As Close to Reading Aloud as Distance Allows

I was asleep when you texted me, but when I rolled over and saw that it was you, I smiled.

“Oh they used to argue over times, many corporate driver years lost to it: homeowners, red-faced and sweaty with their own lies, stinking of Old Spice

“and job-related stress, standing in their glowing yellow doorways brandishing their Seikos and waving at the clock over the kitchen sink, I swear, can’t

“you guys tell time?”

I paused over the three messages, arrived all at once. “That is gorgeous,” I replied, trying to recall why it was so familiar.

“Neal Stephenson,” you replied.

Wait… I still couldn’t place it. “Which novel?”

“Snow Crash,” you said.

“I’m re-reading.

“You should, too.”

And so I crept from my bed to my bookshelf, let my fingers hover over the titles, searching it out, and there is was, between The People of the Sea by David Thomson and Margaret Atwood’s Morning in the Burned House, yellow spine cracked and wrinkled. All of Sumer came tumbling back, neurolinguistic hacking, burbclaves and loglo and you texting me passage after passage.

I curled up with book and phone, cradling them both like a child’s stuffed toy, reading the screen and hearing your voice speaking into my inner ear the cyberpunk myth cycle. And I dove through the text, swimming through random pages, led by the invention of your voice. Every word had your intonation, and I could see your mouth forming the words, you enunciating as you do while singing a song.

“Vitaly owns half a carton of Lucky Strikes, an electric guitar, and a hangover.”

I fell asleep, listening to the ghost of your voice, my copy of Snow Crash clutched teddy-bear style. I’d worry about folded pages come daylight. That night, the bedtime story was enough.

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