This poem is spillover from the January 8, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by comments from DW user Chordatesrock. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.
It was not that they did not feel,
but that they did not speak.
Many of the secessionists found that
trying to articulate their emotions was like
trying to carry a bouquet of balloons through a thorny forest:
you were lucky to get anything across intact.
This comprised one of the key reasons why
so many of them preferred ciphertime to skintime:
you could mark out the basic emotions
in a way that was clear and consistent
so that you didn't have to keep guessing.
:) always meant happy.
:( always meant sad.
>:( always meant angry.
;) meant that the statement was a joke
and not intended to be taken seriously.
They even made up some markers of their own:
3q looked a little like a hand,
and if someone was flapping their hands
it meant things were getting intense.
If they typed
:( 3q 3q 3q 3q
they were about to overload
so you should back off,
and if they typed
:) 3q 3q 3q 3q
they were excited
so you should celebrate.
They had become so accustomed
to being alone, to being different,
that when they came together
to form a society of their own
after seceding from the galactic arms,
nobody knew quite how to proceed.
They started with what they knew:
the elegant code of the ciphernet
and the divergent instincts
that drove their brains and their bodies.
Slowly the patterns began to coalesce
and skintime etiquette evolved
to match what they brought from cipherspace.
It was not so much that they had no language of their own
but that they had a different body of language
than what the neurotypical people practiced
out of their own collective instincts.
It was awkward --
but also, sometimes, a little bit funny --
when the enties came into the Lacuna
and tried to cope with the new etiquette there.
They just weren't comfortable with the expectations.
You could explain and explain and explain
why this was thus and that was so,
but they would never get it.
One in particular was a black marketeer
called Short John who was, frankly,
little better than a pirate
who liked to pretend that
he was more respectable than he really was.
Short John lost his temper
in almost every negotiation,
which was off-putting to say the least;
but he had a connection for medical supplies
so people were obliged to put up with it.
Operetta tried and tried
to teach the man some manners,
because she wanted nanofiber and nursebots
and she didn't want yet! another! argument!
but Short John absolutely refused to flap his hands
when things started to get too intense.
"If you don't flap your hands like that,
how will anyone know you're upset?"
Operetta asked reasonably.
"I don't want people to think I'm a freak!"
the pirate protested.
Operetta smirked at him.
"Don't worry," she said, "we won't."
* * *
"Enties" is short for "neurotypicals," from "NTs."