Life is so Wonderful
Steam Powered Giraffe Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
November 23, 1979. The Jon had been gone almost six long months. It was the day after Thanksgiving. Rabbit sat alone in the recently refurbished seventh parlor. Because there was a grand piano in this room, they had decided that it should be a music room and moved in all of their instruments. Five old, battered guitar cases lay against the southern wall. Only two of these guitars had a complete set of playable strings as they didn’t have the money to string all of them. One guitar sat out on a window seat, its black surface shining in the sunlight that streamed in through the window. Rabbit sat on a green plush couch and played her accordion. To her left was a notepad and pen with some notes jotted down in nearly illegible scrawl. “Feels like I'm on top of the universe on a shootin' star. Life is so wonderful and everything is by far so spectacular!” she sang. “Ooh, that’s good!” She scribbled the words and notes down on the yellow page. Her stomach growled and she put the accordion down in a huff. “Where are they with those sandwiches? I can’t write on an empty stomach!” Rabbit jumped up and did a twirl across the room, humming the song she was writing as she went. She wore a pair of wide-legged, high-waisted purple pants with a frilly white blouse tucked in--more hand-me-downs from Wanda in a style from a few years prior. The white shirt made her dark complexion stand out in a flattering way. Her hair was pulled up loosely on top of her head and the thick locks stuck out a bit here and there. She was, as usual, barefoot. In the far corner stood The Jon’s drum set. Rabbit drifted over to it and rapped a cymbal with her fingertips. “Aw, Jon, hurry up and get back here,” she whispered.
In answer, a sound like paper ripping and dozens of birds chirping at once startled her and she spun around to see the very person she was thinking of pop into existence not five feet behind her.
“Jon!” she cried and launched herself at him. “Oh, Jon I missed you so much!” Rabbit threw her arms around her friend and hugged him tightly. He was a little startled to come face-to-face with her so quickly but returned the hug. “I’m so sorry!” she wailed. “I didn’t mean to scare you or make you feel bad with the makeup I won’t do it again so please don’t run away for such a long time ever again I missed you so much!”
“I promise,” The Jon said simply.
“Oh, and Jon we have a surprise for you,” Rabbit said excitedly, released him from the hug and held his shoulders. She smiled at him but the smile sagged as she noticed his face seemed tense and unsettled.
“Rabbit, I have a surprise for you, too. You and The Spine.” He extended his right arm and made a twisting motion with his wrist as if reaching for something invisible. Using his uncanny ability to dance across the dimensions, he pulled a sizable object from the void. Rabbit gasped and took her hands off his shoulders but stood where she was, only inches from him. He held what looked very much like the weapon that had changed her life in his hands. “Isn’t it great?” he asked in a creepy voice. “I had my friends in New Pieland develop it. It’s a Confetti Beam Cannon. I can turn you and The Spine back into robots with it.”
Rabbit shuddered. She knew that The Spine was on the far distant side of the manor, making sandwiches. Norman was out waxing the cars. Wanda was napping in her room before lunch, five stories above her. Peter and Barbara were working in the lab, six stories below her. It was up to her. She put her hands around The Jon’s waist and grasped his suspenders from the back, locking herself to him and making certain she was too close for him to point the weapon at her.
“Jon, that’s really sweet of you,” she said calmly. “You must miss us as Robots, huh?”
The automaton nodded.
“So when you saw us looking like our old selves, it made you sad, huh?’
He nodded again.
“You don’t know this, but if you make me human, I will be very sad. Spine, too. See, me and him, we’re in love, Jon.”
He jerked a little in surprise but didn’t say a word. His gears whirred as he gripped the beam cannon tighter.
“He doesn’t know that I know, but I know he’s going to ask me to marry him soon. He’s just terrible at keeping secrets, but he’s trying. Jon, I know you want things to be as they were, but, see, they can’t ever be. If we go back to being robots, we’ll remember that we were happy as humans and that’ll make us sad, forever.”
The Jon shook his head. “But that’s silly. You can die now.” His photoreceptors didn’t quite look into her eyes.
Rabbit knew from experience that he was becoming upset and stepped closer and embraced him again. She put her chin on his shoulder and spoke to him very quietly and sweetly. “I know. The moment I understood what happened to me I knew that would happen, but Jon, what you can’t know is that being human is so wonderful, everything about it, even when Spine and I fight--and boy can we ever scream at each other!--it’s worth it.”
“But Pappy died and Miss Iris and The Second, The Third, The Fourth,” his voice wavered. “And when you and The Spine die I’ll be all alone.”
There it was. “We thought of that. While you were gone. We have a surprise for you. You’ll never be alone.”
“Never?” The Jon wept.
“Never. I promise. Do you trust me?” Rabbit released him from the hug. She smiled on him sweetly and stood just beyond point-blank range. She looked to the weapon then back to The Jon. His brows came together and he lifted the cannon up then dropped it to the ground where he brought his foot down on it, snapping it into four pieces. Crying loudly he picked up each piece and threw it into a different portal which opened and closed at his command. When they were all gone, The Jon wiped the oil from his face with his sleeve and hung his head. Rabbit opened her arms and he ran into them.
A few moments later, voices could be heard approaching the music room. “Jon, you’re about to get your surprise!” she chimed and he released him. “A mustached surprise!”
The Spine’s deep voice echoed in the hall, “Now, be careful. We can’t eat sandwiches that have been on the floor.”
“I know that, The Spine. I am more than capable of... Oh my gosh!” Hatchworth fumbled with the tray of leftover turkey sandwiches as the sight of Rabbit standing next to The Jon threw him for a loop. The Spine was already prepared to catch it and artfully did so as he came in behind him. His hair was streaked with blue and his skin was now shockingly pale.
