• Pearl Hyacinth

Suddenly, a pandemic.

In real life, the world has turned upside down and hangs precariously, like a broken marionette. I live inside my lungs, navigating between tables that bruise my thighs. I cough bubbles and more bubbles and sometimes have to yawn to take a full deep breath. I have had the symptoms for weeks but they are fading now. I may or may not have had it. I avoid people and wear a mask to go grocery shopping. I try to take walks to the park but this usually exhausts me so I don’t go very often but my mind wanders there, on the shore. There is a bench with a view of the opera house across the bay, which I have come to deeply admire. And there is an outdoor cafe, right by the water. It is closed now - but still, its charmingly mismatched, now empty chairs and tables are scattered across the lawn, under giant trees.

In Second Life, I decorate my large house lavishly with rare items I find on shopping adventures. These adventures are taxing to my laptop and its fan whirs with a kind of desperate earnestness. I ignore it, searching for bird nests and music boxes, books and pine cones. One night, while hanging collages in my SL gallery, I glanced outside to see a man with an animal head and a deer with one horn standing by the tracks and looking at me. I immediately went outside and invited them in. They looked around a bit and then we hung out on the porch, talking for what seemed like ages. There was real life synchronicity in our conversation which made me feel lighthearted and delighted. It reminded me of my youth, before the internet and cell phones enfolded us, when I used to chill with friends for hours on our front porch. That was also by a train track, now that I think of it. I am in a fog of anxiety about my family and friends on far away continents, about the world as we know it. This makes it difficult to read or study. I have been cutting slivers of paper, fitting together the puzzle pieces of a new collage series called... what is it called? “The Plays I Perform Alone in my Room” or “The Cloud City” or “If my Tongue was a Frame”…

The days and weeks vanish so quickly as they overlap in their sameness. I unfold my bed to sleep in at night and fold it back to a couch in the morning. Folding, unfolding with just a smear called a day in between. I cook black beans on a hotplate and cut up garlic on a tiny bamboo cutting board in front of my computer. One morning, while cleaning out the teapot, I found a dead cockroach curled up in the spout. I don’t know why or how long it was there. Yesterday, an Omen was delivered to me. This is a powerful new computer lent to me through the school via my professor. I spent the day downloading the VR access software and then finally, after years of waiting, was able to enter VR in my own home. I almost cried while interacting with that friendly little virtual robot I had met twice before and I let virtual butterflies land on my finger and stay there while I used the other hand to shoot at targets and make tracers. I am still downloading things and preparing the machine to let me farther in and give me the software to create. Could I be on a precipice now, after climbing for years to get here? If I fall, what happens?


 © 2020 by Melody Owen

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