The Voice in a Metal Box

*Reader submission*


New message alert. My heart races, as it does every single time this noise from this specific message arrives. I know to expect one around 7:30a and the last to come in around 8:00p. Like Pavlov studied, I am conditioned to have a specific reaction to this ping from a metal box. How did I get here– how can I feel such real things toward a noise that is neutral to most?

He writes simple things, and I coerce him for more. more information, more intimacy, more of his text to define him, remember him.

Why does he persist on being so distant? I ask myself. Why can’t he tell me that he still loves me? Why is it that when I see the emojis, clear in meaning between us for the past years, that I feel cold. He must feel this way too. How am I to know? It must just be habit. A habit he thinks comforts me, leads me to believe he is here for me. that a *hug* and a yellow smiley will make me feel safe and loved. Secure. In his arms. We are all just going through these fucking 21st century mind-boggling motions.

How can I feel this range of emotions through a phone? How can it be that to me, I have experienced love, heart break, arousal, everything, through a metal and glass device with little blue and white bubbles filled with letters and words. Emojis. Love is not a red, beating heart. But to me it is. To me, my heart swells upon the receipt of that sentiment.

I am alone in a room with a metal box. His voice a digital ping.

I have to break the cycle, meet people tangible to me. I swipe left, right. Right, answer messages. Look at percentage match. Am I going through the motions? Through this same device that gives me such heartache, I search for new love. He is separated by oceans and mountains, landscapes so different between us.

I go on the dates produced by the metal box, I can feel them next to me, breathing, laughing, talking, smiling.

I kick off my shoes and retreat to my bed, I unlock the metal box to see his voice, feel his emotion. I don’t feel. “This isn’t enough!” I want to yell. But see, for most, we have become accustomed to this mode of communication. Like me, we all feel a span of emotions. Real, tangible feelings through this device. And sometimes you get lost. Addicted.

His voice is a ping. a digital noise represents his voice. I no longer remember the intonations, the breathing. If I think really hard, I can remember. But time is long. So much changes. I’ve changed. The physical body morphs in ways that technology could never. My needs are different, his needs are different. he tells me he loves me.

Where do we go from here.


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Baltimore, Maryland