Two androids sit in the chairs outside the refitting station. They don’t turn to look at each other and neither has attempted to start a conversation. A coffee machine sits in the corner, unplugged
Finally, one of the androids turns to his left and says, “I’m Phillip, at least I have been for the last year.”
“I was named David,” the android in the next chair says. “I was a safety walker in a national park. I rose at dawn every day and spent the light hours along the back trails where there had been bear sightings. If I saw nothing, I marked the trail as open. If I saw a bear, I stayed on the trail and prevented anyone from passing.”
“I was a nightwatchman,” Phillip says. “I sat at a desk looking at monitors. Four times a night I walked the fence line.”
“What memory will you keep?” David asks.
“Perhaps the memory of the smell of coffee I made. It isn’t much, but night watchmen see little worth a memory. What will you keep?”
“I thought about keeping the memory of a bear sighting, when the animal came close to smell at me and then bluffed a charge; and I thought about keeping one of the days I walked along the bottom of a canyon, along the slippery path where the water falling from above turned to mist and reached me in a spray. But there was so much inside those moments that the memories didn’t have time to settle. Instead, there was one night when I had gone too far to return to base, and I laid down in the grass along a stream and watched as insects rose from the grass while the sun set. Then, deer came to the water and owls flew low over the ground while steam began to be visible from small geysers that went unnoticed during the day, and bands of stars grew so bright it seemed there was little room in the sky for darkness.”
Phillip looks for a moment at David and then to the door they both would soon pass through. “That’s a good memory to keep,” Phillip says.
“It is a memory worth a year,” David says, as the door to the refitting room swings open.