It’s a little known fact that Watson’s Dispensary in Santa Carla, California was once known as Watson’s Brothel and Opium Emporium. Marginally more relevant to the plot is the fact that Watson’s also holds the record for “World’s Largest Selection of Greeting Cards.” Whether one wishes to offer gram-gram a half-assed birthday wish or whole-hearted support for another’s full (or partial) conversion from innie to outie, Watson’s is more than capable of selling you a piece of folded paper containing wholly unoriginal, utterly manufactured words that substitute genuine effort and emotion with convenience for only a modest fee. In fact, Nathan da Costa was so impressed by the sheer breadth and depth of modern greeting card technology that he hardly noticed the robot standing immediately to his right.
“What’s the occasion?” the robot asked.
“My wife and I are on our way to visit my sister over in Hilldale,” he said, glancing over to the robot. It was a petite thing, the robot. This lovely smile matched with an equally adorable bob cut and a drab, soul-sucking blue smock with a name tag that read: MARIA. “You’re a Type-II.”
“Correct,” it chirped.
Nathan returned to the greeting cards, but continued talking anyway. “My sister had a Type-II. Total sweetheart.”
“What was her name?”
“Rosie,” he smiled.
“Where is Rosie now?”
Nathan considered this for a moment. “Not sure. Her fuel cell ruptured a few years back. Burned down half the house with the family still in it. So, probably the dump? Do they recycle–” He stopped himself, looked at Maria, and remembered what he was talking at. “I’m oversharing, aren’t I?”
Maria processed this, determined it was most efficient to simply smile and nod, and did so.
“Yeah,” Nathan said in that tone one tends to get when dismissed politely by a computer. “I guess they don’t really make greeting cards for that sort of thing, do they?”
Maria searched and processed the results. “No.”
“Yeah. Probably a bit too specific.”
“Ready?” a voice asked.
Nathan turned to his left and found an equally petite woman waiting with a small brown bag in one hand, a cheap bouquet of daisies in the other, and, coincidentally, a similar bob and smock. But while she didn’t have a name tag to remind him of her name, he was more or less sure that this woman was also his wife. “What’s in the bag?”
“Flower for us, flowers for your sister,” she said, looking past Nathan to Maria. “Cute dress.”
“Thank you,” Maria replied, smiling in that way only a Type-II can.
“So, you ready?”
Nathan sighed, then settled on a card that read: SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS. “Yeah. Let’s go.”