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Becca’s daughter Ellie came around the corner. She too was on the small side with dark hair, except it was pulled back into a French braid. Ellie had her mother’s spunk, but lacked her stability. The young lady was always jumping from one interest to another, none of which included artificial intelligence units.
“Mom, I was thinking we could have lunch together and talk about….” Ellie spoke slower as she looked around at the mess.
Becca blushed. “I don’t know. As you can see, I’m a bit behind in my work.”
“Mom! Why didn’t you tell me about this. It’s worse than I thought. Maybe I could help you somehow.”
“Oh no, dear, that’s not necessary. You have your own work and do what you love, and that makes me happy.”
Ellie’s eyes lit up. “I so want you to see my work in the new biosphere.”
Becca looked around. “Perhaps if we get these A.I’s done we can this afternoon.”
“We certainly will,” Zamler said.
Becca gave him a serious look. “As for you, sir. You are overdue for your diagnostic.”
“You don’t have time right now. Perhaps in a few days,” he suggested, suspecting she wanted to run tests on him because of what happened to Ralph and Suzy.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
Zamler thought briefly of the memory that surfaced and dismissed it. “I’m perfect as usual.”
Ellie chuckled sarcastically. “He still thinks he’s perfect.”
“I know I’m perfect silly child.”
“I’m twenty-two! Don’t call me a child.”
“Well, I’m two-hundred and fifty-two, so you seem like a child to me.” Zamler went back to his work. All the women in Becca’s line had been technicians and become his friends, except Ellie who had to be different.
“Stop fighting you two,” Becca said.
Ellie smirked and lowered her voice. “I heard you made quite an impression on those students today. Nick is going around telling everyone how you taught him and how you let him drive a jeep. They want you back to teach them, and they all want to drive a jeep.” She smiled in a teasing way.
“I managed the patience for one day, and that’s all I have.”
She lifted her eyebrows and quipped, “For someone so perfect, you’re horribly closed minded.”
Zamler thought that over, unsure if it was true. It was better not respond because Ellie could argue for hours.
She gave Zamler one last smirk and turned back to her mother. "Seeing as you can't go to lunch, I might as well mention that I wanted to talk about you retiring. I mean you’ve earn a break and just think, you could retire on Earth, and I’ll go with you!” Ellie stared at her mother with big eyes.
Zamler held back a cringe, dreading that everyone was leaving him one way or another.
"Since when do you want to go to Earth?" Becca asked.
"I got to thinking about it. I've mastered landscaping in the biospheres and I want a new challenge. I'd love to work on Earth doing landscaping or designing of some kind. We have enough credits for the trip. What do you think?"
Becca looked around the shop as if she would miss it. Zamler avoided her eyes, not wanting her to see the dread in them. If only Ellie would stop talking and go back to work.
Becca cleared her throat. "It does seem the time is right to retire. It would be amazing if we went to Earth together.”
Becca squealed and jumped up and down. "When will you tell your boss?"
Beeca took a long pause and finally spoke, "Tomorrow." She looked sadly toward Zamler. "I guess the day is coming when we won't see each other anymore."
Zamler got up and forced a smile. "Don't worry about me. You do what you want to do. Every human deserves a good retirement. I’ll think of you relaxing on a beach somewhere free of this musty shop."
Becca nodded, smiling and still wiggling. “We’ll stay in touch, of course.”
“Of course.” Zamler's internal communication unit beeped in his head.
My meeting was cancelled. Come to my office now.
It was Adam.