Desperation finally overrides cowardice, and I pour my feelings into an instant message. Neurons and muscles translate emotions into movement; a keyboard turns movement into a time-varying voltage; kilometres of gadgetry transmute this signal through radio waves and laser pulses and transistor switching sequences, culminating in an electric charge that causes liquid crystal molecules to twist in a particular way, blocking polarized light in a specific pattern on her computer monitor. Displaying love through cold machines. Why couldn’t I have said this in person? But it’s too late.
The spark of nuclear fusion ignites a hundred thousand new stars. Computers run through a billion billion calculations. Four seconds pass; an eternity of waiting.
The same processes, in reverse, bring her answer to me. “Sorry, but I don’t feel the same” appears on my screen. How can this handful of pixels be so painful?
Tears in my eyes, now. I’m glad for the technological buffer between us. This way she can’t see me being human.