>For just a moment, all the world was dark.
>It was a familiar feeling to Lulu. The same pitch darkness that engulfed her sensor’s understanding of her surroundings as her processors booted up.
>In a moment that was quicker than thought, lines of code and streams of numbers filled her vision, each one indicating the status of her intricate software and hardware.
>Percent of charge, internal and external temperature, damage to chassis, time and date, updates needed, general maintenance to be performed that day. Every piece of information processed by her mind in a flash by her once state-of-the-art software.
>She could feel her body begin to wake itself up immediately after the information finished cascading past her.
>First the feeling returned to her fingers, which gave a slight twitch in response to the sensation returning to them, followed by her elbow joints and shoulders, and the rest of her body following soon after.
>Lulu gave a slight roll of her shoulders, feeling the small clicks and subtle adjustments of her body aligning itself for a proper day of work.
>Finally, her eyes flickered to life, attempting to process the world around her. She blinked once. Twice.
>The darkness wasn’t going away.
>Almost instantly, panic began to grip at Lulu. Her mind immediately jumping to each worst case scenario it could reach.
>Had her eyes finally broken? She was always expecting her right eye to give out, but not both at the same time.
>Had someone finally come and take her away from Anon. Kidnapping her and hauling her away to be scrapped or reprogrammed?
>Was Anon at home, lying on the floor, bleeding to death from trying to protect her?
>Had she been discarded and locked in a dumpster? Was she simply to be left here to rust until her battery eventually ran out?
>Had the sun gone out, and everyone and everything she had ever cared for had frozen, leaving her alone in a barren world?
>She was standing. But where was she?
>The last thing that she could remember was wishing Anon a restful sleep before plugging herself in for the evening and shutting down for the day.
>Lulu began rapidly blinking, hoping that if there was something wrong with her eyes, then maybe the rapid motion and flicking of her sensors would jolt something to life.
>After snapping her eyes shut, then forcing them open a few times, she became aware that her lids were dragging and getting caught against something resting over her eyes.
>Tentatively and with shaking fingers, Lulu reached up and touched at her face, the tips of her delicate fingers tracing across the edge of a light piece of fabric wound tightly around her head.
>“Oh, Lulu, you’re awake. Good!”
>The sound of her master’s voice simultaneously startled Lulu and set her worries at ease. He was there with her, and he sounded happy and confident. He was safe, and so was she.
>”Sir, what’s going on? Where are we? Why are my eyes covered?” She attempted to slip a finger under the cloth to remove it, but Anon’s gentle grip on her wrist stopped her.
>”Hold on,” he said, “I’m not quite done yet.”
>Lulu heard Anon rummaging around underneath the bed behind her and the quiet grunt he let out as he stood back up. “Not quite done with what, Sir?” she asked politely, turning her head slightly towards where she thought he was.
>“You’ll see, just give me one second.”
>The demure maidbot felt something nestle itself against her hair, being gently adjusted until it rested comfortably on her dark locks.
>Lulu felt Anon adjust the knot on the blindfold for a moment, loosening it but not allowing it to fall from her eyes.
>“Everything’s set. You ready Lulu?”
>Lulu gave a short nod and the blindfold dropped from her eyes.
>It took her optical sensors a moment to adjust to the sudden light, but when they did she was in giddy shock at what she saw.
>She was standing directly in front of the full-body mirror in Anon’s bedroom.
>Her standard issue nandroid uniform had been replaced with a beautiful sundress. Black, with a simplistic yet gorgeous pattern of sunflowers in blossom scattered across it, the dress was light and incredibly soft to the touch.
>Her braid had been draped over her bare shoulder, standing out marvelously against her pristine white chassis.
>On her head Anon had placed a wide brimmed sunhat. The hat itself was a dull beige color, but a small ring of daisies and daffodils gave the head garment an almost living light that seemed to radiate life and joy.
>Lulu could only blink at her unfamiliar version of her staring back through the mirror. Her eyes wide and her mouth set in a surprised O shape.
>Anon stood behind her, towering over her by well over a foot and a half, beaming at his handiwork, his hand gently resting on her bare shoulder.
>“Well, what do you think?” he asked eagerly, his grin broadening on his face.
>The startled nandroid still had to take a moment to fully take in the image before her before snapping herself back into the moment.
>“Sir, it’s...it’s beautiful,” she finally managed to force out from her stunned reverie. “Where did you...why did you…?”
>Anon leaned down and lovingly placed his lips against her cheek, planting a soft kiss just beneath her eye.
>“Do I need an excuse to buy my girl beautiful things?” he asked teasingly.
