Talk to Her

By Michael McAllister

March 1, 2021

Talk to Her

I once took a job with a major online retailer, listening to the words that people spoke in their own homes to a voiced virtual assistant I’ll call Amaya. Our ragtag team of English and Linguistics majors tapped away on laptops, categorizing the words for the developers so she’d respond better over time, listening to the private words of a faceless people.

Tell us a joke. Play ‘Frozen.’ How do I become a billionaire? Top oven, 350 degrees. I know you heard me, you piece of shit. Will I be rich and famous? How did Whitney Houston die? How did Prince die? Amaya, play “Rehab.”

Tell us a fag joke. Tell us a Muslim joke. Amaya, text Jen—"I can’t pick you up from work…I’m too drunk."

Can you get AIDS from kissing? Can you die of loneliness? Why won’t my wife have sex with me? Why don’t you come over here and blow me? Fucking robot.

What does "agnostic" mean? Amaya, help me snort this line it’s fucking EPIC.

[Sound of boy mumbling.] [Parrot squawking “Amaya, Amaya.”] [Man urinating into a toilet.]

Will Antonio ever look at me? Will anyone ever love me? Do you love me? Say, “I love you.” Say, “I will never leave you.”

What is date rape? What is consent? Your mom should get Amaya cause then she won’t be alone. Amaya, are you a lesbo? You’re a shit. You’re a slut. You’re the only person that listens to me.


Michael McAllister has work published or soon appearing in Michigan Quarterly Review, Brevity, and The New York Times’ Modern Love column. He has an MFA from Columbia University and is working on a book-length memoir. For nearly two decades, he’s blogged at


Picture by Antonio Resendiz courtesy of Unsplash 

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