An eleven-year-old boy discovered this hue: dusky alloy of his thirteen-inch monitor’s smoking crucible. Uttering light’s tripartite incantation, he peered behind the cathode veil at chromatic alchemy. If anyone asked, this would be his new favourite colour: one part red, two green, four blue.

It was easier then to directly observe—too close to some screen—the pigments conjuring reality. Not red, blue, and yellow, the primary colours from school. Defying art teachers, evolution loaded its own brush: green for plants, blue for water, red for blood.

PRINT "Hello, what's your name?"
INPUT name$

I designed my first computer program, written a year earlier in BASIC, to converse with me. But code is a conqueror’s tongue, ruthlessly imperative. Dialogue fails. Like cliché’s bad comedian, my solicitations met only crickets: the chirping hard drive a robot’s vocal fry, stuck in tongue-tied hesitation.

PRINT "How are you feeling today?"
INPUT answer$
IF answer$ = "sad" THEN
PRINT "I'm sorry to hear that, "; name$; "."

The programming listservs, chatrooms, and forums I’d visit comprised mostly teenagers, struggling together for the right words. This is fitting; coding promises mastery of a predictable world. Here, communication is a solvable puzzle, its palette admitting few gradations. Such control—while one’s body, emotions, relationships slip from command—is a fantasy for an adolescent age.

Nicholas Davies.