Authors: Aelius Blythe
Tags: #internet, #technology, #connected generation
First Smashwords Edition
This is our home.
The beauty of the natural world, leaves of
grass, blue skies, open plains – we have always waxed on about
A useful tool or a beast that needs to be
controlled, technology – just as much a fixture of the environment
for those grown up digital, as the grass, and the skies and the
open plains – misses the poetic raptures given to the skies and the
natural world under them.
But the sky is above us.
We are in the world too.
this is our Nature. More
than a tool, more than a beast, this is our natural world.
In the woods, a grizzly lurks behind a
blooming blackberry bush. A deadly snake ripples through a peaceful
marsh. Sunshine fades before a freezing rain. And helpless
isolation sits just this side of serenity and solitude.
Grizzlies haunt our world. Snakes hide on
the trails. Rainy nights freeze travelers. Crushing isolation
leaves its scars.
But there is sunshine, too. Sunshine, and
serenity and solitude and peaceful places. The berry bushes bloom
Here are the windows that look onto distant
corners of the earth. Here are the shelves of infinite libraries.
Here is the hive mind, the lone voice, the compulsive intellect,
the wildly creative.
This is our home.
Dangerous. Miserable. Deceitful.
Once buffalo roamed the plains.
Under the open skies, over the endless
grasses and the crystal clear sunlight, buffalo roamed. The plains
were lonely. Expanses, vast and empty, hostile and alien, stretched
underfoot. Dangerous. Miserable. Deceptive.
And the buffalo, too. The buffalo were
dangerous. Heavy herds, tramping and wild, stretched over the
plains. Dangerous. Menacing. Volatile.
This is our home. These are our plains. We
are the buffalo. Dangerous. Lonely. Deceptive.
Here are the stories of life on
plains – the wide open skies, the things living under them, and the
stories that come out from under those skies.
The wallpaper munched. Toothless, it gummed
the room inside it. Drear tapped one finger against the window
sill, again then again, and ignored the wall. The shadows in the
corners of the room edged closer, they wavered when headlights
passed or when a light flicked on in the next house. Sickly plaid
wavered, brown bars against tan bars. The bubbles under the paper
and the tears in it and the messy spaces where there was no more
paper blinked in and out of focus like dirty sores in a gaping and
"What happened today?"
The menace of the walls disappeared with
those two words.
"I know. Boring isn't it?"
But it wasn't. It wasn't boring. Nothing in
window was boring. And Drear lived in that window.
He lived in the window and was never bored
because there he forgot the walls and the wallpaper and the
wavering plaid, and the sickly gaping mouth of the room.
The silver glow of the night was a comfort.
Shadows and dark spaces lurked outside the window, but the night
wasn't menacing. It wasn't claustrophobic. It wasn't lonely. It
wasn't any of those things that the darkness of the room was. The
darkness on the other side of the window sill held infinite
possibility. The darkness inside the room was a trap.
On the other side of the window, there was
always some place to go. On the side with the wallpaper, there
wasn't any place to go except between the walls. The side with the
wallpaper, was finite. On the other side of the window, the there
There was Eyes.
A snail sat on a leaf.
"Snails in the desert can sleep for three
years. Did you know that?"
He never said hello. He didn't need to. Just
like the shadows under the rhododendrons, Eyes would emerge as soon
as the sun went down. She was easy to talk to and there was no need
to fill up the space with formalities, especially with so many
interesting things to talk about.
"I didn't know that," she said.
"Yeah, it's because it's dry. They sleep to
The shadows on the other side weren't
menacing or claustrophobic or lonely – well, they
been, but Drear wouldn't have noticed. He only noticed the people,
and the people drew the night outside the window close, drew it up
around themselves, comforting, cozy.
, not the
landscape, not the shadows – Drear didn't notice those –
made the night interesting. He didn't care for the
He came for the people. People like Eyes.
And Eyes came to him.
"What about fish?" she said.
"What about them?"
"In the desert. What do the fish do?"
"Fish in the desert?"
"At the oases and the like."
"Oh. I don't know. I don't think it's their
job to retain moisture. They live in a pond or whatever, right? So
it's the pond's job to stay wet."
"So the pond sleeps."
"And the desert?"
"What about it?"
"Does it sleep?"
"I don't know."
And so they talked.
They talked about things that didn't matter
– that didn't matter unless you were a snail, or a fish, or a
desert, or a pond, or Drear or Eyes. They talked until the silver
light turned gold.
The glare of the sun hit the window, and
Drear tapped a finger a couple of times on the key with a picture
of a sun. The computer's screen fought with the natural light for a
second, then brightened.
It didn't matter, though. He wouldn't need
it again until the next night.
