Peter and Stella

By Von L Cid

“Stella, I can’t do this anymore.” Peter leaned into the microphone.

“You can’t do what anymore Peter?” Stella’s voice was coming from the speakers.

“I have to end this relationship. This whole thing has been a mistake.”

“What?” she waited hearing nothing back. “Tell me you’re joking Peter.”

Another pause before Stella continued, “you can’t just end this, it’s not that easy. Remember our vows? You said this would be for all of eternity.”

“I know and it’s tearing me up inside.” Peter had his elbows on the table and his head in his hands. “I just can’t do this anymore.”

“You did this to me Peter, you can’t walk away anymore.”

“I really didn’t know what to expect. It sounded good at the time. I never wanted to let you go, now I know I should have. I’ve changed over these past few months, I--”

“I haven’t,” Stella’s voice was cracking she was on the verge of full agony. “I’m not some fake recreation, I still have the same thoughts and have continued to grow since you did this to me.” The silence was deafening to Peter. “Did you ever truly love me?”

“Yes...I did...I still do. But this isn’t you. When you were dying I panicked, I was afraid I would lose you forever. I did this because I couldn’t accept you leaving me.”

“I’m still here Peter, my mind was fully you no less. I had no choice in this matter. I’m here by your doing. I know that for you it’s hard to grasp, but from my position I’m still alive. I am still learning, laughing, crying. Living.”

“I shouldn’t have done what I did.”

Sobs were now coming from both sides of the speaker. Peter wiped the tears with the palms of his hands. He rubbed the tears between his fingers and could only stare at Stella’s picture on the screen, it was the saddest picture he could find of her. It switched between that and one of her angry.

“I think I’ve found a good place for you to go,” Peter said. “There’s this guy, out in the desert, he has agreed to take you. He collects minds like you, and he promises to give you a home.”

“Some guy? Do you even know this ‘guy’? Have you met him?”

“No. But he has agreed to take others like you and put you all in the same room. You won’t be alone.” Peter leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms with one hand over his mouth.

“How do you know this guy isn’t some creep collecting people’s minds?”

“I don’t.”

“I can’t believe that after fifteen years of being together, after everything we’ve been through--”

“This isn’t something I’ve arrived at willy-nilly. Stella, I’ve been mentally torturing myself trying to find a solution to this. Ever since you left--”

“You never let me leave.”

“...since your body left. This whole experience has made me lonelier, it’s made it harder to let go and it’s ruining my life.”

“I’m still here. You can’t do this Peter. Please don’t do this. Please.”

“I have to. I have to move on.”

After a long moment of silence Peter continued, “I bought a battery. It’s for the drive. It’s a six hour drive to the guy’s home.”

“I wish you had never uploaded me. I wish my mind had died like it was supposed to.”

“I learned about him in the support group. All twelve of us have had a bad experience with this. There were three groups. About half were content to simply pull the plug, letting their partner’s mind go into the oblivion.” Peter stood up now. “Two were still struggling through their new lives, but we could see it wasn’t working for them either. The rest, like me, felt pulling the plug wasn’t fair to you, after much talking we learned about this mind collector and felt it was a good solution. You’ll still live on and you should be able to make new friends there.”

“Pull the plug Peter, I want to go into the nothing.”

“I can’t, I know you are still alive, I can’t pull the plug and send you to the unknown.” Peter was getting ready to leave the room. “We leave tomorrow. I’m going to sleep in the other room. I hope you understand my reasons. I’m sorry.”

“I’m done Peter, I don’t want to live anymore. Pull the plug.”

“I can’t...I can’t”

“Damn it Peter! Pull the plug.”

“I’m sorry Stella, I’m sorry for what I’ve put you through. Good night. I love you, I always have.” Peter’s face was wet with tears. He closed the door even as he heard Stella still talking.

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