NANOWRIMO 2014 – Day 7 – Hewett Packard silver laptop…..continued

She manages to convince herself that there is no real urgency, no rush to open the box when she gets home, after all she has survived her first half term  as a proper grown up, with a proper career and everything. She is entitled, even needs to relax tonight. She will be fresher tomorrow, after a couple of glasses of wine, an early night, some mindless TV, more able to embrace this challenge, she may, she reasons, even amaze herself, after all, she has kept hold of her new adult persona for months now, perhaps, just perhaps, her relationship with machines and instruction booklets will have changed, perhaps, just perhaps, she will return to school next week with the lap top in some brightly coloured bag and she will casually unpack it in the staff room, her fingers flying over the keyboard, while she explains the mysteries of e-mail and word processing to her obviously impressed colleagues.

On Saturday morning, when after  a glorious lie-in and surprisingly un-hungover, she goes in search of something bad to eat for breakfast, the box is where she left it, in the exact centre of the kitchen table, but overnight, the cardboard  box has developed a slightly menacing air, it seems to be crouching on the table and wherever she moves in the room, she is chronically aware of its presence. It is so unsettling that she chooses to take her breakfast, 3 slightly stale chocolate hob nobs and the last cigarette in the packet, back to bed.

There, she makes a plan, really there is no reason to do anything with the lap top this week-end. She can have some free time, see friends, go clothes shopping, maybe even see a film. Monday will be fine, plenty of time to get her head around the machine, plenty of time to completely understand it.

She knows that she is not good with machines, is prone to panic, to fall  at the first hurdle, to quickly assume that the machine is broken beyond repair and computers are the worst, most likely to be incomprehensible, to do  many things she has not asked them to do or conversely to not  do anything she actually wants them to do.

She remembers her first term at Art School, a mandatory IT course. 35 virtual strangers all seated facing a keyboard and a slate grey monitor. The instructor, loaned from the real IT courses, is both patronising and confusing, but finally, she hears an instruction she thinks she understands

“Click your mouse on the something icon on the screen”, well, she understands at least some of the instruction and carefully, she picks up the mouse and taps the screen with its rounded nose.

People are still telling this story 3 years later at their degree shows and she still wishes for the ground to open and swallow her up.

She manages to ignore the box, which is now definitely  crouching malevolently on the table, for the remainder of the weekend. She does consider patting the lid of the box as she cautiously skirts the table, but instead just refuses to make eye contact.

On Monday, she gets up early, changes her bedding and empties all the wastepaper bins in the flat and then, after a few deep breaths, opens the box and unpacks the laptop and stares at it for a long, long 10 minutes and then she decides that she really needs to do a food shop and go to the library.

Pushing her trolley around Sainsburys, 2 tins of tuna, penne, chocolate hob nobs, tea bags, washing powder and 40 marlbro lights, she wonders how likely a burglary or a very localised kitchen flood are, or if she could simply not return to work on Monday and how long it would take for someone to a) notice b) remember that the lap top is still in her care.




About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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