Left to their own devices, they became them

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June 20, 2021 by The Citron Review

by Michelle Morouse

 

Jinny blamed herself at first. She’d skipped Junior’s basketball games to go to spin class and begged off her Mom’s church tea. She guzzled wine at her book club when she could have cuddled up with her husband to watch superheroes save the universe. Buff men in tights—would it have been so awful? 

Ultimately, though, Jinny knew she couldn’t have changed the outcome. She cooked dinner most nights, but her family barely looked up from their devices at the table. Her family squandered countless hours, hunched over phones, tablets, laptops, barely stopping to eat, or go to the bathroom. (Mom wet her pants once.) 

Her husband fell asleep in his La-Z-Boy chair each evening. One morning, Jinny woke to find him gone. A dented PC rested on his chair. Then her mother became a purse-friendly teal tablet, her son a game console. 

Hoping to salvage some connection, Jinny went on the devices, to no avail. Hubby’s PC was stalled in a crocheting chat room, Junior’s console displayed neon curlicues, and Mom’s tablet featured people in Disney costumes… enjoying each other’s company. An Abandonee support group helped at first, but soon the others spent most of the session on their phones, then they stopped showing up.

She drove the devices around occasionally, set a place for everyone at holidays. It wasn’t so bad—they’d been gone before they were gone. There was no snipping over who drank the most, no wincing while her husband hacked at the turkey, no holding her breath when her fumble prone mother insisted on washing the good china.

Jinny re-opened her taxidermy shop. She fills her free time with scuba lessons, paperbacks from the used bookstore, volunteering at the soup kitchen. Each night, she climbs the stairs and pauses a moment, before plugging everyone in.

 

Michelle Morouse is a Detroit area pediatrician. Her flash fiction and poetry has appeared recently, or is forthcoming, in Litro Online, Ponder Review, Necessary Fiction, Wigleaf, Peregrine, Lullwater Review, Passager, The MacGuffin, Pembroke Magazine, Passages North, and Cease, Cows. 

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