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Roving Robot Vacuum Sucks Up Negative Energy by Serena Jayne

CW: Divorce

The five-hundred-dollar price point seems steep, but my ex-husband Harry paid nearly as much for an inflatable love doll. He named her Plastic Penny and brought her alive with some heinous combination of his stinky smoked sausage breath and frantic exertion with our eight-year-old son’s bike pump. Afterward, she just lay there, her face a nightmarish parody of ecstasy and her orifices ready for occupation.

With a single charging, my Roving Robot Vacuum cleans every inch of carpet in my apartment, dodging the expensive video games my ex uses to try to buy our kiddo’s love. My three shelter cats, Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, which I adopted the day after that dumb doll arrived, view the vacuum as a hell spawn. The same way I must stare at my ex every time he refers to my B.A. in Classical Civilization as an M.R.S. Degree, as though the diploma is as useless as our marriage license.

The Roving Robot Vacuum conducts its chores without complaint and has useful things to say, such as informing me whenever it becomes stuck on a lamp cord. When we started dating, my ex lived in a tidy apartment and wooed me with words. Found out later he paid a co-ed to clean and passed off pilfered song lyrics as his poetry.

I appreciate the solid construction. When my ex came by for his supervised visitation with our son and kicked the vacuum, the robot continued cleaning. I can’t comment as to whether Plastic Penny remained functional once I stabbed a constellation of holes into her with a safety pin. I like to think of Harry sitting on the futon in his shitty studio apartment clutching that deflated abomination while my wonderful robot vacuum serpentines through my apartment making my newly single life sparkling clean.


When she isn’t trolling art museums for works that move her, Serena Jayne enjoys writing in multiple fiction genres. Born under the sun sign of Leo, she is naturally a cat person. Her short fiction has appeared in the Arcanist, Shotgun Honey, Space and Time Magazine, Unnerving Magazine, and other publications. She tweets @SJ_Writer.

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