Michelle’s smooth white skin was interrupted by dark bruises as though a painter had dabbed her arms with a brush full of blue paint, using her thin bones as a guide. She texted on her phone, punching in letters and emoticons with grubby fingers, ignoring the woman sitting across the kitchen table from her.
Before everything changed, Michelle’s phone was merely a distraction, a way to avoid eye contact, and pass the time. The woman across from her remembered how Michelle used to talk on her first cell phone, a big bulky device with actual buttons and an antenna; she snapped the phone shut at the end of a call and tucked it away for hours without once reaching for it. It was a sweet time when they communicated with real interactions and conversations, before Michelle was sick.
At the thought of it, the woman bitterly laughed to herself. It seemed like a million years ago when health was wealth and they were rich. Now, it was all symbols to represent words and emotions, entire sentences condensed into a frowny face next to a fire and a thermometer. Sick again.
The power of technology was a powerful addiction, one that had taken hold of her daughter along with the rest of the population, from toddlers to the elderly, it was yet to be formally declared as dangerous because the side effects were still accumulating and not entirely clear.
However, the woman sitting across from Michelle was keenly aware of the addiction. She shared the same wide blue eyes, pale complexion, and health insurance plan as her daughter and not much else now that the disease had taken root. Planting her elbows on the table, she clasped her hands, interlocking long white fingers with well-shaped nails.
“Next month, we are going to lose our insurance because I can’t afford COBRA,” the woman said in a very matter-of-fact way.
Her daughter looked up and connected with her mother’s eyes, “I know. You have said the same thing every other day since you found out about the layoffs.”
“And you were listening? All I ever see you do is twiddle and tweet on that stupid phone so excuse me for being surprised.”
“And I got a job, you’ll be happy to know. With insurance for both of us. It’s online.”