NDJ:7 Don Chiappinelli, LCSW

Hand Held

The black box sat still in the darkness; the simplicity of its design held him perfectly. Momentary sweeps of light flooded in as the door was opened and closed, opened and closed, exposing quick images of row upon row of small dark boxes. Stacked four high, and three deep, they all looked the same – identical in every way imaginable – but inside he knew that he was different from the rest of those positioned around him. One day the door would open and it would be his turn to leave the quiet darkness of their den. A hand would reach in, grasping the rectangular box and carrying it out into the world, placing it squarely on the slick white countertop. He would sense the flight in air from cupboard to counter, muffled as it was by the paper, foam and plastic capsule that held him in, and he felt himself stir in anticipation of what was to come.

A quick tug followed by a loud snap and the plastic seal was broken, the box’s membrane split in an instant. There was no going back now. As the clear plastic wrap drifted off the counter and fell to the floor, he felt the box being slipped open – pulled apart with a soft whoosh of air – and instantly he was blinded by the sudden burst of light which then reflected back the rich brilliant black of his shiny face. The woman pulled him out of his casing and flipped him over to inspect his backside; she wrote down a number. And then without so much as an introduction she pressed his home button firmly, decidedly, and he felt himself turning on. His black screen gave way to white, the brief outline of an apple with a bite taken out of it appeared, and then all gave way to dark again as a grid of square-shaped buttons emerged, four high by four wide, brightly colored and floating as if on the slick surface of a deep black pool. Beneath each square was a cryptic word suggesting unknown and exciting prospects awaiting him: Contacts. Messages. Safari!

After a few more inspections, turning him over and back and around again while jotting down her final notations alongside his numbers of identification, she handed him over to his rightful owner. The man picked him up carefully, holding him by his thin silver edges as he gazed at him with wonderment, and then with affection. He reached out and with the very tip of his index finger he stroked his smooth face. Gently he tapped and touched his buttons, pushing the colored squares side to side, back and forth, as he explored the possibilities that lay within.

The man found icons he never knew he had, and gave him new ones he’d never seen before, their names mystical: Shazam. Pandora. Yahoo! Every time he turned him on he felt a new part of himself waiting to be pressed into service, opened and explored. But best of all was when the man brought his face up close, pressing his ear against his receiver, or when he would begin to speak into him. Sometimes – after he’d entered the right sequence of numbers – he would say the most intimate things he had ever heard. He realized he might be falling in love for the first time. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, the man played music he’d never heard before, and took him places that he never dreamed possible. Or so he thought – he wasn’t sure – were they just images of the people and places he had always longed for, desired? It was all becoming too much, and he felt overwhelmed.

Anticipating the state he was in at the end of their long day of discovery together, and just as he was almost completely drained, the man pushed a white u-shaped connector into him with a quick click. He felt the current of electricity trickling in, pulsing through his circuits, restoring him to his original self. It felt incredible, and he could tell that he was in good hands; clearly the man adored him, and he couldn’t help but feel the same way back. With a quiet and simple click he fell into sleep mode, the man’s picture caught in his memory. He imagined being held by him again. He realized he wanted more. Ready to be on at a moment’s touch, he made a note to himself: “I phone, therefore I am.”