Sometimes, he wishes he had someone to talk to. Ray sits on a bench, his rusting, creaky elbows perched on his rusting, creaky knees, and watches the butterflies. Cumulonimbus clouds stretch across the sky above his head, the kinks in his metal spine curved against the wood and groaning with the breeze.
"Let's put him here," they'd said, a gleam in their eyes. "He'll make a great tourist attraction!"
They'd glued him to the bench, molding his rusting, creaky feet to a slab of heavy concrete. "Feed the birds with Ray," they'd yelled. "He's a great listener!"
And for twenty years, he was. He'd heard war stories and sex scandals and all the secrets a child could keep bottled up in their chests. He'd heard sob stories and comedic reenactments and over thirty-two million declarations of love. He'd kept count. Sometimes, people came back more than once. Often, Ray had been ignored.
Forty years ago, space shuttles filled with people had lifted into orbit. "It'll be great," they'd said. "Life in space will be brilliant!"
And for twenty years, it was. They'd touched the stars and discovered footprints on the moon and played golf on Pluto. They'd spoken to aliens and made moon-rock mobiles and started a war with twelve galaxies. Sometimes, they'd played the old movies of Earth and wondered, for a second, what life would be like if they'd stayed. They didn't remember Ray.
"I'm a great listener," he whispers, "but I don't feed the birds anymore." He doesn't feel the concrete on his rusting, creaky feet anymore.
"Earth's a great tourist attraction now," he says. "Come back."
Cumulonimbus clouds stretch across the sky above his head, but Ray doesn't notice the rain anymore, or the way his metal spine has fused to the bench. His rusting, creaky elbows perched on his rusting, creaky knees, Ray sighs. There are no butterflies left to watch. Sometimes, he wishes there were.