“Good morning, Master.”
Jack’s eyes opened at the words, their monotony and seemingly calculated tone causing the man to smile.
“Good morning, Elise.” He replied, looking up from where he was laying towards the source of who had woken him, standing over the side of the bed.
“It is nine o’clock am. Wake-up procedure has been initiated.”
He smiled again, rolling carefully onto his back with a sigh, closing his eyes once more as the Automaton continued her ‘procedure’, one that she conducted daily for the past seven or so decades.
“Temperature outside is sixteen degrees centigrade, with the wind blowing at three kilometers per hour from the north-west. The forecast for the day is clear, with clouds moving in later in the evening. The daily high will reach twenty-two degrees centigrade.”
“A good day to sit out in the garden, then.” Jack replied as Elise moved towards the curtains of the room, opening them with a single, fluid motion.
He had to squint as his eyes adjusted to the sudden harsh light, even more-so thanks to it bouncing off Elise’s pristine white outer armouring, which over the years had become more refined and sleek than when they had first met. How this gradually happened, Jack had never been too sure of, but the same could be said for most of Elise’s traits.
“Breakfast is nearly completed downstairs, Master.” She said, the Automaton floating around the bed to stand by his side. “Do you wish to proceed?”
A smile grew on his lips at the question, Elise’s previously monotone inflection gaining a hint of sweetness as she asked it. “Only if you join me for it, dearie.”
“As you wish, Master.”
Reaching beneath the older man’s back, Elise slowly brought him up to a sitting position on the bed, hovering away slightly to allow him to finish on his own power. Slippers already aligned on the floor for him, Jack slid into them, Elise gently grabbing his forearm to steady him as a white metal rod extended itself out from her other arm, the Automaton letting her Master grab the cane from her.
The couple left the bedroom and entered the hallway, Jack relying on both the cane and the Automaton to help guide him along the wooden floor. Years ago, Jack had to decline Elise totally chauffeuring him around the house once he had begun to use a cane, her only agreeing after he explained that it would be best for his health if he kept moving as long as he could.
“Michelle and Andrea will be supplying us with lunch today, Master. There is no need to worry about plans with that.”
Jack smiled at the reminder, stealing a quick glance at the framed photographs that lined the hallway walls. “Wonderful,” he replied, recalling the many, many years Elise and himself had spent raising their family together, Michelle and Andrea being the oldest of the adoptees. “Will the grandchildren be coming along, too?”
“Affirmative. I have already prepared measures to entertain them. Motion pictures for them all, an assortment of sports equipment for Michelle’s cubs, and books for Andrea’s chicks.”
Elise’s mind for preparation and planning always left Jack at ease, the Automaton taking the brunt of the responsibilities around the house upon herself. He looked forward to seeing all the little Jinko’s and Crow Tengu’s again, it had been a handful of months since they had last visited.
“Thank you, Elise.” Was his only reply, the couple having finally reached the stairs that led onto the main floor of the house.
“Will you require assistance, Master?” Elise asked, her amethyst eyes staring back at him.
He thought for a moment, surveying the stairs. Most days he could tackle them on his own despite his aged body, but with the fact that some rather energetic grandchildren would be visiting later, he decided otherwise. “Help would be appreciated, dearie.”
Elise moved behind the old man, holding gently onto his shoulders as the sound of whirring rang out. Moments later, she pulled him in her lap, wrapping her arms around his torso to steady him. With Jack now seated, Elise floated her way down the stairs, years ago having found that by allowing him to sit, this would reduce strain on his body.
“Thank you, Elise.”
The Automaton blinked, the large jewel embedded in her forehead glowing a bright purple in response, signaling to Jack her happiness to help. “Let us continue, Master.”
The two resumed their slow walk towards the dining room, Elise making sure to help Jack each step of the way, until finally, they had reached their destination.
“What’s on the menu this morning, dearie?” He asked as he sat, the Automaton filling the glass in front of him with a jet of water from one of her fingertips.
“Eggs, cooked for five minutes and flipped once; bacon fried for five minutes; an assortment of different fruits; and coffee, steeped for seven minutes.”
“Splendid, Elise. Thank you.”
“I shall return at once, Master.”
Elise went to turn away and make her way to the kitchen, but was stopped by a warm hand latching onto hers, freezing her in place. “Elise, wait.” Jack said, pulling her back towards him.
He smiled up at her from where he sat, the wrinkles in his skin and thinning of his now white hair washed in the warm sunlight coming in from the nearby window. “Do you know how much I love you, Elise?”
She stared at him for a few moments, as if transfixed by the question. Suddenly, she spoke. “You have said the phrase “I love you”, or some variance thereof, thirty thousand, one hundred and twenty two times to me, including this instance now.”
Jack smiled at this, squeezing her hand softly again. “I suppose I have said it quite a bit, haven’t I?”
“I have also said similar phrases thirty thousand, one hundred and twenty two times to you, including this instance now.” Elise paused, returning his hand squeeze in turn. “I love you too, Jack.”
The couple stared at each other for a brief moment, still holding hands as Elise’s forehead jewel glowed an even brighter purple than before.
“Shall I continue with breakfast?”
“Of course, Elise.”