I don't usually do this, but, you do get so lonely, don't you?'
'We understand, Ms Patton. We provide a discrete service here at Replica X. We exist so those you loved may do so again.'
The assistant flashed a three day training course beam. Ms Patton thinned her lips. She opened the clasp on her second hand Prada handbag and pulled out a small scrap of tartan fabric.
'From his coat, his favourite. I only took a bit, I won't part with all of it.'
'This will do fine, Ms Patton. We'll get this over to the lab. Can I get you a cup of tea while you wait?
'Just water, thank you...and, well, I need to know...'
'Rough or smooth, you choose. It has a motor, five variable speeds.'
'Life sized. It folds neatly into his bum when you don't need it.'
The assistant filled a mug with tap-water, looked at her wrist-phone and began to shake with laughter. Ms Patton coughed.
'I'm so sorry, pfffffffffff, my boyfriend, aaaaaahhhh.' The assistant gasped for air, 'he's so funny.' She wiped a tear away from her cheek.
Ms Patton warmed to her. 'You're keen on him. I can see that.' The assistant nodded. 'If you were to lose him, would you have a model made too?'
This caught the assistant off guard. 'Well,' she began, then tailed off.
'But you're young,' said Ms Patton after a few seconds passed. 'I won't find another like Colin again.' She rose and walked to a grubby window. Placing her hand on the pane, she peered out as best she could. 'That beach,' she said. 'You can just make it out beyond the gasworks. We would walk there, every day, even in the rain. He'd run on ahead, but I could always make out his thick, curly, black hair in the distance. Then we'd reconvene, at our secret place beyond the dunes...and he'd lick me. Like I'd never been licked before. I'd come over and over again and he'd never tire.' The assistant's eyes widened. 'Oh, I'd have to do him. Eventually. When he begged. But this was about me. So, you can see why I'm here, can't you? I haven't been able to feel like that since he died.'
The assistant smiled nervously. 'Ashes to passion, dust to lust. That's the Replica X motto,' she offered before busying herself with her wrist-phone. A minute later it beeped. 'That's the lab,' she said. 'Colin is ready.'
Ms Patton followed the assistant along the corridor to the reception where a cardboard box awaited them.
'That's strange,' said the assistant. 'The dimensions look all wrong. Was he a short man, your husband?'
'Husband?' said Ms Patton, excitedly tearing parcel tape from the box. She pulled the replica of Colin from the packing foam, opened her handbag, took out a battered, red leather collar and fixed it round his neck.
'Woman's best friend,' she laughed.