“Gram, if this is a subtle hint that you want grandkids, you’re wasting your time with me. Talk to my brother.”
She made a pfft sound. “I’m never subtle, sweetheart. You know that. If I wanted you to have children you’d know it.” She was quiet for several beats. “But do you, Teddy? Want kids, I mean.”
He ate another cracker, this one very fast. Now he was thirsty but lacked the courage to walk the few feet to his kitchenette for a glass of water. He might freeze along the way. He’d just have to suffer his parched throat while staying cocooned in three fleecy blankets and a cashmere scarf around his neck.
“I like children, but I doubt I’ll have any.”
“Lots of gay couples adopt, sweetie. Or they have surrogates.”
“They do, but I’m not a couple. I’m just me. And I’m not brave enough for single parenthood.” This time he ate two crackers at once, which didn’t help with his thirst but did stop him from blurting out anything rude to his grandmother. She loved him. She cared about him. It wasn’t her fault that he found relationship-related discussions toxic.
“Teddy dear, you’re young. You have time for your life to go all kinds of unexpected places. Don’t rule things out so easily.”
“But I don’t want unexpected. I have everything mapped out. Our vases are going to be really successful.” He hoped he sounded more confident than he felt. “I’ll send you one of the first ones off the production line.”
“And I’ll pimp them to everyone in my garden club.”
His grandmother’s unexpected choice of words made Teddy spray cracker crumbs across his blankets and probably halfway across the apartment. “Pimp, Gram?”
“I’m on the Facebook. I know all the hip new terms.”
They chatted for a few more minutes, mostly about her upcoming trip to New York City, organized by her local senior center. She was going to see three Broadway shows while she was there, and she promised to send him the playbills.
By the time the call ended, Teddy was out of crackers and so dehydrated he worried his skin would begin to crack. His landlord would come searching when the rent wasn’t paid, and find him in a desiccated heap on the couch, surrounded by crumbs and blankets. At least he’d look stylish in his Burberry scarf.
Maybe Reddyflora’s next project should solve dilemmas such as his: a person alone in his apartment, wanting something fetched but too cold to get it himself. What if someone could figure out a way to give a robot vacuum arms and a smidge of artificial intelligence? That would be ideal—then Teddy could use an app to send it for a glass of water, and it could clean the floor as it went. The gadget could have a cutesy, friendly name—Bobby the Butler Bot, perhaps—and come in bright colors to match various décors.
Teddy rubbed his chin thoughtfully, wondering if Bobby could be manufactured at a viable price point and, more importantly, how feasible the software would be.
But that turned out to be a mistake. His runaway thought train went straight from software to software developers, and that meant it headed directly to Romeo Blue. Such an aggravating man, all smug in his dumb boring office with his ugly unit.
Damnit. Teddy didn’t want to think about Romeo’s unit.
* * *
The next morning, Imani flew at Teddy before he even had his scooter stowed away. “What the hell is up with those new specs, Teddy?”
Well, it wasn’t as if he hadn’t known this was coming. He shot her a long-suffering look before stripping off his outerwear and hanging it up. “I need coffee before this conversation. Do we have coffee?”
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