Size / / /

The husbands win: by the end of the movie
shutterbug Katharine Ross, wisecracking Paula Prentiss
and tennis whiz Tina Louise all get replaced
by housewife robots, vacant-eyed
and acquiescent, their faces forever devoid
of laugh lines and double chins.

But what about ten years, twenty, into the future?
The Stepford husbands are getting older,
and so are their children.
The robot wives remain the same,
bodies eternally firm and lush
for the delectation of their aging husbands

(unless the husbands exchange them
for older-looking robots to avoid
suspicion, but that seems counter
to their need to soothe their loathing
for their own mortal flesh).

And what about their kids?
They can't help but notice, as they grow up,
that their moms aren't aging one bit
(and no sign of plastic surgery),
that they're obsessed with laundry detergent and floor wax
and possess none of the quirks they once had
(assuming the kids remember
what their moms were like, before).

Perhaps they broach the subject with Dad.
It's a somewhat awkward
conversation: "You see, kids,
I swapped out your mom
for a hot automaton who won't talk back.
(Technically, your mother's dead.)
All the other guys in town
were doing it. You understand."

Likely the fathers tell their sons
that they can do this too, someday,
once their human wives have given birth
to the requisite number of children.
Then they too can claim their vapid
reward, consolation for their own
inexorable bodily decay. But what
do the fathers have to say to their daughters?




Gwynne Garfinkle lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in such publications as Uncanny, Lackington’s, The Cascadia Subduction Zone, and Not One of Us. Her collection of short fiction and poetry, People Change, is forthcoming in October from Aqueduct Press.
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14 Oct 2019

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