In one old Twilight Zone episode, the protagonist, a soldier, realized to his horror that he could sense which of his comrades were doomed to die by the eerie halos that enveloped them. Call it an overdeveloped case of synesthesia, this would best describe how I see the world.

It hasn’t always been like this. For me it began when, as a child, I noticed certain subtleties in the rendering of cartoons. These were visual elements that were plain enough for anyone to see, given they were a slightly autistic child with a penchant for obsessive attention to detail. In any given scene it was possible to divine which objects were destined for interaction by looking for telltale black outlines. Elements that lacked these outlines belonged to the background, and would remain static throughout the scene. (This was before computers made it possible to animate everything cheaply.)

Around the time I hit my teens I started noticing a similar weight around household objects, with those of imminent animation marked more prominently in a kind of thin spectral penumbra. As I gained experience reading these signs, the effect actually seemed to diminish. But this was only because it became just another type of information, like color, temperature, or roughness, woven into my perception of the things in my world.

Naturally you’d assume that I would exploit these powers by getting into the shell game scene, popular in metropolitan centers. But my ability actually loses cohesion in dynamic environments. Beside which, I do not wish to profit from the less gifted gentry. It would make me feel less than virtuous.

No, what I do gain is a cool appreciation for static spaces. I am a voyeur of inertia, and that gives me a sense of subtle satisfaction. Plus I know what you’re going to pick up a few moments before you do.