The boy in the TV has golden streaks like honey in his hair and two blue diamonds for eyes, face open like a window streaming sunlight. Watch as his brows furrow over inscrutable hazel orbs, jet black hair slicked smooth and reflecting pale moonlight. The boy in the TV is a shapeshifter, and now he has your attention.
The boy in the TV accumulates every fantasy you’ve concocted and reflects them all back to you, a beautiful mirror of your mind. He reminds you of a boy you dreamed once. When you woke you couldn’t remember if he was someone you’d met as a child or if you had created him entirely from nothing, pulled him from the darkness fully formed, from the recesses of your own thoughts and the places they disappear to when you’re lonely.
Deep down you know the truth: The boy in the TV is curated to taste, a culmination of a thousand posters tacked to a thousand bedroom walls. He might crinkle like glossy paper if you touched him, but you never will, and so he hangs there still: an immaculate vessel for collective yearning. And in a way he still feels like yours.
For many seasons you remain secretly jealous of the boy in the TV, for you yourself have imagined moving through the night free from danger, going anywhere you want. The boy in the TV fears no one, after all, because no fears have been written for him. The boy in the TV surmounts every obstacle, as preordained, until he meets his match in the one he cannot overcome.
You are eating vanilla bean ice cream when the boy in the TV dies for the first time. Someone shoots him in the head and there’s a sweetness on your tongue, your spoon frozen in midair. Following syndication, he will die over and over again; his murder will become mundane. Other people will play his death in the background. They will have sex or fold clean towels into neat pastel rectangles as blood runs in rivulets down his chest. For you it is different. You will never eat vanilla bean ice cream again.
It will take you a long time to pass the hour between 9 and 10 p.m. eastern without feeling something is missing. None of the other boys are ever quite the same.
But years later, you think you see the boy once outside of the TV on a rainy October night in the city. A man now, he smiles a smile that’s just for you and climbs into a taxi the color of a sunflower, swallowed up by the dark horizon before you can know for sure.
Abigail Oswald is a writer whose work predominantly examines themes of celebrity, crime, and girlhood. Her writing has appeared in Catapult, Wigleaf, DIAGRAM, Split Lip, Best Microfiction, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, lives in Connecticut, and can be found at the movie theater in at least one parallel universe at any given time. More online at abigailwashere.com.
Oxford High Street
L. Acadia is a lit professor at National Taiwan University with photography published or forthcoming in Autostraddle, FERAL: A Journal of Poetry and Art, Reservoir Road Literary Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Sycamore Review (featured artist), and Tree and Stone Magazine.
Twitter and Instagram: @acadialogue