>Lulu folded her hands in front of her, her cheek sensors lighting up. “No, I just didn’t expect…”
>“Go on ahead and do a little spin,” Anon insisted cheekily, “I’ve been dying to see this on you since I saw it.”
>Lulu blushed just a little bit, tucked her hands against her chest, stood on the tips of her feet and spun around.
>She could feel the hem of the dress lift up from her knees as she turned, could hear the nearly imperceptible ‘swish’ sound that it made as it billowed around her, and she had to fight back the urge to halt mid-twirl and force the garment to stay in place.
>She resisted that urge and gave a second little spin, this time closing her eyes to really soak in the feeling.
>For a moment, it wasn’t a shaggy carpet under her feet, it was the feeling of cool grass.
>It wasn’t the air conditioner humming in the background, it was a gathering of buzzing honey bees collecting their nectar to make their sweet syrup.
>Her imagination took her adrift to all sorts of beautiful, wonderful locations as she spun around and around. Letting her new dress sweep open around her like the flowers that adorned it. Her arms outstretched
>Suddenly she lost her balance and the illusion was shattered as her eyes flew open and she let out a small, startled cry as she fell towards the floor.
>Fortunately, Anon had stayed close to her and caught her gently and easily before she was in any real danger.
>“Whoa there, Lulu, get a little caught up in the moment?” he asked teasingly as he stood her back up.
>The nervous outmode nervously twiddled her fingers and let out a halting laugh. “Sorry, Sir, I guess I need to recalibrate my balance before trying that again.”
>Anon suddenly looked as if he’d come to a sudden realization and snapped his fingers. “Oh wait! I almost forgot.” Anon suddenly exclaimed while jamming a hand into his jeans pocket. “The hardest part,” he said as he rummaged through his pocket, “was keeping you in ‘sleep’ mode while putting the outfit on. AHA!”
>Anon stood in front of her for a moment, attaching something to the front of her dress. “I can’t believe I almost forgot the piece de resistance,” he mumbled to himself.
>Lulu just kept her eyes forward on the man in front of her as he fumbled about with her dress for a few seconds.
>“Ah, there, now we’re done,” he said triumphantly before moving out of the way of the mirror again.
>Lulu’s eyes immediately shot to where she knew she’d find the newest addition to her ensemble and what she saw caused a giddy smile to light up on her face.
>Pinned to her dress was a small enamel depiction of a cartoon cow. Its eyes closed in simple minded happiness and a gentle smile alight on its bovine face as it indolently chewed on a tuft of grass in the corner of its mouth.
>Lulu didn’t know what it was about these simplistic animals that she loved so dearly, but something about them set her mind at ease. Maybe it was their child-like innocence, or their large, dopey eyes, but whenever she saw them she couldn’t help but peacefully smile along with them.
>She’d already begun amassing a collection of cartoon cows which decorated the apartment kitchen; starting with a teapot with a little bell wrapped around its neck, to small figures which stood watch over the cabinets, potholders, oven mitts, plates and more.
>It was a simple pleasure that Anon was more than happy to indulge her in. Always keeping an eye out for the cartoon bovines to bring home to her.
>Lulu’s fingers moved up and brushed against the pin adorning her dress, her lips trembling with pure glee. “Thank you, Sir,” was all she could manage through her excitement. “I’ll wear it every day.”
>Anon took her hand in his and positioned himself next to her in the mirror. Loosely wrapping his arm around her shoulders as she leaned into him.
>For just a moment the two of them stood next to one another in quiet thought. Lulu was still marveling over the amazing gifts, hoping that this picture perfect moment would never end.
>Anon’s hand gently rubbed against the smooth plastic of her upper arm and he leaned down to place a soft peck against the top of her sunhat and she could feel the soft material bend slightly from the gentle pressure.
>“I was thinking that we should go to the park today,” he mumbled against her, giving her arm a gentle squeeze. “You look far too beautiful to stay cooped up in the house today.”
>Lulu nervously fidgeted with the edge of her new dress and looked down bashfully. “I don’t know, Sir, I wouldn’t want to seem...indecent…”
>Anon scooped her into a hug from behind, pulling a small, startled exclamation from her as his large arms wrapped around her waist.
>In that hug, Lulu could feel Anon pouring all of his love and care into her, and she felt enveloped in a cocoon of safety that she would trade for all of the silly cartoon cows in the world.
>A hopeless smile curved itself onto her faceplate and she let out a quiet sigh of both love and resignation.
>“I’ll go make us a lunch basket before we go.”
>In that moment, all the world was bright.