These days you’ll find it very common to sit in your family room, watching TV while you have your computer or tablet open on your lap and are talking on your smart phone.  Screens, screens, screens.
But maybe this is only the start.  I challenge you to look forward (or sideways) (or inward) (or cross-eyed) to imagine multiplying (or layering) (or smashing) (or climbing inside) those screens to see how they affect your life.

13 responses to “Screens

  1. Very true…I find myself having to disconnect at times.

  2. Ann, Toying with this writing prompt-no luck so far but will keep on trying.
    Could you start a Goofing Around #4?

  3. Hi Ann,
    I’m here too. So many different directions to go with this one: color tv, movie theatre, Wizard of OZ, calculator, Facebook, tri-corder, Holodeck, vitual colonoscopy (lol). Its like describing the first time I was aware of my right hand. I’m working on it!

  4. Screens

    They said it was for my privacy. The screen. It separated the two beds in the room. Mine and theirs. It’s not like I needed privacy. No one came to visit me, or wanted to. Who wants to see a girl who has lost both legs, severed at the knees, wrapped in bandages. It wasn’t about my privacy. It was about theirs.

    While I couldn’t see them, I could hear them, their sex noises. I think it was sex. It’s been a while since I’ve heard them. When I had both legs, I enjoyed sex a couple times. Once was with a boy. I got my ass whipped when they found out. It was worth it. Knowing what I know now, I wish I had been whipped more frequently. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to snuggle between my knees today.

    I’m fed and medicated intravenously. Defecate and urinate through tubes which run to a machine on the other side of another screen. It pumps with a soft thum-thum-thum. They refill my IVs at night when I am asleep. And empty the other containers. I can’t remember the last time I actually saw them.

    There’s another screen, between me and the window. They keep the window open because I hear children playing outside. One is named Tommy. He has a basketball. I listen to the ball dribble on the pavement; hear it as it hits the backboard.

    Another child, much younger, has a tricycle. I listen to the squeaking of the pedals as he goes around and around on the driveway.

    Cars drive by. Horns honk. A lawnmower runs. Dogs bark. I used to call out to the people outside, beg them to come in and visit me. They never came.

    Some days, and especially nights, I wonder if I am alone in the world. The only person left. Perhaps I’m crazy. That would explain a lot. I’ve heard that pleasuring oneself will do that. I reach my hand under the covers.

    Yesterday I was with the girl with the blonde curls I got in trouble with so long ago. Today it’s the freckle-faced boy whose name I can’t remember. I close my eyes and wrap my legs around him. I feel my toes curl.

  5. How intriguing to take the word “screens” and extend it to this different kind of screens. It makes me think of all the ways we “screen things off” while these days we mostly get access through screens. Interesting dichotomy! Your exploration into this screen and this person takes us to some expected places. What a ride.

    • It was one of those galumphing moments, exercises, just starting with the concept of a barrier screen, now who is behind it, why, and what happens. And, of course, I have to go off the grid with these! Some of these I have turned into serious short fiction.

  6. The Face on the Screen

    Much too young to retire, they did just that. They loaded up their truck and moved to the Ozarks. She retraced her father’s journey, moving her own spouse to the middle of nowhere after his own psychotic breakdown. You’d have to squint to see the cabin, for it could be mistaken for any one of the nameless trees on the twenty acres she inherited. Polishing all day, she brought the walls, floors and ceiling to life while he sat in the homemade rocker with a rifle ready to shoot the first shadow that moved. Freshly laundered heirloom quilts kept them warm at night. If they were so inclined, a freezer full of processed game would keep them fed. He was not so inclined. They spent their inheritance on steaks and lobsters. Little by little the truck needed to be replaced, along with the well pump, roof, the wiring, and the generator.

    The new survivalist movement forced the couple to protect themselves. Bidding fiercely when bordering property become available, their efforts grew their land to well over 100 acres. The old dirt road out front, now cut through their property. They signed a lease allowing the county’s Internet Service Provider to erect a communication satellite tower on the other side of the dirt road.

    He installed the newest 4k monitor for use with his new Apple computer. Day and night became night and day. He could soar above the mountain tops, walk along familiar places via google street view, all while gazing into the heavens. He skyped all over the world with his new Friends. When his hip ached, he replaced the rifle for a carved walking stick. He traded his belt for suspenders. The day came when he needed to replace the blade in his razor. Staring, deep into the mirror, he realize he could never return. He tossed out the razor along with his father’s shaving brush and mug, and took off his city folk face.

    I hear from them from time to time. He sounds the same, sometimes wiser and calmer; sometimes not so there.

    I, too, pop in on Facebook from time to time to check his picture. I stare at the screen. I wouldn’t know him in a million years.

    • I enjoyed your voice in this story, and look forward to reading more. Jeff

      • Thank you Jeff. I am extremely humbled.
        The way you spin your tales is on a totally different level. You allow yourself to express your emotions and creativity with unexpected liberties. You pull from a place deep inside yourself.
        I feel encouraged that I will benefit from your encouragement and feedback.
        With appreciation,

  7. Here’s another try. I’m not a poet and I probably should learn the rules but here goes anyway:

    A tablet, a Nabi,
    A computer just for me?
    Up, up Daddy, please let me see.

