My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This short is part of the free Love Has No Boundaries event and can be downloaded here.
Surveillance officer Antao lives a lonely existence in Tower-Oh-Seventy-Two, but it’s a step up from the life he had before. He puts everything on the line when he sees an assassin on the video monitor and decides to cover for him. Drawn to the man, he seeks him out in the lower corridors where he finds the man passed out from a seizure. Antao does the unthinkable and takes him home.
“I loved you when you were pixels.”
I think that might be my favorite line all year. Julio-Alexi Genao is certainly a master of the written word. Every line in When You Were Pixels is like poetry, and it was a welcome entry into my library and my soul. I needed this story without even knowing it.
I could relate deeply to Antao’s loneliness, and the way he loves – his own feelings being a source of joy long before needing anything in return. This story reminded me of crushes left in the dust long ago, feelings for people that could never be reciprocated and yet were still wonderful to experience – but inevitably fleeting. His connection to the assassin is eventually mutual, but the only person who gets to remember is Antao.
The ending was sad, though I never felt like Antao really lost. He was stronger for having not been alone, if only for a little while. He was able to make a connection and break through to another person’s heart in a very isolated world, even if the assassin eventually slipped through his fingers like so many grains of sand.
When You Were Pixels is a must read. It’s short, but in an intentional way. This is short story writing at its best. It never feels rushed, nor does it feel like a piece of a story. It leaves you wanting more, but only in a good way.
I can’t wait to see where the Syntax series goes. I will definitely be along for the ride, no matter how long I have to wait. In the meantime, you owe it to yourselves to download this free short and make time to read it. You won’t regret it.