith Hooper disappeared completely from inside her physically.”
“Yeah, I know that. And Faith Hooper herself did the same.”
“Not the same, she didn’t. A human can’t easily rewrite their brain as it can be done in an android. Faith Hooper used illegal methods of brain surgery, but I’m sure Galatea is still somewhere inside her, even if she doesn’t know. That’s why, if Faith was the one calling her out, I could agree with her arrest. But she wasn’t, right? I don’t see any reason to believe Galatea is being forced now.”
“You seem to know a lot about it. More than me who was watching them,” Pamela said with a suspicious tone. Marco smiled.
“My daughter is Galatea’s friend. They trust each other completely, so I know about it. I can assure you Faith didn’t seduce her. Because, in fact, Galatea was afraid to be rejected.”
Pamela stood in silence for some minutes but didn’t move away from her place. She didn’t look like she was convinced.
“Then,” Pamela said after the silence. “What about Galatea’s preferences? Isn’t she programmed to love someone just like miss Hooper?”
“She is. However, officer Brent, you know that better than anyone, right? Galatea has interacted with a lot of people during this time, in her work or in her social life. And she met several people who are just like those preferences. Even more than current miss Hooper. If you take her file, you’ll see it explicitly says short hair and glasses, for example. Miss Hooper doesn’t have these characteristics anymore.”
“So why do you think she still fell for miss Hooper, against all odds? It’s even a miracle that they crossed paths again.”
“Who knows,” Marco shrugged. “Tell me you. Why did you deliver that letter for her during the time she was arrested? You believed those two truly loved each other, right?”
“Maybe. But it wasn’t for anything like fate or a magical reason.”
“Fate, huh?” Marco paused. He kept his eyes on the table as if reflecting. After some time, he let out a tired smile. “Well, we might never know. What I know is that I trust my judgment more than a jury now. Officer Brent, let me give those two another chance for now. If anything happens, it’ll be on me. Don’t worry.”
Without being truly convinced, Pamela nodded. At the same time, she remembered the time she interacted with the two women. Deep inside, she wished Marco was right about his judgment.
Galatea woke up suddenly with a gasp. After breathing hard for some moments, she started shaking the body lying beside her.
“Huh?” Faith answered with a sleepy voice. When she turned her body and saw Galatea’s terrified face, she hushed to sit on the bed. “Galatea? Love? What happened?”
The terror remained in Galatea’s face for some time. But as she looked inside Faith’s eyes, she seemed to calm down. She grasped her girlfriend’s hand with strength and seemed craving to feel her warmth.
Finally, she let out a relieved smile.
“T-Thanks,” Galatea said, but Faith still was confused.
“Tell me what happened,” Faith caressed her girlfriend’s face. Her soft cheek was cold. “Was it a nightmare?”
“Sometimes I have a dream,” she explained. “It’s not a bad dream. Apparently, it’s a memory that was inside me before I was first awakened. In the dream, I am having fun with someone and I am in love with her. But I can’t see her face and I can’t hear her voice,” Galatea breathed deep before continuing: “Apparently I have this dream when the defragmentation moves this memory and it happens at least once by month. It’s not a bad dream, but because I can’t see her or remember her, I feel uneasy. It’s like I forgot something very important to me. I always wake terrified, sad. Every time it happens, I cry after waking up.”
“I see,” Faith said, now caressing Galatea’s hair. “Maybe it’s a data you lost. I can give it a look later if you want, but I probably won’t be able to do much.”
Galatea shook her head.
“You know, it’s different this time. When I saw your face and heard your voice, the sadness went away and I didn’t feel like crying anymore. I felt like everything was ok now. I can’t explain why, but I felt like there wasn’t anything wrong anymore.”
“I see,” Faith said with a smile. She kissed Galatea and gently pushed her to the bed. “So I know exactly the diagnosis for your case.”
“Oh? And what is it?”
“It’s clear to me that I can never leave your side again. And I must shower you with lots of love.”
“I see. I think that might be efficient and I’m okay with this method,” Galatea said while smiling.
The two women lied down, embraced in each other arms.