“Enter,” she says, and is obeyed.
He’s taller than before, or perhaps he only seems taller now that he’s here, in the house. She walks behind him, moving toward the living room, and wonders if he might be too tall for her house. It soon dawns on her that she’ll have to teach him the necessary rooms and objects.
The best part about having one at home, her friend Claire once said, is you stop thinking; just imagine, with them walking around and taking up so much space, you can’t spend the day turning things over in your head. They make you pay attention.
She teaches him the living room furniture. “Table,” she says. “Chairs. Dinner table.” He studies each one, surely memorizing. “Kitchen. Stove top. Dishes.” He follows her silently, until she says, “Your bedroom,” then his face twists into an expression of incomprehension, or at least a detailed imitation of incomprehension: well executed but with a strange aftereffect, less an expression than the echo of an expression.
She smiles nervously and says again, “Your bedroom.” They had explained, and Claire confirmed, that if anything didn’t work all she had to do was repeat what she wanted slowly and clearly; sometimes in the first few days of cohabitation they wouldn’t always understand their partner. This time he appears to understand a bit better, he enters the room and stops to stare at the bed. All of her arrangements are in place to make the stay more comfortable: curtains that match the comforter, abstract paintings one might enjoy without needing to identify their subjects, no strident colors, a TV on the wall facing the bed. She’d even put a vase of fresh flowers on the desk. Later she would come to regret that error, she should have known the flowers wouldn’t be a good sign, not to him. But for now she doesn’t think anything about it, just looks at him. Expectant, her heart beating much faster than normal. She hasn’t felt anything like this in some time.
“I’ll leave you to get settled.”
He says nothing, looks at her, nods. She can’t help but notice how his eyes memorize the lines of her face. The first days are crucial, they had said. We recommend you don’t run errands or go to work, until the bond is secure. You must always remember that he doesn’t forget anything. Which could be very useful to you, they said.
She can’t remember having been this content since, when?
You’ll see, Claire had said, after a few days you’ll wonder how you ever managed to live without him. Claire was like her: she worked tirelessly at the factory for comprehensive contract services. The rules changed continuously, so they needed daily updates, it was a constant search for information. She and Claire shared information, were good partnered together, not everyone could say the same.