by Amelia Coulon
[Editor’s Note: This piece is part of the “Topical” series, with each piece solely submitted to and chosen by the Final Reader Pietra Dunmore.]
“Hank? I think I might have broken it.”
The distressed call from the bedroom into the living room, where Hank tried to work his job from home, did not fill him with a sense of joy. Rather, he leaned his head back and exhaled heavily as if asking the heavens, “why him?.” Saving the report he had begun, Hank rose from his ergonomic chair and pushed away from his desk. He rounded the corner into the hallway, past the bathroom and their daughter’s room, opening the door to his bedroom.
There sat his blonde-haired, green-eyed beloved in her fuzzy pajama set, on their bed, computer in her lap.
“What did you break?” he asked his wife of twenty years, patient and aggravated at the same time.
“The screen thingy won’t switch and when I try to use control, alt, delete, it just laughs at me.”
“It doesn’t laugh at you,” Hank debated her, taking the laptop computer from Jenna and looking at the monitor. “What ‘screen thingy’ are you talking about? Use your words.”
“The screen switcher,” she insisted, indicating the internet tabs. “I click on them, but they don’t go anywhere. It’s just stuck.”
“What did you do?” he asked, frustration starting to show through. “Did you download a virus?”
“I didn’t download anything,” she protested with emphasis. “I’ve been writing and researching and I submitted a few things I had in the works. That’s it.”
“Maybe it came from one of the pages you were using to do your research,” he growled. He tried control, alt, delete. Nothing happened.
“I told you, I already tried that,” Jenna asserted, angrily. “Why don’t you even listen to me?”
“Because you talk about thingies and the computer laughing at you,” Hank countered logically. “If you’d make actual sense, maybe I’d understand what you’re talking about. So, I figure I should probably try my own methods if I’m going to get anything fixed.”
“You knew what I meant,” she accused him, with a bit less aggression.
“I didn’t,” he assured her. He pressed the off button. The computer remained open.
“I tried that too,” she objected offhandedly with less heat.