everyone tells her this is going to be a simple way to do things: they tell her she has to shut off the technology that thrums under her fingers and it will bring relief. they think it will run down her thoughts, slow the energy that sparks through her veins when she gets a small electric shock off the keyboard.

stupid. doesn’t she know better than to drink caffeine while typing? she sits and accepts the reprimands, chips at her nail polish as though admonishing herself and then has to touch it up.

drags another fingernail down the length of the desk where seam meets seam and she digs underneath that just a fraction. the seam is old, worn, and it’s easy enough to chip away as she applies just the right amount of pressure.

everyone tells her this is going to be difficult, at first, she has to unlearn all the computer work she’s ever done. they begin by suggesting that she throw away her old mobile, the one with the QWERTY keyboard that she uses for taking notes because she hates tapping painstaking words into a touch screen. texting is another matter, tapping each word as she goes with predictive mode always on. reluctant, she dismantles the phone and keeps the battery elsewhere – a box within a tray within a locker, really, but this way she still has some access.

she bends her neck and listens to all the criticisms, the raptures of her now technology-free predecessors. they call it unshackled, and the term runs around the world. it becomes the newest trend, and soon enough the unheard capital letter shows up. if she cocks her head just right she swears she can hear it, Unshackled, as though that’s a desirable state.

people smile back at her when she listens to a bird singing, not realizing that she has the alternative. she’s spent many a night memorizing music, and now she summons up a thousand songs to tune out the world. she’s studied texts that are only online, packed it all away and retreats into her mind to “read” when it suits. sometimes she has a physical book for a prop and it works even better.

she’s smart: realizes this is the only way people will accept her now. remaining shackled is undesirable, and she moves, takes all her technology to the countryside.

no-one knows – no-one minds.

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