Smoke Seventeen

When you call I can hear a bug in the line, and not much else. Awoken at 2am by my PCB’s random koan. Finding it face-down by the lamp. Flicking its switch, I imagine you in an airport hotel, staring out the window with the headset held in one hand, a mouse in the other. A small can’s worth of dry ginger ale spraying the inside of a glass. Data chugging away merrily in the loungeroom space again while you, on the other side of the equator now, with your transmissions. Their soft pixellation and hum. Maybe a Cherry whirs in the background on Windows, or else you’ve opened one of the screens to the street’s humidity, the faint bleats of transit. It isn’t your voice, not yet – like a satellite coming within orbit of a planet or moon, it’s still just a twinkle. I say hello, hello. Hello, hello. Your response, a looped heartbeat of static noise, gristle on the line. I sign off and lie in the dark waiting for the bug to leave the room.

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