// A short fictional piece in the style of Denis Johnson’s ‘Emergency‘ which is part of his short story anthology, ‘Jesus’ Son’ (1992). It follows a young woman and her feeling of alienation in contemporary Western high society who struggles with the how she should act vs. what she truly wants to do. //

My parents had done it again. Another stuffy, redundant, and most importantly absolutely boring dinner with people I couldn’t care less to converse with. At this point, Dad would usually have to tie me to the chair and read the Riot Act to me in order for him to think he had control over my behaviour, but not today. Today was a very good day even though I was sitting between a mutation of a frog and a sheep. I just had to go to my happy place and everything would turn out great. Computers were sexy. Stars whirred over my head in a continuous circle. It felt slightly disturbing.

“Ribbit, ribbit,” uttered my froggy neighbour. I think a fly flew out of the toad’s mouth. I watched him and did a re-take because suddenly a man sat in the former frog’s chair.

“Where did he go?” I asked myself. The man who could apparently appear out of nowhere and fight against a gigantic toad must have felt that my fascination was directed towards him.

“It is scandalous, is it not? With the way his business is going, he should not compete…”

“Computer?” I exclaimed, all the while grabbing this stranger’s arm.

“No, compete with Hawthorne.”

“Hawthorne is for the computer?”

“What are you talking about?”

“You said something about computing…” Irritated, I left the man alone and continued with my earlier observations. 

The stars continued to swirl around. People were dancing in the middle of the ball room. Again, the lights held my attention, or were they stars after all? Breathe in and breathe out. Women with preppy names like Bunny or Bitzy talking like goats. He, he … Sip, stare, another sip. Red and white everywhere. Penguins carting around silver plates filled with chilled flutes of adult grape juice. Sip, pause, a longer sip, stare, heavy sigh that goes unnoticed in the jungle of noises.

The clicking and whirring of machines was way better background music than any Bach or Mozart. Shelves upon shelves filled with computer parts bought from people on streets or found in dusty second-hand shops. It was amazing what treasures you could find in forgotten boxes if you just looked hard enough. For this particular project I only needed…

“Katherine, are you listening to me?” Blinking like an owl, I stared at Mom. “Anyway, your father and I are pleasantly surprised you haven’t thrown a tantrum yet. It seems the etiquette lessons have finally come to fruition. And darling, be less enthusiastic whilst conversing. No one wants to see your teeth.” Blah, blah, blah. I chuckled as if I was agreeing with her, when in fact I had a piece of beauty waiting for me at home. After cashing in a favour and paying a pretty penny, I had found it and couldn’t contain my glee. According to Smileyface101, that hardware program was the latest technical shit on the market and I was itching to get back and play with it. 

Image courtesy of Ramón Salinero.

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