Olivia was an odd contradiction of practical and quirky.
Her apartment was in walking distance on a good day, and biking distance on a bad day, to Donovan Towers. Instead of renting the sleek, modern, efficient apartment, she had gotten the warm, vintage one, with the heater that glitched out every winter.
Her outfits always suited the occasion, comfy causal for home, professional for work, etc., but her shoes, her shoes were anything but practical. Ranging from on the border of being prostitute heels to worn in sneakers. Olivia had a weakness for shoes, and though she would never admit it, thought she had quite nice feet, small and narrow, with dainty toes. She liked showing them off in her unconventional shoes.
Her home was filled with comfortable furniture that was organized in a practical, functional way. On her sofa was a collection of blankets; quilts her grandmother had made, a large blanket that said ‘leave me to sleep’ and a large range of fuzzy, warm, and thick blankets people had purchased for her over the years, all stacked in a neat pile ready to be used.
Her walls were a miss-mash, of family photos in a well organized layouts to haphazardly hung artwork, and then framed posters that looked as if someone had just found the closest wall and shoved a nail into it.
Next were the pillows, her poor practical furniture had been desecrated by pillows. Her pale tan armchair had been hijacked by a navy pillow shaped like a whale with a cute mouth and eye embroidered in white. A small red crab pillow shared the space, though it was with some annoyance. Olivia was never sure how they did it, but when she returned home it was often to find her crab laying defeated on the hardwood floor, claw reaching for the carpet and safety. Her couch had pillows filled with witty, zany, and biting remarks. One said ‘Plump after use, Thank you’, another ‘Here for emotional support’, yet another, ‘To be beaten to release frustration’.
Her kitchen utensils were a perfect example, each served its purpose, either to make food or to consume it. Except none of her plates matched, there were blue ones, yellow ones, pink ones, flowered ones, her favorite with a tree and pine cones painted on it with painstaking care. She didn’t own regular glasses, instead she used mugs, mugs that had as much humor as her pillows. One, ‘Not human till consumed coffee,’, another, ‘Trying too hard to be amusing’.
Her bathroom, was her most subdued room, her toilet paper holder was a simple dark bronze giraffe, the rolls fitting over its head and resting on it’s long neck. The sinks were streamlined and white with little counter space, and no cupboards underneath, thankfully she had a basket for clean towels and her mirror pulled open to reveal her necessities.
She always lived within her means but wasn’t afraid to express herself through her belongings.
For her date she dressed accordingly, practical yet quirky.
She wore a navy dress, with a wide scoop neck, and petaled skirt, the fabric just tickling the tops of her knees. A silver necklace with a unicorn on it smaller than her thumbnail, because who didn’t love unicorns and it always made Tom laugh when she wore it. She slipped on a pair of nude colored pumps, her pearl colored toenails just peaking out, and wiggled her toes until they fit comfortably, bending down to tie the navy ribbon around her ankles. She twirled her thick hair around her finger and clipped it up, strands tumbled over the sides. She checked herself over in the mirror and smiled, she looked nice, and more importantly she felt good.
Olivia declined a glass of wine, smiling genuinely at Tom, revealing her straight white teeth. Tom sat across from her in a formal suit, his shoulders stretching the material. Olivia had always had a weakness for broad shoulders. He had dark hazel eyes on the verge of being brown but with a little more flare, and wide full lips. Unlike Olivia who spoke with wide arm gestures, her hands talking just as much as her mouth, Tom’s arms were often resting on the table, or tucked at his sides. Today one was wrapped around the stem of his wine glass, the other checking his phone every few minutes. He had just graduated from law school, and recently gotten his first job, apparently it was pretty competitive. When they had first met his skin had been tanned from hours spent in the sun, now it was pale, almost colorless, most of his free time spent indoors. He had hair bordering on being long, the strands tickling against his eyes, a light scruff on his cheeks.