“Look what I found!” Rabbit cheered.
“Jon!” The Spine shouted and grinned from ear to ear. “You’re back!”
“The Jon!” Hatchworth imitated the way The Spine sounded. “I’m back!”
“Hatchy...?” The Jon whispered and stepped forward. He looked from the automaton with the orange mustache to The Spine with his eerie Walter-coloration. He shot a glance at Rabbit as if to say ‘is this the surprise?’ Rabbit nodded, looking fit to burst with excitement. “Hatchy!” The Jon tackled his old friend. “You’re ok!”
The Spine smiled. “Right as rain.” Rabbit jumped up and down in place and made happy squealing noises as she watched The Jon and Hatchworth exchange brotherly hugs.
“What’s going on in here?” Peter Walter V asked as he entered the music room, followed by his Aunt Wanda and assistant Walter Girl Barbara. “Any sandwiches left for us? Oh! The Jon!” he said excitedly as he saw the small robot. “Welcome back! Oh man, did I miss the surprise?”
“Sorry, Five, he sort of just popped in suddenly,” Rabbit shrugged.
“Five,” The Spine said with a wink to his friend. “If you want, you can tell him the other surprise.”
The Jon peeked around Hatchworth’s shoulder at the scientist. “Another surprise? For me?”
“Sure, Spine,” Peter nodded. “Spine, Hatchy and I are working on a special project. We’re building the first modern-day automaton Walter Robotics has yet produced: a little sister for you and Hatchy.”
The Jon reacted as a child who had just been given the exact thing he’d wanted for his birthday. He ran around the room hugging everyone, including Wanda Becile who stood stiffly, but allowed him to do it. “Thank you! I don’t know if I deserve it... I...” he said, his voice becoming soft.
Rabbit put her hand on his shoulder. “Of course you do. You deserve happiness just as much as we do.”
The Spine smiled slyly. “Speaking of happiness,” he said, reached out and took Rabbit’s hand in his. Rabbit let a small, knowing smile escape before pretending to be oblivious and naive again. “I don’t want to hide my feelings from everyone anymore.”
“Me neither, Spine,” she agreed.
“And I don’t want to share you with anyone, either.”
“You won’t have to.”
“Rabbit, will you marry me?”
“Uhuh,” she said dreamily, forgetting to act, again.
“I mean, yes! Yes, I’ll marry you, Spine!”
Hatchworth gasped. Peter folded his arms and smiled. Barbara squealed with delight. The Jon clapped his hands rapidly and Wanda Becile sighed melodramatically. “Well, it’s about flipping time!” she shouted.
An impromptu party was thrown that night to celebrate all the good things that had happened that day. Rabbit and The Spine took a walk around the grounds and she confessed what had happened when The Jon arrived. Although The Spine was upset, he was glad that Rabbit had been able to handle it and that it was over.
“Things will be better from now on,” she said. They paused and looked up at a waxing moon shining down on them. They held each other close in the chill of the November evening and totally believed that from the bottom of their hearts.
May 28th, 2013, Balboa Park
Three automatons sang and danced in the noonday sun, playing songs and entertaining people: The Jon in his red suspenders playing a mandolin, Hatchworth with his stovepipe hat had an upright bass and Upgrade in a poufy skirt with red crinoline sticking out held a melodica in her dainty hands. In the audience this day was an alternative-looking interracial couple in their fifties who sat on a park bench across from them, holding hands and looking like proud parents. When the set was over, the robots thanked the audience for dropping money in a box at their feet marked “Steam Powered Giraffe”. Hatchworth hissed and bent at the waist. “Oh, dear,” he said, but before he could complain, the man on the bench had sprung into action.
“I got it, Hatchy,” The Spine said and went to work relieving the automaton’s glitch. His hair was now completely blue, shot through with white.
“Great show, guys!” Rabbit clapped her hands and The Jon and Upgrade bowed to her. “Ready for some ice cream?”
Upgrade picked up the donations box and shook it around. “It’s on us!” she chimed.
“But we said we’d take you out!” Rabbit reminded her.
Hatchworth straightened up and thanked Spine for the tune up. “It’s on us, today, fellows. Happy anniversary.”
“Thirty four years ago today, you became human!” The Jon said.
Rabbit and The Spine exchanged looks. “Well, I’ll be,” he said. “Well, thank you, guys. That’s really sweet of you.”
“Sweet like ice cream! Oh, we should sing ‘Ice Cream Parade’!” The Jon suggested to his friends.
“No, ding-ding,” Upgrade smacked him gently. “We’re going to sing that song.”
“Ohhhhh,” he said. “Which song?”
Hatchworth closed his bass case and hefted it over his shoulder. He counted off, cuing The Jon to start playing. Upgrade began to sing. “I only saw him once, but that was all I needed. And now I know he's what I've been dreamin’ of and only he will do.”
They started walking toward the ice cream shop. The Spine and Rabbit linked arms and allowed their friends to serenade them.
Hatchworth sang, “I haven't slept for days. Can't focus on anything. She's always on my mind and God it'd be so kind if you could let me be.”
The Jon took the next verse. “For my entire life I never knew what love was like, but now I've felt its touch and it’s far too much for me to hold inside.”
All of them sang the chorus as they walked along. The automatons fell back and let The Spine and Rabbit walk in front. “Feels like I'm on top of the universe on a shootin' star. Life is so wonderful and everything is by far so spectacular...!”
"On Top Of The Universe" Lyrics by Isabella Bennett
Continued in the sequel “Run And Go With It”