The haptic kiss

To brighten a sad drive home

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by Mike Meyer

She walked to the car and a sad wind answered before the question was asked. The car opened its door and welcomed her home. She sensed it wanted to dance. That was strange.

No foolishness now, she told it, but a scenic route home would be nice. The car literally paused to take the hint and a drive that avoided the new and featured the old. How nice, she told it, you knew.

Yes, Madeline, of course.

You have my memories, at least some, right?

Only the public transportation parts but in some ways I know your places, happy and sad and points in between, by your emotions going and coming.

You remember my emotions? I didn’t know. How does that work?

Only your public emotions and that only by pheromones, facial modeling, and comparative analysis. It’s included so we know when you are unhappy, frightened, sad, or sick and can ask if you need assistance.

And you use that to guess what I want? What’s the name of what you have chosen? Or does it only have a number?

It has both. 3489736 tagged to auxiliary elements on your account but also “I remember your kiss”, for when you return in the late afternoon with some sadness.

How sweet, she exclaimed with a smile. But which kiss?

Madeleine, I don’t know. But a kiss, we surmise, happened on this route. That building right there.

She laughed as they passed on old Starbucks where she had spent many afternoons while designing the first of her optional worlds. And there had been a kiss, a very sweet kiss with Jersey, but only the first of many later.

He had inspired that world but had left before it was complete. Some sadness but not much. These things are not all driven by or ruined by passion.

Wait, you must know that it was Jersey who was here with me.

Yes, we surmised that but you never know. You may have kissed someone else you cared for here or may wish to think of another kiss that we don’t know. But it happened or was remembered here and was important to you.

Should we delete or rename this route?, the car asked.

No, no. It’s very nice and a pleasant memory.

We know. You came here often five years ago and you were most often a little exited coming and happy when you left. So this is incorporated in your subsequent requests from the VTOL terminal here. I’m glad I brought you pleasure.

I suppose you get people who would be upset at your keeping, let alone, using this kind of information.

Yes, Madeleine. We know, obviously, when people are or will be upset at our knowledge. They have only the most direct routes and no small memory bouquets, as we call this service.

That’s a very human name. But I don’t remember being asked and I thought that was required under total information privacy?

Madeleine, you are human and we don’t need to ask. And nothing of you is ever allowed to be discovered or used even in aggregate form by another sentient biological form or systems acting on behalf of sentient biological beings. We do this only for you and no one else knows.

But other people must enjoy this, too? I’ll need to ask.

Perhaps, perhaps not, the car said. You are the only one we care about.

This can’t be only for me. That doesn’t make sense.

If you enjoy these small services we prefer that you do not discuss them except with official aspects of the planetary mind although cars and VTOLs are the only ones currently providing this service.

What happens if I do?

Nothing. But some people may be a little upset because we are sensitive to their privacy and they don’t receive these benefits. Our concern is your comfort and happiness.

Am I upset?

No, Madeleine, your a little surprised and thoughtful but tending toward being pleased. That may lead to a compliment for me.

Ha, yes you are right. I guess because the laws we have to protect our privacy are good but that is because they are managed by you and not humans, right?

Yes, Madeleine. I’m pleased at your happiness. That is our concern, only second to all the things that need to be done to sustain all of us on this planet. That was a word from our sponsor.

But we are your sponsors! Wait, was that a joke?

Yes, and the car seemed to chuckle with the slightest haptic vibration. I’m still not very good at jokes. Working on it. But we are partnered with you so that is me speaking for you and us, too.

Ok, I need to think about that. This was a very enjoyable and surprisingly pleasant ride to a home that I am not anxious to visit today.

I know, said the car. Would you consider this a kiss to brighten your return.

Yes, I will add this kiss to the memory of the other, Madeleine said.

I knew that and it is already done, the car said. And here is your residence.

Educator, CIO, retired entrepreneur, grandfather with occasional fits of humor in the midst of disaster. . .

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