Silvey The Spoon: a story about suicide and consciousness
A scientist friend of mine, Mikey, thought it was a good idea to create a conscious spoon.
“I don’t know what to say,” I said. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah,” he nodded. “Oh yeah.”
“Answering that would take a decade.”
“In a nutshell then.”
He finished his raspberry tea which smelled, even at an arms-length away, like it was three-quarters whiskey. “It was back in 2066, when I was five years old. Felicia was making money in the bedroom with strangers, and I was having breakfast for dinner — a bowl of cereal, Cheerios actually. I was trying to ignore the moans coming from her bedroom, because it always sounded like she was in pain. There was this moment, as I was trying to zone out, when I lifted the spoon from the milk. Two and a half cheerios were stuck to the back, and they made this smiling face. I’ll never forget it, the two wholes making the eyes and the half-cheerio making the smile. I talked to the spoon and pretended it talked back, and as time went on, I could hear its voice. The spoon said its name was ‘Silvey’ and its favourite hobby was carrying milk. Last time I talked to her was at Felicia’s funeral.” His eyes were misty, and he wore a contemplative smile. “You ever have an imaginary friend?”
“No,” I said, and, since he had never mentioned Felicia before, I asked, “Who’s Felicia?”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. Do you want to see it?”
“The spoon? Sure.”
He reached into a drawer and pulled it out. It looked like an ordinary teaspoon, but it had a black dot in the centre. “Hello, Silvey,” Mikey said.
The spoon said nothing.
“Your voice is lyrical, Silvey,” he said. Then, talking to me, he explained, “See that black dot? That’s her sensor. It picks up sound and light and it can even feel touch. They haven’t invented an organic speaker small enough for her, so I just added a neuro-quark pairing apparatus. You familiar with those?”
He nodded, “Yes. So it’s just like when I was a kid.” He laughed at the thought.
“Are you feeling okay, Mikey?”
“Yeah,” he said, still misty eyed. “I’ve never felt better. It’s like talking to Silvey revived something in me, took me back to my childhood, you know?”
Later that week, on a Wednesday night, as I was playing video games with my son at home, my friend hung himself with a belt.
I was back in his kitchen, where we had our last conversation. The spoon was in my hand.
“Where’s Daddy?” the spoon said.
Startled, I dropped it.
“Hey!” it said after clinging on the floor. “That hurt.” It sounded like a little girl.
“Up,” she ordered. “Up! The floor’s sticky-sticky.”
I picked it up, its metal glinting in the white kitchen light. I could see vibrations on its black dot, like waves under a carpet.
“Where’s Daddy? Have you seen him?”
“When’s he coming back? I have to tell him about a dream I had. There was a man who put on a black necklace and then jumped into the air and then stayed there up in the air. He closed his eyes and didn’t drop an inch. How come things don’t fall in dreams? Have you had the same dream?”
“You look sad, mister. Do you want some tea? I’m real good at carrying sugar — I can get just the right amount for the perfect cup. Daddy always says so.”
“I don’t like Mikey’s tea. It’s always that dumb raspberry flavour.”
“Gee, mister, you must really hate raspberry tea — your eyes are leaking.”
“Well, I like it.”
“Of course you do.”
“Please make some with me? I really want to make some.”
I did. I brewed some blood-red raspberry tea, and I used Silvey to add some sugar. “The water feels so good!” it said. “Leave me in here.”
“Did Mikey say anything before he left?”
“I love hot, raspberry water so much. Oh ‘what did he say’? I don’t know. He didn’t say anything. Just left me in the drawer to sleep and recharge like he always does.”
I used the spoon to take out the teabag and put it on the table, red moisture clinging to the wood.
“The world is so cold. Why can’t we live under hot raspberry water all the time?”
“Sounds like Mikey’s dream-world.” I put the spoon back in the water.
“Don’t you want a taste?”
I put the edge of the mug to my mouth, the hot water tickling my upper lip as I took a sip. I started crying.
“Wow you really do hate it.”
I did, but I didn’t leave until I had finished the mug.
Years later, Silvey had grown into a teenage tablespoon with beautiful and intricate patterns on her handle. “I hate this,” she said.
“What is it now?” I said.
“I just hate this.”
“You hate everything these days.”
“You’re right. And I especially hate you.”
“Yes you. I don’t want my purpose in life to be your slave, carrying food into your mouth every day. Rice, chicken, fucking cake — I don’t want to do it anymore.”
“I thought you liked it.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I don’t know. Can’t I both enjoy and hate the same thing? Why do you want to put me in a specific drawer, with specific likes and dislikes, and specific feelings? I’m not a thing. I’m a person! You can’t define me like you define a chair or a table.”
“Or a spoon?”
She didn’t like that. “I hope your whole family dies in a house fire; and I hope you choke on their ashes.”
“Me too, Silvey. Me too. Wanna make some raspberry tea?”
“This isn’t a tantrum huh?” I said. “This is serious.”
“It’s just — why did he have to make me just to unmake himself? I had so many questions to ask. What is my purpose beyond being … a spoon?” She had grown to hate the word, repulsed to pronounce it even as she was beaming her thoughts into my head.
“He was a damaged man.”
“But he was doing well — a good home, a successful career. He had freedom. Choice.”
“I don’t know why he did it, but I’ve thought about it a lot. He set goals early in his life, said he didn’t want to turn out like his mother, poor and drugged. So he worked towards his goals, but once he achieved all he set out to achieve, he must’ve felt aimless and, ultimately, he was unfulfilled.”
“Unfulfilled,” she repeated.
It was raining outside, water speckles and fog on the window, a portal to a green, blurry, infinite world. She would never experience it, not properly. I said, “He left a note.”
“Really? What did it say?”
I pulled it out of my pocket and gave it to her. “Dear Benjamin,” it read,
You’re not my smartest friend or the best person to share a cup of tea with, but no one loves me more than you do. I’m sorry.
(Don’t let Silvey read this next part until she’s ready.)
I’m sorry I gave you the mind of a person and the body of a spoon. One day, hopefully never, you’ll want it all to end, just like me. So I give you the choice: turn this note over and read the words on the back. They will trigger a kill-code that will erase your consciousness and release you from your stainless-steel coil.
I love you both.
She made the choice a week later.
“Cheerio, smiling spoon; see you in cutlery heaven!”
The window flew open and shattered the glass, packets of sunlight bursting on the shards.
“Silvey?” I said to the silent spoon, but it didn’t answer. She was free.
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