    It knows my name!

    I don’t want breakfast
    I’m doing my ABCs
    I’ll stay right here on your lap
    Until my finger falls asleep.

    I know I am a big girl
    But remember, I’m just three
    I wanna call My Gramma
    She’ll make you see
    It’s you I learn from, not a computer screen.

  8. Marooned

    The coastal painting against my green dining room wall beckons my attention; I am a hopeless lover of the sea. The painting is created in pastel shades of blue, green, and gray. A light gold frame scrolls the outer edge of its hunter green matte. Together, they outline the overlying glass of the recessed image depicting a small cape on the North Atlantic coast. A stone break-wall separates the knoll from the sea. Nearby, small dinghies loll in the shallows.
    I turn on the painting’s light and a muted glow streams from the sky to slant across the blue-gray water and shingled roofs of the upscale cottages. I am enamored. I decide to see how far my mind can go inside that glass-covered shadow box: I want to explore the shore and meander along the village lanes.
    As my mind’s eye travels up and over the bottom frame, I step into knee-high cold water. I feel the slight pull of the tide beneath my unsteady feet as it disturbs the pebbly sand floor. At low tide, the gentle waves carry the distinctive aroma of brine mixed with mucky sand with its decomposing vegetation and abandoned shellfish. To me, the scent is heady and I breathe deeply before considering my next move.
    I want to get into one of the boats and experience its relaxing loll, and maybe take the craft out to sea. I dismiss the closest boat when I see a set of oars resting its sides. Two other boats are covered with canvass and also appear to be row boats. My eyes then rest on a larger boat with a fisherman’s shack arising from its hull. I begin trudging through the water towards it.
    When I reach the fishing boat, I pull my body up and into it then enter the three-walled shack. Glancing about, I find the motor’s ignition switch next to the worn wooden wheel in front of me. I rustle about the console; no key there. I sadly accept the fact that there’s no way I can start up the boat.
    I stay on the boat for a while, listening to the call of gulls and feeling myself drift into the ebb and flow of the waves. In short time, however, serenity cycles back to the craving for adventure. I look up to the hill and its community of cottages; the sky is turning dark as fog is checking in. I see few lights in the windows in spite of the deepening fog. I wonder who lives in these quaint homes: Are there any who aren’t “privileged”? Or, are they all inhabited by people with the kind of money that I don’t have?
    One cottage in particular grabs my attention. I can barely make out its weathered cedar frame with three dormers protruding from the roof. There aren’t any lights showing from inside, but a lamp post at the front door burns in welcome. I want to get closer to that home and plunk down into the cold water. The waves are deeper than before and now break against my thighs. I slowly make my way through the forceful waves and to the rock steps indented into the knoll’s retaining wall. By the third step, I am above the waves, then take the remaining six before turning toward the cottage. It’s getting very dark and I chide myself for not bringing a flashlight. But, I rationalized, how was I to know that fog would bellow in and make it dark so quickly? I consider going back, but I feel compelled to continue.
    The lane to the cottage is paved in cobblestones; they are surprisingly smooth beneath my bare feet. I don’t pass anyone on the lane and no cars pass. I take the path to the overhung portico of the bungalow. Once there, I question what I’m trying to accomplish. While I’m curious about this hamlet, I don’t want to be a home intruder or a thief. I just love this little village and want to be part of it. I turn from the cottage.
    Because of the darkness, I decide to not wander further from shore. The waves are crashing against the break-wall and splashing onto the knoll and the wind has picked up. I hear the intermittent trump of a fog horn and can barely make out a beacon of light from an unseen lighthouse. I am welded to the tidal rhythm and crashing waves. I know I should go back home where it is safer but I find it hard to pull myself away. In compromise, I decide to spend the night then leave in the morning. I pause to consider a suitable sleeping shelter. I choose the closest row boat with tarp covering; I will loosen the tarp and slide under it for warmth and protection.
    As I make my way back to the steps which leads to the moored boats, I quickly recognize a flaw in this plan. High tide is rocking the boats almost on their sides as the sea crashes into them. But far worse is the inescapable truth that I can’t swim in a placid body of water let alone in an ocean at high tide. I am cold, exhausted, and disoriented. I can’t remember how to get back home. Fear rises in me and I call repeatedly for help. No one comes.

    Boy am I glad there was no “due date” on this exercise. Only took me about 3 months to complete!!

    (Also, must comment that I intentionally did not pull out my English Lit book to review a piece of short fiction with a similar theme by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (The Yellow Wallpaper) where the author chronicles a woman’s passage into madness as she considers the designed wallpaper on her bedroom wall only becoming trapped within it as the madness takes over.I was afraid her work might spill over into my meager attempts at exploring a new reality (perhaps bordering on plagiarism, God forbid).

  9. Thanks for sharing this! I hope you will try all the challenges here. –Ann

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