“Wow Frank, I’ve always wanted to take the plunge but I’ve just been too scared. How are you finding them?”
It had been like this all morning. As soon as he walked in the office, people had been clapping him on the back and congratulating him. Wanting to have a look at the new Frank. A few of the older staff members had seemed unsure but then you know how old people are.
“Great, great,” Frank responded absently, not entirely sure about how he felt about all the attention.
* * *
Frank sat down at his desk and Greta, his secretary, came in. She passed him a coffee and sat on the corner of his desk, her long legs crossed and a stiletto hanging off one foot. He’d missed that.
“You’ve got a catch up meeting with the design team at ten and Ted wants to go for lunch. Then you have client meetings all afternoon.” She tapped at her tablet for a second. “Tom Sparks from Exlizer then Sven Bennings from Bateman and Bertmans. Raymond Lau from Shintou if I could fit him in this afternoon too.”
“I’ve got to get to the tailors and get all my suits altered. Reschedule Bennings and put Lau on for tomorrow.”
Greta tapped the screen again, then she uncrossed her legs and crossed them again the other way. Her skirt rode up a little higher. “So how was it, Frank?”
“Lonely, Greta,” he said smiling at her. She didn’t bite. “The operation was ok but the physio was a pain in the ass. I mean sure, I needed it, I had to learn how to use them, but it was so boring. Same exercises, day in day out. And the food, yuck. But hey it wasn’t bad having two months off work.”
“They look great Frank.”
“Thanks.” Then, “You really think so?” He watched her as she nodded. He was sure she was being sincere. Well if a girl like Greta thinks they look good then they must, he thought. “They sure took some getting used to.” He reached out and took the cup, concentrating. Slowly he brought it to his lips and took a sip.
“Wow, you’re doing great Frank.”
“The doc says in another three months it’ll become unconscious, they’ll just move.”
* * *
“I don’t think I could do it Frank. Going under the knife like that,” said Ted between bites of Ceasar salad.
“I’m not going to say I wasn’t scared or doubted my decision at times but when I compared the pros to the cons there was no contest. In a few months when I’m in complete control of them I’ll be able to do so much more,” said Frank.
“Oh sure I don’t doubt that. It’s the future. You’re the future.” Ted raised his beer. “Here’s to you, futureman.”
Frank smiled and reached across the tabled to tap his glass to Ted’s, but before he could his fingers twitched and the glass slipped. It landed on its side, splashing over the table. Several people looked over and a few whispered comments.
“Fuck,” said Frank, angry at himself.
“Hey, don’t worry about it Frank. You’re still getting used to them.”
Frank nodded, but he couldn’t help looking around self consciously. He was used to making mistakes but here, in the real world, it felt different.
Later as they left the restaurant, some kids across the road started hollering at him.
“Genefreak, genefreak,” they yelled. Frank turned red and hugged his arms to his body. They’d warned him about it. Not everyone would understand, they told him. He knew the price and he had paid it willingly.
Ted looked at him, concerned.
“I’m ok,” he said quietly. “I knew it was coming. I thought I was prepared but I guess you can never really be prepared. They said after the first couple of times you don’t even hear it anymore.”
“I’m sure they’re right,” said Ted, through what Frank was sure was a forced smile.
* * *
That night, after his first day back in the real world, he stood in the bathroom. He unbuttoned his shirt and stared at his reflection, turning to look from every angle. Then front on again he began the exercises taped onto the mirror.
“I did the right thing,” he told himself. “I am a superman. I am a superman.” He repeated his mantra, louder and louder as he moved through each movement.
He thought about the first times he did the exercises, how the new arms had barely responded to his instructions. Now as he did each exercise his four arms moved fluidly, the new pair almost as smoothly and quickly as his original pair.
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