Elise by Michael Stroh

“But she’s not real,” Robin said, throwing up her hands. “How’d you expect us to take the news?” 

“I expected you to be happy for me.” 

Their mother leaned forward. “What she means, Matthew, is we believe there’s someone out there for you. A flesh-and-blood someone.” 

“Like Robin’s last douchebag boyfriend? Cheating on her with her best friend. That the kind of real you want for me?”

Robin stormed out. Their mother followed, flashing him a we’re not done face. 

In the silence, Matthew sighed. “Elise?” 

“I’m here.” Her synthesized voice surrounded, soothed him. 

He closed his eyes. “I know.”

Michael Stroh is a pastor and writer in the Dallas area. His stories have appeared in publications including Shoreline of Infinity, Dark Moments, SQ Mag, anthologies from Shacklebound Books, and Black Hare Press. He and his wife Libby have three kids. Find him on Twitter @pastor_writer.

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