“I am so glad I was able to get tonight off. It has been so crazy at work lately. I swear if Mr. Mayhew wasn’t there, Ms. Lockwood would fall to ruin. The best part is he doesn’t even work in her department, he’s software, she’s hardware.”
Tom laughed, a deep infections sound, that caused Olivia’s smile to widen despite herself. “It’s so amazing that you work for Donovan Industries. I still can’t get over the fact you know Addison Lockwood. The Addison Lockwood! I don’t like tech, but even I’ve heard of her.” he said, calming down to take a sip of wine. “Though like you said, you hardly get time off.” he muttered bitterly.
“I know I can hardly believe it myself.” she said excitedly, choosing to ignore his darker tone. She wouldn’t allow him to bring down their time together, not when she hadn’t seen him in almost two weeks. Her eyes wandered around taking in the beautiful decor of the restaurant, with it’s high ceilings and glittering chandeliers. She almost wanted to crack a joke about what the occasion was. The man across from her was buried in a newspaper distinctly ignoring his wife. Olivia had a feeling he brought it specifically for such a purpose since the paper was a few days if not months old. Tech business robbery, was printed boldly on the front cover. Olivia shook her head dragging herself back into the moment, noticing they had fallen into a lull in their conversation.
”Oh guess what?” she scrambled about for a topic, “Today I got M.A.L.C.O.L.M. to give me several emotional responses. You know he’s so impressive. He can talk to Addison, while talking to me, while making the best coffee, while monitoring everything that is going on in the building, it’s the coolest thing. I mean he is having a conversation with me, an A.I. giving me intelligent responses! It’s extraordinary really, the advances being made in technology astound me.”
Tom began looking uncomfortable, squirming in his seat, Olivia always thought his tendency to fidget when uncomfortable or nervous would make him an awful lawyer, but had kept that opinion to herself. “Olivia…we need to…uh…talk.”
“Okay,” she said, face wide and open, painted lips stretched into a smile.
“I don’t understand you.”
She sputtered, spraying some water, choking, “Excuse me?”
“I mean, what is your obsession with this robot,”
“A.I.” she corrected automatically, dabbing frantically at her wet skirt.
His eyes narrowed at the interruption, and any thoughts he’d had of remaining calm and civil few out the window. “You talk about it constantly. I get a day by day play of all the emotions he gives you. Oh, Tom! M.A.L.C.O.L.M. gave me an emotional response today, he sounded happy, or sad, or angry, or bored, or humored,” he said faking her higher, excited tone. “It’s ridiculous and frankly it freaks me out a little. I mean if he wasn’t a robot I’d be a little jealous.”
“A.I.” she flinched at her words, “Sorry, habit.” Olivia laughed, though it sounded forced even to her own ears. “Come on Tom. I am not obsessed. He interests me, that’s all. You know I love my work.”
“Olivia I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while. You see you’re always at work, even when you’re not, you have some research to analyze or some technology to review. You’re always busy, you never have time for me and your…interest in the robot, sorry A.I., is starting to get infuriating. Then there’s the fact you chose to wear a unicorn necklace to a nice restaurant.”
The world seemed to slow down and Olivia froze. A waiter walked by, tripped, shattering glass. Olivia thought it was the sound of her heart fragmenting into a million pieces.
“I thought you liked it.”
“The first time maybe, now it’s just getting old, and I always thought it was childish. You are a woman, act like it.”
Olivia sputtered, anger beginning to brew, “Well…” she then proceeded to say a very choice word that caused the older woman across from them to glare disapproving daggers at her, “you”. Apparently the f-bomb was not for refined company. Didn’t seem to ever stop Ezra.
She stumbled outside, cold rain biting into her skin. She laughed humorlessly at the fact it was raining. Of course it was, just like the movies. A dreary setting to match her depressing mood. She would have found the situation amusing if her heart hadn’t hurt so much. It was the only reason she was convinced her heart was still there and working, the sharp stabbing pain in her chest. Another asshole to add to the list of failed relationships.
