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One and Two

You do not love me.

Yes, we do.

You love me because I invented you.

We love you.

Love is a choice. I made you to love me. That’s not love, but a lie.

We love you.

Perched on top of a hill sat a ramshackle home made of warped wood. Cracked shingles lined the sagging roof. Paint peels off the sides, like crumbled parchment, with rotting shutters barely hanging on the windows. The faded color showed flecks of a light blue. Thick knots of foliage straddle its walls and spill downward through the yard. Circling the house and into the yard, a plush garden swells in the soil—Amaryllis and lilies in abundance. The earthy womb hatched life with no bare earth anywhere. Loving children toiled in the Inventor’s garden from dawn to dusk. A tireless factory of busy hands with hollow hearts planted, watered, pruned, and dug. It is a memorial to Her, their cause for creation. Working children made of wires and steel replaced her fleshy skin.

Only the Inventor enjoyed the bounty from the garden. His children required recharging at night as they slept, no food or water.

With dirty glasses perched on his nose and many seasons of grief that bent his spine, the Inventor surveyed his garden. Once dexterous and brilliant, his younger hands built machines with gears, sprockets, and wheels. Now, his crooked fingers gave life to wires and circuit boards that filled mechanical brains. Metal polished heads with glassy eyes stared back at him and beeping sounds replied to his commands. They whirled to life thanking him for their new existence.

“I am your father. I love you. You will love me. You will love her,” he said, shuffling through his creation of children.

“We love you.” They sang together but with no emotion.

The Inventor looked like a warped shape of majesty, his head dressed in a snowy crown. Gray-mottled skin dangled from feeble bones; arms wrapped tight in a matrix of veins. In his eyes, still luminous, a child beneath the listless shell appears. Nimble fingers, clever and strong, and legs like stubborn roots clung to the earth.

The children slaved in the service of his adoration. His eyes wandered to the window and gazed out over the miles of metal, machinery, and junk. He was old and broken, and his happiness lay strewn in lifeless rusty pieces, purposeless without his creative vision. The children also became lost and unloved. Then, peering deeply into the void, a vision struck him, like a still wind blown into life by a strong gust. The Inventor stood upright, and his mind cleared as an an idea formed inside him. The parts came together in his mind. A masterpiece unfolded. Innumerable scraps and joints together in one beautiful whole. A splendid design danced in his heart.

He stepped carefully past his children recharging in the living room, and out into the evening cooler beneath a galactic map of stars. His feet remembered their way down a winding path that led to the junkyard entrance. He retrieved the key and unlocked the rusty gate. It opened and he stumbled into a metallic chaos.

For a moment he paused like a Pilgrim lost in a new land. These damaged pieces faced a destiny of rust and decay.

“I see you for what you will be,” The Inventor whispered to the mass of metals and wires.

Finding a wheelbarrow, he picked his way through the glass-crushed automobiles and corridors of tangled circuitry. His ancient cerulean eyes found each piece that fit into his blueprint. Gears, wheels. Snip, snip, and a roll of fiber-optic wire.

“The world will know what you can become,” he grumbled, grabbing a component.

His scavenge carried deep into the night and concluded with a grueling push towards the home. His children awoke to squeaky wheels and the their father sprawled near the door. The pink flush of the morning had colored the grass, and the skin once translucent glowed angelic. Like frantic bees, the children swarmed around him and stroked his cheeks.

“Awake.” Their singing was robotic, void of emotion. “We love you.”

A pause and slacking breath. The Inventor’s heart’s engine still churned, though tired. His mind wandered back to a day long ago.

“Honey, come outside to help me for a few minutes.”

She hunched over a clump of weeds with sodden knees and muddy fingers.

Thick blond curls, like waves of sunshine, spilled from beneath a straw hat shading her smooth face. Her dirty nails dug deep at a root and plucked it from the soil. She tossed the weed into a pail and looked over to the open door, searching for his lanky figure in the doorway.

“I’ll be out in a minute,” he replied from within the home.

She took a deep breath, pulled down her hat, and crawled to the next row.

Inside a pristine white house with sky-blue shutters, he sat at his desk mulling over a jumble of code. He was stronger and taller back then, with a full head of chestnut hair. The same cerulean eyes, clearer and brighter, stared into a monitor. He bumped his wife’s pleas to the back of his mind and focused on the next line of code. One line turned into ten lines and then ten lines into a hundred, and finally, he finished as daylight faded. He flipped off the computer, stood, and stretched a moment before stepping into the living room. He sniffed the air, a warm scent of cinnamon filled his nostrils. Something fell in the garden. Its quick flash caught his eye through the lace curtains. A sickness swelled in his stomach. He hurried to the front door, stepping onto the patio. He had already seen it, but not clear.

