Metamorphosis 2.0 by Kathleen Latham

It started when his cell phone got stuck to his hand, which wasn’t that horrible since it was only his left hand and he could still get on reasonably well with his right. He could still pretend to put the phone down to talk to her and he could still tap away at his keyboard and they spent plenty a night with the TV on in the background, his work spread before him, her in the corner having a go at one of those adult coloring books, though she was never quite sure of her choices.

Next, his laptop fused to his lap, which also wasn’t so bad. In fact, he sheepishly admitted, it was quite helpful for balancing purposes, what with one hand bound to his phone, though it did produce a lot of heat and compressed his balls a bit, but since those poor fellas weren’t seeing much action anyway it was all well and good and certainly handy for quick searches of trivia mid-conversation—Who did win the Kentucky Derby in 1993?—and if she noticed a slight delay when she held up a page and asked, Purple flowers, or red? she chalked it up to how busy he was, how busy, busy, busy.

But then, of course, his ears went, those three hundred and fifty dollar headphones he loved so much just melding into the side of his head, though to be honest, she was pretty sure he had stopped listening long before that or at least stopped acknowledging her questions regarding calyx and chroma.

After that, it was a quick progression. While she sat there filling in lines, his eyes got locked onto his computer screen and his lapel mic burrowed its way into his chest and his smartwatch and fitness tracker joined forces to take over his walking, sleeping,eating, breathing, until one day she came downstairs and he was gone entirely, a boxy ATM taking his place on the couch.

And she was sad, of course, and worried about their son—thirteen and already showing the same symptoms—but then she sat down and picked up her coloring and continued on as she had for months, alone and in silence, page after page of purples and reds falling to her feet like petals.

Originally published in The London Reader, Spring 2017.