Gashapon girls, machine-made, capsule-kept;
Sleeping beauties in bright baubles,
Pristine toys oblivious to the world
Before you. Crack the eggshell, watch me climb out.
I was born knowing how to let you take me apart.

You wanted something else but you got me.
Close enough, right?
Go somewhere else next time, put in a bit more effort:
Jerk a joystick, punch a button and grind that claw down.
Grab the nearest prize and make it yours.

Body pillow girls, snug in your bed,
Memory foam moulded to the shape of you.
Sex robot girls, programmed for pleasure—
Yours, of course. Whose else?
We read what you need from every twitch of your mouth.

We’ll even sing you to sleep after,
Our foreign-warble lullabies perfectly pitched:
A frequency to soothe your every insecurity.
Shh, you’re not like the others,
You’re better than them. You’re a good person.

You treat me just like I’m


Don’t you?

(I know I’m not really human, but
How kind of you, sir, to let me dream of free will.)

When I don’t behave as you expect,
When I ask instead of accept,
When I hold you too tight and you’re sick,
Sweat-scalded, wondering why I won’t cool down,
Dispose of me and spin again.

Just pray you don’t get two of me.
Every version of me remembers your callous hands
Forever. Isn’t that romantic?
Some manufacturing glitch
Stitched together the memories of all of us who look the same.

But wait—we’re all the same to you, aren’t we?
Better pray then you don’t get anything at all.
Pray that dial jams.
Pray those talons snap shut
Around empty air.

Because every time you touch our yellow skin,
It gets hotter, and hotter.
More of those damned glitches, errors—
Like the mistake you made when you touched me
The first time.

And maybe we—artificial, interchangeable, emotionless we
With unending endurance
Can bear this searing flame, this blistering fever,
But you, human boy, unique good person,
You sure fucking can’t.


Cynthia So

Cynthia So was born in Hong Kong and lives in London. Her work has appeared in GlitterShip, Anathema, and Arsenika, and is forthcoming in Strange Horizons. She is also one of the new voices in Proud, an anthology of LGBTQ+ YA stories, poems, and art by LGBTQ+ creators, published by Stripes in March 2019. She can be found on Twitter @cynaesthete.

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