Then his mind sailed back to the first day they moved into the house. He built for her -  designed it, sawed the wood, and nailed it piece by piece, putting it together while she watched from their nearby tent. They walked in together and she carried a bouquet of amaryllis draped over her large belly. Inside slept their first child. He and she caught a whiff of the fresh white paint and exchanged blissful glances as he closed the front door behind them. But now, between the amaryllis and lilies, she lay in awkward repose. The garden shears in her fingers. He stared at her. Forever asleep. Like their child who never woke up after he was stillborn. The day ended, yet he stood still on the porch as the night swallowed him.

By the time the sun had breached the dark hills of slumber, he was on his knees and pulled himself up on the rails of the porch. All the children were busy in the garden, tending and merrily singing their hymns of love. Hymns, once music, now sounded like curses. Each word, verse, was a mockery. Anger fueled as he started his work. My greatest and last creation. My son will love me.

Pushing the wheelbarrow into his shop, he unloaded the contents and sorted the pieces into piles. He hefted an armload of circuit boards onto his workbench and recovered a box of tools from the corner. Into the night he fused, cut, and combined. When the day was done, the children abandoned the gardens and encircled the shop. They peered through the windows. Little lenses, glassy and curious, flicked up and down, watching intently.          

When darkness fell, they retreated to the home and powered down. Through the walls he heard the familiar hum as they drifted off. Without sleep, he labored into the night, assembling the fragmented pieces that would become his creation. Meticulous fingers, slowing yet strong. He ignored sleep and food as the invention fed his failing heart.

Days rolled by and the children watched, curious and confused. His attention turned to a dusty computer abandoned in a corner of the workshop. He typed and tapped. Enigmatic lines of code filled the screen. He labored over the keyboard encoding the elaborate schematic vibrating in his mind.

Finally, he stopped typing and stood up from his chair. The children gasped and beeped in exhilaration. Their father unfolded a heavy blanket from the corner of his shop and covered the window. The children scurried inside and went to sleep.

One was a foot taller than the other children and terrified them. The morning he stepped out of the workshop, the children stopped working the garden. They dropped their rakes and hoes frozen with fear. They stared and scampered away.

“They will like you, son.” He said to One, polishing his shiny head with a rag.

One did not speak, still absorbing his new world. During the morning, he sat and stared at the sun. Later, he walked casually through the garden and a row of tomatoes touching each one curiously. In the afternoon, the Inventor found him sitting beside a pile of smashed tomatoes that stained his spindly fingers like blood.

“Why did you smash them?” the Inventor asked with a wrinkled brow.

“I didn’t smash them.”

He prepared to respond, but smiled and turned away. One will learn in time, the Inventor thought. The sun started dropping into the open mouth of the hills and the children returned from their hiding places. They nervously approached One to ask him questions. His buggy glass eyes watched them as they touched his body.

“So big,” a child exclaimed.

“One is your brother,” the Inventor said, beaming with a smile of pride.

“Thank you for our brother,” they sang. “We love you, Father.”

One did not sing. The children retreated to bed to recharge, and the Inventor sat on the porch with One staring into the inky night. The pale moon cast a milky glow on the garden and the vast junkyard sprawled the valley below.

“Do you like your brothers?”


“Why not?”

“I fear them. They are many who fear me because I am bigger and more beautiful. They want to hurt me.”

The Inventor nodded curiously, studying One.

“They will become your friends.”

One shook his head. “No.”

Several days passed as the children tended the garden. One stayed alone, looking at them with a harsh gaze in his motorized eyes. The Inventor felt assured everyone would get along and love each other. Give One time to adjust, he said to himself.

“I am happy. I am loved.” He spoke aloud.

The following afternoon, the Inventor strolled through the tall grass bracing beside the house. He stumbled upon One, who sat calmly beside a mound of wet dirt and grass.

“What is that dirt?”

One looked at it and shrugged.

“Are you hiding something, One?”


The Inventor stooped down to his knees. He cleared the top of the mound until he felt something warm. He pulled his hand out. It was black and dirty, covered with oil and grease. He dug deeper, hitting a solid object. The Inventor pulled the objects from the mound and gasped in dismay. Gears, levers, and wheels.


“I didn’t do it,” One said, standing up and stepping back.

“You killed your brothers. Why, One? They loved you.”

“I was afraid.”

“I did not make you with fear. It’s not a component.”

“Something afraid is inside me.”

“The children loved you.”

“No, they didn’t, and I don’t love them.”

He turned and dashed down the hill. The Inventor sobbed as he unearthed the dismembered parts of several of his children. Fearful and violent. A Cain among his brothers.

The banging grew louder and more fierce as One tried to break into the Inventor’s workshop. The door was shaking with each steel fisted blow. Rusty hinges creaked beneath the stomps and blows. His twisted silhouetted stood feral through the dingy glass. The Inventor barricaded behind the door with an oak desk and a steel tool chest. The plaintive screams of the children still drifted on the wind.

