Computers have always seemed to hold a grudge against me, and this was the ultimate proof. Not two days after Graeme had fixed my laptop and recovered my documents from the ‘blue screen of death’ suddenly there were glitches in the system again. I gnawed on my lip, a tangy metallic taste in my mouth from making it bleed. I couldn’t understand how so many other people seemed to glide effortlessly through computer heaven, while I was so constantly anchored in laptop hell. I switched the machine off for the seventh time and tried rebooting. Nothing happened. Not even that fatal blue screen. There was a defiant whirr, a greyish tinge to the screen and then blackness. The fan shut down. I calmly re-attempted to start it up again. There was the same reassuring noise, as though everything was going to be just fine, but then as I was expecting, a gentle sigh issued forth and the laptop shut down before it even got going.
I sighed. This was not unusual. I had learned over the past few years not to get angry with it. Besides, Graeme consistently mocked my serious insistence that computers had a vendetta against me.
‘They’re inanimate. They can’t personally hate you, you know.’
‘It doesn’t matter. They hate me anyway. The very fact that I can’t seem to own one for more than a month without some major catastrope proves it.’
‘Don’t be silly,’ he’d say, shaking his head and laughing softly. ‘You’re just being paranoid.’
Paranoid I was. Once again I was going to have to call up Graeme and request that he be my knight in shining armour. I sucked at the self-inflicted wound on my lip to try and staunch the bleeding. Only I would have chosen a profession where computers were vital to my role, without these regular interruptions my life would have been so peaceful and successful. Or so I believed.
Graeme picked up on the fourth ring.
‘It’s me’ I hardly needed to say anything else.
‘I’ll be over in half an hour. Put something in the oven, I’m starving and no doubt I’ll be staying for dinner.’
I glanced at the clock, it was only half past three. Although, casting my mind back to previous occasions, Graeme often spent hours hunched over my laptop and out of neccessity I had taken to feeding him in return for his patience and expertise.
‘We should be dating, you know that, don’t you?’ he joked when he finally arrived fourty-five minutes later.
‘We should?’ I asked, perplexed, leaning over him as he man-handled my laptop.
‘We’re having dinner at least twice a week. The very least you could do is admit that you trash your programs just to get me to come over.’
He smiled up at me, his eyes crinkling at the edges as his cheeks widened, creating dimples in the flesh. I ruffled his hair and grinned back at him. My Mum had said something similar when I’d told her about his frequent visits, she’d made some reference to the fact that match-making was now done via the internet, and perhaps my computer was just trying to tell me something…I left Graeme to his work and wandered into the kitchen to prepare something rewarding for my heroic technician.
‘I thought you said that it wouldn’t start up?’ he yelled. ‘It’s working just fine now.’
I peered into the living room where he sat with my laptop, fully functional, on the coffee table.
‘It wouldn’t,’ I protested, stepping into the room. ‘I swear to god, it stopped working.’
‘Listen,’ Graeme said, his tone low and serious, ‘you know you don’t have to make stuff up to get me to come over.’ He looked at me plainly. ‘I’d be happy to spend time with you, you should know that by now.’
He made a move toward me, a glint in his eye that warned me he was about to try and kiss me. I stumbled back against the wall, incredulous.
‘No, Graeme, I mean it.’ I pushed him gently to one side, his advances side-stepped. I lurched for the laptop, but just as my hand reached the keyboard there was a pathetic, downbeat whirr and the screen flashed off.
‘See!’ I pointed truimphently. ‘It’s me. It doesn’t want to work for me.’
Graeme was still over by the wall, where I’d abandoned his attempt to kiss me. His shoulders had a slight slump to them, as though he was disappointed, but his blue eyes still held some hope.
‘I want to work for you’ he said, with a cheeky grin. ‘What do I need to do to make it more obvious?’
Suddenly the penny dropped, along with my jaw. ‘It’s you?’ My mind couldn’t quite process the thought that Graeme had been sabotaging me.
He smirked, shrugged his shoulders, put his hands in his jean pockets and avoided my glare ashamedly. ‘Well, not the first few times,’ he blushed, ‘but maybe the more recent ones.’
I simply stood still, slowly realising that this slightly scruffy, but attractive, intelligent man had gone to so much trouble to try and spend some quality time with me. I suddenly saw him in a new light: devious, manipulative and very, very sexy. I shook my head, but couldn’t prevent a satisfied smile from escaping my lips. He went to all this trouble for me?
Graeme took two steps forward and caught me off guard, lost in my thoughts of him. When his lips met mine I didn’t resist, curious as to his taste. I closed my eyes and let instinct take over: his desire for me overwhelmed my senses and I found myself reacting pleasantly to his touch. I let out an unintentional moan of delight, it seemed to urge Graeme on and we fell backward onto the sofa.
I heard something crack, and then something went skittering across the wooden floor. I glanced away from Graeme for just long enough to see my laptop disappear under the chair, a rogue limb having catupulted it from the coffee table. I smiled between kisses as Graeme’s hands found their way into my blouse.