The Cost of Happiness – Anxiety

Sheryl watched TV and read the news on her phone. Lately, everything seemed to be in silence. She scrolled and scrolled, yet all she saw was news about new electronics, a huge scandal about some actor sleeping with a robot, and some bullshit the president said.

Ominous, she thought as she locked her phone and set it aside.

Why had the news suddenly dropped all the coverage from the violence lately? Just last week some poor couple had almost been killed at a parking lot, and it had been all over the news. No one ever found who did it. Seemed like whoever did it had made sure that their memories had been damaged enough that there was no visual record.

When Kevin had heard, he’d raged, and wanted to join a violent activist group called “The Roses.” Sheryl had convinced him not to, but he complained every day, saying how he could be of use given his original design.

She did admit he would’ve been useful, but she didn’t want him to go back to what he used to be.

“My mind is literally wired for this!” he’d screamed.

Sheryl sighed and looked at the clock. It was late. Kevin should have been back already. She glanced at the window. What could be holding him back?

She stared at her phone. There hadn’t been news all week. That was a good sign, right?

God, please don’t let him be the news.

She picked up her phone and sent him a text.


Where are you?

She ran the images she’d seen on the internet through her head, imagining Kevin bludgeoned to death.

Answer! She tensed up, holding her phone with both hands.

The minutes felt like hours, and the anxiety suffocated her. She sent him another text.

And another.

Then another.

Where are you, god dammit.

He was late. One whole hour late.

Then it was two hours.

She called him.

He didn’t pick up.

God, she pleaded. Please don’t let me read his name on the news tomorrow.

She pressed her back to the door and slid down slowly. She clenched her phone, still hoping that it would ring. He’d never done this. He always replied immediately. He was always there whenever she called him. That’s why he loved him.

She waited.

Her eyes shut, she tried to breathe and control herself. Even if it didn’t usually happen, there was always a first. Maybe he’d gotten held up at work. Or maybe he’d stayed out with some friends.

But he would’ve messaged her.

Suddenly, her phone beeped, and a new message popped. It was from Kevin.

“Dating toasters is a sin.”

She stared. What the hell did that even mean. Toaster?

Wait, that’s what those crazy people say. The ones who like the president.

She jumped to her feet and replied.

“What the hell, Kevin. Is this some sick joke? I’m worried.”

Knock knock!

Sheryl jumped and screamed, “What the hell!”

“Let me in,” Kevin’s voice came from the other side. “They took all my stuff.”

Sheryl approached the door and looked through the peephole. It was him, but he didn’t look okay.

Quickly, she opened the door, and dragged him in, closing the door and locking it behind her.

Kevin shambled his way onto the couch and collapsed. One of his legs was busted, and half of his face looked severely damaged.

“Oh my god, what happened?” Sheryl knelt next to him and embraced him.

“Some guy came out of no where after work. He got me with a pipe before I could do anything. But my code…”

“What happened.”

“I tried not to fight back. I didn’t want to kill him.”

“I was so afraid,” Sheryl said. “I didn’t want to see you on the news tomorrow. I didn’t want you to be another one.”

Kevin smiled and caressed her cheek. “You know that wouldn’t happen. I am never going to leave you alone.”

Sheryl cried, “I can’t imagine being without you.”

“And I can’t imagine being without you,” he said, but then groaned from his injuries. “This is going to be expensive. And they stole my phone.”

Sheryl stared at him. That’s true. The text message. “I received a text message from you.”

“They got into my phone.” He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Shit. I must have been about to dial you. What did they say.”

She showed him her phone.

“God dammit,” Kevin said. “They probably know where we live.”

“It’s okay. We’ll have to move.”

Kevin smiled faintly. “I’ll follow you to the end of the world.”

She tightened her hug. “God, you’re the corniest.”

He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “I hurt him really bad.”

“Serves him right.”

“No, he’s the type. I felt it. I used to see his type in battle. He will come for us. It’s personal now.”


Everything had been so good lately. She’d been living with Kevin for a year, and it had been perfect. Now some asshole was coming to threaten her life.


She couldn’t let this get between them.

“Don’t,” Kevin said. “Let it go. We’ll figure it out somewhere else.”

“What did he look like? Was it the asshole from TV? The one who beat up the couple?”

He shook his head. “I think it was a cop.”

She hugged him again. “I will never let this happen again.”

“I know, my prince.” Kevin smiled.

“I mean it. I don’t care if it was a cop.”

“It’s okay. I doubt he will really turn to the law. I have records,” he said and pointed at his head.


“Anyway,” he said. “I think I should go start getting fixed.”

“What should we do about the guy?”

Kevin sighed. “I hope he doesn’t come here. I don’t want blood on my hands.”

Sheryl looked down. Kevin had refused to deal with anything military since he’d been liberated and had become mostly pacifist. She couldn’t let him go back to that.

“I’ll call my parents,” Sheryl said. “I’ll ask for help. I’m sure we’ll be safe.”

Kevin smiled. “Yes, my prince.”

Sheryl shoved him. “If you can joke, then you aren’t that hurt,” she glared but then smiled. “I hate you so much.”

He grinned. “I know.”