From the Mythic Delirium Books archives
The Melancholy of Mechagirl
Read by Catherynne M. Valente
for Dmitri and Jeannine
X Prefecture drive time radio trills and pops its pink rhinestone bubble tunes— pipe that sound into my copper-riveted heart, that softgirl/brightgirl/candygirl electrocheer gigglenoise right down through the steelfrown tunnels of my all-hearing head. Best stay out of my way when I’ve got my groovewalk going. It’s a rhythm you learn: move those ironzilla legs to the cherry-berry vanillacream sparklepop and your pneumafuel efficiency will increase according to the Yakihatsu formula (sigma3, 9 to the power of four) Robots are like Mars: they need girls. Boys won’t do; the memesoup is all wrong. They stomp when they should kiss and they’re none too keen on having things shoved inside them. You can’t convince them there’s nothing kinky going on: you can’t move the machine without IV interface fourteen intra-optical displays a codedump wafer like a rose petal under the tongue, silver tubes wrapped around your bones. It’s just a job. Why do boys have to make everything sound weird? It’s not a robot until you put a girl inside. Sometimes I feel like that. A junkyard the Company forgot to put a girl in. I mean yeah. My crystal fingers are laser-enabled light comes out of me like dawn. Bright orangecream killpink sizzling tangerine deathglitter. But what does it mean? Is this really a retirement plan? All of us Company Girls sitting in the Company Home in our giant angular titanium suits knitting tiny versions of our robot selves playing poker with xray eyes crushing the tea kettle with hotlilac chromium fists every day at 3? I get a break every spring. Big me powers down transparent highly conductive golden eyeball by transparent highly-conductive golden eyeball. Little me steps out and the plum blossoms quiver like a frothy fuchsia baseline. My body is full of holes where the junkbody metalgirl tinkid used to be inside me inside it and I try to go out for tea and noodles but they only taste like crystallized cobalt-4 and faithlessness. I feel my suit all around me. It wants. I want. Cold scrapcode drifts like snow behind my eyes. I can’t understand why no one sees the dinosaur bones of my exo-self dwarfing the ramen-slingers and their steamscalded cheeks. Maybe I go dancing Maybe I light incense. Maybe I fuck, maybe I get fucked. Nothing is as big inside me as I am when I am inside me. When I am big I can run so fast out of my skin my feet are mighty, flamecushioned and undeniable. I salute with my sadgirl/hardgirl/crunchgirl purplebolt tungsten hands the size of cars and Saturn tips a ring. It hurts to be big but everyone sees me. When I am little when I am just a pretty thing and they think I am bandaged to fit the damagedgirl fashionpop manifesto instead of to hide my nickelplate entrance nodes well I can’t get out of that suit either but it doesn’t know how to vibrate a building under her audioglass palm until it shatters. I guess what I mean to say is I’ll never have kids. Chances for promotion are minimal and my pension sucks. That’s ok. After all, there is so much work to do. Enough for forever. And I’m so good at it. All my sitreps shine like so many platinum dolls. I’m due for a morphomod soon— I’ll be able to double over at the waist like I’ve had something cut out of me and fold up into a magentanosed Centauri-capable spaceship. So I’ve got that going for me. At least fatigue isn’t a factor. I have a steady decalescent greengolden stream of sourshimmer stimulants available at the balling of my toes. On balance, to pay for the rest well you’ve never felt anything like a pearlypink ball of plasmid clingflame releasing from your mouth like a burst of song. And Y Prefecture is just so close by. The girls and I talk. We say: start a dream journal. take up ikebana. make your own jam. We say: Next spring let’s go to Australia together look at the kangaroos. We say: turn up that sweet vibevox happygirl music tap the communal PA we’ve got a long walk ahead of us today and at the end of it a fire like six perfect flowers arranged in an iron vase.
“The Melancholy of Mechagirl” first appeared in Mythic Delirium, Issue 25, Summer/Fall 2011.
“The Melancholy of Mechagirl” copyright © 2011 by Catherynne M. Valente. Voice recording by the author, © 2011; all rights reserved. This poem may not be reproduced in any form without the author’s express written permission.