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An unexpected digital exile leads a solitary writer to rediscover his creative roots amid the shadows of a quiet Seattle evening…

Eric stared at the glaring red notification on his computer screen—a lockout message from the X platform, cold and impersonal. “We’ve temporarily limited some of your account features.” Below, a timer ticked away: 12 hours. It might as well have been an eternity.

At 58, Eric’s life was a quiet montage of moments spent between the pages of unwritten novels and the fleeting connections made across the digital expanse of X. These online interactions, though brief, had become his lifeline to the outside world, his bridge to fellow writers and dreamers scattered across the globe.

His apartment, usually a sanctuary bathed in the soft glow of evening, now felt more like a prison. The modern decor did little to warm the space as shadows lengthened and merged. Outside, the Seattle drizzle tapped incessantly against the window, an echo of his rising sense of isolation.

Without his usual evening ritual of swapping stories and poetry prompts, Eric felt unmoored. He wandered from room to room, each movement aimless, each thought trailing off into the echoing silence. He tried to write, to harness the swirling thoughts and channel them into something tangible, but the words wouldn’t come. They felt hollow, disconnected.

Days like these—when the external validations of likes and comments were stripped away—left him confronting a deeper truth. He was lonely. His upcoming move, a new beginning, loomed in the distance, but for now, he was stuck in this transitional purgatory.

In a burst of frustration, Eric pulled a box from his closet, an old chest filled with memorabilia from years past. Photos, old letters, a dusty collection of mixtapes. Each piece a fragment of a life once lived fully offline. As he sifted through the box, his fingers paused on a worn notebook—his first poetry journal.

Flipping through the pages, Eric was transported back to a time when every emotion, every experience was distilled into stanzas and verses, shared not through digital likes but through readings in cozy cafes, his voice quivering slightly under the weight of his own words.

Inspired, Eric set the journal down and powered up his old typewriter. There was something cathartic about the mechanical click of the keys, the way each letter stamped onto the paper with finality. He began to write, not for the X platform, but for himself. The poem took shape, a reflection of his current ordeal—a man disconnected from the digital world, reconnecting with his roots.

As the hours passed, Eric found a rhythm. The loneliness didn’t vanish, but it transformed, became a fuel for his creativity. When the lockout timer finally expired, he hesitated. Logging back into X, the allure was undeniable, yet the need felt less urgent.

He drafted a post, sharing his newest poem, but this time, the validation was secondary. His brief digital exile had reminded him of something vital—the worth of his words wasn’t measured by likes or shares, but by the truth they spoke to a single, listening heart.

As he prepared for bed, the screen dimming behind him, Eric felt a quiet resolve. In fourteen days, he’d start anew, but he’d also return to the old ways a bit more. Maybe it was time to revisit those cafe readings. After all, real connections were waiting, beyond the digital horizon.

© Eric Montgomery 13-April-2024

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