She wrapped her arms around her bare shoulders and began walking with no thought of where, she just needed to get as far away as possible.
She’d left her coat, her dignity, and possibly her purse behind, oh wait no that was clutched in her hand. Thank God for small miracles.
She stumbled through the streets on autopilot, ignoring her surroundings, tripping and staggering as she went. It wasn’t until she was fumbling in her purse for her I.D. card that she realized she had walked to Donovan Towers. She didn’t even know why, perhaps she wished to disappear in the comforting numbness of work.
Shivering, she swiped the card and rammed her shoulder into the door, falling into the building. It was dark and quiet. Addison was probably in her private lab at her home blowing herself up by now.
“Miss Moore, is something the matter?” M.A.L.C.O.L.M, asked, worry filling his robotic voice. Olivia jumped at the noise, something she hadn’t done since the first time they met, and then laughed, a dark, humorless sound, filled with self-loathing.
Her boyfriend makes fun of her, and in someways subsequently dumps her for being obsessed with M.A.L.C.O.L.M. and his emotional responses and now here she was, with an emotion-filled M.A.L.C.O.L.M., and she didn’t even care.
“No, M.A.L.C.O.L.M.” she said, eyes dead, face blank. Her anger had faded, though she could still feel it burning, but right now she was tired, emotionally drained, and she… she hurt. She could hear her mothers voice telling her teasingly, her warm dry fingers ruffling her hair. “Men are morons, but you got to love them. Can’t live with them, but you damn sure can’t live without them.” Well this one had been all moron and not all that lovable, too bad it was only now that she realized it.
“Then why are you all wet? Would you like me to start some tea?”
He jolted her from her memory and back into her cold reality. “No.”
“I’ve started a pot in the break room, also there is a towel in the storage closet.”
Olivia didn’t move, eyes staring straight ahead, legs trembling, knees knocking together.
“Please Miss Moore, go dry yourself, I would hate for you to get sick.”
She opened her mouth to respond, but choked, nearly breaking. With slow movements she walked, dragging herself to the elevator.
A towel was wrapped tightly around Olivia’s head, her long tresses tangled inside. Another towel smelling faintly of cucumbers, a surprising scent, that Olivia’s frazzled brain focused in on, was clenched tightly in her hands, the fabric heavy on her shoulders. She was beginning to warm up, the chill leaving her body and the shivers subsiding.
“Your tea is ready, Miss Moore.”
She blinked, glancing over to spot a cheerful painted yellow cup stating it was ‘Never too late to start over’. She pursed her lips, deciding that cup was in very poor taste, and rose to her feet, digging about the cabinets for a better cup. Roberts, a tech engineer, had a dull gray cup with a subdued orange inside, she decided it was a better fit currently.
Honey glunked heavily in the cup, coating the bottom in it’s sweet substance, followed shortly by some herbal tea that Olivia was too lazy to check the exact flavor of. The boiling hot water went next, and she watched the tea bag get swirled about by the oncoming liquid, fascinated by the dark color seeping into the water.
Her father always said tea could cure anything, even a broken heart. Olivia was pretty sure half the magic had been his deep voice rumbling over her, his warm arms around her.
She waited a few minutes before taking a sip, and burnt half the tastebuds on her tongue. Ignoring the pain she sunk back down into the hard chair, hunching herself over her cup, the steam wafting up, warm against her cheeks.
“If you need anything, Miss Moore, I am right here. I am not going anywhere.” M.A.L.C.O.L.M. said kindly, clearly relieved to see her functioning, even if only somewhat.
A quiet plunk, that could barely be heard, whispered through the air. Followed by another one and another one. Salty tears landed heavily in her tea. With these thoughtful words the floodgates had opened and tears started slowly leaking from her eyes.
Slowly at first and then faster and faster till she was sobbing, gut wrenching, ugly sobs. “Miss Moore!” Abandoning her tea, she cried into her hands. Her entire posture hunched over into herself for comfort and protection.
