In nothing we are everything. Each friend, acquaintance, and enemy, a perturbed and narrow blur, orbiting near, but still outside our atmospheres. An ant crawls across the screen, a giant against pixels, our digital candle light—it doesn’t flicker, just burns—projected into blood-shot eyes, the only light blank faces see, pale, basking in the same glow—the third dimension lost, staring at the second, together and alone. Rand, elegiac for the “I” amidst anthems of “we.” Now there is only me, refreshing every thirty seconds, counting affection with clicks. The glow of an 80-watt light bulb was warmer than this.
They spoke of campfires, how we would stare at embers and talk, occasionally raising our gaze, but we always returned to the flame, to each other. Did we ever look at the same fire twice, even if our gaze remained steady, our eyes fixed? The way mountain streams remain in flux around numb ankles? The pebbles under foot remained in place, though. As did the logs, hissing and popping, before they turned black, then glowed red, cooled and faded to ash. We used to curse white hares when the wind shifted our way and our eyes burned. They still watered when it turned away. Tears, yes, but not of happiness or sorrow, just necessity.
Now our fires run on batteries or are tethered to three-pronged outlets. They have channels or programs, or apps (because the other three syllables became too burdensome to carry alone). The wind and necessity now absent. Not the burning. Not the tears.
We are seeking something, seeing nothing, scrolling two fingers at a time.