Shelley tipped the plate. The sweet and sour clung to the plate for an instant, then fell with a satisfying plop onto the keyboard. Jeff pushed his chair back in surprise. He could not have looked more shocked and incapable of speech if she had hit him in the stomach with a baseball bat.

“What the hell?” he managed at last. “Quick, quick, get a plastic bag or something.” He upended the keyboard onto his desk.

“Your dinner is ready,” said Shelley, slowly and deliberately.

“Yeah. I said, I’ll be down in a minute.”

“That was an hour ago. I’m sick of it, Jeff. I’d understand if it was another woman. Even another man. But this?” She flung an arm to indicate the cramped study. “How can I compete with all this junk? You’d rather screw around with electronics than with a real woman. What do I have to do? Have a USB socket installed between my legs?”

“What?” He put the keyboard down and held out his arm. Shelley stepped back. “Aw, come on, Shelley. You know I love you. Let me just finish this and I’ll show you.”

“And what’s ‘this’, Jeff? Are you working on a cure for cancer? Negotiating peace in the Middle East? What’s so important?”

“I’m just Photoshopping an image for my home page.”

“So you’re just screwing around, but that’s more important than me. Fine, you just finish whatever it is. I won’t be here when you’re done.”

She whirled on her heel and stormed into the bedroom. Jeff scurried after her and stood in the doorway, watching her scoop the contents of the bedside table into the already full bag.

“Can’t we talk about this?” he said. “You can’t just leave with no warning.”

“What?” Jeff took a step back at the fury of her response. “Talk about it? No warning? Don’t you think I’ve tried? God, I’ve tried so hard, but you never listen, you never want to talk. You know the longest conversation we’ve had this month? Do you? It was whether we were going to Jenny’s party. And that was on bloody MSN messenger. And you know the worst thing? I was downstairs and you were stuck up here with your bloody computer. Even when we’re in the same house, you still won’t talk to me unless I’m pretending to be Robot Girl. Well, cyber sex might be great for you, but I need a real relationship with a real flesh-and-blood guy. Someone who can tear himself away from a keyboard for more than five minutes.”

“But it’s my job, Shell.”

“No! Your job is selling computer games to schoolkids.”

“It’s a bit more than -”

“Shut up! If it was genuinely work, and it was an hour or two, fine, but it’s not. You’re just a big kid, Jeff. You see anything with a cable on it and you just have to buy it and play with it. And play with it and play with it until three in the morning, night after night and I am sick of it.” She hefted the bag and strode across the bedroom. “Move!”

Jeff skipped out of the path of her storm, then scurried after her down the stairs.

“But it’s just a hobby, that’s all.”

“No, Jeff, it’s an obsession.” She stopped at the front door and sighed. “Look, you’re a nice guy,” she said, suddenly gentle. “But you have a problem. Seriously, you need to sort yourself out.” For a moment she looked as though she would say more, but then she turned and left.

“Fine,” said Jeff, minutes later to the closed door. “I don’t need you. There’s plenty of others out there would like me.”

His stomach growled. Rubbing it, he made his way into the kitchen. “I don’t need you,” he repeated to himself. The pots sat on the stove, dirty but empty. There was a dishwasher somewhere. There, or possibly there. One was the dishwasher, the other the washing machine. He’d figure it out. Right now he needed to eat something.

He opened the fridge and stared at the contents. What could he eat? Too many ingredients stared back. Could he look up something on-line? What he needed was a scanner linked up to the fridge. He could scan the contents, and have a database of recipes. Yeah, scan a few ingredients and the application could tell him what he could cook. He grabbed a Coke and let the door close. The scanner would need to be wireless, of course. He’d seen one at PC Bits.

He made his way upstairs. He pulled a spare keyboard from a shelf. It could have a web front end. His stomach rumbled as he pulled his chair up to the screen.



About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

2 Responses to Losing

  1. treepanda says:

    “‘What do I have to do? Have a USB socket installed between my legs?'” – great line! I’m going to have my IT Ethics students come and read your story!

  2. snodlander says:

    Haha I thought I recognised that nickname. Feel free. I write to be read.

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