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"Absorbed" by Katharine Coldiron

I fell asleep with my left hand resting on my phone, and when I woke up the phone had become part of me. My hand had grown around it, had integrated the beveled sides, and where I had once had a human left hand, now I had a rectangular patch of technology with small, stubby fingers protruding from the edges.

This didn’t disturb me as much as you might think. Like anybody, I spend most of my time with a phone in my hand, absorbed. The absorption was literal and fleshly now, was all, rather than attention-based.

I could feel notifications instead of hearing or seeing them. Spotify would play music immediately if a line from the song so much as ran through my head. All the world’s knowledge sat at the end of my arm; a neuron flickered and I could recite the history of the English crown, or the molecular formula for dopamine. Envy flashed on the faces of strangers around me; they had to fumble in their pockets or purses, while my hand lit up or went dark whenever I blinked.

All things proceeded as they would have otherwise. One day, as I walked in my neighborhood, scrolling, I chanced to look up at the sky. The unfolding cataclysm became visible to me then, through my own eyes, not through the window in my flesh, and I had just a few moments to wonder at the work of our hands before my breath stopped.

Katharine Coldiron is the author of Ceremonials and Junk Film. Find her at or on Twitter @ferrifrigida.

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