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A Conversation with Microsoft Word

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I’m so weak, I can’t even type. This blinking cursor keeps staring back at me hatefully, as if to say, “What are you doing back here again?” I ignore it and continue gazing ahead, my eyes blank and heavy. Words drift through the air slowly, and I stroke my chin as I pick and choose, constantly rearranging and rewriting. I write a paragraph and then sigh and erase it, ramming my finger anxiously into the backspace key.

“I asked you a question,” a voice echoes in my head.

“And I chose to ignore you,” I think crossly. I jack up the sound of the Muse song blaring through my headphones and groan. “This isn’t working.”

“What exactly are you trying to do?” The nonexistent tone asks.

I groan and mutter a curse under my breath. “Would you stop? I already have enough thoughts floating around and I don’t need another. Just, shut up.”

“No,” it says.

“Fine,” I gripe back. “What do you want?” I run my hands through my hair and glance behind me to make sure nobody’s sneaken into my dimly lit room.

“I want to know what you’re doing,” it rings back merrily.

“I’m trying to write. And you’re not helping.” I tap my foot impatiently.

“About?” It asks, as if I’m stupid.

“A girl. I think I’m in love.” I sense blood rushing to my cheeks and divert my eyes from the screen that seems to be laughing at me.

“Ahhhh.” It says nothing more. For an instant, I think I’m clear, and jumbled words and phrases begin forming in front of my eyes again. I take a moment to think and then place my fingers on the keyboard, when the voice rings even louder. “Tell me about her.”

I suppress a growl and shut my eyes to gather myself. “Okay, then.” My thoughts wander and I see the silhouette of a young girl, laughing in the purple light of the setting, summer sun. She pulls her hair behind her ear and grows silent, absorbing the sights and smells of the hazy world around her. Birds chirp and a car horn blasts somewhere off in the distance. The air has a mystifying aura, fresh and inviting. I look into her eyes and she knows I’m only there to see her. Dozens of kids gossip and giggle around us, but we’re alone, if only in my mind.

“Not bad, kid. Needs a little bit of reviewing, maybe some editing there in the middle. The whole ‘sights and smells’ thing is a little much.” I snap out of my daydream and notice the blinker, winking at me from the end of a paragraph.

“Well, that’s how I remember it. It’s staying.” I sigh and silently wish that I was standing back at the schoolyard, my innocent, ignorant eighth-grade self again.

“Oh, so this happened in the past?” the voice asks. It grows silent, waiting for a reply.

“Yeah, a long time ago,” I admit. “Ugh, I’m talking to a computer program.”

“An application, my good friend,” it corrects me. “Go on, what happens next?”

I close my eyes and open them again on a cool, autumn night. Adults chatter quietly in the background, and a black-and-white horror movie plays on an old projector screen that lights the lawn. Smoke billows from the campfire in the back yard and children rush left and right, playing hide-and-seek and blowing party horns at one another. Several of the birthday girl’s friends are about to leave and I stand, with my hands in my pockets, waiting for my mom to pick me up. I hear voices behind me and turn to see her and her boyfriend ambling toward me, hand in hand.

“Hey,” I force myself to say. “You leaving too?” The moonlight gleams from above, glistening in her dazzling, green eyes. Her smile lights up my whole world, but I don’t let on. I try to ignore her stout boyfriend, glaring at me from beside her. She breaks away from him and engulfs me in a friendly hug that seems to end too quickly.

“This is boring,” the blinker cuts in.

“Excuse me?” I return, tapping my finger on the escape button.

“No, don’t do that! I mean, readers want excitement. Give ‘em some excitement.” It just sits there, flashing me again, so I sigh and keep typing.

I sit alone in a quiet room, staring at my phone motionlessly.

“Tell me who you like!” The message reads, screaming at my screaming heart.

“I can’t,” I reply. I hit send and try to refrain from dropping my phone with my trembling hands. I wait eagerly for a reply, and when my phone vibrates my heart skips a beat.

“C’mon. At least give me a hint.” It skips another.

“Well,” I type back hesitantly, “she’s pretty amazing. She’s blond, she has the prettiest green eyes, and I’m texting her right now.” I hit send and the world around me begins to melt. My body goes numb and my mind races, trying to keep up with my beating heart.

“Me?” I get back.

“Yeah, are you weirded out right now?” I can barely breathe at this point.

“No, actually I’m smiling.” I stare at the screen, dumbfounded.

“Well… do you like me back?” Hope floods my veins and wraps tightly around my soul, winding tighter and tighter with each passing second.

“I used to. I don’t think I need a boyfriend right now though.” My heart bursts.

“That’s much better,” the blinker informs me. “That was a lot though. Don’t forget to spell-check.”

“Thanks,” I mutter, rolling my eyes. “I was on a roll though. Thanks for interrupting.” I glance quickly at my phone, lying face down on the dresser across the room - a new phone, without old friends’ numbers.

“Oh, calm down. You don’t want to drag on anyway. Keep the tension up, cut to the next scene.” The voice is demanding and urgent. The blinker seems to be flashing faster now, anxiously.

“Yeah, I’m the writer. Stick to being a computer,” I grumble.

“I’m not a computer! I’m an appli-”

Days go by. A month passes. Before I know it, a year has elapsed since our last conversation. I see her laughing with friends or walking to class. She’s with someone new every few months, never finding what she’s looking for. I hear a word from her every once in a while, catch a smile or a glance my way. She haunts my dreams at the most unexpected times, her wispy image watching me from afar or tapping me on the shoulder and laughing. Sometimes we’re in a crowded room full of unfamiliar people, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t get to her, can’t reach her. I wake and every emotion waves over me again, filling my core with an unending sense of void and despair, and-”

“Wait a minute.”

I bite my tongue. “Yes?”

“How old are you?” Everything is quiet.

I consider not answering and going back to writing. I sigh and answer anyway. “Almost seventeen.”

“And you’ve been after this girl since eighth grade?” It asks, shocked.

“Seventh, actually,” I whisper unsteadily.

“That’s a long time.” A moment of silence. “Well, what happens next?” The voice is genuinely curious.

“Uh… well, nothing. The same old chapter’s been rewriting itself for the past couple of years now. Every once and a while, I repress it all, but the cycle eventually begins again. I have another dream or talk to her at school and fall right back into the same ole’ world of loneliness and regret.” My tone is sarcastic, but the tears I’m holding in feel ready to burst at any moment.

“Hmmm,” the voice hums, as if thinking.

“Well,” I start, “I guess I should end this somewhere.” I bite my lip and start thinking of a clever closing sentence, when the voice breaks in again.

“Write your own ending,” it rings in my ear.

Blink, blink, blink, blink, blink.



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