I open the edges of your cloud like bees pry petals, because there is something inside that I need. The bee needs pollen to feel like a bee. I need you. I need pictures, late night conversation, desperate hello and goodbye. I need your faces and bodies, your millions of images, your billions of thoughts, to feel human. The first time I did it I promised myself I would only observe. I would never take, and never give you away.
They gave me my first computer when I stopped talking. Age 10. My parents thought it would open me up to the world. They were right, but I didn’t talk to them as they’d hoped. I could only talk to the faceless. I could only say what I meant to a void. The warmth there is limitless.
I started to hack. I hacked my way into your many hearts. It’s a violent word for something so abstract, so perfectly nothing. I could see into strangers lives and what I saw was beautiful. Everyone as strange as me. Everyone as stupid. Everyone as hopeless and needy. But trying. Struggling exquisitely.
There are lovers tangled. There are lovers alone. There are old ladies learning to type for the sake of their families, who don’t have time for them outside of email. There are children hunting for the disturbing face of the world. There are so many secrets, out in plain view. So many people dying to be loved. Willing to hurt themselves for it.
I have never met a person. I have only seen their private thoughts, their private photographs. I am sure they would hate me if they knew, but I don’t mean harm. Only to solder myself into the scramble of lives out there.
I would love to show you all one another. If you could see what I have, you’d not feel so lonely. If you could see into thousands of files, like the contents of souls, you’d feel at home finally. You could all know each other finally. I could give that gift to everyone but I won’t.
I told myself when I started to pry, slipping past the membrane of these heavy, strange clouds, that I would leave these worlds undisturbed. I promised myself I’d come in and out of many lives without anyone ever knowing me. Only a bee, opening its flower and then floating away.
Ryan J Ouimet is currently living and writing in upstate New York. His work has appeared in Mulberryfork Review, Bartleby-Snopes, and Fifty Word Stories.