On the days where I have a chance to write, this is my typical day.
A Broken Laptop
by Mercedes M. Yardley
Her son pulls eight keys from the keyboard. Her daughter finishes it off, making it a nice and even twenty. This slows the writer down some.
The telephone rings. It is her best friend. “What are you doing?”
“Writing a story.”
“Me too. I’m sending you an email.”
She reads the email while still on the phone and they laugh. But nothing is written.
She’s gotten adept at maneuvering around the missing keys, slamming extra hard on the ‘x’ and the ‘j’ where even the soft, fleshy black knob is missing. She shifts with her right pinky. She never uses straight caps. Too difficult.
Her daughter crawls by, her face dirty and her pigtails a splendor. She has something filthy and leggy in her mouth.
“Go for your dreams,” her mother tells her on the phone. “I’m proud of you.”
She’s writing a story about loss. All of her stories are about loss, even though she thinks of herself as an optimistic person. For the most part.
“I believe in hope,” she whispers while she writes. “I do, I do, I do.”
The phone rings again. It is her son’s school. He has Williams Syndrome and his heart threatens to stop and he had started the descent into kidney failure before.
“Something’s wrong,” they tell her. “I think he needs to go to the hospital.”
She leaves the laptop running, the words aligned to the left and precariously unsaved. She is calling around desperately to find a car that can take her to pick up her child. A friend agrees to get her, but only after fifteen minutes of fixing her hair. The writer has tears down her face by the time she gets to the school. Her daughter’s pigtails blow in the wind like banners.
Her son had a dirty diaper that soiled his school uniform. No eyes gouged out, no seizures. He was screaming, though, and they thought that meant medical attention. She hands the teacher fresh clothes and sneaks out before he can see her.
She’s back at the laptop. How to convey this thought, this feeling? How exactly would she feel if her husband had been long dead?
She calls him at work. “I miss you. How are things?”
He has dimples and she can hear them through the phone. “Good. How’s the story coming?”
She hangs up. Switches stories. She’s writing about her son’s condition.
It hurts. The bus comes. She tucks her fussy daughter under one arm, helps her son off the bus with the other. She chases him down the street as he makes his routine break for the mailbox. As always, she emerges victorious.
Time for snacks. Chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs. Milk in sippy cups. Her son pushes his sister into the fireplace made of rock and she splits her lip. The writer spends half an hour trying to get blood out of the tiny white shirt. It is new. It was for pictures.
“It’s strange getting older,” her brother says on the phone. She knows he’s still in bed, if that is what you call it. He sleeps on top of the covers.
“Just wait until your friends start calling you to tell you that their children died,” she answers. He is silent.
The laptop is unplugged. She didn’t see who did it. She plugs it in, reboots and finds out that she has lost several paragraphs.
Her husband comes home. There’s no dinner, but he wasn’t expecting any. They make it together. Bath time. Story time. Bed time. For them, but not for her.
She stares at the screen, spreads her fingers over the keys like she’s playing the piano. Types tentatively. Types with more force. Types like it is the very thing that will save her.