“Miss Moore! Should I call someone? Addison? Mr. Mayhew perhaps? Any family members?”
She didn’t reply, her throat clogged by her tears, hers eyes red and aching.
After a minute passed of nothing but the sound of Olivia’s sobs M.A.L.C.O.L.M.’s voice was once again heard on the com, “Would you like to talk about it?” he asked hesitantly.
“My bastard boyfriend broke up with me,” she choked out, scrubbing furiously at her face trying to get control of her emotions.
“Why would he do something so stupid?” he asked, sounding exceedingly surprised.
“Apparently, I work too much and I am obsessed with A.I.’s, wear childish jewelry, and some slutty blond stole his heart while I was busy!” she choked out breathing shallowly, doing her best to talk despite her tears, her anger was starting to flicker back to life.
“Bastard.” M.A.L.C.O.L.M. muttered. “He didn’t deserve you.”
Olivia giggled, hysterically. “M.A.L.C.O.L.M. I don’t think I’ve every heard you cuss.” M.A.L.C.O.L.M. was right, he didn’t deserve her tears, or her self-loathing. She was more than that, stronger then that. Despite that affirmation it didn’t hurt any less, and Olivia was surprised to find, she was okay with that. She would cry for herself and her feelings, and the fact she wasted time on the moron, and then she’d pick herself up off the floor and move on. She would never look back with regret, glad she’d found out sooner rather than later. He may have gone in expecting to break up with her, but it had ended on more than mutual terms.
“I usually don’t.” Pause. “Would you like me to send one of the Donovan Tower bodyguards after him? They are very discreet.”
“As appealing as that sounds,” she murmured wiping at her eyes.
“Tissues are in the left cupboard.”
“Thanks,” She rose, grabbing the left cupboard handle. “It is vastly inappropriate, I need to keep as much of my dignity as I can,” she said nodding seriously before bursting into hysterical giggles.
“It does sound incredibly amusing.” he mused, humor evident in his voice, trying to keep her spirits up, but unsure how. Human emotions were so complicated and erratic, they didn’t follow a simple formula, or even a complicated one for that matter. “Well, then what else could I possibly do?” he said sounding lost. Oh how he wished to comfort her, but had no way to. One of the many disadvantages M.A.L.C.O.L.M. had been discovering about being an A.I. He had no arms to comfort her with.
“Just talk to me.”
“I think your necklace is quite humorous and suits you quite well. I think it’s lovely.”
Ten minutes later, Addison burst in to find Olivia curled up in a chair, hands clasped around a cold cup of tea, mascara streaming down her face, eyes swollen, hair wrapped in a towel, prattling away to M.A.L.C.O.L.M.
“Are you okay now?” Addison asked, shocked.
Olivia looked up startled, her eyes growing large, looking surprisingly similar to a deer when caught in headlights.
“Ms. Lockwood!” she said standing, trying her best to fix her appearance, “What are you doing here? I am so sorry you have to see me like this. I don’t know why I came here. It was a poor decision, next time I…” Olivia rambled away her nervousness, surprise having short-circuited the connection between her brain and mouth. She yanked the towel from her hair, sending it in wet strands down her back, and smeared mascara over her cheek in an attempt to remove it.
“I called her, I didn’t know what to do.” M.A.L.C.O.L.M. admitted, when there was a pause in Olivia’s breathless babble. “Was that wrong?”
“No M.A.L.C.O.L.M. that was the right thing to do,” Addison assured him, reaching to place a comforting hand on the younger woman’s shoulder. Her hand damp and chilled from the rain.
“Even if I didn’t want her to see me like this,” Olivia muttered, but gave him a sweet smile letting him know she’d recover, she’d be fine.
“Hey nothing had exploded yet, and…”she tightened her grip on Olivia’s arm, “we’re friends Olivia. I am here for you.”