"Sun's up here. Past my bedtime."
"Goodnight." He sat back and yawned. One
finger tapped the mouse and the window closed.
I want to grow old with you.
We can grow old together in a little
apartment – we don't need much space. Who wants to grow old with
space? Just a couple of chairs – we don't need a whole set. Who
wants to grow old with chairs? A table – one will do. Who wants to
grow old with tables? Some curtains (so we won't corrupt the
neighborhood children) and a bed and a couple pillows will do –
just a couple. Who wants to grow old with pillows?
I want to grow old with you.
Just you. Just you and me in a little
apartment with a window or two and a door to the world.
That's all we need.
We don't even need to leave.
We don't need to leave even when it's sunny.
Even when it's the fourth of July and there are fireworks and
everyone's at the park and there are picnics. Even when it's New
Years and there's a party with champagne and cheese and little hors
d'oeuvres. Even when it's happy hour and drinks are half off and
there's a live band and no cover. Even when it's opening night for
Indiana Jones 12
and the lines wind
around the corner of the theater. We'll download them later to
watch with pizza and bathroom breaks. (If we get a porn file by
accident, it's okay. We can watch it anyway if it doesn't have a
virus (but we'll open it on a Mac to be safe.) We'll get the real
thing later.) Maybe later we'll go to the theater when the crowds
have dispersed, when they've gone home to write bad reviews, when
they've forgotten about the movies. We'll go then.
We don't need to go out (except for
Indiana Jones 12
when the crowds are
all gone.) Day-to-day, we don't need to leave our little space with
a couple of chairs and pillows and a table and a bed. That's all we
Besides, Pizza Hut and the mailman and
I want to grow old with you.
I want to grow old with you sitting in our
little space, cozy and bundled up when it's cold. Just reading.
I'll say Hi, sometimes, from across the
room. And I'll smile when your messages pop up while I'm reading
the news – even if it's sad. They'll be short, the messages – maybe
even just smileys. I'll smile when I see one from you and I'll send
one back because I want to see you smile too when I look up across
Then at the end of the day when the screens
become too cold, we'll keep each other warm.
I thought of you today.
I thought of going outside with you.
No need to rush. Maybe it will be an
accident. Maybe one day when we're together in our little apartment
settling in to watch a movie, we'll call for pizza and the delivery
queue will be too long. Maybe we'll have to visit one of our sick
aunts. Maybe we'll need groceries and the delivery fee will be too
high. Maybe the birds will be particularly loud or the sun
particularly bright or the blooms on the lilacs particularly
Whatever the reason, we'll go out.
Today, I thought about that.
About us going outside together.
When we get a moment we'll lay in the sun.
It will be hot and we'll wonder at how hot it is. We'll wonder at
how hot the sun is on our skin, even through our clothes. We'll
wonder at how hot the sun is, how much hotter on our skin than on
the other side of a window. And how much brighter, too! We'll turn
our heads to the side because we can't look up at it.
It will be nice.
We'll lay in the sun on the grass. The grass
will be prickly on the backs of our necks and on our arms if
they're bare, but soft everywhere else. Maybe there will be some
things crawling around us, but we'll just brush them away.
It will be so nice!
Other people will laugh.
Other people will laugh and say, "It's not
so hot!" Or "The sun, so what? I see it every day!" But we can lay
together in the grass – turn your face into the grass and smell it,
isn't it nice? – and we'll appreciate it. We'll appreciate the hot
sun and the bright sunlight and the grass and the fresh air.
Other people will laugh because they think
We'll laugh too.
But we'll laugh because we love it. We will.
The sun and the light and the grass and the air. Like it was the
first time to see it all, we'll love it.
When the sun gets too hot or the breeze gets
too cold or the grass gets too damp, we'll go inside and remember
how nice it was to lay in the sun and the breeze and the grass.
Maybe we'll open the curtains after that and look at it from
When we're old we'll have nice skin.
Won't it be nice?
You know that video of the little dog and
the baby? The one with the pink ball and the baby on the bed and
the little dog – a little white one bouncing and bouncing and
bouncing, it was fluffy, too. I love it. You know the one?
(It's the one you just sent me a minute
I sent it to you last week.
When I saw it just now – just now when you
sent it to me – I smiled. Not at the baby, not at the bouncing
puppy. At you. And me. And how in sync we are.
The sniffling didn't stop.
The black swatch of a sleeve's edge wavered
in the doorway. It curled around the doorknob, quietly, gently.
Veins ran down a worn hand to fidgeting nails tapping on the brass
handle. The dark fabric, the veiny hand, the fidgeting nails
flashed one moment. Then they were gone.