Internet Brain


Your crotch is insanely freaking itchy tonight. And you can’t do anything for it but contort your body into less irritating positions. And you wish everything would just stop. You wish your Internet Brain would go into Automatic Sleep Mode and stop running updates. You just want to fall asleep fast. You are exhausted. You are exhausted because you’re back at your parents’ house until you figure out what you’re doing. Until you figure out where you’re going to live now that your partner has packed up your things and dropped you off here. Even took the trouble to get you settled in your old room. Because it was after midnight by the time you’d been let out in their soggy gravel driveway. And your parents were fast asleep. And your partner took pity on you—are you really planning to sit up in your chair all night? Even though you didn’t ask for your partner’s pity. Because isn’t all this bad enough? Because you are nearly thirty—next week—next week you will be freaking thirty—and you use a wheelchair that your parents say remind them of an alien spaceship from one of those old movies you love. And you always tell them that’s just great, y’all. Thank you. And they always laugh hysterically at that—they always seem to laugh in unison.

But now—what the hell is it now—your Internet Brain is interrupting you—gently thrumming the base of your skull and offering to stream all the classic space-themed sci-fi movies you and your partner have ever watched together—starting with Forbidden Planet (1956). From Hollywood’s Golden Age comes Forbidden Planet—the out-of-this-world cautionary tale of man’s thirst for absolute power. But you don’t give a voice-reply—and your Internet Brain reluctantly rescinds the offer. Because you’re really freaking tired—and you don’t really want to engage with some campy techno-horror romance movie. Because it’s not like watching a movie can stop your partner from cheating on you—maybe hundreds of times a year. Might even be a sex addict. And watching a movie doesn’t change the fact that the two things are probably related—your partner’s sex addiction and your badly inflamed genitalia. And you can’t even think about it right now. Can’t rehearse again how one little nothing fight over the household budget has turned into maxed-out credit cards and your signature being forged. Has turned into thousands upon thousands of dollars paid to porn sites and sex workers. Has turned into debts you don’t even fully know about. Has turned into your partner meeting up to have sex with people who are not sex workers. A few of whom you know. Has turned you into just another body. And has made you want to scratch yourself until you bleed. And you used the key hidden under the fat cat statue on the front porch to get in here. So, your parents have yet to learn you’re even back in their house.

And again—there’s an impatient thrumming at the base of your skull—and your Internet Brain recommends delicious non-GMO good-bacteria-rich fair trade Organic Break of Day Yogurt to promote vaginal health—and your hearing becomes briefly muted to the worn-in screech of the bedsprings—and your ceiling is full of shadows—and all you can hear are the laughs and overlapping conversations of people with healthy vaginas because they eat this yogurt literally everyday—and the Organic Break of Day family of products has already been added to your cloud for ease of purchase—and your normal hearing is returned to you with a sharp beep—but man, oh man—it itches down there—it itches so bad it hurts—and maybe it’s just your basic yeast infection—and anyway—you’ve actually been meaning to eat more yogurt.

But when you speak into the darkness of your room to set a reminder, your voice is small and dry as if an invisible somebody is lightly choking you against your will. Pushing you down into the narrow mattress. So, you cough hard once and start again: “Internet Brain—all right, okay. I get it. Remind me in the morning to ask my parents if they’ve got any Organic Break of Day Yogurt.”

And you’ve never even heard of that yogurt—but whatever—if it helps—sounds great. But maybe it’s not a yeast infection. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s late July and you’re smothering to death under a super ancient handmade afghan. But this is the only blanket available until the spare sheets can be unpacked and washed. And you’re suddenly hyper aware of all the sweat beading on your inner thighs. Maybe you will die in this bed. Maybe you will die tonight. You’re suddenly totally alone. You’re suddenly very feverish. You’re suddenly unloved. And it’s too damn dark in here.

And your Internet Brain is thrumming hard against the base of your skull now—your Internet Brain has entered Emergency Self Care Mode—you will experience a montage of highly rated pornography and music videos from your favorite artists—beginning in three, two, one—

“Internet Brain—please no. Not right now.” But you feel a pounding weight on your chest. And your voice comes out in a whisper. And your Internet Brain can’t hear you. And your Internet Brain forcibly shuts your eyelids.

And you watch Beyoncé in a flowing yellow dress march down a city street wielding a baseball bat—and you watch as a middle-aged man forces his full dick down the throat of a teenage girl—and you watch Miley Cyrus come in like a wrecking ball—and you feel yourself writhe and moan and lick your lips—and you don’t even like what’s happening to you—and you watch as one faceless person smacks another faceless person on the ass and smacks another faceless person on the ass—and you watch anal—for some reason, you watch a lot of anal—and you writhe and moan and lick your lips—and you watch My Chemical Romance lead the Black Parade—and you moan and you die a little—and your crotch is itching worse than ever—but maybe now—maybe now your Internet Brain will let you sleep soundly.

Miriam McEwen

Miriam McEwen writes about disability and bodily autonomy. She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She serves as an associate editor at the South Carolina Review. Miriam’s work is anthologized in The Best Small Fictions, and has appeared in SAND Journal, Under the Gum Tree and Tilted House Review, among others. She lives in the foothills of South Carolina. Find her on Instagram @miriammcewen.