“Celebrate your years of friendship,” Facebook tells you, shows you the slideshow it made with photos of your dead dad. “Remember the good times,” it says, the same thing it said about the friend from high school you muted because they kept sharing videos about essential oils curing cancer, about your coworker from two jobs ago who you haven’t seen since you quit.
“Remember your memories” it says and shows you photos in no particular order, it doesn’t know what they mean so it just spreads them all out like they are the same. Thanksgiving ten years ago fades to his face and a cat’s face filling up a selfie, fades to your own face looking up at you from another time, from the hospital, both of you in white gowns printed with little green diamonds, both of you tired, both of you sedated after surgery. Photos from before, before, before. There will never be new ones, the photos in the slideshow can never change even if the animations around them do, it can only be snapshots from back then.
“Remember,” it tells you and arranges pixels of color into little squares, makes them look like confetti and streamers, shows you decorations for a party you would never have.
“Remember,” like the memories are not already so strong they crack through you like lightning. Like the memories aren’t written on your body in scars, in tattoos you got after, in lines black with meaning you don’t say out loud.
“Remember,” softly scolding you like an adult who knows the right way to do things, like your grandmother asking if you sent thank you cards, like the etiquette sites telling you how many envelopes belong in a wedding invitation, like you need to be reminded about your family, like you could forget.
“Remember,” it tells you, you idiot, you terrible ghost of a human, you empty headed monster who would forget this of all days, your social media anniversary with your father, the holiest of the new holidays. “I made this because you’re so stupid,” it says and the slideshow plays.
You feel a new kind of revulsion that you have not learned words for yet, the closest you can get is “absurd,” or maybe “audacious,” or maybe “awful.” The closest you can get is to hiss “I hate this” at the screen, at an algorithm that has already moved on to showing you things you should buy, that might learn a lesson but probably the wrong one. You laugh because you cannot help it, because your brain does not know what to do with these opposite things, celebration and sadness smashed together in a place they do not belong, because the internet raised you to so everything is wrapped in layers of irony like newspaper around the most breakable objects.
“Remember,” it tells you as confetti rains down around a photo from the funeral. “Remember the good times.”
Jessica Dawn lives on an island in the San Francisco Bay with her very old and very charming dog. Her work has appeared in HAD, and she is currently writing her first novel. You can find her on Twitter at @JuskaJames.
image “Gamma Knife”: Christy Lorio is a writer and photographer based in New Orleans. Christy’s photography has been seen in Auburn Art Gallery (Los Angeles), Millepiani Exhibition Space (Rome, Italy) and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (New Orleans) as well as various publications. She was a finalist in New Delta Review’s 2021 Ryan R. Gibbs Photography contest as well as a fellow for Arizona State University’s Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference. Christy holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans and is currently working on her MFA in Studio Art from UNO.