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The algorithm just sent this car commercial where a family adopts a dog

at mile 4,556 and the dad isn’t thrilled at first (he rolls his eyes

when the dog comes in from the rain during their camping trip on mile 7,894.)

But then, over time, by mile 12,000 or so, they’re buds. The algorithm

knows us. How we pine for the novice to come across the master

in a dark wood, who pretends to be a bumbling fool only to later

remove their disguise. How we like one thing to be anything

else. A frog? No, a prince. A beggar? Actually, that’s Robin Hood

hunched inside a sack. We go along until someone in a toll booth says

gimme. And you have to gimme. Or the road you’ve been constructing

is coming apart when you look behind you. And then you’re not sure

if you’re actually looking behind or ahead, so just start building that

direction. Call it your career and wear a funny shirt on Wednesdays.

Startle when the janitor reveals themselves to be your boss, all-wise

and knowing. The algorithm thinks—well, if you could call it that—really

it beeps and borps and, bang, it does—you’d love to consider a career

in medicine, that way you could hold someone’s actual heart, see what we’re

up to inside. The algorithm isn’t a master but the way it shows up wherever

with ideas we’d not considered, it could be. And because it lacks skin

so therefore lacks any outward markings of bad intent (wart, mole with one long

hair) it’s hard to know what kind of master it is: if it’s been stewing all day in a tower

touching a strand of an evil god’s electric hair which comes in the form of lightning

and which shows all the ways you can really fuck with someone. Or it’s the fairy godmother

thing: it knows what’s best. It knows you hurt. So what should I think of that dad

and his dog? Is it a sign of good things to come or a reminder that memory, like

death, is in all things? Or is it things, like death, that are in memory? Algorithm,

sort it out. And tell your algorithm to come over. I want to look photos of my father

and our dog, Chico, who bit my face into a broken smile one Christmas then lived

twelve glorious years with us before we watched him ferried into the long

nap we all take. He was smiling. It felt as monumental as a president’s speech

to the council of galactic heroes pleading for help from a giant meteor. I don’t know

what else to say. I went to college the next day. Maybe it’s death, like memory,

that is in things. Before sleep night pools over me like an executioner’s hood.