The blue glow of the computer screen lit Zoe's face as she scrolled down the page. Words drifted down past her, her eyes taking them in as they saw them, to be forgotten the next minute. But that hardly mattered. There were always more words to drink.

Information. Excitement. Satisfaction. Craving.

Sometimes things in the virtual were more interesting than things in the real.

But she had been here for hours, and her eyes had started to hurt.


With a deep sigh, Zoe minimized the web browser and pushed back her office chair, struggling to push it past that lump in the floor. She stood dazed, surprised at the stiffness of her joints, and walked rather wearily to the kitchen, where her mother was grading schoolwork.

Her mother looked up briefly, pointing with her pen to the dishwasher. "Honey, I need you to do the dishes real quick, okay?"

Zoe stooped, opening a low drawer and taking a dishtowel from it. She opened the dishwasher. Hot steam flooded her face and warmed her nostrils. It smelled oddly refreshing. Bending down once more, Zoe opened the racks and got to work, taking hold of the warm, damp plate closest to her. It was tan, lined with neat brown circles. As she wiped the other dishes dry, a part of her felt sundered from the blue. There was something comforting about sitting at one's computer, doing nothing in particular.

Or is there? asked a small part of her.

She thought about the way she felt mushy and dazed after so many hours of sitting, reading in that cold blue light.

Then there was the way she felt now. Resourceful. Invigorated. Working with one's hands can have that effect on a person.

At last Zoe put up the last glass. The table was clear. Zoe shut the dishwasher and took a step back. She felt a draught of cool air that she couldn't explain. "Anything else you want me to do," she could ask, but now she was not so sure anymore.

Zoe quickly put up her towel and all but ran back into the living room, sinking into the office chair, her comfort zone, and letting her limbs stiffen and her eyes smart in the familiar blue light of the computer screen.

Just a few more hours...