All Those Moments Will Be Lost in Time by Eliot Li

I’ve got a Roy Batty doll that I keep next to my bed. He’s got white hair that sticks out at his widow’s peak, deep blue eyes, and a black leather coat with an enormous, upturned collar that flatters his neck.

When I pull his string, he says I want more life, fucker.

It never gets old hearing him say this. 

He came with this tiny plastic dove, and when you fit it into his hand, Roy recites the whole “Tears in Rain” speech. You can still find other Roy dolls on eBay, though most of the secondhand sellers have lost the dove. I bought Roy thirty years ago, when teenage-me watched Blade Runner for the first time. I’ll never lose the dove.

Sometimes I hug Roy to sleep. I’ll even run my finger up and down his back, and tell him the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very, very brightly. When I snuggle with him, I’m careful not to let him anywhere near my face. He has this proclivity to crush people’s eyeballs in with his thumbs.

I don’t always stick to the script when I talk with Roy. Sometimes I show him my dismal CT scan reports. He knows how I feel. When he went from one bioengineer to another, looking for someone to extend his fading lifespan, they told him nothing could be done. Unlike Roy, I’ve never wanted to kill my doctors every time they give me bad news, even though I want more life, too.

I live alone, because it’s easier that way. Knowing no one will mourn you after you die. My mother’s death, though years ago, still haunts me. The frightened way she looked at me from her hospital bed, when the doctors were running around the room, pulling medicines out of the crash cart. I haven’t stopped missing her, every day. Although Roy isn’t capable of saying it, he’s probably thinking it’s time for me to let go of her. I couldn’t do that to someone else, leave them such a heartbroken mess. 

Mother said I needed to prepare for life after her. She gave me phone numbers of family friends, addresses of pet adoption centers, names of online dating sites. I told Roy how absurd it would be for me to go on a date. To show up at a girl’s apartment, holding a bouquet of flowers, telling her, “You look so pretty in that red dress.”


Today, when I got my most recent follow up CT scan, something really strange happened.

My doctor said my disease had all but completely disappeared. 

How did this happen? What do I do now? I need to start putting sunscreen on again, and eat less sugar–all the small things normal people do to take care of themselves. 

I want to know what Roy thinks of all this ridiculousness. But when I pull his string, his voice is garbled, just an unintelligible slow and mournful moan. I pull it again, and he goes completely silent. On the day I learn I could have a normal lifespan, Roy dies!

At night, I go outside to bury him in the tulip garden behind my apartment. It’s raining, and the water drips down his plastic nose as I carry him to his final place of rest. One More Kiss, Dear, I sing in a whisper.

It had been raining the weekend when Mother died. At the funeral, her friends cried all through my eulogy. But I didn’t cry, even when the mortician closed the casket and tightened the bolts. Even when they lowered her casket into the ground, slowly unspooling those black straps underneath. 

I dig my fingers into the wet earth, and place Roy into the hole I’ve excavated. Roy holds his dove, while I cover him with mud. After he’s completely submerged, I look up at the dark night sky, tears and rain swallowing my face. 


At the ASPCA, there’s a dog the size of a sewer rat, with matted long brown hair. I take her home. I name her Rachael.

I shampoo her hair, comb the tangles out, put her locks up in a bun, wrapped with a red bow. I try to imagine she’s a replicant, like Roy or Rachael. But when I quote her lines from Blade Runner, she just sticks her tongue out and breathes heavy. She runs to the front door, her beard quivering, asking me to take her for a walk. So we stroll the neighborhood together, and every person we encounter kneels down and scratches her behind the ears.

They say Rachael might live a good dozen years or so. I’m planning on being with her for all of them.


Eliot Li’s work appears or is forthcoming in Reckon Review, Five South, Variant Lit, MoonPark Review, CRAFT Literary, SmokeLong Quarterly, Passages North, and elsewhere. He has been nominated for Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy.