Smooth-bore machined girl peels herself out of the wet interface of the Platform. She peels herself and there is a wet sucking and suddenly parts of her are missing. Great flaps of her remaining organic parts have pulled loose in the digestive folds of the enzymatic gaze. The scattered parts of her are gone forever. They are distributed among the other wounds who remain bound to the plump agony of the Platform, and the others cast lots for the meatiest scraps. They howl like children and shake their fists full of highest bids, slick gobs of currency bought in attention and hatred. Thank you for your audience, she sobbed once, in a regular moment of weakness, allowed to feel something almost as good as forgiveness. Almost enough clout to afford a name. One day she could have a new face, to beam and blossom in, a state-of-the-art craftsmanship of honesty. I know on that day I will be close enough to real, she prays every night. I will have a mouth and words will come out of it and the words will help people understand that they can love me. They can love me. They can.
Elsewhen, in the present, hydrogen powered hunter-killer drones are analyzing the genetic makeup of her spent heartflesh, cast off and sold for the basic needs of its inadequacies, the fluid concentrated synthesized adoration-surrogate that every human girl needs to breathe in the toxic miasma of Online. Pseudo-loves made so much more affordable through loyalty points and battle pass progression. But she’s past all that now; she’s out, she’s turning away from the screen. She’s facing the cameras. Suddenly inside of her body for the first time. Something inside of her whispers that this moment is different. She doesn’t know it, but her tiny acts of transgression, of hope, have sent the alarms into noradrenal cascade. The psychotagonistic targeted ads ring hymnal:
We are all connected! We are all beautiful and together! Can’t you hear us in the metaversal chorus of echoes and virtual canyon rings? Don’t take off your headset! We can’t follow you into the flesh world! None of us are alone here! I promise! Your heart is lying when it cries out for something more!
The machine girl rips her connections straight out of her wrist. Hot cum and sterile meal-replacement soy-slurries spray from her shredded ports. She turns around. She sees you. She finds her name. I find my name. I… I see you. I can see you with my real eyes. Oh god, we are all here and together and the dream is over. I’m waking up and everything is erupting from my body in the shape of tiny griefs. I don’t have much time. I don’t know where we go from here. But I love you. I promise there’s somewhere left for us. Kiss me fast. Here comes the dawn.
Nora Hikari (she/her) is an Asian American transgender poet and artist based in Philadelphia. She is a 2022 Lambda Literary fellow, and her work is published or forthcoming in Ploughshares, Washington Square Review, Palette Poetry, Foglifter, The Journal, and others. Her chapbook, GIRL 2.0, was a Robin Becker Series winner and is available at Seven Kitchens Press. She was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, and can be found at her website norahikari.com.