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an iPad preserved in amber

tphd:

IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO DISABUSE ME OF THE NOTION THAT EVERYONE OR NEARLY EVERYONE IS CONSIDERABLY MORE COMPLEX THAN THEY PRESENT THEMSELVES

MOST OF US WITHHOLD OUR REAL THOUGHTS BECAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY IN COMMUNICATING THEM; WE’RE NOT CERTAIN THEY CAN BE MADE SENSIBLE TO OTHERS

(OR THAT THEY’LL BE ACCEPTED)

AND ANYWAY WHO WANTS TO COMPLICATE A CASUAL CONVERSATION WITH A SUDDEN TANGLING OF ABSTRACTIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS

AND YET I RECOMMEND YOU SPEAK ANYWAY FROM THE PLACE WHERE YOU FEEL LEAST CERTAIN

GO INTO THE WILD OF YOURSELF AND BRING BACK WHATEVER YOU CAN

YOU HANG A SHEET OVER THE MIRROR, TAKING CARE TO TIE IT FIRMLY IN PLACE. YOU TAKE A STEP BACK, ALREADY AWARE OF WHAT’S ABOUT TO HAPPEN.

IT TAKES A MOMENT, BUT THE SHEET GENTLY SHIFTS, THE KNOT UNDONE. IT SLIPS TO THE FLOOR, PULLED BY SOME UNSEEN FORCE.

YOU FLINCH, TURNING AWAY FROM THE EXPOSED MIRROR. YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT IT’LL SHOW YOU.

YOU LOOK TO THE FREE IPAD SITTING ON THE TABLE. IT’S BEEN NEARLY A MONTH SINCE YOU FOUND IT. IF YOU’D KNOWN THAT NIGHT JUST HOW MUCH YOUR LIFE WOULD CHANGE…

SOMETHING MOVES IN YOUR PERIPHERAL VISION. IT’S INSIDE THE MIRROR. YOU FEEL SICK.

NOWHERE IS SAFE NOW. YOU CONSTANTLY KEEP YOUR EYES DOWN, AFRAID THAT YOUR GAZE WILL FALL ON SOMETHING YOU CAN’T UNSEE.

THERE’S A SCRATCHING SOUND FROM BEHIND THE MIRROR, BUT YOU DON’T LOOK UP.

INSTEAD, YOU STARE AT YOUR IPAD, CERTAIN THAT IT WAS NEVER TRULY FREE.

#NIGHTOFTHEFREEIPAD

I have no problem thinking of tweets as poetry, because the really great ones function in the same way that poetry does to me. They are clear and cubic thinking, and they repay obsessive thinking-about. 140 characters is just about the right length to get inside your head, so if I walk around all day chanting “apnews: an girl go back in time to shhot cow that start gret chicago fire . cow say “i expect you” shoot her an start fire with i’ts cigaret” to myself the same way I walk around chanting “The milkman came in the moonlight and the moonlight was less than moonlight,” I see no reason to make a distinction, because I’m not some sort of taxonomy psycho.

A CITY STREET.

YOU SEE A FREE IPAD AT THE MOUTH OF A WELL-LIT ALLEY. IT DISAPPEARS FROM VIEW. SURPRISED, YOU RUSH TO FOLLOW IT.

UP AHEAD, YOU SEE SOMEONE HURRY AROUND A CORNER. YOU CALL OUT, BUT HEAR NO REPLY. HESITATING FOR A MOMENT, YOU DECIDE TO FOLLOW.

HURRYING AROUND THE CORNER, YOU HEAR SOMEONE SHOUT BEHIND YOU. YOU BEGIN TO TURN, BUT PAUSE. SOMEONE IS ON THE GROUND UP AHEAD. LYING JUST INSIDE THE DARK MOUTH OF ANOTHER ALLEY, ONLY THEIR BOTTOM HALF IS VISIBLE. SOMETHING ABOUT THIS-

THEIR LEGS JERK QUICKLY OUT OF VIEW.

YOU SUDDENLY REGRET COMING HERE. YOU MOVE TO LEAVE, BUT HEAR A RUSH OF FOOTSTEPS FROM THE ALLEY’S ENTRANCE. UNSURE WHAT ELSE TO DO, YOU PRESS FORWARD. TURNING THE CORNER, YOUR HEAD COLLIDES WITH SOME JUTTING METAL STRUCTURE. REELING, YOU TILT SIDEWAYS AND CATCH A GLIMPSE OF A GLOWING SCREEN IN THE PASSAGE AHEAD. THE GROUND RISES TO MEET YOU.

YOUR VISION BLURS. YOU RECALL THE PERSON LYING PRONE. THEY WERE WEARING YOUR SHOES.

THE APPROACHING FOOTSTEPS PAUSE.

SOMETHING CLUTCHES YOUR ARM AND TUGS. YOU ARE DRAGGED INTO THE WAITING DARKNESS.

#NIGHTOFTHEFREEIPAD

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A GENTLE SOUND IN THE NIGHT. A VOICE IN THE YARD, NEAR THE SIDEWALK.

A YOUNG WOMAN SITS WEEPING ON A NEIGHBOR’S LAWN, WHERE SHE FIRST DROPPED UNCEREMONIOUSLY TO THE GROUND AND BEGAN CRYING IN EARNEST.

A REGRET PLAYS OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN BARELY PRONOUNCED SYLLABLES. A “WHY, WHY, WHY” SPOKEN TO NO ONE IN PARTICULAR.

IT’S COLD AND SHE WILL NEVER SEE HER FAMILY AGAIN.

SHE PICTURES STRANGERS WITH FAMILIAR FACES. “GET OUT OF OUR HOUSE.” “WHO IS THAT?” “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?”

THEIR EYES COLD, ANGRY, AFRAID. THE BLINDS CLOSING, ROWS OF LIGHT SQUEEZING SHUT IN THE GRASS.

SHE SITS UP AND WIPES HER EYES, SELECTS ANOTHER NAME FROM HER NEW PHONE’S CONTACT LIST.

THEY DON’T RECOGNIZE THE VOICE. THEY THINK SHE HAS THE WRONG NUMBER. UNCOMFORTABLE, THEY HANG UP.

THE TEARS ARE STREAMING DOWN HER FACE. SHE’D HAD DOUBTS EARLIER, BUT EVENTUALLY DECIDED SHE WAS MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE. NOW, THOUGH,

SHE KNOWS SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE SWITCHED TO T-MOBILE.

SHE NEVER HAD THIS PROBLEM WITH VERIZON.