[FICTION] Posthuman Dating Service
We met the way that people do – on the Internet.
In the beginning were days of complement. I remember them well.
At the time I was looking to be an empty latex glove: floppy and translucent but endowed with elastic possibility. You, I suppose, were looking to be everywhere and nowhere, substantial yet subtle, invisible and immanent: a gaseous presence silently filling the room. So, as people sometimes do, we grew together. When it was no longer enough we agreed to put each other’s bodies to work. I was stretched and deflated, oscillating between taut oblivion and exhausted atavism. You were constricted, contained and then released. We were both high-pitched squeals fleeing from one another. Everything was loose and no one was hurt. We both got what we wanted.
But things change. Our moments of intimacy lacked verve. You never spoke up and neither did I. I guess we didn’t have to. You lingered inside me with a new reluctance. It eventually became clear to both of us what was happening and, without discussing it any further, we shifted. You were a shiny chrome pole stretching upwards towards the sky. I was a set of green tentacles oozing sloppy fluids. To this day, I’m not sure if I was trying to unseat you or simply reach the top, hoping for a peek at your face. To strangers we appeared as a flawed embrace, our bodies diametrically opposed in their basic compositions. We were thrashing figures fascinated by our own movements, with no real goals in mind, pursuing friction for friction’s sake. I’m not sure what you thought of the whole thing. How could I be?
We kept at it until you were coated in my viscous fluid, layers and layers of limpid snot. I could barely grasp you beneath the slick and it made our dance impossible. It was probably all for the best. I never told you this, but it wasn’t what I had signed up for, just happened to work for a while. By the time I finally slipped from your body, I was exhausted and ready to give up. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, so my body did the speaking for me. I landed as an unfurled flower, swerving and missing the earth, floating in disconnected space. Had I made contact with the ground, I imagine I would have wilted, willingly decomposed, sunk into the surrounding matter until I could no longer be distinguished as such. You were simply absent, so others took your place. I was surrounded on all sides by masticating larvae, not so much eating my body as effacing it. They were eyeless, pallid and plodding in their work. For a moment, I was without a point of reference, unable to determine up from down. But then I noticed you above me, a lidless eye staring down from a strange zenith.
Was this the turn?
Your gaze fixed me in place, like dried ink or desiccated flesh. I had been under the illusion that my annihilation was my own doing and, although not enough to constitute rejection, I believed that such decisions were made entirely without your permission. Maybe it was more complicated than that, but it was after this that things seemed to change. It was in this moment that we began to tumble.
I came to as a lonely linoleum floor, checkered seafoam and white, located somewhere in the back of a forgotten bowling alley or the cafeteria of a country school. As far as I could tell, you were a pair of black work boots dragging dirt. You stopped and stomped as if it was the last time anyone would ever walk across my body again. You kept it up until my surface was smeared with tracks of grey and brown and the lights began to flicker. We stayed like this, willfully silent, until my stomach began to churn and together we rolled again.
We emerged as a shiny skeletal system, deceptively singular, with myself the surrounding apparatus and you an obscured lynchpin bearing weight.
It kept on like this as ages passed beside us. Eventually, I began to perceive myself as a scandent stem clinging to unknown structures. You were gone again (or at least I could no longer see you) and this time I decided not to wait. Having seen the future, I became resentful of feeling so satisfied. Just like that, I checked out. Cold turkey.
The story ends the way that they do – back inside my stale body, white feet on a cold white floor, wondering how well we really knew each other, or if we were only muttering to ourselves.
Andrew Boomhower is a fiction writer from the Midwest. His work has appeared in Maudlin House and Analecta.