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The television was labeling me as Billy’s “intimate friend”, “confidant”, and “lover”. I began, in my cowardly way, to ignore it all. It couldn’t effect me if it wasn’t there. So, as a result, I stopped watching TV and reading up on the incident upon the Internet. Sensationalist headlines were gone, but so was my awareness of the aftermath.
One night I cradled the phone to my ear, trying to to think of the ringing as my own lullaby of flickering megabytes and microchips. My electronic serenade was interrupted by a human voice.
“Hello?”
Jason. It was Jason answering his phone for the first time in a week after he ignored my pathetic calls. “It’s Erica. How are you?”
He delivered a blow to my ego in the form of an awkward pause.
“Busy. Look, we need to just break things off. Entirely.”
With a dumb smile on my face, I let out an empty, “I understand.”
What Jason didn’t know was that he was the only human contact I’d had in three days. So when he hung up, I just told myself that it didn’t matter as he was just a mess of particles and nothing more. So was I. So was Billy.
I was left a ghost. After the explosion, the media ripped me apart and continued to pick at Billy’s corpse, harvesting more useless sensationalized information. The headlines cut me apart until only a hollow shell of a young woman lay on my sheets. The whole thing seemed so damned surreal. I could see myself from above, like a casual apparition who wondered what went wrong. I touched the soft skin on my face, noting how well all my skin cells held up during the years. I placed a teardrop on my tongue, realizing they didn’t taste sad at all. Maybe if I pumped myself full of electrons I would get up and walk around and reconnect my mind and body.
No, things would never be that normal again.
I wished I could’ve kissed myself, because then maybe I could’ve had the privilege of feeling things for real.
Once upon a time, the eager-eyed Billy Weizstein told me that atoms were mostly just empty space. I asked him why things didn’t just pass through one another like ghosts. He told me that charges repelled so strongly between them that it kept an infinitesimal distance between everything.
Fascinating.
When I thought about that, it just made me feel distant and unreal. So confused, so damn lonely.
No one was there with me besides Shakespeare and Mary Magdalen and the other recycled atoms in the air. Even then, no one could touch me if they wanted to. My skin had never felt anything other than clamoring electrons.
Maybe if I was a ghost I could pass through these walls and get intimate with all those atoms.

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