Push through the door, juggling two bags of groceries and house keys while fending off a hungry cat or three. Dump the mail on the table, the purse on the floor, kick off shoes – check.
Work is done! Put away the eggs and milk, turn on the lamp. Client from hell is finally gone – where did I put my slippers? Feed the cats so I can feed myself; salad, chicken, a glass of wine. I turned off the stove, right?
Sharpen a pencil, set it aside. Sip that wine. Need just the right mood, so turn on the music and let the flute and drum serenade. Turn on the computer.
Hum of expensive machinery, a few beeps, enter my password. Double click on the big blue W. A clean, white page, just like an inviting piece of paper, beckons me to fill it. Feel the bumps on the ‘f’ and ‘j’ keys, make sure my fingers are in the right place. Ring finger reaches, a perfect ‘O’ on the screen, just as the phone rings.
“Linda, how wonderful to hear from you, it’s been weeks. How is everything? That’s marvelous! What is his name? David? And Linda- sounds lovely together.” Syrupy praises and half-headed listening; I reach for that wine and nod even though she can’t see.
“We must get together soon. Definitely. Ta, now.” Oh I like her fine, it just exhausts me to speak to her for too long. The cat curls around my legs and meows. Oh alright, come on, on my lap I’ll pet you for a bit. Contemplate the value of Pi and stare out the window at the neighborhood boys.
Stare at the screen. O.
Wuh… wuh… wuuuuunce. What an odd word. Why is there no ‘w’ in once? There ought to be. Who invented this language anyway? The British, no doubt, with their bloody honour and colour and words that end in silent ‘e’. Maybe the French. Oui. No ‘w’ in that either. ‘Once’; the opening to every childhood story – once upon a time.
I open a fresh page. The ‘once’ is too distracting. Fingers now dance across the keys like little mice tripping a thousand mousetraps and running away with the cheese, laughing at their cleverness. Yes, on a roll now! Pause only to stretch the fingers and sip the wine.
The next best seller! ‘Brilliantly Funny,’ says The New Yorker; ‘A must-read,’ raves L.A. Times. The headlines are as the leaves in fall, blowing in a flurry all around. Each word typed, another leaf in the growing pile; jump in and let them encompass me like when I was a child. Dreams become reality as the story unfolds. The plot twists, the characters grow and make us love or hate them.
Tolkien himself would buy this story!
abnormal program termination.
Click ‘OK’ to continue.”
What? No! Not OK! Cancel! Save! Do something! Do ANYTHING!
The cat jumps off my lap, disturbed by my flailing and wretched cries to the microchip gods for a miracle of salvation. I knew I should have sacrificed that motherboard last week; my prayers go unanswered. Gone. All gone. Pages, hours, plots, inspirations! All gone in a technologically-efficient instant!
Turn off the computer. Finish the wine. Not the glass, the bottle.
Go to bed.
Tomorrow I will write with the pencil.