By Josh O’Dell
To the NSA agent who watches me through my laptop:
Dear Mr./Mrs. Agent,
Long time no see. Gosh, I’m sorry I’m so nervous… this is the first time we’ve properly corresponded. Things have been pretty one-sided up until now. I’ll definitely try to work on my communication in the future. But enough about me.
I love the long nights we’ve spent together. Me, staring intently at my laptop screen trying to bang out the perfect essay… you, staring intently at your desktop screen, watching me as I stared intently at my laptop screen… We share something special in those moments, something I’ll not soon forget. I imagine myself staring deep into your eyes when I glance suspiciously up at my laptop camera, imagining your pale hunched figure on the other end.
I love the feeling of mystery surrounding our relationship. Who are you? How old are you? Do you have a significant other? Do they know that you watch the world’s most boring reality TV show for a living? And me! Sure, you watch me day in and day out, you watch all my little dramas, but you can’t see what’s on my screen! You have no idea what’s causing me to squint my eyes the way you love, or to pace my college dorm room out of anxiety. I imagine you wish you could reach straight through our screens and console me, and that it must absolutely kill you that you can’t.
I love the feeling of safety you give me… it’s so reassuring to know that you’re watching me day and night, even if you really are just waiting for me to praise Allah or drink anything aside from Bud Light. You’re like Santa Claus, if Santa Claus were a real person who took extraordinary liberties with the unenumerated rights of the people he’s supposed to protect.
I love the way your face lights up when you boot up your computer every morning and wait for me to log on. I imagine you stroking my oblivious image on your screen, perhaps mouthing my name into the monitor, careful that none of the other government drones should overhear you.
I even love that your small, cold heart is tortured by forbidden love between voyeur and victim. I imagine you wonder whether any of Uncle Sam’s other drones share your feelings for their subjects, or whether you’re the only halfway decent person left in our government. I imagine this secret weighs on you just as heavily as the secret to John F. Kennedy’s assassination, or the truth behind the moon landing.
I love that we can share in the simple things. I find solace in the fact that I can look up at the same moon whose secret base you inhabit, well outside the jurisdiction of any pesky laws that may prevent you from doing what you regard as your civic duty. I heard you could just go to Russia for that kind of thing, but then again… that probably wouldn’t look too good. Still, I wish you were closer. 239,000 miles is a damn long way, but you know what they say: distance makes the heart grow fonder. And my heart is just bursting to the seams with love for you, my guardian angel, my NSA agent.
I love the thought of your small, greasy, suit-clad cockroach body lying awake at night, gazing at the framed feed of my life, even though the office explicitly forbids taking your work home with you. I love to think that my face is the last thing you see before dozing off each night, and the first thing you see each morning.
I love that you watched me type your love letter, and I can’t wait not to see your face when you receive it.