Emily Twiggs hated the winter. Why did it always have to get so cold, dark, and snowy? Why couldn’t winter be more like summer, or at least like the nice parts of summer that weren’t as warm and nasty as summer’s warmest and nastiest parts?
Although this shift in temperature happened every year, it never failed to catch Emily by surprise. Per the ratings-hungry local meteorologists, each winter was depicted as bleaker and more devastating than the one that preceded it. Even for a woman who heeded little save the goings-on of her favorite celebrities, it was difficult to ignore the ubiquitous lamentations of these doomsayers.
This terrible weather—which was never as terrible as predicted—drove Emily indoors. Ensconced in the apartment she shared with her seven cats and two unused elliptical machines, she waged a lonely struggle against seasonal affective disorder by throwing herself into her two favorite hobbies: Eating junk food and looking at photos of herself on the popular social networking site Friendface.
What compounded winter’s misery for Emily was the fact that it encompassed the holiday season. For normal, well-adjusted people, the holidays are a time of joy and reflection. Emily, however, viewed the arrival of Thanksgiving—“Turkey Day,” in common parlance—as a sign that her receding years were leading her further into the void.
During her senior year of high school, she had been beautiful and full of promise. She didn’t have as many extra pounds in all the wrong places, and her relationship with class president and local sports hero “Toe” Beans had reached its apogee. This golden period had now been reduced to a Friendface album consisting of thirty-two scanned photos.
She clicked through the photos, which were also stored on her computer’s hard drive, as often as fifty times a day. No one had ever commented on them, and “Toe” still refused to accept her friendship requests on Friendface.
Even as she consigned her past to the indifference of Web 2.0, she continued to distance herself from the present. Her seven cats found contentment in the material comforts with which she provided them. Emily found out that she couldn’t keep living like this, so that’s exactly what she did.