The Screen

Trees grow tall and lean upon the hills, swaying gently in the light breeze, as their green leaves soak up the midday sun. It’s not hot any longer, but it isn’t cold either, so I can get by with just a light jacket. I have a shopping trip ahead of me, followed by an afternoon of cooking for the week, and then a long evening of work. The shopping trip makes a nice pretext to go outside, a welcome opportunity after the busy week. It’s so sunny today that it seems a waste to spend the whole day inside.

Small neon markings blur and waver on the screen in front of me, forming unnatural words and choppy phrases. An invisible network connects each word to another elsewhere in the document, and the colors help classify the words into their intended purpose. It seems the network is more complicated than it needs to be. Once again, I have dug my rabbit hole far too deep. I rub my eyes, and hunker down for a long night.

My bike zooms down a steep hill, past maroon, burnt orange and pale yellow houses. Their muted colours cannot match the true oranges and reds of the autumn trees, whose leaves stand out sharply against the backdrop of the dreary sky. It’s chilly now, and the wind stings at my eyes, making them water. The hill carries me down and down, towards the small city I’ve gotten to know over the last couple months. Grey skies like this are not uncommon here, and it feels good to be outside despite them.

My fridge is full of groceries, but they go unused, for the screen has entrapped me in its web. Each strand of the web’s surface leads me ever deeper into the complicated machinery of a process I cannot fully grasp. I sleep, but my mind won’t rest, instead struggling to unravel the trap I have created for myself. There is a weak point in my understanding, but I cannot articulate it well enough to form a coherent question, and even if I could, there would be no one to pose that question to. My frustration mounts and I rub my eyes.

The trees stand barren, their useless leaves now scattered across the sidewalk and encrusted in frost. The frost makes them glitter in the weak rays of the winter sun, as though embroidered with tiny diamonds. A low fog has settled over the world, muting all light and sound, and the morning seems quiet and still. The trees of the forest nearby have clad themselves in white, each one standing tall upon the hill, like pale dancers frozen in time. It’s cold– so cold that my fingertips feel like they’re going to fall off– but it’s beautiful. Even in the white and grey of winter, the weak sun manages to bring more colour into this world than the bright neon lights of the screen.

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