as the piercing heat of late summer
leaves you feeling dazed and tired,
and the stale air around you
grows thicker with each breath,
you enter a flower shop.
you find behind the counter
stands a metal automaton, smiling.
its limbs click and whirr,
the cogs and gears dancing
as its hand extends to greet you.
it asks what you want,
and you explain your misfortune.
a lover's quarrel gone awry,
a wish for reconciliation.
flowers won't fix things, you explain,
but help get conversations started.
it tilts its head as you explain,
turning far further than a human might,
snapping back suddenly once you finish.
it stands in place for a few seconds,
then lets out a gleeful giggle.
"you're the 17th with this problem
to grace this shop", it says.
"i've just the thing", and off it goes,
ambling towards one of the shelves.
a few steps later, you hear a thunk,
and turn to see its new predicament.
a screw undone, cogs locked in place,
a leg no longer moves.
machine still striding
as though in motion,
walking in place,
perpetually yearning for a goal
it can no longer reach.
of its lack of an exit state,
of its lack of agency.
ever persistent in its nonsensical motions,
ever determined for its impossible task.
you pounder for a moment.
how easy it would be for you
to just take the flowers for yourself,
and leave coins on the counter!
but with one more glance
at the malfunctioning machine,
you know instantly what to do do.
pushing it forward with all your might,
taking care not to tilt it off balance,
you slowly aid it towards the shelf.
something clicks within it,
and as it reaches its destination
it begins gently selecting roses
from the selection laid in front of it.
once finished, it tries to turn around,
and is once again locked in immotion.
you brace yourself,
and once again begin to push,
taking great care not to hurt yourself
or it either in turn.
back behind the counter,
it clicks and moves once more,
completing its task
with elegance and flair.
once done, it looks up
and smiles at you once more.
you leave the shop with a sore back,
and the most beautiful bouquet
you've ever laid your eyes on.