Flash Fiction

Animals and Machines

The angled phone, a tender invitation. I shuffle my body to match yours, friendly knees and temples almost touching. The screen flickers dumbly, like my luck. Toe nudges toe and I wait to feel the sting of your retracting, which does not come. I envision your bones situated in space and time right next to me, and hunch mine in mimicry, twin cubs in our lair. We share a smile and watch, quiet as these bodies click and whir with secret processes. I study your hand that holds the phone, and wonder how you use it. The pads of your fingers are secretive, obscene in what they know. Though maybe it’s only me who is obscene. 

I feel my pulse slow, breath syncing. Our brains are perfectly one beside the other this way, probably millimeters apart. Skull to skin to skin to skull. Close, and humming along so boisterously that I marvel how there is no way for them to communicate in autonomous stealth, like mushroom spores in their quiet darkness. Sharing thoughts through proximity, the way we clutched our phones after the day at the lakeshore, with pictures and wine. Huddled together so they could hive-mind and swap files. I wince, imagining this exchange of cognition happening through range alone, no need for consent, where you see my thoughts as clearly as I see them. Just because your brain is so sweetly positioned up against the wall of mine. How catastrophic.

I would be in so much trouble. You may not want to see me anymore. To sit so close, sharing  these minutes, casual and intimate. You may feel frightened, I am frightening. You may laugh. Or, unthinkable, something else. 

You look at me and I mirror your smile. Did you catch that? I’m looking too closely now, hoping to send and receive. Windows thrown open, praying for flora tinted perfume in the crossbreeze. Trying to transmit, caloric energy turning into the lavender rays of information that scan the ribbon of consciousness I envision our circuitry arranged along. Did you catch that? 


Gillian Bowles

Gillian Bowles is a Tkaronto-based creator who has studied film and social service work. They are attempting their debut novel, and can be found feigning confidence on Instagram @alias_eveline.