Manners? There were none. The Internet was a bloody, sweat drenched barroom brawl. The Digital Decency Act changed all that. The anonymous threats, the bullying, the predatory behavior, all of that, gone. All inspired by a thesis on animals who, for whatever reason, could not “see” digital screens. Once the technology was developed, everything changed. An 8mm implant, and the Guilty – Those who took pleasure in toxicity. In causing pain. In division. In chaos. – They were rendered screenblind. Televisions, terminals, portable screens, all useless.
Oh, they could still enjoy a movie at the drive-in. They’re popping up everywhere.
We’re at an intersection. Mom’s observing the world from the passenger seat. I’m thinking about how small she looks. She points, and says, “We used to go to that coffee shop every Saturday night.”
I glance over as cars start moving. “There?” It’s a place I haven’t thought of in ages. Me and my friends used to hang out there. Sip Cokes. Draw. Play D&D until they kicked us out.
“On Saturdays your father and I would go dancing, and end up there,” she said, smiling, lost in thought.
I never knew that.
My folks were way cooler than me.
Taking care of last minute things before her arrival, and that’s when I get the call. It’s the conversation we’re going to have when she gets here, but it’s happening now, with me holding a dripping toilet brush.
What about the unspoken rule? Talking starts when you get here. Is there something vital I need to know now? Do I need briefing on key points? Is there a heroin addict barely holding on in your back seat and you’re racing to me because I have the adrenaline shot? No? Then we’ll talk when you get here.
*Hangs up toilet brush*
Everybody wants toast.
Everybody likes the smell of it. Likes the stuff they can smear on it. Likes the way it crunches in their mouths. It’s warm. Feels good. Satisfies.
The hitch is, everybody wants toast a very particular way. It can’t be too toasty, or, has to be so toasted it’s near black, or a millions ways in between. Most folks haven’t a clue how they really want their toast. They just know they don’t like it that way. Waste a lot of toast in a lifetime. But try to grasp the truth of it.
We all want toast.
The first diorama I ever constructed was in fourth grade. What began an empty shoebox ended in a replica of my bedroom. I loved the detail of it. That’s how far back my obsession goes, and it led to this.
I lived with a boyfriend in a tiny apartment who complained about our claustrophobia relationship and how he felt the walls were closing in. So one night, with him passed out on the floor again, I boxed him up in my masterpiece; A tiny apartment. A perfect replica. Took months to complete. I’m so proud of it.
I have pictures.
It seems strange now, studying cultural fetishes of the past. I wondered, how did a whole society decide to wear that thing? How did that become a symbol of power? I thought about that the day stilts became illegal, except for those of rank. Stilts can now only be worn by Lobbyists, Lawmakers, and the President. If a person of rank is seated, you may only address them while kneeling. Your eye line must never be equal to theirs, that’s the rational, and for now, it works. But one day, I imagine a revolution of hatchets and saws will come.
There’s a ghost door at the end of the hall. For no reason at all, it would creep away from the wall and slam shut, and when it did, it shook the house and startled everyone. They tried to explain that if the back door was left open, or a window was up even a crack, a breeze could come in and push the door closed. But it wasn’t true. It was a ghost door. Something didn’t want us to leave the house, and on that night in particular, we could hear it moving down the staircase to find us.