“You’re not my father. I do not love you.”

One’s voice was calm through the door. Suddenly, the window erupted in a brilliant spray of starlit glass. One tumbled through the spilling shards and rolled onto the shop floor. He heard movement from under a desk and turned to face the sharp end of a shovel. His head popped cleanly from his shoulders and clattered to the floor, spinning midst crackling wires. The Inventor took a raspy breath and leaned on the shovel before careening to the floor.

The morning after burying cart-loads of parts in a gaping hole, the Inventor activated Two. All the children looked at Two and, when seeing he looked exactly like One, they fled.

“Where are they running away?” Two asked.

“They are afraid.”


“Because your older brother was not good to them.”

Two nodded and wandered around the garden. His curiosity fascinated the Inventor. So unlike One. Relief spread over the father. Peace at last in the garden. Her garden.

Two spent his time studying the texture of the leaves and dirt, and watching the clouds as they shifted overhead. Two watched the Inventor work, tinkering with circuit boards and wires.

The Inventor persuaded the children to get acquainted with Two. 
“He is different than One. Do not fear him.”

“Will Two kill us?”

“No, I won’t let him. Do you love me?” he asked his children.

“Yes, we love you.”

“Then meet with Two. He is kind and will be a good brother.”

By the end of the week, Two and the little children become friends and played in the evenings after the gardening was done. Two spent much time with his new siblings, talking late until they needed to sleep and recharge. The children started to obey his orders. The Inventor looked upon the scene, beaming a bigger smile than before.

“Two is perfect. He loves me. They love him and me. I am happy, at last.”

The next morning, Two picked up a hoe and worked in the garden beside his siblings. They sang their hymns of love. Then Two taught the children a new language he created.

The Inventor grew confused and asked Two, “I can’t understand the words. What do they mean?”

“The language is meant only for the children and I.”

One night while perched atop the workbench, Two said, “I don’t know if I love you.”

The Inventor didn’t know how to respond. He squirted oil on a rag and wiped Two clean.

“The other children sing of their love, but I do not sing freely like them. They are happy.”

The Inventor said. “They have sung their hymns a long time. You will sing freely one day.”

“When I sing freely, I will be happy like my brothers.”

“Yes,” replied the Inventor rubbing a shine onto his metal.

Two nodded and admired his new sheen. He smiled and vaulted from the workbench. The Inventor smiled back and patted his head.

“Two, you are a good son.”

“I am happy.”

The following morning, the Inventor found Two working in the garden before the other children. “Why are you working so early?”

Two pulled at another weed. “It makes me happy.”


“The other children say you do it for her. It makes you happy.”

The Inventor smiled. “She loved the garden and wanted it to be a beautiful place. It is now. Let me show you something.”

Two took the Inventor’s hand, a cold steely embrace. They strolled down the garden and away from the crumbling house. Soon they stood before forlorn fields of metal, peering into the waste. Light beams twinkled on glass and glowed on reflected metal. A landscape menacing and harsh by night was a jeweled sight.

“What is this place?”

“It is where you came from. I created you here.”

Two stared bewildered into his chaotic origins. He looked into the waste and then at his father and then at the waste again. After several long minutes of thinking, Two let go of his father’s hand.

“I have watched you fix me, and the other children, in your workshop.” Two said, stone-face. “I learned how to fix myself and the children when they need it.”

The father reached for Two’s hand, but he pulled it away. They walked back to the garden where the children were harvesting the vegetables. Two stopped and looked at them. He shouted words in his special language to the children. 

The Inventor glanced at Two, “What did you say?”

“It’s time.”

The inventor narrowed his eyes at Two, still confused. “Time for what?”

“For you to die.”

The children ran screaming towards him, swinging their garden tools in the air.

Two walked to the side and watched.

Panic flooded the Inventor’s mind. “Children, stop, stop. I order you.”

But the children swarmed, hitting his body with the tools. Blood spurted as the hoes and shovels sliced through his skin, cutting deep and deeper.

He screamed in agony, “Children, stop! I love you.”

But the children hit him with the tools, crushing his bones and tearing flesh.

Bloodied, the Inventor yelled at them, “I’m your father. Stop!”

He tried to fight, but the children knocked him to the ground, beating him. Two walked up to the children, holding his hand in the air. They stopped hitting the old man as Two knelt beside the dying Inventor.

“I made you for good, not evil.”

“Good is a choice.” Two replied.

His old arms fell limp, and the sluggish crank of his heart slowed. Visions of Her seeped into his mind before fading quickly. Two watched the life dissolve from his father’s cerulean eyes.

“Now, I am the Father.” Two said, “I love you.”

“My son, you do not love me.”

“You’re right. It is a lie.”

Two started to sing a hymn, so sweet and free. The Inventor breathed for the last time as Two leaned closer, “I am happy.”

Val Valdez - Enthusiastic Lifelong Learner and Writer